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Reasoning

The
Scriptures
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Reasoning the Scriptures

The Doctrinal History of The


Invisible Presence of Christ
It is in hope that we have been saved. But an object of hope is such no longer when it
is present to view; for when a man has a thing (i.e. already present) before his eyes,
how can he be said to hope for it? Romans 8:24 - Weymouth

A few dead flies in perfume make all of it stink, and a little foolishness outweighs
a lot of wisdom and honor. (Eccl. 10:1) A little leaven was enough for the Romish
women to leaven the meal of Truth; likewise a little untruth is enough to make all the
precious perfumes of truths presented in the Bible to lose its fragrance. A little hasty
conclusion of Bro Russell regarding our Lord’s Parousia made all the other wonderful
truth in the divine plan contaminated; thus his chronological predictions outweighed
lot of Wisdom and knowledge of God, this was a very costly mistake which has made
many to speak ill of so many other wonderful truths that he preached, we should
remove the dead flies if we love the truth. Abraham, the father of the faithful, drove
away the fowls which came to devour the covenant victim (Gen 15:11) we, the
children of Abraham through faith, have the very same task to do.Satan and his
associates (the fowls of the air Mat 13: 4, 19; Eph 6:12) are trying to devour the
precious truth upon which our Lord established his covenant. Every sincere and
dedicated truth seeker, like father Abraham, has to drive away the false preachers who
are the fowls of the air who try to devour truth.

The Emanation of the Invisible Doctrine of Christ

There are about 300 failed predictions of the Second Coming of our Lord, One
Mr. William Miller of the Baptist congregation started to preach about the second
coming of our Lord. He was the first to predict the date of our Lord’s 2nd advent in
1843. He was confident that this would happen because, according to him, the
formula of a day for a year had worked out with respect to 1260 days of Papal power.
Going back from the year 1798 AD, when Napoleon had arrested the pope, he came
to 538 AD, which he concluded was the time in which the little horn rose to power
among the ten horns.

He then thought that the 1335 days of Daniel 12 would give the date of the Lord’s
Second Advent and started counting from 508 AD (for various reasons) and came up
with the date AD 1843. His movement became very popular and had a following of
nearly 50,000 people all over the world! But 1843 came and went but nothing
happened. Later his followers made some “adjustments” and came up with 1844,
which also was a failure. No doubt this sorely disappointed many.

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Reasoning the Scriptures

Later, more dates were given by the descendents of the same group, including E.G.
White, who claimed to have received information from heavenly angels, but also
failed miserably. 1At this time one Mr. Jonas Wendell who inspired Br. Russell also
predicted the Lord’s return in 1856, this was also a failure. The failures were covered
up with clever interpretation. E.G white said that Jesus actually came and withdrew
back into the sanctuary. One of the persons that were disappointed in the failure of
Miller Movement was Nelson Barbour, who thought that Miller was mistaken in
starting the 1335 days of Daniel 12 from AD 508. He thought that it should be
reckoned from 538 AD instead, which was also the same date used for the beginning
of 1260 days. This added up to 1873 AD - still future at his time. He also came up
with the idea that the Jesus must return at the end of 6000 years from Adam’s
creation. Now, for this purpose he went to a library to search for a chronology that
would end the 6000 years in 1873 and bumped into the chronology by one Rev.
Christopher Bowen. Even though there were so many other chronologies that were
more popular, this was thought of as the “true Bible chronology” especially since it
supported his other calculation that pointed to AD 1873. Though there would be a
difference of two years, it was said that- it was the time Adam and Eve spent in Eden
before they sinned. (By the way, there is no proof for this in the Bible. Some others
have suggested that it was as long as 40 year, which also is not in the Bible). Barbour
zealously started publishing this new date in his Magazine. But alas, when the much-
anticipated date came, nothing happened! Though very disappointed, they made
some more “adjustments”, (like starting from 539 instead of 538 AD) and waited
hopefully that the Lord would return in 1874. They were sorely disappointed again
when this year also passed away without any sign of his coming and because they
could not make any further “adjustments” however much they tried. It was at this
time that one B.W. Keith, one of the readers of the Magazine, came up with the
suggestion that the Lord could have actually returned in 1874 but invisibly, because
the word ‘coming’ is translated as ‘presence’ in Wilson’s Diaglott translation. Nelson
Barbour and his associates found great comfort in this thought, because this would
mean that their calculations were correct after all. They then came out with another
Magazine- “The Herald of the Morning” with this new theory of the invisible
presence etc. After all this, it so happened that brother Russell who was gathering
other truths from the same movement chanced upon seeing this magazine and was
immediately convinced. He soon adopted almost all of Barbour’s calculation
including the parallels, doubles etc. He started supporting Barbour and they both set
up the date- 1878 for Rapture of saints. When this also failed, Brother Russell began
to think that this too would have happened “invisibly” while Barbour himself began
to give up the whole thing and think of new dates. However, Bro. Russell would not
give up any of these dates, because, based on 1874, Bro. Russell had made further
predictions, like adding 40 years of harvest time and coming to 1914, when he
expected everything would culminate.

1
http://www.heraldmag.org/2004_history/04history_4.htm

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Reasoning the Scriptures

After the failure of the expectations for 1844, Miller's movement split into several
sects, one of which eventually formed around N. H. Barbour. Barbour redid Brown's
and Bowen’s calculations and came up with a period from 606 B.C. to 1914 A.D.
(actually this was a miscalculation since this period is only 2519 years. The Society
used this calculation until 1943, when 606 were changed to 607 in The Truth Shall
Make You Free, pages 238-239, using an incorrect and disingenuous explanation.)
Barbour first published the 1914 date in his magazine Herald of the Morning in
September, 1875.

The impression given here, as well as in most other Watchtower publications, is that
the book Three Worlds (which was written by N. H. Barbour and which Br.Russell
only financed) was the first publication to contain this teaching about 1914.

But this is not true at all. In 1823 John Apulia Brown published an explanation
virtually identical to the one ultimately adopted by the Society, except that the 2520
years ran from 604 B.C. to 1917 A.D. He foretold that then "the full glory of the
kingdom of Israel shall be perfected," but he did not apply the "Gentile Times" to the
2520 years. He also taught that the 2300 days of Daniel 12 would end in 1844. A
form of this teaching was taken up by William Miller and his followers, who predicted
the end of the world in 1843-1844, and who started the Second Advent movement.

The Following is an excerpt from the herald magazine which shows how the doctrine
of the Invisible presence and chronology came to Br Russell2

Henry Grew

No “immortal soul.” No “hell-fire.”


No trinity.
All men will be resurrected to judgment

George Storrs

“Two salvations”
Church’s part in the instructing of men in righteousness during the Millennium.

Henry Dunn

Restoration of both the nation of Israel and mankind.


Church will judge men and angels in Millennium.

2
http://www.heraldmag.org/2004_history/04history_4.htm (Heroes of Our Faith)

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Reasoning the Scriptures

E. B. Elliott

Six thousand years end in 1872 / modified chronology from Henry Fynes Clinton.
Elliott’s chronology drawn up and modified slightly by Rev. C. Bowen.
Jubilees end 1874; Gentile Times end 1914.

Nelson H. Barbour

Jewish and Gospel Age Parallels and Harvests, 1845 year doubles.
Published idea of invisible presence in 1874 in his magazine.
Views concerning the prophetic time periods taught by Pastor Russell originated
with Barbour. (1,260, 1,290, 1,335, 2,300 day-for-year time prophecies).
The dates, 1798-99, 1828, 1846, 1872, 1874, 1878, 1881, 1914.
Taught six thousand years ending in 1872 from E. B. Elliott.

