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THE DIVINE PLAN JOURNAL
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come."II Timothy 3:1
The Apostle Paul gives the various parts of the armor for the Christian soldier in Ephesians 6:11-17: "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not (merely) against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness (wicked spirits) in high places. Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God."
This is not an armor for the flesh. It is an armor for the MIND. The new creature needs the whole armor of God since we are living in the evil day, the transition period closing the Second Dispensation, which has been an evil world, and the dawning of the Third Dispensation, a world wherein dwelleth righteousness. Even though there are many blessings during this transition period, yet there is a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation.Daniel 12:1
"And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Mens hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken."Luke 21: 25,26
At the present the natural resources are being used for the preparation of war. "Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up; beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong." Joel 3:9,10
The Christian soldier needs the whole armor of God because the adversary, pictured as a serpent, is struggling to hold on to his usurped authority as god of the second dispensation. Satans house or kingdom, by usurpation, is divided against itself.
"Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand?" (Luke 11:17,18) "And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. No man can enter into a strong mans house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house."Mark 3:24-27
Eventually Satans usurped dominion will fall; however, before this occurs, the adversary is endeavoring to keep as many blinded as possible.
It was while Adam and Eve were still in the garden of Eden that Satan deceived mother Eve. As a result she disobeyed her Creator. From that time until the present, the devil, who goes about as a roaring lion, has been responsible for much suffering in the earth.
As soon as Satan is fully bound, the blindness upon mankind will begin to be removed and aches and pains eliminated. Samples of the removal of physical blindness were given by our Lord at his first advent. In the kingdom, mens eyes of understanding will be opened.
In addition to resisting the wiles of the devil, the Christian soldier has his own flesh and blood to fight. The old human aspirations constantly assail the new creature. A warfare results! The Christian soldier who keeps on the whole armor of God will win the battle.
The fully consecrated must continually set their minds on heavenly things as Paul exhorts in Colossians 3:1-3: "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
In addition to the warfare against the adversary and our own flesh, Paul reminds the Christian soldier that wicked spirits are also opposing us. Who are these wicked spirits? These wicked spirits are the angels who kept not their first estate during the First Dispensation. The angels who married the daughters of men before the flood brought a hybrid race into existence. These giants were destroyed by the flood.
The angels who had fallen into sin were restrained in chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. In Jude 6 we read: "The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day."
During the long period of time from the flood to the judgment day, some of the fallen angels repented. However, others became more wicked and evil. Since the beginning of the judgment day, the fallen angels have been granted some of the liberty which they possessed before the flood. With this liberty, which has been on the increase since the beginning of the judgment day, the evil angels are involved in many evil activities and responsible for much of the trouble in the earth. This liberty has been granted in order that they may be judged.1 Corinthians 6:3
At the first advent, the adversary endeavored to destroy Jesus and his disciples while they were going to the other side of a lake. "As they sailed he (Jesus) fell asleep; and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, Master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water; and they ceased, and there was a calm."Luke 8:23,24
The evil activities of the fallen angels, as well as the opposition of the flesh and the adversary, who is still endeavoring to destroy the promised Seed, make it necessary for the Christian soldier to keep on the whole armor of God during this evil day.
This armor consists of The Girdle Of The Loins, The Breastplate Of Righteousness, The Sandals Of Peace, The Shield Of Faith, The Helmet Of Salvation, and The Sword Of The Spirit.
The Girdle of the Loins represents consecration to service. The Christian soldier is consecrated to the service of the truth. He is consecrated to serve the truth or at least have the spirit of service. Those seeking to do the heavenly Fathers will should constantly ask him, "What will you have me to do? How may I serve you and the precious truth?"Hebrews 10:7
When one makes a full consecration, all is given to the heavenly Father. The Father then gives this back to his newly begotten child and instructs this one to faithfully use his time, means, influence, and all he has in the service of promoting the truth. The consecrated have time, until death, to demonstrate their faithfulness to their Father. The Christian soldier is not to invest his time and means in earthly pursuits which are very transitory. He must invest in heavenly treasures.
Another part of the armor is The Breastplate of Righteousness. This represents justification. One who has made an acceptable consecration to God, on account of the heavenly Fathers grace, is justified to life by faith in the precious blood of Christ, who was raised from the dead, on the third day from his crucifixion. Those walking in the footsteps of Jesus show their faith by their works. The fully consecrated are at peace with God as we read in Romans 5:1: "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." The Christian soldier must maintain his faith and keep on the breastplate of righteousness, else, he will die.Hebrews 10:26-31
The Sandals Of Peace are needful in this warfare. One who has fully consecrated is at peace with God. He has the peace of God which passes all human understanding. This peace increases day by day. Those who love Gods law have great peace, and nothing shall stumble them. (Psalm 119:165) Those walking in the narrow way must endeavor to be peacemakers. However, the truth is not to be compromised. The wisdom which is from above is first pure, then peaceable.James 3:17
The Shield of Faith protects the Christian soldier from the fiery darts of the adversary. During this evil day, higher critics, teachers of evolution, and the demons endeavor to destroy the faith of those walking in the footsteps of the Master. Without faith it is impossible to please the Almighty Creator.Hebrews 11:6
The Helmet of Salvation represents an intellectual appreciation or understanding of the divine plan. This part of the armor is especially needful now during this transition period when there is so much evil in the world. Since the adversary is attacking the truth, the Christian soldier needs to know what he believes and why.I Peter 5:8
Those walking in the narrow way during this transition period have been served "meat in due season". "And the Lord said, who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath."Luke 12:42-44
The Sword of the Spirit is the only offensive part of the armor of the Christian soldier. The sword represents the word of God. The word of God must be handled very carefully and skillfully. It is sharp and powerful. When used with love, the character of our heavenly Father is magnified, and the sacrifice of our dear Redeemer made known. Those seeking to do Gods will must answer their opponents with the statement, "It is written", just as our Master did when the adversary tempted him after his consecration.II Timothy 3:16,17
The temptations by Satan, and our Lords answers, are recorded by Luke. "And in those days he did eat nothing: And when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, if thou be the son of God, command that this stone be made bread. And Jesus answered him saying, it is written that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, all this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all will be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: for it is written, he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, it is said, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. When the devil had ended all the temptations, he departed from him for a season." Luke 4:2-13
In summary, we have noted that the whole armor of God is needful for the Christian soldier in this evil day because of the increased activity of wicked spirits. The adversary continues to oppose all lovers of righteousness as he struggles to hold on to his usurped position. Flesh and blood oppositions also make it necessary to keep on the whole armor of God.
"Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not (merely) against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness (wicked spirits) in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins gird about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel."Ephesians 6:11-19
"Cry aloud and spare not; lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgression, and the House of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek Me daily and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinances of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God."Isaiah 58:1,2
WE understand that the Lord, through the Prophet Isaiah, is here describing the condition of the nominal people of God. These words probably had an application in the Prophets day, but we think they have a special application in our day. If we should view the words as a general statement, applicable at any time, it would seem to have reference to some who are truly the Lords people and also to the House of Jacob in general. The Prophet speaks of certain transgressions of Gods people, errors, and of sins of the House of Jacob (Natural Israel)especially grievous transgressions.
Applying this to the present day, we would understand that the Lords people are those who are in covenant relationship with God, His real people, and no others. Those in covenant relationship with God are comparatively a small number. The great mass of professed people of God have gotten into many transgressions of the Divine will and Law, many of them quite ignorantly following blind leaders of the blind, following creeds of the darker past. The term "the House of Jacob," however, is a distinguishing term, referring exclusively to the Jews, Gods ancient Covenant people.
The Lords people of the present time, those who have the Light of Truth as it now shines out from His Word, should, as they have suitable opportunity, point out to Christendom of today, and especially to those who are the professed people of God, their error, show them where they have deviated from Gods Word, where their course is not in harmony with the Golden Rule, etc. Moreover, if they have favorable opportunity, they might point out to the Jews the reasons why they are in their present cast-off condition. But it would not be well to go about berating them, or berating anybody.
Very little good is done by such a course. The Truth itself is to be the Sword. It is a sharp two-edged Sword, even the Word of God. The work that any of us could do aside from the Word of God would be but bungling work; whereas "The Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow." We are to "cry aloud, and spare not," to point out what the Scriptures have to sayon proper occasions. This does not mean to insult people. Gods ambassadors have no commission to insult any one. But with gracious words we may, nevertheless, point to the conditions of today, the dangers that are now before the world, and the proper position to be taken by those who would wholly follow the Lord.
The words of the text under consideration are along the same line as the words of the Prophet Isaiah in Chapter 29:13, quoted by our Lord. There the Prophet declares: "This people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me"; "but," as the Master rendered the following words (Matthew 15:9), "in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men."
The translation of V. 2 of our text is not quite so clear as perhaps might be. The thought seems to be: They apparently seek Me daily, apparently delight to know My ways. They build churches with high steeples and gorgeous appointments, at great cost. Many churchesit would seem on the surface that they are doing well. They appoint an annual Thanksgiving Day and take up large collections for the poor; they pay large salaries to their preachers; they raise money for missions. It is very much as it was in our Lords day, at His First Advent, when He said, "Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is made, ye make him two-fold more the child of Gehenna than yourselves"; he is far worse than before they touched him.Matthew 23:15
There is great zeal shown for the traditions of men, for the propagation of mens theories, for the advancement of denominational interests, for attracting the world by varied and numerous devices, in order to gain their influence and their financial assistance. For instance, Thanksgiving Day was set apart in the early history of New England. Long ago it became a custom in the United States to have the last Thursday in November appointed as a day of thanksgiving to God for the harvest of the year. The Governor of the State of Massachusetts first took it up; then the Governor of another State followed; then another; then it was taken up by the President of the United States. Finally it became the custom for the President first to make the appointment every year, to be followed by a proclamation by each of the State Governors, making the day thus a legal holiday, when banks and places of business generally would be closed that the people might be free to meet for praise and thanksgiving to God for the blessings of the year. ...
It has become a custom, just as the hands of a clock go around. But very few of the people think of the day in any other light than as a pleasant holiday, when they can enjoy a fine dinner and have a good time generally. Very little attentionin fact, noneis paid by the great majority to the real feature, of thanksgiving to God.
It is the same with other customs in other nations of the world. If we were in a Mohammedan country, we would see, at twelve oclock, every Mohammedan, no matter what he was doing, stop immediately for a moment of prayer to Allah. One who did not know might think from this that the Mohammedans were a most saintly people, who would be very honest and upright in all their dealings; better keep your eye open, for all that. So a great deal that we have everywhere today is a mere mechanical form, an outward displaya form of godliness without its power.
In our text the Prophet was declaring that Gods true children should lift up their voice and cry aloud, and tell Gods professed people their transgressions. The implication seems to be that there is a very special need of public expression on the matter of calling attention to the fact that there is a great deal of hypocrisy have imposing images of the saints or great paintings which make a fine outward appearance. They have rich, melodious bells chiming out sweet hymns; such as "Nearer, my God, to Thee," "Rock of Ages," etc. They have well-trained choirs to sing anthems. They have highly educated ministers who are gifted orators and deliver eloquent dissertations. Outwardly, they have a wonderful zeal for righteousness; practised in the name of religion. If we consider the British people, or the Russians or the Germans, they all have very strict religious laws. They used to be even more strictso strict that we who proclaim Present Truth would not have been permitted to live there; so strict that we would have been in danger of our lives. Yet how many of the people of these countries really serve God and follow the instructions of His Word as given to the children of the Lord? Which of these governments in its dealings with other nations has followed or is now following the Golden Rule taught by the Savior? What does history, past and present, show along this line?
