Times and Signs—Part 5

Israel’s Double Portion

“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably unto Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.” —Isaiah 40:1,2

THE marginal rendering of the Hebrew word translated ‘warfare’ in our text is, ‘appointed time’. This, together with the word ‘double’ which appears in the text, reveals clearly that, through Isaiah, the Lord is here referring to one of the time measurements in his great plan of the ages. It is a period of time pertaining to ‘Jerusalem’, which here we understand to relate to the people of Israel. The text reveals that an appointed time of chastisement was to come upon this people, which, from the standpoint of this prophecy, had been completed.

This double period of punishment is also mentioned in Jeremiah 16:18. This reference to Israel’s double portion is preceded by a promise and prophecy pertaining to their return to the land which God had promised to their fathers. In verses fourteen to seventeen this return of the captives is compared to the release of the Hebrew children from the land of Egypt under the leadership of Moses, but with the explanation that this could not come to pass until after the Lord had “recompensed” their iniquity “double.” In Zechariah 9:12 we have another reference to Israel’s double portion. The text reads, “Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope: even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee.” The context of this statement reveals that the expression ‘today’, which was to be the beginning of the double, was at the close of Jesus’ ministry, when he rode triumphantly into Jerusalem and was acclaimed king by his friends, but rejected by the rulers of Israel.

This was but a few days before Jesus was crucified, when, as if to pinpoint the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy, he said to Israel, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”—Matt. 23:37-39

Thus we have three references to Israel’s double portion. Through the Prophet Jeremiah we are informed that there was to be a ‘double’. The Prophet Zechariah establishes the time when the punishment portion of the ‘double’ was to begin; while Isaiah writes concerning the completion of the ‘appointed time’ of chastisement. These three prophecies therefore combine as a sure testimony of the fact that here we have another important time prophecy of the Bible, and one which applies specifically to God’s dealings with his typical people, Israel.

A proper understanding of this time prophecy depends upon ascertaining the length of the first half of the double. To do this, it must be determined when it began, for the Prophet Zechariah and Jesus reveal when this first half of the double ended. This time prophecy applies to Israel as a people, not as individuals, and it was at the death of Jacob that God first began to deal with this patriarch’s twelve sons as the representative heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.

It will be recalled that Isaac’s parental blessing could be given to only one of his sons, which was Jacob. It could not be shared. By contrast with this, Jacob passed on a blessing of one sort or another to all of his sons. This helps to emphasize the change which took place in the experiences of God’s typical people when Jacob died. Now the entire family, the nucleus of the Israelitish nation, was being dealt with by God.

The chronological point, therefore, at which the double time measurement began was at the death of Jacob. Jacob died 198 years prior to the exodus, and the Scriptures reveal that from the exodus to the death of Jesus was 1,647 years, making a total of 1,845 years from the death of Jacob, when God began to deal with his twelve sons as the ‘twelve tribes of Israel’, to the time when Jesus said to this people, “Your house is left unto you desolate,” which was only a matter of days before he died.—Matt. 23:38

God had promised to Abraham that his seed would bless all the families of the earth. By reason of this and subsequent promises, his descendants believed that God would send them a Messiah, a great king, who would rule over them, and to whom the gathering of all people would be. This hope took a definite form as a result of a prophecy by Jacob, uttered on his deathbed. Concerning his son, Judah, Jacob prophesied that the sceptre, the right to rule, would not depart from him, “nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”—Gen. 49:10

Various of God’s holy prophets foretold the coming of this great one who was to be born in the tribe of Judah. Isaiah wrote, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder. … Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end. … The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”—Isa. 9:6,7

So the coming of the Messiah was the hope of Israel. While at various times, on account of their sins, God punished his chosen people, permitting other nations to oppress them and allowing them to be taken into captivity for varying lengths of time, he did not utterly cast them off, and the people again and again left their idolatry and renewed their hope in the promises of God.