B. W. Keith

Introduced idea of invisible presence.


Early concepts of “Sin Offering.”

Pastor Charles Taze Russell

First to combine the ideas of time prophecy, chronology, and the purpose of the
return of Christ to bless all mankind. Attributed his understandings to some of those
listed above.

In the July 15, 1906 Watch Tower Br.Russell told how in 1876 Barbour and others
convinced him of their 1914 teachings. Br.Russell became assistant editor of Herald of
the Morning by July, 1878. This magazine, and later, Br.Russell's Zion's Watch Tower and
Herald of Christ's Presence, also published the year 1873 as the end of 6000 years of
human history and 1874 as the start of Christ's invisible presence. Among Adventist
related groups, the invisible presence doctrine actually started as a result of
the failure of Barbour's and others’ prediction of 1874 for Christ's return, as
shown below. The doctrine allowed them to say, like William Miller before, that they
had expected the "wrong thing at the right time." This explanation was later adopted
by the Society to explain the failure of its 1914 predictions. Beyond this point in the
narrative, nothing is said bearing on Christ's invisible second presence until the
following account of Br. Russell aforementioned: he says

Thus passed the years 1868-1872. The years following, to 1876, were years of
continued growth in grace and in knowledge on the part of the handful of
Bible students with whom I met in Allegheny. We progressed from our first
crude and indefinite ideas of Restitution to clearer understanding of the
details; but God's due time for clear light had not yet come.

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It was during this time, the account shows that these Bible students came to
recognize the difference between the Lord as "the man who gave himself" and
the Lord who would come again as a spirit creature. They learned that spirit
creatures can be present and yet invisible to men. As a result of this advanced
understanding --

We felt greatly grieved at the error of Second Adventists, who were expecting
Christ in the flesh and were teaching that the world and all in it except Second
Adventists would be burned up in 1873 or 1874, and whose time settings and
disappointments and crude ideas generally of the object and manner of our
Lord's Coming brought more or less reproach upon us and upon all who
longed for and proclaimed His coming Kingdom.

These wrong views so generally held of both the object and manner of
Christ's Second Advent, led me to write a pamphlet: "The Object and Manner
of the Lord's Return," of which some 50,000 copies were published.

Note that these quotations do not state precisely when between 1872 and 1876
Br.Russell arrived at his understanding of Christ's invisible presence. The evidence is
good, but inconclusive, that this new understanding did not take place until after
the failure of the predictions of the Second Adventists in 1874, of which Br.Russell
was very much aware.

To show this, we first note that the October/November, 1881 Watch Tower, on page
3, described how, using the parable of the ten virgins, N. H. Barbour had discerned
that Christ was due to return visibly as the "Bridegroom" in 1874, and it described the
result when that did not occur:

A brother, Barbour of Rochester, was we believe, the chosen vessel of God


through whom the "Midnight Cry" issued to the sleeping virgins of Christ,...
proving that the night of the parable was thirty years long, and that the
morning was in 1873, and the Bridegroom due in that morning in 1874....
Brother Barbour first began to preach the message, and soon started a paper,
which he appropriately called "The Midnight Cry."....

When 1874 came and there was no outward sign of Jesus in the literal clouds
and in a fleshly form, there was a general re-examination of all the arguments
upon which the "Midnight Cry" was made. And when no fault or flaw could
be found it led to the critical examination of the Scriptures which seem to bear
on the manner of Christ's coming, and it was soon discovered that the
expectation of Jesus in the flesh at the Second Advent was the mistake.... Soon,
too, under critical examination Matt. 24:37 and Luke 17:26, 30 were seen to
teach positively that "in the presence" of Christ, "in his days," the world would
be ignorant of the fact, and be attending to their affairs as usual....

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Reasoning the Scriptures

It was evident, then, that though the manner in which they had expected Jesus
was in error, yet the time, as indicated by the "Midnight Cry," was correct, and
that the Bridegroom came in the autumn of 1874, and he appeared to the eyes of
faith -- seen by the light of the lamp -- the Word.

So it is clearly evident that the group headed by N. H. Barbour did not expect
Christ to come invisibly in 1874, but visibly.

An additional piece of evidence is seen in a statement contained in Object and Manner


itself, which strongly indicates it was not written until after Br.Russell and Barbour got
together in 1876, at which time Br.Russell accepted essentially all of Barbour's
chronology. On page 62 it said:

But it is not my object in this pamphlet to call your attention more fully to the
time of the Second Advent than I have above, in answering some of the chief
objections to the investigation of it. (Those interested in knowing the evidences
as to the time, I would refer to Dr. N. H. Barbour, editor of the "Herald of the
Morning," Rochester, N. Y.) I simply add that I am deeply impressed, and
think, not without good scriptural evidence, that the Master is come and is
now inspecting the guests to the marriage. (Matt. 22:11) That the harvest is
progressing, the separation (mental) between wheat and tares now going on, and
that the two in the field, mill and bed may be bodily separated at any moment,
the wise virgins go into the marriage, and the door to the high calling be forever
shut.

Since this 1877 edition of Object and Manner is labeled neither a revision nor a reprint,
and was published by the "Office of Herald of the Morning," Rochester, N. Y., it
seems likely that Br.Russell had not published any earlier versions of it. Another
evidence that Object and Manner was first printed well after 1873 is that in it, Br.Russell
referred to Barbour's Herald of the Morning. Herald of the Morning did not begin
publication until June, 1875, and its predecessor, The Midnight Cry and Herald of the
Morning ceased publication in October, 1874. But the most telling evidence that
Br.Russell published it no earlier than October, 1874 is that he said that "the Master
is come and.... the harvest is progressing," which could not have been said until after
the harvest began, "in October, 1874." Had Object and Manner been published in 1873,
Br.Russell would have said "the Master is about to come and.... the harvest is about to
begin."

Actually, there were many in both Great Britain and America who believed in
doctrines such as what is called "the two-stage coming doctrine," the idea of Christ's
invisible presence prior to his revelation at the end of the present world, and the
teaching of an invisible rapture of the saints during his presence or parousia -- all ideas
presented in The Object and Manner. In point of fact, these concepts were originated in
1828 by Henry Drummond, a British Evangelical who, with Edward Irving, was a co-

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Reasoning the Scriptures

founder of the Catholic Apostolic church or the Irvingites. Later, many of


Drummond's ideas were popularized and spread throughout Great Britain and the
United States by John Nelson Darby of the Plymouth Brethren, and by a number of
other preachers. The various groups espousing these ideas came to be known as
Dispensationalists. Quite a few famous names in American religion are associated
with them: J. B. Rotherham, a Bible translator; the well known Bible commentator W.
E. Vine; and the commentator C. I. Scofield of Scofield Reference Bible fame. Their
dispensationalist views are clearly evident in their works. See The Roots of
Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism 1800 -- 1930 by Ernest R. Sandeen,
University of Chicago Press, 1970

The furthermost affirmation of the error of all calculations of Br Russell about the
times of Gentiles is that none of seven prediction made by Bro. Russell on pages 77-
78 of the second volume came true in 1914.

God's Kingdom, the Kingdom of Jehovah's Anointed... will be established


gradually, during a great time of trouble with which the Gospel age will close,
and in the midst of which present dominions shall be utterly consumed,
passing away amid great confusion.