It is not now considered necessary or proper to cry aloud in the streetsthe public are no longer ignorant. All these things of which we speak are criticized in the newspapers and elsewhere. As to religious intolerance, nearly all denominations have done their share in persecuting others. But it does not seem that there is any more heart-loyalty today than formerly, even though violent persecution is now seldom practised. If we have the right conception of the matter, only about one-tenth of all the ministers have any faith in the Bible as the Word of God. If that is the case, they are simply living on a high moral plane, though we do not know that this is true of ministers any more than of the world in general. But there is a great deal of religious formality. Those one hundred and eighty thousand ministers still take their texts from the Bible, as they formerly did, but they merely sanction those features of the Divine Revelation which they think comport well with Higher Criticism and general intelligence. It would seem that the Lord through the Prophet is referring to these conditions.
We do not understand that we should cry out in any unseemly mannernot go to the churches and cry aloud. Those in the churches have a legal right to meet there, and to be as honest as they please or as hypocritical as they please. Neither would it be seemly to go along the streets crying aloud. There is a more fitting and effective way of sounding the alarm.
We are not surprised at these conditions; for long ago they were foretold in the Word of God. We were assured that our day would witness the fulfilment of the prophecies along these lines. Wherever we look, we witness the disintegration of the Present Order, whether we view the conditions from a social or a religious or a financial standpoint. The lease of power to the kingdoms of this world has expired. It was foretold by the Prophet Daniel that "in the days of these kings," before their utter overthrow, the God of Heaven would set up a Kingdom which should smite and break in pieces all the kingdoms of men, the beastly kingdoms of Daniels dream. When these kingdoms would be given to "the people of the saints of the Most High," they were to "smite them in pieces as a potters vessel." This intimates that in some sense of the word the Lord will take possession of these before they have been completely overthrown; that some of the kingdoms represented in the Gentile Image will be remaining at that time.
What time, then, is signified by the expression "in the days of these kings," when the Kingdom of God was to be set up in power? To our understanding the first step in the setting up of this Kingdom was the raising of the sleeping saints of the Gospel Age, which we believe was in the spring of 1878. Then began the glorification of the Church. The work of setting up the Kingdom has, we understand, been progressing from that date, and is now merely lacking the last members of the Church class. When these shall have taken their places as members of the Church in glory, the Kingdom will be fully set up.
This does not signify that there may not be a part of the Kingdom work begun while some of the members of Christ are still in the flesh. Indeed some Scriptures seem to imply that there will be a Kingdom work done this side the Veil, while a work of still greater magnitude and authority is progressing on the other side of the Veil. We read, "Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds." This seems to imply, as we have mentioned before, that there is a special work to be done while these saints still have beds, while they are in a condition of reposenot "tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine," but fully at rest in Gods great Plan. The Scripture goes on to say that they have a two-edged sword in their handsthis is the Word of God. They use it as the Sword of the Spirit. This would not be true of them on the other side of the Veil. They would have no use for a sword there. The Scriptures also declare that the high-sounding praises of God are upon their lips. This, too, seems to be applicable to those this side the Veil.
The final phrase, "to execute the judgments written," would seem to imply that there would be something for the saints on this side of the Veil to do in connection with the execution of the judgments upon the nations. As to just what this means, we have not yet fully learned. But we see nothing here to conflict with the thought that the Lords Kingdom may be properly understood to have begun operations and that the present smiting of the nations is under Kingdom control. The fact that some of the members of the Kingdom class are still in the flesh does not militate at all against this thought. We see the kingdoms of this world now being dashed to pieces, and we are expecting to see the process continued until they are completely ground to powder. They shall become as the chaff of the summer threshing-floor, and the wind shall carry them away. Then shall they be found no more at all.Daniel 2:35
Because certain important things are to be accomplished, we see that God is permitting what to others might seem to be purely human devilishness. For a wise purpose He permits this reign of lawlessness, this condition which evokes universal odium. Our thought is that we should look for still further evidences day by day that the Gentile Times have ended, and that Gods Kingdom has begun its work. We are expecting to see multiplied proofs of the Kingdom power, though the world will not recognize it as such until it is manifested in the flaming fire of Anarchy, which is still further along. The (first) step (was) the war of the nations. The (second) step was Socialisman attempted Socialismamong the people. Then the third step, Anarchy, will gradually come on. When this symbolic fire shall prevail, then the world will realize what we are trying to tell them now; namely, that Gods Kingdom is taking control, and that these various demonstrations are evidences that our Lord is taking His great power. But the many will not begin to see until the flaming fire is revealed. When we endeavor to tell them now they will not receive it, but they will be thoroughly convinced when they see the destructive fire of Anarchy.
