1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
The human mind easily gives in to present facts, or rather, the impression they make, and these impressions are generally in the contrary direction to wisdom and well-being. Youth would eat unwholesome things and walk in hurtful ways, because they are pleasant for the time being, and do not, in their first impressions, show him the mischief.
Knowledge, parentally enforced where there is wisdom, steps in and says, "Don't." The child either has loving confidence in the restriction, and submits willingly to the disagreeable denial, to find out afterwards the sweetness of wisdom; or dislikes the "Don't," and yields only to compulsion, but afterwards to discover the same lesson.
Youth grown up, i.e., men and women, old and young, shows the same tendency to be led by the appearance of things, but lacks, in the absence of the kingdom of God, the guidance which is the privilege of some children. In most things, they judge by proximate sensations, and consequently go astray.
It is pleasant to be free from restraint, and therefore, they go, "every one to his own way," to find at last that the pleasant ways of the natural man incline to darkness and death.
It is irksome to watch daily at the gates of wisdom, waiting at the posts of her door; therefore, wisdom is made to lie on the library shelf, or under the table, or behind the door, or in the yard outside -- anywhere -- to wait the convenience of the man who prefers to find engagement in attending to the wants and pleasures, business and concerns, of the present animal existence; which, being interpreted, means that the Bible, which is to us the voice of Eternal Wisdom, is by some attended to in an only occasional and indifferent way, instead of being read and studied daily; and this because other things are sweeter to the taste or esteemed more important to be attended to.
Bro Roberts - Light and darkness
5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way [derech], and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden [drags himself along], and desire shall fail: because man [haAdam] goeth to his long home [bais olam - House of Olam], and the mourners go about the streets:
The grave becomes man's home
'...the Hebrew baith olam,
"man goeth to the House of Olam,"
house of the unseen, instead of long home, as in the English Version; that is, the grave.
When men are therein deposited they are invisible; hence the grave becomes their house, oikos, in which they are unseen. They are then in hades.
'...The pulai hadou, the Gates of Hades, or the gates of the unseen, is used in Matt. xvi. 18. To say as there, that they should not prevail against Christ's ecclesia, was to predict the resurrection of his saints; and that they should no more be shut in from the outside world by grave or sepulchre. The dead are truly themselves the unseen, as well as in the unseen... They are all invisible. The grave, which is the mouth, or gate, of this vast subterranean hall, has eaten them up, and consumed their form. Ask for them; but you ask in vain; they are all there, but you cannot see them; therefore they are in Hades, or in Sheol.
"Our Saxon word Hell," says Lord King, "in its original signification, exactly answers to the Greek word Hades, and denotes a concealed or unseen place; and this sense of the word is still retained in the eastern, and especially in the western counties of England; to hele over a thing is to cover it."
The modern, or Laodicean use of hell is not the scriptural use of hades or sheol; but the old mythology of the heathen -- the fabulous theory according to which they fitted up and furnished, the vast subterranean we have supposed, with flames, sulphur, brazen-throated dogs, furies, and such like.
Plato, speaking of all this mythological apparatus and the legends appended to it, says,
"Which, under the name of Hades and similar titles, men (that is, pagans) greatly fear, and dream about living and dissolved of bodies."
This last expression is explained by what he says elsewhere:
"For be well assured, O Socrates, that when any one is near that time in which he thinks he is going to die, there enter into him fear and anxiety. For then the old stories about Hades, how that the man who has here been guilty of wrong must there suffer punishments, torture his soul. Wherefore he who in the retrospect of his life, finds many crimes, like frightened children starting from their sleep, is terrified, and lives in evil forebodings."
Thus, as Paul says, "through fear of death they were all their lifetime subject to bondage" -- afraid, like the heathen of the Laodicean Apostasy, of what awaits them in the unseen. Hence, when they approach dissolution of body, terror seizes them, and they send for the priest of Plato, or some minor god, in ancient and modern times, to calm their panic by the pseudo-consolations of their respective delusions.
'...This Hades is a great and voracious destroyer, the cruel ally of Death...the Spirit tells us by Paul, that Death is the last enemy, and shall be destroyed; and apocalyptically by John, that "there shall be no more death," and "no more curse" (xxi. 4; xxii. 3). "Death, is," then, "swallowed up in victory," which victory is obtained through Jesus Christ.
Temporarily, victory is on the side of Death and his companion Hades; but when he and she have come to "the End," their power and victory over the faithful will prove to have been without permanent results. Then, "O Death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where thy victory?" Both abolished with the abolition of every curse for sin will be served no more on earth; and therefore, "the wages of sin," which "is death" will no more be earned and paid; so that Hades having no more victims for her devouring maw, is herself destroyed -- she dies for the want of sustenance.
What a glorious and blissful consummation is this of human affairs. Instead of generation after generation of our unhappy race, rushing like a torrent into the deep caverns of the unseen never more to see the light of day; instead of sword, famine, pestilence, and all the mishaps of fire, flood and field, sweeping them for seven thousand years into a subterranean prison-house, within whose gates they are barred up for ever; instead of this, the time will have arrived for every individual dweller upon the earth to be, what Jesus Christ is now -- incorruptible, deathless, glorious, and powerful; Deity manifested in glorified nature -- ho Theos ta panta en pasin, the Deity the all things in all men.