In this chapter we present the Bible evidence proving that the full end of the
times of the Gentiles, i.e., the full end of their lease of dominion, will be
reached in A.D. 1914; and that that date will be the farthest limit of the
rule of imperfect men. And be it observed that if this is shown to be a fact
firmly established by the Scriptures, it will prove: --

Firstly, That at that date the Kingdom of God, for which our Lord taught us
to pray, saying, "Thy Kingdom come," will have obtained full, universal
control, and that it will then be "set up," or firmly established, in the earth,
on the ruins of present institutions.

Secondly, It will prove that he whose right it is thus to take the dominion will
then be present as earth's new Ruler; and not only so, but it will also prove
that he will be present for a considerable period before that date; because
the overthrow of these Gentile governments is directly caused by his dashing
them to pieces as a potter's vessel (Psa. 2:9; Rev. 2:27), and establishing in
their stead his own righteous government.

Thirdly, It will prove that some time before the end of A.D. 1914 the last
member of the divinely recognized Church of Christ, the "royal priesthood,"
"the body of Christ," will be glorified with the Head; because every
member is to reign with Christ, being a joint-heir with him of the Kingdom,
and it cannot be fully "set up" without every member.

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Fourthly, It will prove that from that time forward Jerusalem shall no
longer be trodden down of the Gentiles, but shall arise from the dust of
divine disfavor, to honor; because the "Times of the Gentiles" will be fulfilled
or completed.

Fifthly, It will prove that by that date, or sooner, Israel's blindness will begin
to be turned away; because their "blindness in part" was to continue only "until
the fullness of the Gentiles be come in" (Rom. 11:25), or, in other words, until
the full number from among the Gentiles, who are to be members of the body
or bride of Christ, would be fully selected.

Sixthly, It will prove that the great "time of trouble such as never was
since there was a nation," will reach its culmination in a world-wide
reign of anarchy; and then men will learn to be still, and to know that
Jehovah is God and that he will be exalted in the earth.

Seventhly, It will prove that before that date God's Kingdom, organized in
power, will be in the earth and then smite and crush the Gentile image (Dan.
2:34) -- and fully consume the power of these kings. Its own power and
dominion will be established as fast as by its varied influences and agencies it
crushes and scatters the "powers that be" -- civil and ecclesiastical -- iron and
clay.

More Revisionism

Note that the above is from a pre-1912 edition. Late 1912 and subsequent editions
edited some of the statements thus

editions before 1914 editions after 1914


The full end of the times of the Gentiles, The full end of the times of the Gentiles,
i.e., the full end of their lease of i.e., the full end of their lease of
dominion, will be reached in A.D. 1914; dominion, will be reached in A.D. 1914;
and that date will be the farthest limit of and that date will see the disintegration of
the rule of imperfect men. the rule of imperfect men.
(p. 76-77, 1908) (p. 76-77, 1916)
At that date the Kingdom of God... will At that date the Kingdom of God... will
obtain full, universal control, and it will begin to assume control, and it will then
then be "set up", or firmly established, in shortly be "set up", or firmly established,
the earth, on the ruins of present in the earth, on the ruins of present
institutions. institutions.
(p. 77, 1908) (p. 77, 1916)
Some time before the end of A.D. 1914 Some time before the end of the
the last member of the divinely overthrow the last member of the divinely
recognized Church of Christ... will be recognized Church of Christ... will be
glorified with the Head. glorified with the Head.

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Reasoning the Scriptures

(p. 77, 1908) (p. 77, 1916)


Their "reign" of righteousness over the Their "reign" of righteousness over the
world can date only from A.D. 1914. world could not precede A.D. 1915.
(p. 81, 1908) (p. 81, 1916)
The "Times of the Gentiles"... will run The "Times of the Gentiles"... will run
fully out with the year A.D. 1914, and at fully out with the year A.D. 1914, and at
that time they will all be overturned and that time they will be overturned* and
Christ’s Kingdom fully established. Christ’s Kingdom fully established.
(p. 170, 1908) ---* How long it will require to accomplish
this overturning we are not informed, but
have reasons to believe the period will be
"short."
(p. 170, 1916)
Both of these ripening (Rev. 14:1-4, 18-20) Both of these ripening (Rev. 14:1-4, 18-20)
will be completed in a period of forty will be completed in a period of forty
years, ending with the year A.D. 1914. years, ending with the year A.D. 1915.
(p. 171, 1908) (p. 171, 1916)
The Jew will not be received back into The Jew will not be received back into
full favor until A.D. 1914. full favor until after 1915.
(p. 221, 1908) (p. 221, 1916)
The present governments must all be The present governments must all be
overturned about the close of A.D. 1914. overturned about the close of A.D. 1915.
(p. 242, 1908) (p. 242, 1916)

No Chance of Error

The September 1 and 15, 1893 Watch Tower is quite revealing as to Br.Russell's view of
what would happen before 1914, and that he did not think his views were speculation
of any sort. On pages 282-284 it said (p. 1581 of Reprints):

The question comes from many quarters: "Brother Russell, are you not
possibly mistaken by a few years in your calculations, since you expect, upon
Scriptural authority, that the great trouble will all be over by A.D. 1914, and
that in its severity it will probably not reach us before A.D. 1906 to 1908? Is it
not possible that the present financial trouble is the beginning of the great
trouble?"

Answer: - We answer, No; we think there is no mistake.

In the light of history it is evident that Br.Russell himself indulged in wild


speculation, since nearly all his chronology has been abandoned and all of it has
failed. He indulged in this speculation even while claiming to be God's mouthpiece.
In the July 15, 1906 Watch Tower, on page 229, he wrote:

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Many are the inquiries relative to the truths presented in MILLENNIAL


DAWN and ZION'S WATCH TOWER, as to whence they came and how
they developed to their present symmetrical and beautiful proportions -- Were
they the results of visions? Did God in any supernatural way grant the solution
of these hitherto mysteries of his plan? Are the writers more than ordinary
beings? Do they claim any supernatural wisdom or power? or how comes this
revelation of God's truth?

No, dear friends, I claim nothing of superiority, nor supernatural power,


dignity or authority; nor do I aspire to exalt myself in the estimation of my
brethren of the household of faith....

No, the truths I present, as God's mouthpiece, were not revealed in


visions or dreams nor by God's audible voice, nor all at once, but
gradually, especially since 1870, and particularly since 1880. Neither is
this clear unfolding of truth due to any human ingenuity or acuteness of
perception, but to the simple fact that God's due time has come; and if I
did not speak, and no other agent could be found, the very stones would
cry out.

The Dates are not ours but God’s

A number of times Br.Russell clearly implied that he could not possibly be wrong.
Zion's Watch Tower, July 15, 1894, said on page 226 (p. 1677 Reprints), under the
subtitle "Can It Be Delayed Until 1914?”

Seventeen years ago people said, concerning the time features presented in
MILLENIAL DAWN, They seem reasonable in many respects, but surely no
such radical changes could occur between now and the close of 1914: if you
had proved that they would come about in a century or two, it would seem
much more probable.

What changes have since occurred, and what velocity is gained daily?

"The old is quickly passing and the new is coming in."

Now, in view of recent labor troubles and threatened anarchy, our readers are
writing to know if there may not be a mistake in the 1914 date. They say that
they do not see how present conditions can hold out so long under the strain.

