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APOSTOLIC INJUNCTION NEVER SO SIGNIFICANT
"The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor
of light." -- Romans 13:12.
FROM a careful study of Bible chronology it
seems very evident that each of the six
great Days in which Jehovah prepared the
earth for man, ending with man's own
creation, was a period of seven thousand
years. After man was created, God "rested
from all His work"--as related to the earth.
His rest period began with the commencement
of the great Seventh Day, and has
continued ever since. This Seventh Day
is also to be a period of seven thousand years, ushering
in at its close the glorious Jubilee of Earth, 49,000 years
after the beginning of the ordering of Earth.
This great Rest Day of Jehovah has been man's Work
Week, each Day of which has been a thousand years
long. When the Apostle Paul wrote the words of our
text, more than four of these thousand-year Days were
in the past; they were then in the Fifth Day. Practically
all of this time had been a reign of sin, darkness and
death, due to man's fall. So St. Paul could truly say,
as he looked back, that this great night of darkness was
then far spent and the day was at hand. From the Old
Testament prophecies and from the wonderful revelations
which he himself had received from the Lord he
was assured that, through the sacrifice for man which
had been made by the Lord Jesus Christ, a glorious Day
[R5768 : page 281] of emancipation from the bondage of Sin and Death was
to come--the Seventh Day of man's great Week. It is
of this glorious Sabbath Day that the Apostle here speaks.
For one-half of the long period since the fall of our
first parents, there had been but a very obscure light as
regarded any deliverance of man from the curse of
death pronounced upon the father of the race for his
disobedience. There was the mere glimmer of a promise
that God would at some future time do something for
mankind. First there had been a declaration to the
serpent who had brought about man's downfall, that the
Seed of the woman should bruise, or crush, his head, while he would but bruise the heel of this Seed. Then
the clothing by the Lord of the nakedness of Adam and
Eve with the skins of slain animals suggested a future
covering provided by the death of some unknown Redeemer--
the Seed of the Woman. Later, God manifested
His acceptance of the animal-sacrifice of Abel.
A little later came a suggestion to Enoch (Jude 14-16),
and still later, a promise to Abraham, that God would
yet bless all the families of the earth through his Seed.
Then came a gradual working out of a feature of
that Promise to Abraham, through the Hebrew people,
to make of them, if they would prove worthy, a nation
who would be light-bearers to all other nations and
peoples. Still with all the disciplinary experiences which
Israel received, when our Lord Jesus came, those who
had been under such special Divine instruction were, as
a nation, totally unready to receive Him as the Messiah
of God. And they crucified Him. Yet they were in
advance of other nations. God had not given instructions
to other nations, but had given Prophets, Laws, etc.,
to the people of Israel. (Amos 3:2.) But while this
especially favored nation was quite unready for the light,
as represented in the Lord Jesus and His teachings,
there were some among them who were ready to receive
Him as the Sent of God, Israel's long-looked-for Messiah.
These were the "Israelites indeed."
THE CALL OF THE "BRIDE" CLASS
"He came unto His own [nation], and His own received
Him not." At the time of the crucifixion of
Christ, after John the Baptist had done his work and
after our Lord's three and a half years of ministry
among them, only a little more than five hundred had
become Jesus' disciples and had remained true. Yet at
Pentecost and onward a considerable number were
awakened, and came into the light of Truth and accepted
the Gospel Message and received the Holy Spirit. About
twenty-five thousand, so far as we are able to estimate,
received this transformation of heart. It is a wonderful
thing that so many of that little nation were found to
accept Messiah! No other nation would have made so
good a showing. As history has proven, more than 1800
[R5769 : page 281] years have been required to select the remainder of the
144,000 Elect from among the Gentiles.
At that time the Message was given forth that the
Gospel Call was designed to select a "Bride" class, to be
associated with the Messiah in His glorious Kingdom.
It was not designed for all, but only for those who had
the ears to hear and the heart to respond. If we place
ourselves back in the days of the Apostles, we can think
of them as preparing themselves for their great, coming
glory and as thinking that the foreordained number to
constitute this honored company would soon be completed.
They probably thought that these thousands
gathered from all the Jews in Palestine and other countries,
and especially when augmented by some from the
Gentiles whom they perceived were later received, would
make up the "little flock" which would compose the
"Bride" of Christ. Hence the Apostles were continually
speaking as if the Kingdom was at hand. They thought
it imminent--were expecting it every day.
NO CLEAR CHRONOLOGY UNTIL OUR DAY
But the Apostle Paul pointed out that certain Scriptures
had not yet been fulfilled, and that there must be a
great falling away in the Church before the great Day
of the Lord could come. The early Church probably
had no particular method in which they could have
reckoned definitely the number of years since Adam.