It was merely during the interval between the destruction of the kingdom of Israel and the setting up of the Kingdom of the Heavens that the opportunity was given to these Gentile kingdoms to see what they could do toward establishing a righteous government on earth. Now the time has come for Gods Kingdom to displace them; but they will not willingly resign their crowns and scepters; they are in defiance. Therefore force is required to destroy them. Their 2520 years of rule are in the past, and they must now submit to a complete overthrow. We are expecting that the work of their crushing will steadily continue until its full accomplishment. "A short work will the Lord make upon the earth," is the Scriptural declaration.Romans 9:28
At the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet Messiah was to take unto Himself His great power and reign. That Trumpet is now sounding! "And the nations were angry and Thy wrath is come." (Revelation 11:18) Surely the nations are angry now! They act as if they were bereft of common sense. We see readily enough that the spirit of selfishness has prevailed there right along; but that some hindrance or fear heretofore held them back. But finally, when the Lords "due time" had come to permit it, they broke through their restraint. The Lord has at this particular time especially to do with the affairs of the nations. (World War I) was allowed to occur at about the end of the Times of the Gentiles, at the appropriate time when they are to be dashed to pieces with the iron rod of the Iron Rule. (Psalm 2:6-12) It is our judgment that we shall see more of this iron rule and its breaking influence, not only upon the nations, but upon society at large. Now in this great Day of the Lord everything that can be shaken is to be shaken to pieces and shaken out, to the intent that nothing unrighteous or unworthy shall remain. God Himself is doing the shaking.
For our own part we are looking for great shaking in financial matters. ... At the present time stocks, bonds and all other kinds of securities are largely built on confidence. As soon as confidence begins to shake, all these securities decline in value. With such a lack of confidence among the people, we can readily see that there is good ground for the bankers to have a great deal of trepidation"mens hearts failing them for fear."Luke 21:25,26 ...
Seeing that we see all these things with such clearness, and realize what it all means to the Church, how soberly and carefully and faithfully we should live! Never were the words of the Apostle Paul"Let us watch and be sober"more applicable than now. Accompanying the momentous events that usher in the New Dispensation are special trials and difficulties, not only to the world, but also to the Church. The Apostle says, "Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." But "as a snare will it come on all them that dwell on the earth." All except the brethren will be surprised, disappointed, chagrined, found unprepared and more or less overtaken. But the brethren, because they have been feeding at the Lords table, and are strong in His might, will not be overtaken unawares. The Apostle urges that because the brethren are "children of the light," "children of the Day," they shall not act as children of the darkness, "children of the night."
In the New Day that is just dawning we shall have the "Reign of Righteousness." We belong to that New Dispensation. While living in the flesh, we are not of the flesh; while living in the world, we are not of the world. Our minds are clarified by the light of the New Day. We are not interested in the things of this world, but in the things of the Lord; and because of our special relationship to the Lord, as His Elect, we are not left in the darkness of the world.
Above all others, then, we should be sober. When the Apostle enjoins, "Be sober," he is not referring to the use of intoxicating liquors; for those who have the Lords Spirit, the Lords mindthe Truthdo not so indulge. Neither would we understand him to mean that we should always go about wearing long faces; for the children of the Light should of all others be happy, cheerful people. But we should be sober in the sense of being of serious mind, thoughtful, not given to frivolity or levity, but earnestly watching our thoughts, our words, our doings, that we may in all things bring honor to our King whose name we bear. We who have our eyes open see what sin is and how the reign of sin is about to culminate. We see Gods arrangements; and having entered into a Covenant with God, we surely must be sober, vigilant, realizing the great battle now on between Light and Darkness, between Truth and Error; realizing that faithfulness in this "evil day" will require all the soberness of mind, all the fortitude, that we possess. We shall continually need the wisdom from on High. "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5) It is only those who are using to the best of their ability the power and the talents already given them who have any right to ask for further wisdom and who are prepared to use more.
The Scriptures speak of various kinds of intoxication. We can be intoxicated with the spirit of the world. But it would be impossible for true children of the Heavenly King to become thus intoxicated. We have a new wine which the Lord gives, and we should be fully satisfied and not seek the intoxication of the world. Then there is a spiritual intoxication, the spirit of error. All the world are intoxicated with this spirit. All Christendom has been made drunk with the wine which comes from the Golden Cup mentioned in Revelation, which the Apostate Woman has held out for all to drink. This Cup is filled with false doctrines. These false doctrines were her mixture. Thank God! the intoxication of these is passing away, and we are able to see more clearly than ever before. But we see many who are still intoxicated.
The most stupefying potion is the doctrine of eternal torment. It gives people the impression that after they have heard of Christ, have turned from outward sin, and have professed His name, that is all there is to it, and now they should go out and try to induce others to turn from a life of sin. They verily think that there is nothing more to do, not recognizing that there is an important work of grace to be attained in their own hearts, and that they are to be upbuilt in the knowledge of God and in obedience to His will; and that is His will, "even their sanctification." As a consequence of this, many of them are mere babes in Christ; and many more are not even justified to life, having never made a full consecration of themselves.
Many professed Christians of broad mind and of good influence are thoroughly confused with this wine of false doctrine. They are content to give some money to the Church system and to engage in some works of benevolence. It does not occur to them to seek for further knowledge of God or of service for Him. How much these need to be delivered from the enslaving influences which are binding them hand and foot! How glad, how thankful we are that the chains of bondage will soon be broken and the captives all set free! The children of the Light, however, are properly on the watch all the time. They are not influenced by the deluding, false doctrines. We rejoice that the Morning is about to dawn, the time when all will be awakened and see the light as it will then be streaming from the Sun of Righteousness, risen with healing in His beams.
We who are now awake should be very active and energetic in the service of God; for we have a hundred-fold more opportunities than those of other daysby telegraph, by telephone, by mail and by newspapers, by rapid and convenient train service, through the printed page, etc. This is pre-eminently the time for the Lords children, "children of the Day," to be sober, vigilant, active. In the presence of so great opportunities, who should not be sober and vigilant.
And we are to watch. What should we watch? Pre-eminently we should watch ourselves, to keep ourselves from the snares of the present time, which are more insidious and entrapping than ever before, so that we do not endanger our peace with God nor lose our enlightenment. The Adversary is on the watch, and it is necessary that the Lords people be especially alert and watchful. In the past there was little opportunity for the Lords people to watch the fulfilments of Scripture; for these fulfilments were far apart. But now is the time for us to watch particularly along this line. The Times of the Gentiles have ended, and the nations are now disintegrating.