Nor did their being overthrown as an independent kingdom in 606 B.C. blot out this national hope of a coming Messiah. It was not to Israel as a kingdom that the promises were made. For hundreds of years God dealt with them as a people, as a family, the descendants of Abraham. In ancient times the words family and nation were almost synonymous in their use. For example, God’s promise to Abraham that through his seed all the ‘families’ of the earth would be blessed, is referred to by Paul as all the ‘nations’ of the earth being blessed.—Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:8

Beginning with the death of Jacob, God dealt with the twelve tribes as a family, or nation. This continued until the exodus, through their forty years’ wandering in the wilderness; the six years during which Canaan was being divided among the tribes under the leadership of Joshua; and the 450 years ordinarily spoken of as the period of the judges. It was not until the close of this period that the people, or nation, of Israel became a kingdom. Even then it was not by God’s design, but because the people clamored for a king, wanting to be like the surrounding heathen nations.

God asked Samuel, the last of the judges, to warn the people of the difficulties they would experience under the rulership of kings, but instructed him, nevertheless, that if the Israelites still insisted on having a king, he was to seek out a suitable man and anoint him to be king. Samuel warned the people, as the Lord had instructed him, but they still wanted a king; so, Saul was selected, anointed, and became their first king.

In his great wisdom, God is always able to overrule the mistakes of his people to his own glory. So, since the people of Israel insisted on being a kingdom, and having a king, God continued to rule over them, accepting their kings as merely his representatives. Thus, Israel as a kingdom became typical of the messianic kingdom of promise. But since this was an arrangement insisted upon by the Israelites themselves, it did not mean that God ceased to deal with them when their last king, Zedekiah, was overthrown.

God permitted his people to experience seventy years of captive punishment in Babylon, and then, under Cyrus, King of Persia, gave them liberty to return to their own land. (II Chron. 36:22,23; Ezra 1:1,2) From then on they remained a subject people, but otherwise enjoyed the favor of the Lord. His blessing was markedly upon them in connection with the rebuilding of their Temple in Jerusalem, and the reconstruction of the city and its walls.

Under Nehemiah and Ezra, not only were the Temple and the city rebuilt, but the Law of God was also restored to his people. About that time, or shortly thereafter, God sent the Prophet Malachi to his people to remind them that the “Messenger of the covenant,” one of the titles of the Messiah, would surely come, and that there would come a “messenger” to prepare the way for the Messiah.—Mal. 3:1

These various incidents confirm the fact that God’s favor was still upon his people, although they had lost their national independence. The greatest of all evidences of divine favor upon Israel was the coming of their Messiah in the person of Jesus, the son of David. This was the great objective of God’s watchcare over his people throughout the centuries. No greater favor could come to any people, or nation, than to be the ones to whom the Creator of the universe would send his own Son to be the redeemer, savior, and king of all mankind.

But this greatest of all favors from God was also the final test of their worthiness to continue to be exclusively the people of God. Had they passed the test they not only would have continued to enjoy God’s favor, but all whom the Lord called to be joint-heirs with the Messiah would have been from this people. No such exclusive opportunity will ever again be given to any one family, or people, of the earth.—Gal. 3:27-29

However, Israel as a people failed in this test. Jesus came to his own, and although a few did receive him—qualifying thereby to become his joint-heirs—this did not save the standing of the nation in the eyes of God. (John 1:11,12) As a people, under the influence of their jealous and oftentimes hypocritical religious leaders, they continued to reject Jesus, and at the close of his short ministry of three and one-half years, brought about his death. That is why Jesus said just a few days before he was crucified, “Your house is left unto you desolate.”—Matt. 23:38

In this connection Jesus uttered a remarkable prophecy. He said to the people of Israel, “Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Matt. 23:39) Here is a definite assurance by Jesus himself that the people of Israel were still loved by the Lord, and at a future time, which would be after his second advent, they would recognize him as the Messiah and call him blessed.