The matter of counting years, as we have it, is comparatively
a modern affair. In olden times each nation
had its own chronology. They merely reckoned that it
was so many years since this dynasty or that dynasty
began; so many years from a certain notable event to the
first year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, of Cyrus, etc.
And so with the Israelites. They would say, In such
a year of the reign of David, or of Hezekiah, etc., such
and such an event took place. But it was not easy to get
these things connected up so as to have any accurate
chain of chronology. There were certain broken links,
which our Lord has since supplied for us in the New
Testament, to be noted and connected up "in due time."
Today we have more advantage every way than they had.
The Hebrew Scriptures were written on parchment and
kept in certain places. And it was difficult to handle
them because they were written on great rolls. One
had to roll the parchment this way and that way to get
to the place where he wished to read certain prophecies,
etc. Today, not only have we Bibles neatly printed, but
many of them have convenient marks of reference by
which we can turn from page to page. We have suggestions,
also, as to chronology which enable us to get a
clear, connected chain from the creation of Adam to the
It is true also that the Jews have a chronology that
is called Anno Mundi--the year of the world. But it
was not arranged until long after the days of the Apostles.
They thought it was a long, long way back to the
time of Adam. The Apostle Peter declares that a day
with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand
years as one day. The Jews had no means by which they
could accurately reckon chronology from the beginning;
no means for availing themselves of information on the
subject. It is not surprising, then, that they were not
clearly informed. The Lord, undoubtedly by design, left
matters in this uncertain condition until His own "due
time" for their revealment.
THE DAY OF CHRIST NOW ON HAND
In the days of the Apostles it was truly declared by
them that the Day of the Lord was "at hand." The
Apostles perceived that a great Light had come into the
world, that a turning-point in the history of the world
had arrived. But it was not the shining of the Sunlight
of the great Millennial Day. St. Paul declared that the
darkness still covered the earth and gross darkness the
people. The Lord Jesus Himself had explained that the
light that then shone from Him was not the great "Sun
of Righteousness," which would later shine out upon the
whole world. Neither did the disciples of Christ shed a
light as the light of the sun upon the world of mankind.
Our Lord told His disciples that they should put their
light upon a candlestick, that it might give light to those
in the House.--Matthew 5:14-16.
But it would require the light of the "Sun of Righteousness"
[R5769 : page 282] to enlighten the whole world--Christ and His
Church in glory. Our Lord pointed out that this would
come at the conclusion of the Age then just begun--the
Gospel Age, as it is generally called, the Christian Dispensation.
At the beginning of this Age He sowed the
seed which would produce the "Bride" class, the class
which was to reign with Him over the world in the Age
to follow. But He forewarned that the enemy, Satan,
would sow the seeds of error in the Lord's wheat-field,
and that he would be successful in producing a large
crop of tares. Our Lord also declared that at the end
of this Gospel Age He would Himself be present and
would, as the great Chief Reaper, gather the tares in
bundles to be burned, and would gather the wheat into
the garner. Speaking of that time the Master says,
"Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the
Kingdom of their Father."--Matthew 13:43.
That time has not yet fully come. But this glorious
Day is now breaking. The majority of the members of
Christ are now with their Lord on the other side of the
veil, and the dawning light is increasing, and the Day
will soon be here in all its glorious effulgence. This
dawning light draws our attention more particularly to
the chronology, and helps us to see mistakes that were
made in the past by those who attempted to arrange a
chronology before the time was ripe for it to be seen
clearly. It shows us that a mistake of a hundred and
twenty years was made, and still later lesser mistakes.
Tracing the Scriptural chronology down to our day,
we find that we are now living in the very dawn of the
great Seventh Day of man's great Week. This is
abundantly corroborated by the events now taking place
about us on every hand. The Millennial Age has already
begun, the Day of the Lord is now on hand--now present.
So we should not sleep, but should be wide awake.
Some terrible things were to occur as the Day of Christ
drew on, before the full shining forth of the Sun. For
instance, this present mighty war, which is truly a terrible
thing, was long ago foretold. (Jeremiah 25:15-38;
Joel 3:2,9-16.) Daily is it increasing in volume and
intensity, and will soon merge into revolution, to be
swiftly followed by the chaos of anarchy. The great
Adversary is able to put darkness for light--and these
warring nations verily think they are doing God service
by killing one another.
Now the question is, Will the United States become
involved? This may come, or this country may receive
its share of retribution in the coming revolution and
anarchy. We attribute all this terrible condition to the
darkness that is upon the world through the Adversary's
blinding delusions. But God will overrule human affairs
to His own glory and to the ultimate good of man in the
overthrow of the Rule of Selfishness and the establishment
of His glorious Kingdom of Righteousness and Love.