There are certain indications that the Lord has a great work for all His people, His watching saints, at the present time. Unless we are on the alert, we might go to sleep. In our Lords time the disciples were disposed to go to sleep, and to go back to the fishing business, instead of doing the work the Lord had outlined. We should all be fully awake and watching to see what is the duty of the hour and then to be diligent in doing it.
NEVER BEFORE SO GREAT
There are some of the Lords children who seem possessed with the idea that "the door is shut," and that there is no further opportunity for service. So they become indolent in regard to the Lords work. We should lose no time dreaming that the door is shut! There are people who are seeking the Truthpeople who are sitting in darkness. There never was a time like the present. Never have so many people been ready to hear the good Message. In all the ... years of Harvest there have not been such opportunities to proclaim the Truth as now present themselves. The (trouble throughout the earth) and the ominous signs of the times are waking people up, and many are now inquiring. So the Lords people should be very diligent, doing with their might what their hands find to do.
Business men are greatly troubled. ... "Mens hearts are failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth." (Luke 21:26) ... They have not had the security of Gods promises, and they have nothing on which to rest. But the Lords people have the full assurance of His Word that "all things shall work together for good to those who love God"love Him supremely.
Then let all of us whose eyes have been anointed with the "eye-salve" of Present Truth, who are loyal to the Lord, lift up our voices and point the way to those who are bewildered and troubled, who know not which way to go, nor where to seek for comfort, who long for something substantial upon which to rest, when everything seems to be slipping from beneath their feet. Their religious teachers have failed to be true to their commission, and they have been left to grope in darkness. Some of these may be helped by our efforts and led to the "green pastures" and "still waters" of the true Shepherds Fold, before the dark night is fully upon the world. [R5630]
I Thessalonians. 5:19
IN THE SCRIPTURES light is used as a symbol of the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is symbolized, not only by the oil with which the priests were anointed and which represented the indwelling power of the Spirit, but also by the light of the golden candlestick which stood in the Holy. After we had been favored with the knowledge of the Truth and had consecrated ourselves, the Lord accepted our consecration and gave us the Holy Spirit, which became the illuminating power of our hearts. All down the Gospel Age the Church has been the light of the world. This our Lord intimated would be true when He said to His disciples on one occasion, "Ye are the light of the world."Matt. 5:14
As there are various ways by which a light may be extinguished, so there are different means by which this light of the Holy Spirit may be quenched in us. A light will go out if the supply of oil or gas which feeds it be cut off, or if the oxygen of the air be shut off from it, whether because the supply is exhausted or because something is placed over the light to extinguish it. So it is with us. The light of the Spirit may be permitted to die out for want of replenishing, or it may be quenched by contact with some outside force.
In order to have the Holy Spirit in large measure, we must keep near to the Lord; for if we get away from Him, the light will go out. If we neglect the privilege of prayer or of study of the Scriptures or of fellowship with the Lord through failure to think of Him, the illumination of the Spirit will grow dim. On the other hand, it will become brighter in proportion to our realization of our own imperfections and to the degree of our consecration to the Lord. This we manifest by the zeal with which we study His will as expressed in His Word, and with which we practice that will in the affairs of life. These are the means by which we may supply the oil to keep our light burning brightly. But while we are endeavoring to do this, we must see to it that we do not come into contact with anything which will tend to extinguish the flame of sacred love in our hearts.
The world, the flesh and the Devil are all in opposition to the light of the Holy Spirit. To whatever extent they are brought into contact with the light, to that extent they smother it. If the spirit of worldliness come into our hearts, it will extinguish the light of the Holy Spirit. If the spirit of selfishness or of thoughtlessness enter our hearts, it will cause the light to grow dim and finally to die out. Weariness in well-doing will produce the same result. If we indulge in pleasures of the flesh, these will tend to quench the Spirit. Sinful pleasures should, of course, be shunned by everybody. But there are pleasures which are not sinful and which are proper enough for the natural man. Yet to whatever extent the consecrated indulge in these and thus gratify the longings of the flesh, proportionately the new nature will suffer.
Christian fellowship is thought to be one of the very best aids to maintaining the light of the Spirit. Yet even in this there is a danger-line which is not always recognized and which, if crossed, will produce the opposite effect. A visit to the seashore and a bath in the ocean may in some cases be very profitable; but in others it may be carried to such an extent that it becomes dangerous to the new nature. Those who become weary in well-doing are usually those who have found something attractive in another direction to take their attention away from the things of the Spirit.
ACCURATE KNOWLEDGE OF THE PLAN
Amongst the various arrangements which God has made for the New Creatures in Christ is the assembling of themselves together in order to maintain their light and to let it shine. The Apostle Paul exhorts the Church not to forget the assembling together wherever it is possible to do so. (Heb. 10:25) Where the assembling is not possible, the Lord makes up for the lack in some other way; and so we sometimes find a dear brother or sister who has not had the opportunity to meet with others in the Truth, but who seems to be very clear and to have a deep appreciation of the Lords Plan. Not having the privilege of fellowship with others, such a one has done so much the more reading and studying.
Those who have this opportunity for fellowship and who do not appreciate it, seem to be in a very unsatisfactory condition. In such cases, the oil is not burning brightly, else that one would delight to be with fellow-pilgrims in the same way, marching toward the same goal. We should be as careful of our spiritual condition as of our physical. If we have a bad taste in our mouth and no appetite, we conclude that we are not well; and if we do not care to go to meetings, we may know that we are not in good spiritual health. When we find that we have not the desire to meet with others of "like precious faith," it is an indication that we should go to the Great Physician, that He may help us.