The Turning Point

Here, then, was the turning point of Israel’s double. They had enjoyed God’s favor as exclusively his people for 1,845 years. Now they were to suffer under the withdrawal of his favor for a like number of years. Since this turning point was in the year A.D. 33, 1845 years from that date would bring us to the year A.D. 1878, or, essentially, to our own day.

As we have noted in the examination of other time prophecies of the Bible, they pinpoint the beginning of the events or circumstances to which they apply, not to their completion. Take, for example, the circumstances at the time Jesus said to Israel, “Your house is left unto you desolate.” So far as the people of Israel at that time were concerned, it is doubtful if any of them noticed any change, nor was there any perceptible change in their experiences until many years thereafter.

The death of Jesus and the subsequent development of a little group of his disciples whom the Jews looked upon as being deluded seemed of no special consequence to the fortunes of Israel. Nor did they realize that Gentiles becoming disciples of the one they had crucified denoted the loss of their own exclusive right to divine favor. Had anyone asked the Jews of that day about it, they all would have affirmed that no change was taking place.

Nevertheless, a change was occurring. Thirty-six and one-half years after Jesus said, “Your house is left unto you desolate,” Jerusalem was besieged by a Roman army under Titus, and the city was destroyed and their Temple burned. Three years later, in the spring of A.D. 73, all Judea was subjugated under intolerable conditions. The people began to disperse, and subsequently were completely scattered. And they remained a dispersed and persecuted people throughout all the centuries, having no recognition as a nation until in this, our day.

Israel’s double, then, included a declining period of thirty-six and one-half to forty years. This would call for a similar period at this end of the age during which we should be able to trace increasing evidences of God’s returning favor upon his typical people. Since then, the main period of the double—1845 years—reached to A.D. 1878, we should expect to find something in history about that time, or soon thereafter, to indicate at least a slight change in Israel’s status before the world. And we should find increasing evidence throughout the following years of God’s returning favor, with some sort of culmination being reached in the years 1914 to 1918—the dates reached by the thirty-six and one-half to forty years extension of the double.

Such historical evidence we do find! As a result of the Berlin Congress of Nations in 1878, conditions in Palestine began slowly to improve for the Jews. The change was not great, even as their loss of God’s favor at the turning point of their double was not noticeable. Even now it can be discerned only as we look back upon it in the light of events which followed.

England, by secret treaty with Turkey, who then possessed the Asiatic provinces which included Palestine, assumed a protectorate over those provinces. Because of England’s attitude toward Jews, this automatically brought about a lessening of the hardships of the Israelites in Palestine, and more and more of them began to go there.

In 1896, the Zionist Organization was formed, under the leadership of Dr. Theodore Herzl. This organization worked incessantly to awaken the Jews of the world to a renewed interest in Palestine, and in their national hopes which centered in this Promised Land. While from the standpoint of comparative numbers, not many Jews actually returned to Palestine, there was a crescendo of interest in Zionism in general.

In 1914 came the First World War, which, so far as its bearing on the hopes of Israel was concerned, resulted in wresting Palestine completely from Turkey, and later, through the League of Nations, giving the Jews a mandate to return and built up the country as a homeland for themselves. Thus, exactly on time, when the second half of their double was completed, the people of Israel, whose occupancy of the land became intolerable at the end of the first half of their double, were told by representatives of practically all nations of the earth, that they now had the right to return and to rebuild their country. And forthwith they did begin to return.

The Jews did not become an independent nation at that time; they were not an independent nation when the second half of their double began. This was not the point involved in the prophecies pertaining to their double. It was, rather, the matter of God’s favor, the final withdrawal of that favor being manifested by the destruction of their Temple and subsequent dispersion from the land of their fathers. Their being granted the right to return to the land would, therefore, be a marked evidence that God’s favor had returned to them.

