Thursday, November 3, 2016

End of the World in 1914?

By Ronald R. Day, Senior
The following is the text of the article that appeared in The Bible Students Monthly, January, 1914, issue. Written by Charles Taze Russell, the article relates his viewpoint concerning "the end of the world," and how he was not expecting the "end of the world" in 1914. Indeed, the article further shows that Russell was not expecting the second coming of Jesus in 1914, as some have claimed. Nevertheless, some have quoted the large bold headline out its context, which reads "End of World in 1914," and claimed that Russell was preaching that the world would end in 1914. In fact, the smaller bold headline underneath the large headline continues by saying, "Not the View of Pastor Russell or of I.B.S.A." Thus, in fact, the tract denies that Brother Russell was expecting "the end of the world" in 1914.
We have expanded the names of some of the Bible books that were abbreviated in the original, in order to aid electronic searches for scriptural references. Links are provided for relevant information on some words or phrases of the text, which may be accessed by clicking on the words or phrases.
We do not necessarily agree with all of Russell's conclusions as presented in the article.

END OF WORLD IN 1914
Not the View of Pastor Russell nor of I. B. S. A.
"The Earth Abideth Forever"
Christ will not return to Earth as a Man
Present Year Believed to Mark Great Change of Dispensation,
but World May not discern Immediate Difference
I am prompted in the selection of my text by reading an extract from the sermon of a Canadian minister delivered recently. In it he declared that 1914 would witness the Second Coming of Christ, etc. His statement allowed the inference that he holds the view common to nearly all the creeds; namely, that the earth is to be burned up and the human race blotted out; and that, incidentally, Christ will come a second time, to see that none of the Church are included in the destruction.
MISTAKES OF DARK AGES BEING CORRECTED
To my understanding, all such expectations are wholly unscriptural, untrue, misleading, and hindrances to a right understanding of the Bible. They belong to the Dark Ages, when public teachers seemed to lose all appreciation of poetic language, figurative language, mental imagery. They belong to the time when Christ's references to Gehenna Fire, which burned outside the walls of Jerusalem, were understood to mean an eternity of torture for all except the saintly few. They belong to the time when Jesus' words respecting the cutting off of the right hand and the plucking out of the right eye were misunderstood, and taken literally.
St. Peter's words are generally urged to be the foundation for the theory that the world will be destroyed by literal fire at the Second Coming of Christ, when the heavens shall be on fire, and the earth also and the things therein shall be burned up (2 Peter 3:10), a literal interpretation here overlooks the fact that St. Peter, speaking of the very same time, in Acts 3:19-21, declares that Times of Restitution and blessing - not times of world-burning - will follow the Second Coming of Jesus. It also overlooks the fact that St. Peter and the other apostles, as well as the Master, frequently used the word fire in a symbolic sense, to represent tribulation. Thus St. Peter, addressing the Church, says: "Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that shall try you."
St. Paul says that the fire of that Day shall try the work of every man [the Church], of which sort it is. Those who have built with gold, silver, precious stones [the promises of God's Word], shall be fireproof in that Day; while those who have built with the wood, hay and stubble of tradition-Higher Criticism, Human Evolution, etc.,-will find their faith structure amenable to the fire; and they will suffer the loss of faith and have tribulations accordingly. Yet, the Apostle explains, such will themselves be saved, but these very fiery trials will destroy their misconceptions. They will be saved because, in spite of their errors, they built their faith upon Christ. -- 1 Corinthians 3:11-15.
The Apostle, however, urged that all should build with gold, silver and precious stones-characteristics which would enable them to pass through the fire of that Day unscathed-"more than conquerors." Similarly, Jesus referred to a testing of faith, by the figure of a flood, telling that those who built upon the sand would suffer loss; but that those who built upon the Rock would be safe. All these Scriptures, however, these references to fiery trials, etc., belong to the end of the Age - not the end of the world.
"THE EARTH ABIDETH FOREVER"
The Bible teaches that in God's great Plan He has provided various epochs, or ages, each for the accomplishment of its own special work; for instance, the Jewish Age with its work, and the Gospel Age with its work, to be followed by the Millennial Age and its still different work. The Bible declares that "the earth abideth forever" (Ecclesiastes 1:4); that "God created it not in vain; He formed it to be inhabited." (Isaiah 45 :18). The earth has never yet been inhabited. There are immense tracts of country still unoccupied. The Divine Plan for the earth has not yet reached consummation. It will require the thousand years of Messiah's glorious Kingdom Power to bring the world out of present sin and death conditions, and into the glorious conditions of Millenial blessing and Restitution, of which the Scriptures so frequently speak, and which St. Peter declares God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy Prophets.
