Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
STUDY: SIGNS OF THE TIMES AMONG TRUTH PEOPLE
Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
“Can ye not discern the signs of the times?”
Matthew 16: 3
THE peculiar events following Pastor Russell’s death in 1916 are significant, and need to be considered as signs of the times that deserve our attention, understanding and responsiveness. To understand them will prove helpful in assisting us to take an intelligent and Divinely warranted stand toward these things and their resultant conditions.
While Pastor Russell was in the flesh there was peace among God’s people. All had the same spirit of oneness, the same hope of the high calling, the same work of service, the same Lord, the same faith, the same baptism and the same God as Father. But following his death, in many of these respects changes set in. The Lord’s people were no longer a united people. Some repudiated former beliefs and accepted discordant ones in their stead. Many set aside former practices, taking others in their place. The watchmen no longer saw “eye to eye” (Isaiah 52: 8). Some revolutionized against many of the teachings and arrangements that the Lord gave His people through “that servant” (Matthew 24: 45-47) (Luke 12: 42-44). And some leaders and would-be leaders caused divisions among God’s people.
We would naturally expect that such momentous events and their meanings would be set forth in the Scriptures. We believe that three Scriptural lines of thought found their fulfillments in the remarkable events among God’s people since “that servant” passed beyond the vail.
Separation of the Lord’s People
The first of these great events was the 1917 separation of the Lord’s people into two general divisions: (1) adherents of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society under its usurpatory management of that time; and (2) non-adherents of the Society under its usurpatory management of that time. This separation corresponds as antitype with type in the minutest details with the separation between Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 2). Elijah’s and Elisha’s walking and talking together after crossing Jordan until their separation corresponds to the peaceful fellowship of all the consecrated in the word, work and spirit of the Lord until the separation set in. But just as the peaceable fellowship and communion of Elijah and Elisha was broken up by their separation, so the sweet fellowship between the crown-retainers and the other consecrated brethren ceased with the separation which set in among the Lord’s people in the summer of 1917.
Just as the two prophets walked on peacefully communing together until the fiery chariot and horses appeared and separated them, so the Little Flock and the rest of the consecrated walked and talked together in sweet communion until the antitypical chariot and horses drove between them and separated them. In the symbols of the Bible, chariots represent organizations. The chariot of Israel would fittingly represent the most important organization among the Lord’s people – the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. The fieriness of the chariot types the trials in which the Society, as consisting of the Board and its officers, was involved, on account of the Society’s president usurping authority over the Board.
Horses in Biblical symbols type secular or religious teachings. The teachings that the Society’s president claimed when he illegally ousted four of the Board’s directors and appointed four pseudo-directors were represented by the horses; and their fieriness types their trialsomeness. The horsemen represented the so-called “present management” of that time. These officials manipulated these illegal doctrines in such a way as to drag the Board, as an organization, before the entire Church, dividing the latter into two parts – those siding with the Board’s majority and those siding with the “present management.” The result was the end of the peaceful union, co-operation and fellowship between the Little Flock and the rest of the consecrated in the Truth, antityped by the separation between Elijah and Elisha.
A second set of remarkable events that has been enacted since Pastor Russell went beyond the vail are: (1) revolutions against the Lord’s teachings and arrangements given through “that servant” on the part of various leaders supported partisanly therein by their adherents; and (2) a steadfast resistance to such revolutions on the part of those who were faithful to such teachings and arrangements, which resistance culminated in the resisters’ withdrawing of priestly fellowship from the revolutionists. Both sets of events occurred, beginning in Britain and America in 1917, but the revolutionism spread and went into much further wrong.
In every instance the Epiphany-enlightened Priesthood, led by Bro. Paul S.L. Johnson, resisted these revolutionists. His publication, The Present Truth, contained many articles exposing these errors of doctrine and wrongs of practice; and the Lord enabled Bro. Johnson in every case to successfully refute these errors of doctrine and to reprove these wrongs of practice.
We understand that such revolutionism corresponded to Azazel’s goat seeking to extricate itself from the grasp of the high priest, and such resistance corresponded to the high priest dragging Azazel’s goat from the door of the tabernacle to the gate of the Court. That the special sin of the Great Company is revolutionism is proven by Psalm 107: 10, 11, which will be quoted and in brackets explained: “Such as sit in darkness [error into which the Lord permitted the Great Company class to fall into while they were in Azazel’s hands] and in the shadow of death [danger of the Second Death to which their willfulness more or less nearly brought them to], being bound in affliction [Satanic temptations] and iron [strong bonds of selfishness, worldliness and sin]; because they REBELLED [revolutionized] against the words [teachings] of God, and CONTEMNED [despised; considered as of small and negligible account] the counsel of the most High.” [God’s plan consists of a series of truths, facts and arrangements, whose setting aside in any particular is contempt against the whole plan (James 2: 10). Certainly, therefore, setting aside the arrangements given through “that servant” for doing the Lord’s work is contemning God’s counsel, Plan.]
The above passage charges the Great Company with: (1) revolutionism against the teachings of the Lord; and (2) with contempt of His arrangements. These verses prove that the sin – especially the manifesting sin – of the Great Company was the repudiation of various of the Lord’s teachings and arrangements. Revolutionism manifested them as such. Only then, could a new creature be recognized as of the Great Company, having lost his crown, when he revolutionized against the Lord’s teachings and arrangements.