Other Prophecies

Some may ask, if God’s favor returned thus so visibly to his people in 1918, why have they since that time, and particularly under Hitler, experienced one of the most severe periods of persecution? The answer to this question is that the persecutions of the Jews since 1918 are in fulfillment of another group of prophecies—prophecies which clearly point out experiences which were to postdate the time of their double. Jeremiah’s reference to the double clearly shows this. Referring to tragic experiences which would induce the Israelites to return to their land, the Lord, through Jeremiah, said:

“It shall no more be said, “The Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, the Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes. And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double.”—Jer. 16:14-18

Here the Lord is explaining that first, or before he would send fishers to entice, and hunters to compel his people to return to the Promised Land, he would render double unto them for their iniquity. He also explains that even in sending the fishers and the hunters among his people it would be because his eyes were upon their ways.

The clear implication of this prophecy is that the Lord would permit much trouble to come upon his people after the completion of their double, and that this trouble would not be an evidence of his disfavor, as were their persecutions during their double period of punishment, but rather it would be an evidence of his favor in shaping their circumstances in such a manner as to turn their faces toward the Land of Promise. And this is exactly what was accomplished by the Hitler persecutions, the hunters having their day.

With Fury

Another prophecy which conveys a similar thought, is Ezekiel 20:33-37. We quote: “As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you. And I will bring you out from the people and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord God. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.”

Notice that according to this prophecy, the Israelites are brought out from the countries where they have been domiciled by what is described as the Lord’s ‘fury’. Furthermore, the Lord declares that in doing this he would be ruling, or reigning, over his people. Certainly the Lord did not rule over his people during the double period of their punishment. Rather, this language denotes and refers to the time after their double is completed, and his favor is again upon them.

The illustration the Lord uses in this prophecy gives us the correct understanding. He says, “I will bring you into the wilderness of the people”; and again, “Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you.” Surely we must agree that God’s favor was upon his people when, in the person of Moses, he visited them and delivered them from their slavery. Even so, it was a trying time for the Israelites. It was necessary for them to experience some of the plagues which came upon the Egyptians in order to make them want to follow Moses out of bondage. In leaving Egypt, they shortly found themselves in the wilderness where their circumstances were most difficult. They did not move directly from Egypt to Canaan, the Land of Promise.

It would be thus, the Lord foretold, when he would bring them out from among the nations whither they had been scattered. Their uprooting from the Gentile nations would not immediately result in a peaceful and secure settlement in Palestine. Instead, there was to be a long ‘wilderness’ experience, a time of uncertainty and insecurity, such as we have witnessed since the completion of their double in 1918. First they were ‘plagued’, and since then have experienced much difficulty in connection with their possession of the Promised Land. As a matter of fact, they are in possession of only part of Israel.

Possibly it is this situation that is referred to in Joel 3:1,2. This is clearly a reference to the time when the Lord would be restoring his people to their land. The prophecy reads: “Behold in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations [the gathering to Armageddon], and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat [interpreted in verse fourteen as the ‘valley of decision’], and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations [throughout the age], and [now in God’s due time for them to repossess Palestine] parted my land.”

Judging from this and other prophecies, it appears that the full accomplishment of God’s purpose in the restoration of Israel to the Land of Promise is still future. In fact, returning to the prophecy of Ezekiel 20:33-37, which we have already quoted, we learn that after the Israelites are uprooted from among the various nations in which they were domiciled, and brought into the wilderness of the people—as Israel of old was brought out of Egypt into a wilderness—they were then to be brought ‘into the bond of the covenant’.—vs. 37

This also parallels the sequence of events experienced by ancient Israel when delivered from slavery in Egypt; for at that time they were first brought into the wilderness, and then into the bond of the Law Covenant, mediated by Moses at Mount Sinai. So now, the bringing of the Israelites into the bond of the promised New Covenant is the ultimate design of the Lord in the experiences through which he has been directing them since the ending of their double portion of punishment.