So, then, the basis for thinking of the end of the world, now or ever, is purely a misunderstanding, due largely to the fact that our English translation uses the word world where it would more properly have used the word Age, Epoch, or order of things. In a word, the present order of things, of which the Scriptures declare Satan is the prince, or ruler, is not to be perpetual; it is to pass away. A new order of things, under the control of Messiah, the Prince of Light, is to take the place of the present reign of the Prince of Darkness. A reign of righteousness and life is to succeed the present reign of sin and death, according to St. Paul. -- Romans 5:17, 21.
CHRIST'S SECOND COMING
The Bible everywhere represents that Christ left a Heavenly glory when He came to earth nearly nineteen centuries ago. "The Logos was made flesh and dwelt among us." The Bible explains that the necessity for this humiliation, this leaving the glory and taking a bondman's form, lay in the fact that God had pronounced a death sentence upon man, which mankind was paying and from which they could not be released unless someone would become their redeemer and meet the penalty for them - a death penalty, not an eternal-torment penalty, of which the Scriptures know nothing.
The Bible nowhere tells that Jesus took the human nature to keep it forever, and to return with it to Heaven, where it would be completely out of order and out of place. The Bible teaches, on the contrary, that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 15:50); and that Jesus was made flesh merely "that He, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9); and that after doing this work He would "ascend up where He was before." (John 6:62) St. Paul assures us that this, the Divine Program, has been carried out. After telling of our Lord's obedience to the Father's will in humbling Himself to death, even the death of the cross, he adds, "God hath highly exalted Him" - "far above angels, principalities and powers." -- Philippians 2:5-11; Ephesians 1:20-23.
The Master declared plainly, "Yet a little while, and the world shall see Me no more"; but He promised that He would be seen by His followers. St. John declares, "We shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He IS." (1 John 3:2) We read: "Every eye shall see Him"; but this, to be in harmony with the other Scriptures, must refer to the eyes of understanding. The Bible declares that eyes of human understanding are blinded now by error and sin, but that shortly all the blind eyes shall be opened. Then all will see Messiah and His Kingdom with the eye of faith, as the Church now see Jesus, the crown of life, and the things which the natural eye hath not seen.
PAROUSIA--PRESENCE;
EPIPHANIA--MANIFESTATION
Our English word coming is used to translate several very different Greek words. One of these is Parousia, which means presence, and is used in referring to the first stage of the Lord's Second Advent. He will be invisibly present. For a time none but the saintly few whose eyes of understanding are anointed through the Word and the Spirit will realize His Parousia, His presence, while all things earthly will continue as they have been-buying, selling, building, marrying, etc.
Then, later on, will come the Epiphania; that is to say, the revelation, or manifestation, of the present One. This will not be a manifestation in the flesh, but in a great Time of Trouble, symbolically represented as fire, as when we read, "He shall be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance." -- 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.
To my understanding, the Bible teaches that Jesus has been present in the world since 1874. In other words, His Second Advent then began. The wonderful progress in the world since then Bible students thus explain; the wonderful blessing upon them and their study of the Bible they interpret in harmony with this. They understand the Bible to teach that this Parousia will continue for a thousand years; but that the Epiphania, or manifestation to the world, will be due in forty years from the time the Presence began. For this reason they are looking very interestedly to see what the present year may bring forth. And do we not see everywhere signs of unrest, a time of trouble brewing? It looks as though this year would mark the beginning of the "flaming fire" of judgments upon the world which will mark the closing of this Age and the inauguration of the New Dispensation of Messiah's Kingdom, when "justice shall be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet," and when the ignorance, superstition and darkness which so long have hindered us will begin to be broken. The transition may be painful, yet it will be blessed, marking the overthrow of Satan's empire and reign of sin and death and the inauguration of Messiah's Kingdom and its reign of righteousness and life eternal.
"EATING, DRINKING, PLANTING AND BUILDING"
Our Lord, in describing His Second Presence, clearly indicated that it would be unnoticed by the world until the cataclysm of trouble should come. Thus He likened the earlier days of His presence to that period before the Flood, when the world, unconscious of the impending catastrophe, continued to build, eat and drink as usual, and knew not. So, says the Master, it will be in the end of this Age.