In some cases, however, the individual would do better not to go to meeting at first, but to read and study for awhile. Many have been hindered in their spiritual growth by getting a smattering of the Truth and then attending meetings. Such become stumbling-stones to themselves and to others. If they have not the time to read as well as to attend meetings, it would be better to read until they have become established, and then to assemble with others of like precious faith.
Many, even of those who are leading classes, are not so clear in the Truth as would be desirable. Some of these seem not to know what they are talking about, although they think that they do. There are various means by which one may redeem the time for study. One may take a book with him and read while on the car, going to and from his daily task. We know a dear brother who read the entire six volumes in this way.
The right course is to exercise the spirit of a sound mind on this subject, as well as on others. Our first thought should be for the glory of God; our second, for our own profit; our third, for the benefit of others. In this matter we owe it to ourselves to put ourselves first; for if we fit ourselves for service, we then have larger opportunity for helping others. Here self comes first, by Divine command"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness"; "This is the will of God [concerning you], even your sanctification."Matt. 6:33; I Thess. 4:3.
As each one comes to know for himself after receiving the Holy Spirit, He is authorized to teach what he has learned for himself. So we may all be taught of God and be used in teaching others, in proportion as we learn the lessons and apply them to our own hearts. Each ones conscience should decide for him what is to the glory of God in respect to attending meetings.
A flame might be revived, even after having been wholly extinguished. Many of us have seen a candle extinguished, and yet there was a bright, warm core which a quick breath of air might rekindle. So with us. There might be something in our lives to extinguish the flame, but the light would not go entirely out; the breath of the Lord might rekindle it. We have seen people who apparently had been zealous for the Lord, but who seemed to lose their love and zeal; but later it has been rekindled. In other cases, the light has seemed to die out altogether. We should ever be on guard lest we allow anything to dim or to extinguish our love for the Lord, for the Truth or for holiness and Christ-likeness. [R5129]
MATTHEW 26:14-25,47-50; 27:3-10
"Woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!"Matthew 26:24
JUDAS hailed from the south of Palestine, while the other eleven of Jesus disciples were Galileans. It is inferred that because of superior business qualities Judas was made the treasurer of the Apostolic company. The friends of Jesus noted the fact that He and His followers needed to give their entire time to the heralding of the Kingdom. It is not strange, therefore, that we read that some voluntarily donated money for their support.
We cannot imagine Jesus and His Apostles begging for money or even "passing the hat" for a collection. To have done so would have been to discount Jehovahs declaration that all the gold, all the silver, and the cattle upon a thousand hills are His; and to imply that He would have need to ask for assistance. On the contrary, the Scriptures tell us that some voluntarily contributed to the Masters support; for instance, Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herods steward, and others. (Luke 8:3) Such voluntary donations made it proper that there should be a common treasurer for the company, and that he should be of superior business acumen.
We find no reason for believing that Judas was a bad man at the time of his selection by Jesus to be one of the twelve Apostles. We have every reason to believe that he developed a bad character even under the most favorable influencesin the continual company of Jesus and the other Apostles, and with the Message of the Kingdom continually in his ears. There was, however, a beginning to his deflection; and the intimation of the Scriptures is that his temptation came along the lines of avarice, selfishness, love of money.
Alas, how many honest men have been seduced from the path of righteousness by the love of money! We remember that one of the serious charges which Jesus brought against the Pharisees was that they were money-lovers. It would not seem at all strange if it should prove to be true that the difficulty with many Christians today also is along this line of love of money. It is still true that "the love of money is a root of all evil." (1 Timothy 6:10) The Apostle declares that through this deception many pierce themselves with sorrowsnot always so seriously as did Judas, however.
Judas loved money to such an extent that he was willing to betray his Master for thirty pieces of silver. ... Others have loved money to such an extent that they have sold their consciences to gain wealth. Some have sold the Truth for money believing that they would prosper in business better by advocating error. Some have sold the Church for money, and have been willing to preach what they did not believe for the hire of money and the approval of men. Some have sold their nations interests for money, bartering their patriotism.
Surely there is great need for every one to be on guard against the insidious influence of the love of money. But we should clearly distinguish between money and the love of money; for it is the latter which causes ruin and which entraps and ensnares the soul. Money represents toil, labor, accumulation; and as such it should be valued for the good it can do. But to love money, to serve it, to make it an idol and to allow it to alienate our hearts from God, we should not do. Let us not forget that this love of money was the primal cause of Judas horrible failure.
Not at first, but afterward apparently, did the disciples learn that Judas, who carried the treasurers bag, was a thief. (John 12:6) Doubtless even when appropriating the moneys contributed to the support of the little company of disciples, Judas could have some plausible excuse; for sin is always deceptive. Doubtless he would have said, "I laid the money away, thinking that the time would come when the Master and all of us would have greater need for money, and when my provident foresight would be appreciated." Brooding on the subject increased his desire for money, and led his active business mind to hatch out the plot for the betrayal of Jesus.
The record is that when Judas perceived that Jesus had been condemned, he had remorse for his action and took back the money to the chief priests, wishing to undo his deed. They laughed at him, declaring that it was no concern of theirs, but his own, if he had betrayed innocent blood. Because the returned money was "blood money," they could not put it into the Temple Treasury again. Instead, they purchased therewith a piece of cheap land, a potters field, as a burial place for strangers. Thus they fulfilled to the very letter a prophecy which they had probably forgotten: "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the Prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of Him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; and they gave them for the potters field, as the Lord appointed."Matthew 27:9,10
The account implies that Judas was surprised when Jesus was condemned. Apparently he surmised that Jesus, brought to the crucial test, would assert Himself as the Messiah and would triumph over His enemies. Judas thus probably thought that he would hasten the establishment of the Kingdom, in which he hoped to share. For his apology in the end he could say, "Well, we are ahead just thirty pieces of silver; and you may thank me for having brought matters to a climax sooner than otherwise." Thus he would have shone as a hero, as well as have demonstrated his financial wisdom and his suitability for the post of Grand Treasurer of the Kingdom. But in addition to all this, apparently he got a little angry at Jesus because the Master had approved of Marys conduct in respect to the spikenard. It was under the impulse of that resentment that he first sought the priests and the Scribes to negotiate for the betrayal.