In the complete fulfillment of this purpose it should be obvious that the appointed time of the double serves merely to point out a beginning, which we have seen to be the granting of Israel the right to return to Palestine and establish a national home. In this, wonderful progress has been made. But from the end of their double onward, there are all the other promises and prophecies of the Bible to be worked out and fulfilled in God’s dealings with them. There are no time prophecies with respect to these, except the very general one in the divine plan that all will be accomplished before the completion of the thousand-year reign of Christ and his church.

For God’s Glory

Beginning with Ezekiel 36:16, and continuing through chapters thirty-seven to thirty-nine, various ramifications of God’s dealings with Israel at the time of their restoration are presented. In these chapters God reiterates his purpose to restore them to the Promised Land. In verse twenty-two of chapter thirty-six, the Lord gives us one of his reasons for doing this. We read: “Thus saith the Lord, I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.” In verse twenty-one, the Lord tells us that he had pity for his holy name.

In this we are reminded of a very interesting aspect of God’s dealings with his typical people. The thought is first introduced in a prayer by Moses, in which he reveals his concern for the glory of God’s name. The Lord had told Moses that on account of the wickedness of the Israelites he proposed to destroy them all, and, beginning with Moses as the head, build a new nation. In prayer, Moses replied to this:

Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it forever.”—Exod. 32:11-13

In response to this prayer the Lord did change his mind about destroying Israel. In another account of this episode we learn that Moses asked the Lord to pardon his people, Israel, and the Lord responded, saying, “I have pardoned according to thy word: but as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; surely they shall not see the land which I swore unto their fathers.”—Num. 14:19-23

In Nehemiah 9:10 we read concerning the time God delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage, “So didst thou get thee a name, as it is this day.” Moses emphasized the point at issue in connection with the glory of God’s name by mentioning the oath-bound promise that had been made to Abraham concerning the land of Canaan being an everlasting possession for this people. Moses was concerned as to how this promise could be fulfilled if God destroyed all the Israelites and started a new nation.

So here was the challenge. The original promise to Abraham did not say that his seed would inherit the land if they faithfully served the Lord. No conditions were attached. Now, if God allowed this people to die in the wilderness, it would prove either his unwillingness to fulfill his promises, or his inability to do so.

To him to whom a thousand years are but as a “watch in the night when it is past” the inability to pardon and to save his people in the wilderness was only a temporary consideration. (Ps. 90:4) If he were to maintain the glory of his name and the integrity of his promises by keeping this people alive and eventually giving them the Land of Promise as an everlasting possession, it would have to be through centuries of time, and, even as in the wilderness, despite their many sins against him.

And the Lord has done just that! Since their dispersion the Jews have been a persecuted minority. Almost any other people under similar circumstances would have given up their determination to continue their identity as a people, and would have been assimilated by the larger, more favored nationalities and races. But not the Jew. Even during their double portion of punishment, God’s protection kept them intact as a people through whom, by restoring them to the Promised Land when his due time came, he could continue to magnify the glory of his name.

The Resurrection

The glory of God’s name in connection with the restoration of the Israelites to the Promised Land involves much more than the returning of a percentage of the present generation to the land of Israel. This will, indeed, be a token fulfillment of his promises, and the returned exiles will be in Israel ready to receive the blessings of the kingdom at the beginning of the time the whole earth will be filled with God’s glory, but the work of restoration will continue even on behalf of those who have died.

We will fail to appreciate the full significance of God’s promises if we overlook the resurrection feature of his plan of the ages. As we have seen, God is now uprooting the Israelites from the countries in which they dwell, as he brought up ancient Israel from Egypt. Thus far, even as then, his people have entered merely into a wilderness. But the objective is to bring them into the bond of the New Covenant.