We see no reason for changing the figures -- nor could we change them if we
would. They are, we believe, God's dates, not ours. But bear in mind that
the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the
time of trouble. We see no reason for changing from our opinion expressed

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Reasoning the Scriptures

in the view presented in the WATCH TOWER of January 15, '92. We advise
that it be read again.

The January 15, 1892 Watch Tower said on page 19:

The Scriptures give unmistakable testimony to those who have full faith in its
records, that there is a great time of trouble ahead of the present comparative
calm in the world -- a trouble which will embroil all nations, overthrow all
existing institutions, civil, social and religious, bring about a universal reign of
anarchy and terror, and prostrate humanity in the very dust of despair, thus to
make them ready to appreciate the power that will bring order out of that
confusion and institute the new rule of righteousness. All this, the Scriptures
show us, is to come to pass before the year 1914 (See S.S, Vol. II, Chapter
IV.) -- that is, within the next twenty-three years.

If the scriptural testimony was "unmistakable," and if Br.Russell was presenting


"God's dates," and he was "God's mouthpiece," of what value would be any
admonitions against speculation, since he was the source of it? Who would doubt
"God's dates"? Note that nearly all his chronology has been proved false.

Now the dates no longer seem to be "God's dates"; they might be fallible

The October 1, 1904 Zion's Watch Tower, on pages 296-8 (pp. 3436-8 Reprints) printed
a letter from a man who pointed out that Br.Russell's chronology conflicted with data
given by Ptolemy's Canon, and that he understood that Br.Russell's view of the
Gentile times had changed. Br.Russell responded at length, pointing out that
changing his chronology by even one year would throw it completely out of whack.
He emphasized his faith in his figures:

We know of no reason for changing a figure: to do so would spoil the


harmonies and parallels so conspicuous between the Jewish and Gospel
ages.... The brother seems to further misunderstand us to teach that no great
trouble will come before October, 1914 A.D. This is incorrect: we expect the
great trouble of Rev. 13:15-17 before that date....

One question about Br.Russell's chronology came up as early as 1904 -- what about
the "zero year"? Was the length of time from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D. one year, or two?
Br.Russell discussed this, as well as summarizing its application to his chronology, in
the December 1, 1912 Watch Tower, pages 377-8. He was evidently rather confused
about it, and said that the end of the times of the Gentiles could come in either 1914
or 1915. He also toned down his statements considerably compared with earlier ones.
This shows clearly that it was only as 1914 approached that he really can be said to
have warned against speculation.

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Reasoning the Scriptures

Since this question is agitating the minds of a considerable number of the


friends, we have presented it here in some detail. We remind the readers,
however, that nothing in the Scriptures says definitely that the trouble
upon the Gentiles will be accomplished before the close of the Times of
the Gentiles, whether that be October, 1914, or October, 1915. The
trouble doubtless will be considerable before the final crash, even
though that crash come suddenly, like the casting of a great millstone
into the sea. (Rev. 18:21) The parallel between the Jewish harvest and
the present harvest would corroborate the thought that the trouble to
the full will be accomplished by October, 1915.

Many of our readers will recall our reference to this subject in a sermon
preached at Allegheny, Pa., January 11, 1904, and published in the Pittsburgh
Gazette. We make an extract from that sermon as follows: --

"We find, then, that the Seven Times of Israel's punishment and the Seven
Times of Gentile dominion are the same; and that they began with the
captivity of Zedekiah, and, as will be seen from the Chart, they terminate with
the year 1915. According to the best obtainable evidences on the subject,
synchronized with the Scriptural testimony, Zedekiah's captivity took place in
October, 605 3/4 years before A.D. 1. If we will add to these 1914 3/4 years,
we will have the year, October, 1915, as the date for the end of Gentile
supremacy in the world -- the end of the lease of 2,520 years, which will not
be renewed. Instead, he whose right the kingdom is shall take possession of it.
This, therefore, marks when the Lord himself shall assume control of the
world's affairs, to end its reign of sin and death, and to bring in the True
Light."

There surely is room for slight differences of opinion on this subject and it
behooves us to grant each other the widest latitude. The lease of power to the
Gentiles may end in October, 1914, or in October, 1915. And the period of
intense strife and anarchy "such as never was since there was a nation" may be
the final ending of the Gentile Times or the beginning of Messiah's reign. [See
Vol. 2, SCRIPTURE STUDIES.]

But we remind all of our readers again, that we have not prophesied
anything about the Times of the Gentiles closing in a time of trouble
nor about the glorious epoch which will shortly follow that catastrophe.
We have merely pointed out what the Scriptures say, giving our views
respecting their meaning and asking our readers to judge, each for
himself, what they signify. These prophecies still read the same to us.
Should we ever see reason for changing our belief, be assured we will be
prompt to advise you respecting the same and give you the reason for it.
However some may make positive statements of what they know, and of what

12
Reasoning the Scriptures

they do not know, we never indulge in this; but we merely state that we
believe thus and so, for such and such reasons.

Br.Russell really wanted to have it both ways: those in the "household of faith" were
to judge for themselves whether his predictions were correct, but any who decided
they were not would have been "lacking faith," as shown below. He did not
"prophesy," because that means "inspiration," and he did not have "knowledge,"
because that means absolute certainty, but he did have God's backing in what he said
because he was "God's mouthpiece."

This is perfectly illustrated by what the October 1, 1907, Watch Tower said, seven years
before 1914, in the article "Knowledge and Faith Regarding Chronology," page 295:

A dear Brother inquires; Can we feel absolutely sure that the


Chronology set forth in the DAWN-STUDIES is correct? -- that the
harvest began in A.D. 1874 and will end in A.D. 1914 in a world wide trouble
which will overthrow all present institutions and be followed by the reign of
righteousness of the King of Glory and his bride, the church?

We answer, as we have frequently done before in the DAWNS and


TOWERS and orally and by letter, that we have never claimed our
calculations to be infallibly correct; we have never claimed that they
were knowledge, nor based upon indisputable evidence, facts,
knowledge; our claim has always been that they are based on faith.

The dates no longer seem to be "God's dates"; they might be fallible. This same
article, however, goes on to imply that those doubting such calculations were lacking
in faith. It should be asked: Faith in God or faith in Br.Russell's predictions? The
article says:

We remind you again that the weak points of chronology are supplemented by
the various prophecies which interlace with it in so remarkable a manner that
faith in the chronology almost becomes knowledge that it is correct. The
changing of a single year would throw the beautiful parallels out of accord;
because some of the prophecies measure from B.C., some from A.D., and
some depend upon both. We believe that God meant those prophecies to be
understood "in due time"; we believe that we do understand them now -- and
they speak to us through this chronology. Do they not thereby seal the
chronology? They do to faith, but not otherwise. Our Lord declared, "The wise
shall understand"; and he told us to "Watch" that we might know; and it is this
chronology which convinces us (who can and do receive it by faith) that the
Parable of the Ten Virgins is now in process of fulfillment -- that its first cry
was heard in 1844 and its second cry, "Behold the Bridegroom" -- present --
was in 1874.

13
Reasoning the Scriptures

How beneficial is it -- or for that matter, how much humility does it demonstrate -- to
acknowledge fallibility while at the same time implying that only those who accept
one's views are showing faith, are among "the wise who shall understand"? Would
not those failing to heed these "cries" of 1844 and 1874 be classed logically
with the "foolish virgins" of the parable?