We are not hereby suggesting excuses for Judas. There can be no excuse properly offered for treachery to God and His Cause. We are merely pointing out the fact that every transgressor must first consent in his own mind to his wrong course. In other words, the mind, the conscience, must be perverted before each step of sin. Hence the words of Jesus are fully justified: "Woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born."Matt. 26:24
Such treachery, such willingness to hand over his Friend, his Teacher, and the One whom he had accepted as the Son of God and through whom he had expected the Messianic Kingdom, was perfidy of the worst type. With all the other Apostles, Judas had been called to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and to become a sharer with Him in the sufferings and trials incidental to loyalty to the Truth, misunderstood by the people, and if faithful to receive with his Master a share in the Heavenly Kingdom, which is to bless the world. Judas, with the others, had preached the Kingdom, had cast out demons, and had healed the sick, by the power of God operating through the name of Jesus. He had been constantly with the Savior, and knew of the purity of His life, knew of His loyalty to God. Therefore all these things constituted his responsibility and his guilt.
The fact that he suicided implied a fulfilment of Jesus wordsthat Judas wished that he had never been born. Every one who suicides declares the same fact. Yet there may be hope for other suicides, because of their ignorance, and because Christ died for all; and they, with others, must surely have a blessing and an opportunity for everlasting life as a result.
But in the case of Judas, all this was discounted by the fact that he had already enjoyed such privileges, opportunity and knowledge, and had sinned against light and knowledge. The declaration that he went to his own place, his appropriate place, does not signify that Judas or anybody else is to be eternally tortured as a punishment for sin. Rather, his own place was oblivion, hopeless oblivion, without prospect of a resurrection. He died like a natural brute beast, nor could argument be shown why such a character, who had enjoyed such privileges, should ever have any future opportunity.
As to the fate of Judas, one Scripture tells us that he went and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:5) Another Scripture declares that his iniquity accomplished the purchase of a field; and that, falling headlong, he burst asunder, and his bowels gushed out. (Acts 1:18) To harmonize these two accounts is very simple. Both are true. To hang himself, he probably chose the branch of a tree overhanging a precipice, where he could the more easily accomplish his purpose. If under the strain the rope broke, we can readily see how his headlong fall took place.
However, the matter of his death is of slight importance. The important thing is to notice how his soul died, in that he lost his relationship with God and with Christ, and all hope therefore of a future life. Yet the Master was gentle toward him to the very last, giving him every opportunity to relent and to retrace his steps, down to the very last act.
The fact that God had foreknown from the beginning that one of the Twelve would betray Jesus, the fact that the purchase of the field with the blood money had already been prophesied, did not alter the responsibility of Judas for his own fall. It was not Gods foreknowledge that injured Judas, but his own wrong course; and thus it is with all. Gods knowing from the beginning whatsoever will come to pass does not affect us, for He merely knows in respect to us what we will do of our own volition, our own yielding to avarice, to sin.
The testimony that Jesus knew in advance who would betray Him does not prove that Jesus knew this at the time when He chose Judas. He knew that the Scriptures intimated that one of His disciples would betray Him; and from the beginning of the deflection of Judas toward sin, toward avarice, Jesus knew that he must be the one who would commit the traitorous deed; yet in no sense of the word did Jesus conduct lead Judas to the wrong, but rather forewarned him to the contrary. [R5552]
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Matthew 22:39) "Who Is My Neighbor?"
These words were quoted by our Lord in His summarizing of the Ten Commandments. Dividing the Ten Commandments into two parts, He showed that one part related to the duty and obligation toward God, and the other to the duty and obligation toward fellowmen, toward the neighbor. The first part calls for all the love of our heart, our being, our mind, our strength, for the Lord and His service; and the second part, which relates to humanity, calls for us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
In a special sense the Jews recognized themselves as being Gods people. Therefore under the Law they recognized each other as neighbors; for they were all the people of the Lord. But they thought that while they should cordially love their neighbors, they should hate their enemiesall the outside nations that God did not recognize. However, the fact that God had in the past commanded them to slay or drive out the surrounding nations did not mean that the Jews should hate them and wish to do them real injury. Our Lord seems to indicate that the Jews had taken a wrong view of matters. He taught them that to love their enemies, and to do good to those who persecuted them, was the better way. He showed them that they should have a broad view, a benevolence that would take in all the world.
To this effect He on one occasion gave them a parable that of the Good Samaritan. In that parable He pictured a man who was not a Jew ministering to a Jew who had been injured. A Jewish priest had seen the wounded man and had passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, not so close in relationship to God as the priest, is represented as looking at the man and then also passing on the other side. Then came this stranger, a Samaritan, one not in relationship to God at all. The Samaritan promptly served the injured mananointed him and bound up his wounds. The man had been assaulted, robbed and maltreated. The Samaritan "set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him." He remained over night with the injured man, and when he left in the morning he gave some money to the inn-keeper and said to him, "Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee." (Luke 10:29-35) Jesus declared that in this Samaritan of the parable they had an example of one who was a real neighbor.