"Cast off the works of darkness," urges the Apostle.
This injunction was appropriate in St. Paul's day. Those
who saw Jesus to be the Light of the world, those who
became enlightened with His Light, and themselves became
burning and shining lights, were able to realize
that the great darkness prevailing around them was
largely the result of ignorance, superstition, misunderstanding.
The whole heathen world were in gross darkness.
The Jewish nation were in darkness, except the
minority who received the light. What darkness were
the Jews in? They were in darkness in respect to God's
Plan and the meaning of the Promise to Abraham and
his Seed respecting the blessing of the world.
"THE WHOLE WORLD LIETH IN THE WICKED ONE"
All those who became children of the light, who received
the light from the Master's teachings or from
His chosen Apostles and came into Covenant relationship
with God through the begetting of the Holy Spirit,
became members of the special Seed of Abraham, who
are to bless the world during the incoming Age. But
the nation of Israel was set aside, as respects the chief
favor. In the year 70 A.D., their national polity was
entirely destroyed, and the Jews were scattered far and
wide. What was the condition of other nations at that
time? We perceive that while Israel had been in darkness,
the other nations were in still deeper darkness,
though many of them were "feeling after God, if haply
they might find Him." The god of this world has blinded
the minds of those who see not. Consequently he has
blinded the minds of the majority of all nations with
ignorance, superstition and "doctrines of devils."
The Devil has men in such a condition that they
cannot think of God as being good. "The whole world
lieth in the Wicked One." The only ones who are not
in the Wicked One are the true Church of God, the
Church of Christ. The children of the light are the only
exceptions. It is from the Word of God that His true
people get their light. They are to have oil in themselves
--the oil of the Holy Spirit. But many of these
have not been faithful to the light and are in confusion;
some are merely babes in Christ; some are weak in
various ways for lack of the spiritual food which the
Lord has provided.
It is God's people who have been addressed in the
Scriptures all the way down these nineteen hundred
years. We come down to our day and see that the light
of the Word is fully corroborated by the work of the
New Dispensation now beginning. The light of the
Dawn is fully corroborating the Bible. St. Paul says
that we should "cast off the works of darkness" and "put
on the armor of light." The works of darkness are
those things which are done in the dark. The works of
darkness are the works of sin. These works are not
[R5770 : page 282] done out in the open, as a rule. They generally hide
away from the revealment which the light brings. If
they are done in the open, it is when they are posing as
works of light. Wherever the true light of Jesus Christ
comes it reproves these works of darkness.
The Scribes and the Pharisees of Jesus' day were
money-lovers. Jesus condemned their works because
these were mere pretense. While they prayed in street
corners, etc., they privately devoured widows' houses--
took advantage of widows and swallowed up their property.
But it was true of the public in general--of the
Gentiles as well as the Jews. The Apostles enumerated
a number of the evils that were generally practised in
his day--adultery, lasciviousness, covetousness, witchcraft,
hatred, wrath, strife, heresies, evil-speaking, idolatry,
etc. All these things are works of darkness, works
of the flesh and of the Devil; and they are still practised
THE ARMOR OVER THE ROBE
We are to put on the "armor of light." Consider the
light you have now received--the light of the knowledge
of God, of His will, of what to live for, and of what
kind of characters they are to whom the Lord will be
pleased to grant the reward of eternal life, even the
highest form of life. Having all this knowledge, put it
on as an armor to protect you. Knowing what God requires,
put all this on, not as a robe, but as an armor
[R5770 : page 283] over the robe. Put on the breastplate of righteousness
covering the heart. Realize that nothing but heart-purity
and absolute loyalty to God may be considered. Realize
that God is for us. Take the Sword of the Spirit, the
Word of God, and all the various pieces enumerated by
the Apostle. These constitute the "armor of light," so
called because it is obtained from the light of Truth.
In this our day it is surely as important that we
should put on this armor and should put off the works
of darkness as for the Church of the Apostle's day.
Surely if ever the whole armor was needed, it is needed
now. The Lord's dealing with us is individual--both as
to the putting off of the works of darkness and as to the
putting on of the armor of light. All who put on this
armor will find themselves in accord with the Lord and
with those who are truly His. As God's faithful children
get farther and farther into this Day of the Lord,
more and more will they see eye to eye. We believe
there never was a time when so many of the Lord's
people have seen eye to eye regarding the things to put
off and the things to put on. We believe there never
was a time when so many of the children of the light
were wearing the whole Armor of Light. Therefore we
have so much the more responsibility to "walk as children
of light" and not as of the night.