As a side point, the Bible Students likes to claim that Br. Russell predicted World War
I. But remember, The Divine Plan of the Ages said (p. 307-8) that the "Day of Wrath"
was the same as the "Day of Jehovah," the "Day of Vengeance," and the "Day of the
Lord," which began in 1874. Additionally, The Time Is At Hand, quoted above, said on
page 99:

.... we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this
world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, will be accomplished by
the end of A.D. 1914.

This means that Br.Russell expected, not a World War beginning in 1914, but the
annihilation of all kingdoms not later than 1914. The Bible Students did not begin to
claim that Br.Russell had predicted World War I until some years after 1914, because
Br.Russell thought the outbreak of World War I was the beginning of Armageddon

Strange Changes

The 1904 book, The New Creation, said on page 579:

According to our expectations the stress of the great time of trouble will be on
us soon, somewhere between 1910 and 1912 -- culminating with the end of
the "Times of the Gentiles," October 1914.

The beginning of the severity of the trouble is not distinctly marked in the
Scriptures, and is rather conjectural. We infer that so great a trouble, so world-
wide a catastrophe, could scarcely be accomplished in less than three years,
and that if it lasted much more than three years "no flesh would be saved."

Br.Russell edited some of the Studies in the Scriptures volumes as things did not pan out
as he expected. He did not call the changed volumes "revised" editions. For example:

The 1906 edition of Vol. 3, Thy Kingdom Come, said on page 228:

That the deliverance of the saints must take place some time before 1914 is
manifest.... Just how long before 1914 the last living member of the body of
Christ will be glorified, we are not directly informed.

14
Reasoning the Scriptures

The 1916 edition of Vol. 3, Thy Kingdom Come, said on page 228 (changes from the
1906 edition are emphasized):

That the deliverance of the saints must take place very soon after 1914 is
manifest.... Just how long after 1914 the last living member of the body of
Christ will be glorified, we are not directly informed.

As 1914 approached Br.Russell changed and toned down some of his opinions. The
July 1, 1904 Watch Tower said, under the title "Universal Anarchy -- Just Before or
After October, 1914 A.D.," on pages 197-8:

What seems at first glance the veriest trifle and wholly unrelated to the matter,
has changed our conviction respecting the time when universal anarchy may
be expected in accord with the prophetic numbers. We now expect that the
anarchistic culmination of the great time of trouble which will precede the
Millennial blessings will be after October, 1914, A.D. -- very speedily
thereafter, in our opinion -- "in one hour," "suddenly," because "our forty
years" harvest, ending October, 1914 A.D., should not be expected to include
the awful period of anarchy which the Scriptures point out to be the fate of
Christendom.

And whereas in 1894 he had affirmed that the figures expounded were "God's dates,
not ours," in the October 1, 1907, Watch Tower, seven years before 1914, he now said
in the article "Knowledge and Faith Regarding Chronology", page 295

Can we feel absolutely sure that the Chronology set forth in the DAWN-
STUDIES is correct? -- that the harvest began in A.D. 1874 and will end in
A.D. 1914...?.... We answer... that we have never claimed our calculations
to be infallibly correct; we have never claimed that they were
knowledge, nor based upon indisputable evidence, facts, knowledge;
our claim has always been that they are based on faith.

Interestingly, the same 1907 Watch Tower article acknowledged the vulnerability of
Br.Russell's chronology:

.... Suppose that A.D. 1915 should pass with the world's affairs all serene and
with evidence that the "very elect" had not all been "changed" and without the
restoration of natural Israel to favor under the New Covenant (Rom. 11:12,
15). What then? Would not that prove our chronology wrong? Yes, surely!
Would not that prove a keen disappointment? Indeed it would! It would
work irreparable wreck to the parallel dispensations and Israel's double, and
to the Jubilee calculations, and to the prophecy of the 2300 days of Daniel,
and to the epoch called "Gentile Times," and to the 1,260, 1,290, and 1,335
days.... none of these would be available longer.

15
Reasoning the Scriptures

The world was not serene in 1915, but is one out of three predictions good enough to
base one's faith on?

By 1912 Br.Russell had become even more cautious. The December 1, 1912 Watch
Tower showed how much less positive he was about the calculations (see above for a
full quotation). What were once "God's dates" had become "our opinions."

By 1913 Br.Russell had become more cautious yet. In the article "Let Your
Moderation Be Known," in the June 1, 1913 Watch Tower, page 167, he warned his
readers against spending "valuable time and energy in guessing what will take place
this year, next year, etc." Apparently he had lost much of his earlier confidence: "This
is the good tidings of God's grace in Christ -- whether the completion of the church
shall be accomplished before 1914 or not."

Br.Russell really began waffling in the October 15 issue of the same year, pages 303-
307:

We are waiting for the time to come when the government of the world
will be turned over to Messiah. We cannot say that it may not be either
October 1914 or October 1915. It is possible that we might be out of the
correct reckoning on the subject a number of years. We cannot say with
certainty. We do not know. It is a matter of faith, and not of knowledge.

Br.Russell's tottering faith in his chronology was further brought to light in the Watch
Tower of January 1, 1914, pages 1-5:

As already pointed out, we are by no means confident that this year, 1914, will
witness as radical and swift changes of dispensation as we have expected. It is
beyond the power of our imagination to picture an accomplishment in one
year of all that the Scriptures seem to imply should be expected before the
reign of peace is ushered in.... If later it should be demonstrated that the
church is not glorified by October, 1914, we shall try to feel content with
whatever the Lord's will may be.... If 1915 should go by without the passage of
the church, without the time of trouble, etc., it would seem to some to be a
great calamity. It would not be so with ourself.... If in the Lord's providence
the time should come twenty-five years later, then that would be our
will.... If October, 1915, should pass, and we should find ourselves still
here and matters going on very much as they are at present, and the
world apparently making progress in the way of settling disputes, and
there were no time of trouble in sight, and the nominal church were not
yet federated, etc., we would say that evidently we have been out
somewhere in our reckoning. In that event we would look over the
prophecies further, to see if we could find an error. And then we would

16
Reasoning the Scriptures

think, Have we been expecting the wrong thing at the right time? The
Lord's will might permit this.

Then in the May 1, 1914 issue, Br.Russell, again forgetting his earlier positive
statements, told his readers that

in these columns and in the six volumes of STUDIES IN THE


SCRIPTURES we have set forth everything appertaining to the times
and seasons in a tentative form; that is to say, not with positiveness, not
with the claim that we knew, but with the suggestion that "thus and so"
seems to be the teaching of the Bible.

But then World War I broke out, and Br.Russell's confidence in the chronology
quickly recovered. Although the war itself did not fit into the predicted pattern of
events -- that the time of trouble would be a class struggle between capital and labor,
leading up to a period of worldwide anarchy -- he saw in the War the prelude to that
situation. In the August 15, 1914 Watch Tower he wrote:

Socialism is, we believe, the main factor in the war now raging and which will
be earth's greatest and most terrible war -- and probably the last.

Later, in the November 1, 1914 Watch Tower Br.Russell wrote:

We think that the present distress amongst the nations is merely the beginning
of this time of trouble.... The anarchy that will follow this war will be the real
time of trouble.... Our thought is that the war will so weaken the nations that
following it there will be an attempt to bring in Socialistic ideas, and that this
will be met by the governments -- etc., leading up to worldwide class struggle
and anarchy.

But note he has earlier said that after 1914 will be the end of the time of trouble and
the glorification of the bride with her groom.