Eating, drinking, building, planting and marrying will proceed as usual; and the world will not know that they are in the PRESENCE of the Son of Man. The great Day of Trouble, noted throughout the Scriptures as "the Time of Trouble such as never was since there was a nation," will come upon them suddenly - St. Paul says, like the pangs of a woman in child-birth. A New Dispensation and new order of things is about to be born, and this great trouble is merely incidental to that birth. St. Paul, in referring to the matter, says: "Yourselves know perfectly, brethren, that the Day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night. For when they [the world] shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that Day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all children of the light, children of the Day." -- 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6.
CHANGE A CAUSE FOR REJOICING
If this great change from the dominion of Satan to the rule of Christ shall begin to manifest itself this very year, 1914, it will be a cause for rejoicing to all. Although no sufferings are joyous, but rather grievous, nevertheless, when we know that our interests are in the hands of a gracious Savior, who died for us and who is intent upon doing all that can be done for the recovery of our race from sin and death, we may well be glad in realizing that the Plan which Messiah is about to carry out for the blessing and uplifting of mankind from sin and death conditions is part of the original Divine Plan of the Father. And we have all the more joy, confidence and assurance that all things will work together for good to those that love God.
"The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower."
The trouble will be an awful one, but we believe not of great length. The Bible everywhere tells of the glorious results that will follow, when the shackles of darkness, sin and error shall be broken, and when all the spiritual powers surrounding mankind will be good and helpful, as in contrast with those of the wicked spirits now operating through mediums, by clairvoyant and clairaudient powers, to ensnare, to deceive, to bewilder mankind.
The fact that our Lord appeared in seven different flesh-forms on various occasions after His resurrection does not contradict other plain statements. Rather, we see that such appearances resembled the appearances of angels in the flesh, to communicate some good message from God to men. Had Jesus not materialized and appeared to His disciples, what proof would they or we ever have had respecting His resurrections And would not the fact that He saw them for a few moments and then vanished tend to prove to them that He was no longer a flesh being, but a spirit being, who had merely appeared to them for a special purpose?
St. Paul declares that he saw the Lord last, and not as a man, but as a spirit being, whose brightness was above that of the sun; and it injured his eyesight; for our Lord was not veiled in the flesh, as when He appeared to the disciples during the forty days.
The Christ who is to come a second time, then, is not the Jesus of the flesh, but the glorified Jesus, who in nature and glory is far above the angels-of the Divine nature.
"THIS SAME JESUS--SHALL COME AGAIN"
When Jesus ascended, two angels appeared to the disciples, saying, "This same Jesus whom ye have seen go into Heaven shall so come again in like manner as ye have seen Him go." In the past many of us have misunderstood this statement - not scrutinizing it carefully enough. Assuredly it will be the same Jesus that will come again - the same One who died for us, the same One who left the glory for us before He was born the Babe of Bethlehem. In all His changes He remains the same personality, as He declared: "I am He that is, and was, and is to come." The angels did not say, however, He will come again in the flesh, or materialized, as you have seen Him go away. Their message related to the MANNER of His going and the MANNER of His coming. What was there special about the manner of His going away that would correspond to the manner of His coming again? Many things! He went away quietly, secretly, unknown to the world, unknown to any except His disciples. In like manner has been His Parousia-silently, quietly, unknown to the world, not known to any except His disciples. Surely, if we are right in saying that His Parousia began in 1874, the manner would correspond with the manner of His going. He did not come with glorious hosts, blaring trumpets, etc., but as a "thief in the night." If we have the correct date and chronology, Gentile Times will end this year-1914.
What of it? We do not surely know. Our expectation is that the active rule of Messiah will begin about the time of the ending of the lease of power to the Gentiles. Our expectation, true or false, is that there will be wonderful manifestations of Divine judgments against all unrighteousness, and that this will mean the breaking up of many institutions of the present time, if not all. Some Scriptures seem to indicate that this will mean world-wide anarchy, not all beginning at the same moment, nor ending at the same time, but beginning and gradually spreading the world around. The further intimation is that this trouble will eventually prove a blessing to humanity, melting their hearts in the Day of Trouble, teaching the more of sympathy for one another, breaking the power of superstition, wealth, ignorance, etc. - preparing them for the glorious Reign of Messiah's Kingdom.
Originally published on this site: December, 2013; Introduction edited slightly and republished: September, 2014.
===============
Related:

No comments:

Post a Comment