This parable is also for our instruction today. If we appreciate the conception of a true neighbor which our Lord gave, and say that we have the same conception, then let us observe this Golden Rule: Whatsoever I would have you do unto me, let me do even so unto you. And if you feel that if you were on the roadside, plundered and injured by highwaymen, you would wish that some one would help you, then do the same to others, if you have opportunity. And so in all things. From this viewpoint the whole world are neighbors, no matter how far apart they arewhether they live on our side of the earth or on the opposite side. This the broad, general view shows our relationship and obligation to all the world, to one the same as another. All are our neighbors. All should be treated in a neighborly way as we have opportunity. There is no exception.
It will not do to say that one should be kind merely to those who have been kind to him, that to such only are we to act the part of a neighbor. In that event, the Samaritan would not have been the neighbor. He might have thought that as nobody had found him by the wayside and done anything for him, he consequently would not do anything either. The Lord, in this parable, and in His statement of the spirit of the Law as related to our fellow-men, was laying down a principle that all should be neighbors and treat each other in a kind, neighborly manner, which is the only proper rule amongst mankind. We are to express our love for our neighbor by being thoughtful and considerate of his welfare and interests, and helpful to him as far as is in our power, other obligations being considered.
When we come to the Church, there is a special relationship and bond between its members. We are to love one another as Jesus loved us. This is a new commandment. The Golden Rule is not a new commandment; for it properly belonged to man when God created him, and is designed to be the rule of life. The Jewish Law, as it related to the attitude of the people of Israel toward one another, had for its essence the Golden Rule. But Jesus said to His disciples, "A new commandment I give unto you." He meant this: Those who have become New Creatures have a new relationship; they belong to a new familythe family of God.
Our brethren on the spirit plane are nearest to us of any. Whoever is a New Creature, and thus a brother to all those who are New Creatures, is not merely to observe the Golden Rule, but is to be ready to do toward any and all of the brethren as Jesus did; namely, to lay down his life for them. He is not to say, "I would lay down my life for him, and so I expect him to be willing to lay down his life for me." No! Regardless of his own interests and life, regardless of what others do or do not for him, he is to be willing to spend and be spent for the blessing of the brethren. He is to have sacrificial love, which goes beyond the Golden Rule. Thus are we to be true disciples. [R5699]
1. Those who have faith in the prom-ises_____________________________in the Lord. I Thessalonians 5:16
2. Some sit in darkness because of their ___________________________and unconcern. Matthew 14:31; Luke 12:28; Psalm 1:1
3. The holy scriptures make one ______________. II Timothy 3:15-17; James 1:5,6
4. The hidden things of ________________are being brought to light during this dawning of the ___________________Age Isaiah 21:12; I Corinthians 4:5; Zechariah 14:6,7
5. God promised Abraham that in his seed all the _______________of the earth will be blessed.Genesis 22:15-18
6 The law was a _____________of good things to come. Hebrews 10:1
7. Israel, as a whole, did not accept our Lord at the first advent; all except the few were __________. Romans 11:20,25
8. Because of the unbelief of many Jews, the invitation to become joint-heirs with Christ went to the ___________in 36 A.D.Romans 11:11
9. The spiritual phase of the kingdom will be composed of a ____________flock.Luke 12:32; Romans 8:17; II Timothy 2:11
10. Life and _________________were brought to light by ____________.II Timothy 1:10
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(Thursday Text from Daily Heavenly Manna)
If a man contend in the games, he is not crowned unless he strive lawfully. 2 Timothy 2:5 (Diaglott)
JESUS observed God's times and seasons and methods. He never recklessly exposed His life until from the prophets He recognized that His hour had come to be delivered into the hands of His enemies. He did not make long prayers on the street corners to be heard of men, nor exhort the multitude with noisy harangue; as the prophet indicated, He did not lift up His voice nor cry aloud in the streets. (Isaiah 42:2) He chose God's methods, which are rational and wise, and which are effective in selecting from among men the class which He desires to be heirs of the promised Kingdom. Let those who would so run as to obtain the prize, mark these footprints of the Master, and be filled more and more with His Spirit. Z.'02-265 R3070:5
It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household? Matthew 10:25
HOWEVER graciously stated, the Truth is a sword which penetrates in every direction, and which as our Lord foretold, frequently sets parents against children and children against parents, because the darkness hateth the light and opposeth it in every possible manner....In view of the Lord's teachings regarding this subject, and of how the wisest presentation of it may be ultimately misconstrued, it behooves every one who would serve the Truth faithfully to be as careful as possible not to be misunderstood;to let it be clearly understood that we neither participate in nor advocate anarchy of any kind; but on the contrary, are standing for righteousness and the highest of laws, the divine law. Z.'03-13 R3131:3,5
Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Matthew 6:33
THE Lord's people of spiritual Israel will do well to bear this thought continually in mindthat spiritual interests are to be given the preference always; that temporal affairs are to be managed and controlled from the standpoint of the everlasting welfare;from the standpoint of spiritual growth and development and prosperity;from the standpoint of the best interests and influences upon their children. They should not only hesitate to follow any suggestion that would take themselves and their families into unfavorable, godless surroundings, but they should determine that not under any consideration would they follow such a suggestion;that on the contrary the Lord's people should be their people, even though this meant less of the comforts and luxuries of this present life. `Z.'02-350` R3110:6
Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season. 2 Timothy 4:2
THIS cannot mean that we are to violate the laws of reason and decency by intruding the good tidings upon others at times inconvenient and unseasonable to them; but it does mean that we are to have such a love for the Truth, such an earnest desire to serve it, that we will gladly accept the opportunity to do so, however inconvenient it may be for ourselves. It is the chief business of our lives, to which life itself even is subservient, and hence, no opportunity for service must be laid aside. Z.'03-189 R3211:2
"His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay."Jeremiah 20:9
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