Rebuilding Confidence

From the outbreak of World War I and up to his death on October 31, 1916,
Br.Russell's restored confidence in his chronology remained unshaken, as
demonstrated by the following extracts from various issues of the Watch Tower during
the period:

September 1, 1914: While it is possible that Armageddon may begin next Spring,
yet it is purely speculation to attempt to say just when. We see, however, that
there are parallels between the close of the Jewish age and this Gospel age.

17
Reasoning the Scriptures

These parallels seem to point to the year just before us -- particularly the early
months.

January 1, 1915: .... the war is one predicted in the Scriptures as associated with
the great day of Almighty God -- "the day of vengeance of our God."

April 1, 1915: The Battle of Armageddon, to which this war is leading, will be
a great contest between right and wrong, and will signify the complete and
everlasting overthrow of the wrong, and the permanent establishment of
Messiah's righteous kingdom for the blessing of the world.... Our sympathies
are broad enough to cover all engaged in the dreadful strife, as our hope is
broad enough and deep enough to include all in the great blessings which our
Master and his Millennial kingdom are about to bring to the world.

September 15, 1915: 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.

February 15, 1916: In STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. IV, we have


clearly pointed out the things now transpiring, and the worse conditions yet to
come.

April 15, 1916: We believe that the dates have proven to be quite right. We
believe that Gentile Times have ended, and that God is now allowing the
Gentile Governments to destroy themselves, in order to prepare the way for
Messiah's kingdom.

September 1, 1916: It still seems clear to us that the prophetic period known as
the Times of the Gentiles ended chronologically in October, 1914. The fact
that the great day of wrath upon the nations began there marks a good
fulfillment of our expectations.... We see no reason for doubting, therefore,
that the Times of the Gentiles ended in October, 1914; and that a few more
years will witness their utter collapse and the full establishment of God's
kingdom in the hands of Messiah.

Oddly enough, in October, 1916 Br.Russell played down the significance of what he
had predicted for 1914. In the foreword to the 1916 edition of The Time Is At Hand he
wrote, exercising extreme hindsight, on page iii:

We could not, of course, know in 1889, whether the date 1914, so clearly
marked in the Bible as the end of the Gentile lease of power or permission to
rule the world, would mean that they would be fully out of power at that time,
or whether, their lease expiring, their eviction would begin. The latter we

18
Reasoning the Scriptures

perceive to be the Lord's program; and promptly in August, 1914, the Gentile
kingdoms referred to in the prophecy began the present great struggle, which,
according to the Bible, will culminate in the complete overthrow of all human
government, opening the way for the full establishment of the Kingdom of
God's dear Son.

In the foreword to the 1916 edition of Thy Kingdom Come he wrote, on pages i and ii:

.... we anticipate that before a very long time -- perhaps a year or two or
three -- the full number of the Elect will be completed, and all will have
gone beyond the Veil and the door will be shut.

So Br.Russell felt that the things that did not happen in 1914 would still happen very
shortly thereafter -- "perhaps a year or two or three." In the foreword to The Time Is
At Hand he excused some of these false predictions.

The author acknowledges that in this book he presents the thought that the
Lord's saints might expect to be with Him in glory at the ending of the Gentile
Times. This was a natural mistake to fall into, but the Lord overruled it for
the blessing of His people. The thought that the Church would all be gathered
to glory before October, 1914, certainly did have a very stimulating and
sanctifying effect upon thousands, all of whom accordingly can praise the
Lord -- even for the mistake. Many, indeed, can express themselves as being
thankful to the Lord that the culmination of the Church's hopes was not
reached at the time we expected; and that we, as the Lord's people, have
further opportunities of perfecting holiness and of being participators with
our Master in the further presentation of His Message to His people.

Involving God and Christ with the mistakes made, with God "overruling" certain
predictions, provides a very convenient escape from having to shoulder the true
responsibility for having falsely presented as "God's dates" things that were not
God's dates at all but simply the product of human speculation. Merit is found even
in false predictions because of the "stimulating and sanctifying effect" produced, so
that one may "praise the Lord -- even for the mistake." That approach allowed for
still more false predictions with their "stimulating" effects. J. F. Rutherford and his
successors took full advantage of the smokescreen these ideas allowed.

Contrary to Br.Russell's expectations the War ended in 1918 without being followed
by worldwide Socialist revolution and anarchy. The last member of the Church of
Christ had not been glorified, the city of Jerusalem was still trodden down by the
Gentiles, the Kingdom of God had not crushed "the Gentile image," and the "new
heavens and the new earth" could not be seen anywhere by trouble-tossed humanity.
Not one of the seven predictions enumerated in The Time Is At Hand had come true.

19
Reasoning the Scriptures

Conclusion

After all this study, we concluded that we couldn’t any more believe and teach these
things. There seems to be great wisdom in brother Russell’s interpretations regarding
the above matters, but it does not stand the test. All the doctrine of the doubles,
parallels, Jubilees, types, chronologies, met their waterloo in 1914! Not even one of
the nearly 20 time proofs worked out! The interpretations, the maths and its
conclusions were all very deep and convincing. But the result was zero. Instead of
categorically admitting the failure and forsaking them, the Bible Students sought to
justify them and even cleverly cover it up. It is the false shame of fools to try to
conceal wounds that have not healed. Read Zech 13:4-6

The way to combat noxious ideas is with other ideas. The way to combat falsehoods
is with truth. Compare Scripture with Scripture false doctrines, like false witnesses,
agree not among themselves Matt. 26:59, 60. The false is nothing but an imitation of
the true just like the tares resembles the wheat, but it is the sickle of truth that divides
the false from the truth. The greatest enemy of spiritual progress is not stagnation,
but false progress. Prevent the false, then the truth will automatically progress. The
first point of wisdom is to discern that which is false; the second, to know that which
is true.

Now the Time has come to eradicate all the above false doctrines from the Bible
Students. The intent of the Mysore Bible Students Association is neither to
disintegrate the Bible Students fellowship nor to establish another sect of
Bible students group, rather to dispel the falsehood which has been invisibly
crept into the truth. It is the duty of every sincere dedicated truth seeker to strive
hard to eradicate the false doctrine. We are now on this task and those who really
love the truth will certainly join us.

20
Reasoning the Scriptures

The Gospel Age Harvest


The Harvest is the End of the World –Mat 13:39

A s a Common Bible Students being strict adherents of Br. Russell we used to


believe that the Harvest began through his ministry and we were the angles
harvesting the wheat out the tares with the sickle of truth in the hand. We were
convinced of this interpretation because in our personal experience we have seen
indeed, hundreds of brothers and sisters separated themselves from their long
attended denominations after hearing the so called “Harvest Truth” from us and rest
of the people rejected the clear truth. WE almost thought and believed that this was
the Harvest mentioned in Mat 13 and 24. In this regard Br Russell himself
campaigned through his writings that his ministry was the harvest which separated the
wheat from the tares. We quote some passages from his writings

"HARVEST" is a term which gives a general idea as to what work should be


expected to transpire between the dates 1874 and 1914. It is a time of
reaping rather than of sowing, a time of testing, of reckoning, of settlement
and of rewarding3.