This will be true of those who have died, as well as those who are now living. Ezekiel 16:53-63 shows this. Here the resurrection of the Israelites is described as a bringing “again” of their “captivity,” not merely from captivity to other nations, but from the captivity of death. (vs. 53) The Lord adds, “I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord.”—vs. 62

Of the living generation of Israelites who are restored to the Land of Promise, the Lord said, “Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.” (Ezek. 36:31) This will be true, not alone of the living generation, but of those also who thereafter are raised from the dead. Concerning this we read: “When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them: that thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them.”—Ezek. 16:53,54

In verse sixty-one of the same prophecy, in reference to the people raised from the dead, we read, “Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant, and I will establish my covenant with thee.”—vss. 61,62

All Have Sinned

The Israelites, as a people or nation, have perhaps been no more or less righteous than any other race or nation would have been under similar circumstances. As members of the fallen race, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. In this and other respects God has been pleased to use them as symbolic of the whole world of mankind among which a few individuals—one here and one there—have been loyal to the Lord, while the vast majority has not been.

The prophecy of Ezekiel 16:53-63 reveals that when the Israelites are brought forth from the captivity of death, wicked Gentile peoples also will be restored. But all will, at first, be ashamed and confounded. The Prophet Daniel reveals that this will occur following the great time of trouble with which the present age comes to an end. Through Daniel, the Lord said: “At that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and them that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.”—Dan. 12:1-3

Daniel’s people, here promised deliverance from death, are God’s people. All are in the book of the Lord in the sense that they are assured an awakening from the sleep of death. But many of them will come forth to ‘shame’, as the Prophet Ezekiel pointed out. This will not be unending shame, for the word here translated ‘everlasting’ simply denotes to a conclusion, or completion. When their shame has accomplished its purpose in humbling them, it will pass; as will be true also of all peoples.

As we have noted, God’s promise to Abraham concerning the land was unconditional. Later he placed a condition upon the high honor of being his representatives in the teaching and blessing of the world. This condition was obedience to the covenant of statutes and laws. (Exod. 19:5,6) In the original setting forth of these conditions, no mention is made of the fact that later a spiritual seed of Abraham was to be developed, also upon the conditions of faith and obedience.—Gal. 3:27-29

It is certain that throughout the ages of the past, prior to our Lord’s first advent, many were faithful to God’s Law, and thus qualified to be his special servants under the terms set forth in Exodus 19:5,6. Indeed, Abraham himself, although not under the written Law of Moses—as well as others who preceded this Law and were likewise faithful—was proved worthy of that “better resurrection” mentioned by Paul in Hebrews 11:35

Beginning with Jesus, and at Pentecost, a spiritual class began to be developed under the terms of faith and obedience. The first of these were of the natural seed of Abraham. But to make up God’s foreordained number of the spiritual seed, Gentiles were given an opportunity to qualify. But every natural descendant of Abraham from Moses onward, throughout both the Jewish and Gospel Ages, who has met the conditions of Exodus 19:5,6, will participate in the future work of blessing both Israel and the whole world; some as the qualified spiritual seed of Abraham, and some as the qualified earthly seed.

It is to the resurrection of these, and their work, that the Lord through Daniel refers when speaking of those in the resurrection who will shine as the firmament, and the other class who will shine as the “stars.” The vast majority of both Jews and Gentiles will come forth to varying degrees of shame and contempt. These will have to make amends for their past. But it will be different with those who will compose the spiritual and earthly phases of the new kingdom.

The wise, or teachers, as the margin states, will “shine as the brightness of the firmament.” Jesus said of these that they shall “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Matt. 13:43) Those who then are used of the Lord to turn many to righteousness (Isa. 26:9), shall shine as the “stars.” These Ancient Worthies, who proved worthy under the terms set forth in Exodus 19:5,6, will reflect to all mankind the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ.

Under these two groups of teachers, the spiritual and the human, the people will learn to know and to serve the Lord. From these will originate the invitation to partake of the water of life freely. Then, also, those who hear, accept, and obey will participate in the work of the kingdom, for the Revelator wrote, “Let him that heareth say, Come. And … take of the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17) What a glorious prospect lies before us! We know that it is a prospect of blessings soon to come to mankind, both Jews and Gentiles, for Israel’s double is fulfilled, and the transition into the kingdom is well under way. Praise the Lord!

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