DANGER TO EVEN THE FULLY CONSECRATED
It is possible that some, even of the fully consecrated
children of God, surrounded with the cares of this life,
or weary of the struggle against sin and evil, or somewhat
beguiled by the present things of time and sense,
may have become more or less drowsy, and so stand in
special need of the stirring exhortation which the Apostle
in this connection gives to the Church--particularly appropriate
today: "It is now high time to awake out of
sleep!" It is time for earnest, searching self-examination,
for a more diligent watching to see that we do not
allow the things of this "present evil world" to absorb
our thoughts and energies to the imperiling of our
Heavenly hopes, so soon to be realized if we remain
wholly faithful to the end. It is highly important that
we seek for a still closer walk with God, a more intimate
fellowship with Him, a more thorough self-abnegation,
a more diligent cross-bearing, a more faithful conformity
in every respect to the whole will of the Lord concerning
us. And this will of the Lord, we know, is not unreasonable,
and His grace sufficient is promised for every day,
every hour, every moment!
A careful, prayerful searching of our hearts will
make plain wherein we lack in conformity to the perfect
will of God. And if we discover in ourselves any perverse
way, we shall correct it. Thus we more and more
"put on the Lord Jesus Christ"--the mind or disposition
of Christ, the spirit of love and loyalty which characterized
Him. How important it is, in the very short time
which yet remains to us, that we fully awake and apply
ourselves most diligently to the cultivation of the Godlike,
Christlike disposition of Love, the love which seeks
above all else the glory of God, which is kindly-affectioned
toward the brethren, which rests in the precious
promises, which trusts fully in the dark as well as in the
light, and which has no shadow of doubt that all the good
things promised in God's Word shall be fulfilled!
LET US "WALK AS BECOMETH SAINTS"
In the context St. Paul urges, "Let us walk honestly,
as in the day." He was speaking of certain vile practises
then common--drunkenness, rioting, chambering,
wantonness. We are not necessarily to suppose that he
meant this as a reproof to the Christian believers at
Rome, but as a pastoral exhortation that they should be
on guard against these sins, and as a reminder that the
principles which they had adopted as Christians were in
direct contrast to those which generally prevailed. Very
different standards of morality were current among the
heathen. Quite a large number of the believers at Rome
had been heathen and accustomed to immoralities. Hence
the Apostle's words were words of caution; for we would
not suppose that saints would be guilty of these things.
The Apostle's words above shed a warning light in
saying, "Let us walk honestly, as in the day." Most of
the rioting and drunkenness is done at night--such is
the custom even to this day. Works of darkness and sin
thrive best at night, for some reason. People have other
things to attend to in the day-time, and evil-doers take
the night for frivolity or carousing or crime. Vice then
stalks abroad. Darkness seems to favor such works, by
hiding them more or less. The Apostle points out that
this is the great night of darkness, sin, but that those in
Christ are not in darkness; for they have been brought
into the light of God. We are looking for the full dawning
of the Morning of the New Dispensation--we are
seeking to live in harmony with it. So here he says,
Let us walk honestly, above-board, so that everybody will
see and know our lives--let us be honest in every way,
not be preaching one thing and practising another.
Considering the day here mentioned to be the Millennial
Day, we may well say that nothing in the nature
of sin will then be allowed. "For out of Zion shall go
forth the Law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem."
(Micah 4:2.) "Judgment also will I lay to the
line," says Jehovah, "and righteousness to the plummet;
and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the
water shall overflow the hiding-place." (Isaiah 28:17.)
Whoever in that Day shall attempt to live riotously and
in drunkenness or in any sin will be promptly punished.
The Apostle's exhortation is that we, as saints of the
Lord, should live as those will be living when the Day
shall have fully come--when the Sun of Righteousness
will be shedding its beams over the whole earth.
It is a part of our overcoming to live as though the
Day were fully ushered in, as though everything had
been fully manifested. Whoever will take the Apostle's
advice in this matter will certainly have a rich blessing.
In fact any other course would be sure to be disastrous
to us as New Creatures in Christ!
ONLY A LITTLE WHILE
"Only a little while to walk with weary feet,
Only a little while the storms of life to meet,
Only a little while to tread the thorny way,
Only a little while, then comes the perfect Day.
"Only a little while to spread the truth abroad.
Only a little while to testify for God,
Only a little while, the time is fleeting fast,
Only a little while, earth's sorrows all are past.
"Only a little while, then let us do our best,
Only a little while, then comes the promised rest.
Only a little while, oh, what a word is this!
Only a little while, then comes the perfect bliss."