THE careful student will have observed that the period designated "The Time
of the End" is very appropriately named, since not only does the Gospel age
close in it, but in it, also, all prophecies relating to the close of this age
terminate, reaching their fulfilments. The same class of readers will have
noticed, too, the special importance of the last 40 (1874-1914), of those 115
years (1799-1914) called "The End" or "Harvest."4

Our studies together have led the majority of us to conclude that we are now
living in the Harvest time-- in the end of this Age. Oh, how glad we shall be
if this is true! How glad we are to believe it true! And, we think, on good
evidence. If it is true, as we believe, that the forty years "harvest" of this Age
began in 1874, the implication is that the trials of the Church are nearly at an end;
that the faithful will soon be gathered to the heavenly garner.5

But we will here confine ourselves to the consideration of the Harvest truths
set forth in the publications of THE WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND
TRACT SOCIETY formerly called MILLENNIAL DAWN and ZION'S

3 Studies in the Scriptures Vol 3- chapter 6,page 135


4 Studies in the Scriptures Vol 3- chapter 5,page 121
5
Zion’s Watch Tower –Reprints # 5018 : page 145

21
Reasoning the Scriptures

WATCH TOWER, now called STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES and THE


WATCH TOWER6

Because of our predetermined perception regarding the doctrine of the harvest, WE


found it very difficult to understand properly, comparing with the scriptural account
(Mat 13) our notion was very narrow. We believed that wheat was to be gathered by
preaching the harvest truth. If we think that it is only by knowing the so called
“harvest truth” that one can be harvested, then what about the hundreds of thousands
of faithful Christians who have died after 1874 but never had the opportunity to
know it? And what about those faithful martyrs who were crushed to death and died
before 1874, who also never had the opportunity to know the “harvest truth” which
eventually began from 1874? Turning away from these kinds of cunning
interpretations we started to read only the Bible and examine the truths critically.
Alas! We realised our folly that we were indeed blind leading the blind who all heeded
us. But now we thank and sing praises to God for he has opened our eyes and made
us to see the wondrous truth hidden in his Plan.

The Harvest defined – Mat 13:39


In the parable of the wheat and tares (Matt. 13) the phrase "the harvest is the end of
the age" has been interpreted to apply to a period of 40 years at the -end of this age,
corresponding to the invisible presence of the Lord. The harvest work has been
defined as the gathering of the true wheat from out of the nominal systems of
Christianity, by means of the sickle of truth.

But it might be asked: Why is a special harvest of 40 years necessary now? If a


generation be taken as 40 years, there have been nearly 50 generations of Christians
since 2000 years. Why are 40 years needed to harvest this last generation in particular?
If the tares and wheat of all previous generations have been, allowed to grow together
and pass away in death without being separated, why is it necessary to separate them
in these latter days? The proportion of Christians involved represents only a small
fraction of the great field of the Gospel Age, and therefore a very incomplete harvest.
To attempt to include the dead in this harvest, necessitates using the thought of
reaping in an entirely different sense and is quite inconsistent with the separation
work of the sickle of truth. Neither is it true to say of any particular period in these
latter days that the true wheat has been gathered from tares as never before.

Some of the Misconceptions of the Parable of Wheat and Tares

It is asserted that the wheat is the truth i.e. the true doctrines and the tares are the
false doctrines sowed by the enemy. Russellites generally agree in this regard, One
should not forget that our Lord himself has interpreted the meaning of the wheat i.e.
6
Zion’s Watch Tower –Reprints #5909 : page 170

22
Reasoning the Scriptures

the good seed – the children of the kingdom (Mat 13:38) and the tares – the children of
the wicked, so wheat and tares are not doctrines and beliefs rather the children of the
kingdom and the wicked. If the wheat and tares interpreted only as doctrines then we
should also acknowledge that at the end there will be a separation of true doctrines
out the false and not the persons! This cannot be true because this interpretation
takes us out of the context from our Lord’s parable clearly interpreted.

Now the Reapers i.e. the Angels are said to be the preachers, evangelists and the
human messengers who are now separating the wheat class out of the tares with the
help of the sickle of Truth, some interpret the angles are animate and inanimate
agencies of God which does the harvest work. They further go on and explain that by
preaching the harvest message we all associate with our Lord to separate the wheat
out of the tares! Thus we are the reaping angles and in this way the harvest is going
on since 1874! Our commonsensical question is if the angels are the preachers,
evangelists and the human messengers then who are the wheat? Are they (preachers
and evangelists) not part of the wheat? When read in between the lines of our
Master’s parable it is stated that the Angles will harvest the tares first – “I will say to
the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn
them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Mat 13:30,40).It is clearly interpreted by
our Lord that the Angles will first gather the children of iniquity – “The Son of man
shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that
offend, and them which do iniquity;”(Mat 13:41).We do not see human
messengers harvesting the offenders which do iniquity out the children of the
kingdom, Human Angles cannot harvest and gather the tares by preaching the word
of God and so called the “Harvest Truth”, certainly human messengers are not
meant here because we don’t have the right yet to gather the tares and cast them in to
the furnace of fire (Mat 13:42) the angels who are spoken about are the literal angles
who will carry out this task when intimated by our Lord in due time. One can clearly
see from the servant’s honest enquiry (“Wilt thou then that we go and gather them
(tares) up? - Mat 13:28) that the necessity of the Harvest is to take the tares out of the
wheat, if the enemy wouldn’t have sown the tares among the wheat the necessity of a
harvest would not at all required, Russelites often ignore to see the very motive of the
Harvest is to take the tares out of the wheat instead the wheat out of the tares – Mat
13:25- 30.

It is true that Jesus and the Apostles refer to our work as reaping, and to Christians as
labourers in the harvest, but this has applied to every generation and covers the
whole Gospel Age. In the sense in which it is used in this parable, however, it refers
to the final consummation and the reapers are the literal angels. Whether this
gathering extends over the last day of the age, or the last year, or the last 40 years, can
only be decided by plain Scriptural statements. The Word is not silent on the point,
however, but tells us in very clear language exactly how long this gathering of the
saints will take.

23
Reasoning the Scriptures

In Matt. 24, verse 31 which speaks of this gathering, definitely does not precede verse
30 which refers to the coming of Jesus, although the two verses may be concurrent. If
we bear in mind the connection of verse 30 with Zech. 12: 12 and Rev. 1: 7, it is very
obvious that the gathering of verse 31 does not cover 40 years. A comparison with
Mark 13 and Luke 21 will confirm the fact. But we have still more exact information
in 1Thes. 4:16, about this gathering. The Lord shall descend, the dead in Christ shall
rise (surely, instantaneously) and the living shall be caught up at the same time with them.
This is the harvest, the gathering into the barn, the only consistent interpretation of
reaping that includes both dead and living-all in Christ. The exact time that this takes
place is given us in 1 Cor. 15:51, 52: "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." We
shall not all fall asleep (die) but we shall all be changed; the dead shall be raised
incorruptible and we shall be changed. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun
in the Kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear?”

To revert to the actual parable of the wheat and tares, Jesus did not teach that the
harvest was a period-end of the age. He said, as the Greek has it, that it was the full
end or consummation i.e. the climax of the age. There could not be a time in the
experience of the Lord's people in the flesh when they would be an all-wheat
community. When all things that offend and those that do iniquity are taken out, then
and only then shall the words already quoted be true: "Then shall the righteous shine
forth as the sun …" At that time the Lord shall have gathered His people to Himself.

The view of the harvest being a period found support by virtue of the fact that it was
claimed that our Lord, having returned invisibly, was doing a progressive work
among His people as of drawing out wheat from tares, although the parable's
statement that tares were taken from wheat was neither considered nor interpreted.