Let us briefly consider the picture of Azazel’s goat (Leviticus 16: 20-22), and note the correspondency of type and antitype. While Azazel’s goat was tied to the door of the tabernacle, he witnessed the high priest kill the Lord’s goat. The Scriptures point out that the dark night, the time of trouble, would end the reaping work, the selection of the Little Flock. This occurred by the time trench warfare began on September 21, 1914. According to the Great Pyramid’s Grand Gallery measurement, the last member of the Lord’s Goat class was placed upon the altar September 16, 1914. Immediately thereafter the World’s High Priest, Jesus and the Church, began to confess Christendom’s sins in the hearing of the Great Company. From September 18th onward until November, 1916, great emphasis was put upon declaring the sins of Christendom that led up to and caused World War 1. The Great Company brethren listened to it being done, as Azazel’s goat heard Aaron confess the sins over it.
As in the type, the next step was loosing Azazel’s goat – untying it – so the antitypical Goat of Azazel was untied – given more liberty. This occurred by two things: (1) by the World’s High Priest (Head and Body) permitting such errors to spread on Pastor Russell’s powers as “that servant” as emboldened various Great Company brethren to disregard his authority as “that servant,” and consequently to seek to set aside his arrangements for doing the work; and (2) by the Head of the World’s High Priest removing, through Pastor Russell’s death, “that servant’s” powerful hold on the controllership of the work. These two things gave the restive, revolutionistic antitypical Goat opportunities for revolutionism that they did not have before these two things set in. This burst for liberty began in England at least a year before Pastor Russell’s death, but the Lord, through Bro. Johnson and his supporters resisted their revolutionism – led the Goat to the Gate, and because of their stubbornness, in due time withdrew priestly fellowship from these revolutionists – delivered the Goat to the fit man – unfavorable circumstances. Shortly thereafter, the same process was enacted in America.
Satan, through the revolutionists, sought to destroy the Truth and the Truth arrangements in order to ruin God’s people and plan. Because of this, the Lord entrusted Bro. Johnson and others to resist the revolutionists, which they faithfully did. And they were victorious because God’s Truth is stronger than Azazel’s errors, and the Lord gave them the necessary ability.
The Levite Groups
We now come to the third set of events among the Lord’s people since Pastor Russell’s death: the division of the Great Company into many groups. We understand these divisions correspond as antitype to the divisions of the Levites. In the type, there were three general classes of Levites: the Kohathites, the Merarites and the Gershonites (Numbers 3: 17). The Kohathites had no wagons, or chariots (Numbers 7: 9), while the Merarites had four (Numbers 7: 8) and the Gershonites had two (Numbers 7: 7). Remembering that wagons, or chariots, type organizations, we may conclude that the revolutionistic antitypical Kohathites had no earthly organizations controlling their work.
There are two groups of organized revolutionists: (1) those who sought to gain and succeeded in gaining control of Pastor Russell’s corporations (corporations that were dummy, inactive corporations during his life, because he controlled everything); and (2) those who sought, but failed to gain control of Pastor Russell’s organizations, and then proceeded to form several of their own. The former corresponded to the Merarites and the latter to the Gershonites. Thus, we find among the revolutionistic new creatures three general groups typed by the Kohathites, the Merarites and the Gershonites.
But the three general groups of Levites were divided into eight subdivisions: two of which were Gershonites, four of which were Kohathites and two of which were Merarites (Numbers 3: 17-20). Accordingly, we find that in the antitype there has been eight subdivisions among the three general groups of antitypical Levites.
We saw that the Merarites typed those who gained control of Pastor Russell’s organizations, which were three antitypical wagons: (1) the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, (2) the People’s Pulpit Association, and (3) the International Bible Students’ Association. The Society adherents gained control of these at the separation of antitypical Elijah and Elisha in 1917. The following year the Society adherents split into two parts: (1) those who endorsed the military compromises of the Society leaders after their arrest, by remaining with the Society, and (2) those who disapproved of these by withdrawing from the Society – the Standfasters. The latter then formed an organization as a committee, but was then followed by the Elijah Voice Society, a branch of the Standfasters. The Society adherents correspond antitypically to the Mahli Merarites and the Standfasters to the Mushi Merarites; and the four above-mentioned organizations correspond antitypically to the four wagons given to the Merarites.
Finally, those revolutionists who believe in organizations controlling their work, but who failed to gain control of Pastor Russell’s organizations, are the antitypical Gershonites. The two groups of antitypical Gershonites each formed organizations of their own: (1) the Bible Students’ Committee, and (2) the Pastoral Bible Institute. The former corresponded to the Libni Gershonites and the latter to the Shimei Gershonites. Thus, we find the three main divisions and the eight subdivisions of the revolutionists to correspond as antitypes to the main typical divisions and subdivisions of the Levites.
But historical facts show that there were more than these eight main subdivisions among the revolutionists, which according to the type should have been expected. The three sons of Levi through their eight sons had many children, who in turn had other children until there were in the Levitical genealogies 60 heads of families recorded. These type the 60 divisions of Levites that were eventually developed.
The above three signs of the times, or events: (1) the separation of antitypical Elijah and Elisha, (2) the leading of Azazel’s goat to the Gate and fit man by the World’s High Priest, and (3) the separation of the Levites into their 60 divisions, subdivisions and sub-subdivisions have been enacted. But there are still works to be done by the Lord’s people in the Epiphany: (1) the Epiphany Camp, which will consist of the loyal justified and converted loyal Jews, by the Kingdom witness will be constructed, and (2) the public by the Kingdom witness will be better prepared to enter into the Millennial Camp. Furthermore, the work on personal carrying out of consecration in self and world denial, watchfulness and prayer, study, spread and practice of the Truth and faithful endurance of the incidental experiences, remains to be completed in each one. The prospect before us in the rest of the Epiphany, in the Kingdom and in the Ages of Glory after the Kingdom is glorious! Let each one of us arise to the height of his privileges! Then the Lord’s favor will go with us.