The real spiritual value of the parable has not always been seen. Its chief aim was to
show that until the final consummation, wheat and tares (true and counterfeit) would
co-exist and that His people were to learn the lesson of patient endurance in the
words "Let both grow together until…." Then said Jesus, I will attend to the sepa -
ration. That separation, as we have seen, will only truly be accomplished when all the
saints are with Him in glory.

The Harvest of the Saints


If we consider carefully Paul's words in 1 Thes. 4:13-17 we shall see that it cannot be
held as scriptural that after the Lord has returned any of His faithful people will
continue to remain in the flesh. Their hope and immediate "change" are linked with
His return. "Our citizenship is in heaven from whence also we look for a Savior, the
Lord Jesus Christ, who shall transform the body of our humiliation that it may be
fashioned like unto His glorious body."

24
Reasoning the Scriptures

The Thessalonians brethren were concerned about some of their number who had
already died, asking When the Lord comes, what will be their position? 'Paul explains
that the "alive and remaining" ones at the Lord's return will not take precedence over
those who have died. The dead will rise (rise, not ascend, be it noted) first. Then the
living shall be "caught up" together with those who were dead. Thus neither living
nor dead take precedence but are caught away together; this is the actual separation
and the Harvest.

The Greek word rendered "caught up" means to snatch or take away by force. Christ
uses it in John 10:28, 29. "None is able to pluck them out of my hand" and it is
translated "take by force" in John 6- 15 and Acts 23: 10; "caught up" in 2 Cor. 12:2, 4
and "caught away" in Acts 8:39. But before this snatching away occurs, the dead in
Christ are to rise first.

This passage does not read that the dead in Christ "ascend first." The word "ascend",
carries an entirely different meaning in the Greek from the one used for "rise". Jesus
rose from the dead, but did not ascend until forty days after. The dead in Christ rise,
in the sense of being awakened first. They are then, at the same time, together with
the living, snatched away in the clouds, attracted by the magnetic power of the Spirit
to their Lord and Head, gathered together unto Him.

Some may object that God does not work in this way and that it is too sensational.
But faith will accept what is so plainly stated in the Word. If Enoch was translated
that he should not see death; if the Spirit of God caught away Philip from one place
and conveyed him miles away; the same power can and will work this mighty miracle
at the arrival of the Son of man. "One shall be taken and the other left." The word
"taken" here means "to take alongside" or "to receive". It is translated "receive" in the
words, "I will come again and receive you unto myself." Jesus will take or receive to
Himself, one; the other will be left. At the same moment of time in different parts of
the earth; from every kindred and tongue and people and nation, one shall be taken
and the other left. For the ones taken it will be a change from mortality to
immortality, these bodies of our humiliation changed and made like unto His glorious
body, to be forever with the Lord in an eternity of life, joy an blessing.

In the phrase "caught up together with them," the words "together with" mean
"simultaneously" or "at the same time with" - See Marshall's Greek Interlinear New
Testament, the "Amplified Version" and the older "Emphatic Diaglott" by Benjamin
Wilson. Much has been written contrary to this plain teaching of Paul, but the fact
remains that the two classes -"dead" and "alive and remaining" -- go together. Jesus
uses the same expression in Matt. 13:29 translated "with." "Lest while you gather up
the tares you root up also the wheat with ("together with") them. Here it means "at
the same time with" as in 1 Thes. 4:17.

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Reasoning the Scriptures

The teaching that our Lord has already come explains that the dead in Christ were
raised when He came and entered immediately into the presence of the Lord, the
living ones who remain being changed one by one as they die, this process covering a
period of many years. This interpretation of "caught up together with" is said to be
illustrated 1) the use of the expression in the parable where the wheat and tares would
be (in certain circumstances) gathered up together but not all it the same moment of
time. This fails to illustrate the point, however, as the simultaneous gathering of a
handful of wheat and tares sufficiently demonstrates the parallel catching away of
living and dead at one and the same moment, a fact which is plainly denied in the
foregoing teaching that the dead alone are raised at the arrival of Jesus.

Our Lord's words: "There shall be two in one bed; two shall be grinding together;
two shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left" (Luke 17:34-36),
are bereft of point or meaning if those who "remain to His coming" just die
individually and separately in the usual manner, and are not taken together.

In this connection, Paul's words in 1 Cor. 15:51, 52 - a matured and further


explanation of what he had written in the Thessalonians - must be given due weight:
"Behold I show you a mystery (secret). We shall not all sleep but we shall all be
changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump." Paul's "together
with" (at the same time with) in 1 Thes. 4 must be understood in harmony with his
"in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" in 1 Cor. 15.

That this expression: "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," has a collective and
not merely an individual application is shown by the concluding statement "the dead
(collective) shall be raised incorruptible and we (the living-collective) shall be
changed."

This passage teaches that there will be a class - those remaining alive unto the Lord's
coming - who will not die but will be changed out seeing death. "We shall not all
sleep", says the Apostle. Though “sleep" is used so frequently as a simile of death, it
is urged that here it particularly means "remain in sleep" and does not imply that we
shall not fail asleep. However, the same Greek word "koimao", though in a different
tense, is used in Acts 13:36 of David falling asleep and being laid with his fathers,
where it obviously means in plane language that he died and was buried.

In the same way in 1 Cor. 15:51, 52, Paul is plainly saying, "We not all die." He refers
to two classes "the dead shall be raised incorruptible" and "we (not dead) shall be
changed" and is speaking, in harmony with his remarks in 1 Thes. 4, of those who are
alive and remain. They are to be caught away with the resurrected dead in Christ.

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Reasoning the Scriptures

We are aware that much stress has been laid on the words in Rev. 14:13 "Blessed are
the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may
rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." Some understand from this
Scripture that when the Lord came the dead saints were glorified and that since then
(the "henceforth" of this text) each saint as he has died has been immediately
changed without remaining in death as did those who died before the Lord came.
This is, -as we have seen, at variance with Paul's teaching in 1 Thes. 4 that the dead
and living saints; are "caught up together." Verse 12 in Rev. 14 is surely a reference to
the general experience of the saints during the Gospel Age when their patient
endurance was tried to the utmost and particularly in the days of Papal persecution.
In this context, verse 13 is to them beatitude and an added word of comfort that their
death under persecution would be blessed, be a rest from toil and certainly not for
them the end of all.

So, according to the scriptural reasoning that the Gospel Age Harvest referred to
the resurrection of the saints in future, when the Lord comes on the white cloud.
The gathering of the elect is something that the Lord and his holy angels would do.
The separation of the wheat from the tares is just the separation of good from the
wicked. We think the Lord pretty well knows those that are his and those who are of
the devil. This is what is referred to in 1The 4: 17 and Mat 13

Your Brothers and Servants in His vineyard


M.S.Mariadas & Y.R.Dinakaran

Thus Saith Our Lord

Ye call Me Master and obey Me not,


Ye call Me Light and see Me not,
Ye call Me Way and walk Me not,
Ye call Me Life and desire Me not,
Ye call Me wise and follow Me not,
Ye call Me fair and love Me not,
Ye call Me rich and ask Me not,
Ye call Me eternal and seek Me not,
Ye call Me gracious and trust Me not,
Ye call Me noble and serve Me not,
Ye call Me just and fear Me not,
If I condemn you, blame Me not.

(From A Treasury of Bible Illustrations Copyright © 1995, 1998 by AMG International, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by
Permission.)

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