The constitution of sin
From year to year the picture is the same. There is no apparent change. Things appear fixed and stable, and people in general give in to the power of this appearance, and unconsciously form their purposes on this tacit but not-to-be-confessed assumption.
It is well to take time occasionally to look behind this assumption and see its utter fallacy. Though the picture of human life is always the same in the mass, take it in the detail and you find a very different state of things. If you have it in your power, go to a place where you have not been for twenty years. Consider the people you were acquainted with before you left.
Where are the babies you knew? Nowhere. Most of them are in the graves: the rest are bustling young men and women. Where are the young men and women you knew? You cannot find them. You may find sober middle-aged people on whom time is making its mark, and who show little of the blithesomeness of youth. Where are the middle-aged men? They are dead or old. Where are the old men that interested you and were interested in you in your boyhood or girlhood? They are gone. The grass grows on their graves in the cemetery.
The picture saddens perhaps, but instructs. What has happened to our acquaintance is happening to all. We are all -young and old- wise and foolish- rich and poor- in one procession - one long ceaseless procession to the grave. We know it in ourselves and in the friends of our bosom.
As time goes on we change slowly but surely. The light of the eye gets more subdued; incipient wrinkles show themselves in the corners of the countenance; the curve and plumpness of beauty give way to the angularity and attenuation of decay. Grey hairs show here and there. Follow the process long enough, and it has but one end in the natural order. The flame of the lamp burns low in its socket till, after a few unsteady twinkles, it goes out. The night comes when no man can work. The mourners go about the street.
It is not mawkishness that conjures such a picture; it is good sense; it is wisdom. Only folly ignores the dreadful inevitable to which all human life is at present subject. It drinks and forgets its sorrow. It revels and shouts and sinks deeper in the miserable mire. Rather let ours be the man of God's prayer,
"So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."
Rather let us obey the exhortation which speaketh unto us as children:
"Redeem the time because the days are evil":
"Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear."
The exhortation is seated in wisdom. The days are evil. Nothing we can do can alter this fact. We may embellish the evil days and make them more comfortable; but we cannot eradicate the constitutional evil in all human matters which leads every man at last to endorse Solomon's verdict,
"Vanity and vexation of spirit."
12 And further, by these, my son [beni], be admonished: of making many books [sefarim]there is no end [ketz]; and much study is a weariness of the flesh [basar].
Man can accumulate wisdom and knowledge, only Yahweh can give it meaning and life with the great gift of joy.
''And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart'. (Jer 29:13)
God expects us to apply ourselves to the word with industry. He is not pleased with the slothful-it is only the diligent soul that shall be made fat. There must be digging and searching-a thorough and comprehensive acquaintance with the Scriptures which will enable us to rightly divide the word.
We must beware of elevating one aspect of divine truth to the exclusion of others. It is unwise to confine our reading to the New Testament or the Psalms or popular selections of texts. The whole of the Scriptures must receive our attention, and our system of reading should be one that will ensure this.
We are exhorted to study prophecy and history-to read the books of Moses, the Psalms, the prophets, and the writings of the apostles-in short, to acquaint ourselves with the whole counsel of God. Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.
The Christadelphian, June 1887
13 Let us hear the conclusion [sof] of the whole matter: Fear Elohim, and keep [be shomer] his commandments: for this is the whole man.
The full, complete, perfect man -- the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ -- the called-out, multitudinous Son of Man -- the Yahweh-Elohim who shall bear God's Name and in whom He will be glorifted for the eternal ages.
Bro Growcott - This is the whole man.
13 Let us hear the conclusion [sof] of the whole matter: Fear Elohim, and keep [be shomer]his commandments: for this is the whole man.
Duty is wrongly inserted. This is man in his divinely intended totality. Nothing short of this is true man at all in God's sight... Christ - the one real man -is the example.
Bro Growcott - Fear God and keep his commandments
Fear God and keep his commandments
Sin is lack of knowledge - natural darkness and ignorance - the blind groping of the thinking of the flesh.
The remedy is knowledge, divine knowledge, constantly increased by study. A gradual building up of enlightenment and education - line upon line, precept upon precept -gradually displacing the shifting chaos of ignorance and undisciplined natural feeling with a solid framework of knowledge and clear perception of eternal fact.
The textbook is the Scriptures. It has often been said by prominent men that a knowledge of the Scriptures is better than a college education - that is, even from a natural and worldly point of view and for natural ends. It gives a fuller and more rounded view of life and background of experience. But its real purpose is to prepare us - not for the pre-eminence in the life that now is - but for that which is to come; to school us in the knowledge of God; to give us a proportioned groundwork for balanced and constructive self-development.
Its peculiar suitability in this respect is occasionally brought vividly to our attention by our conversations with others who have no knowledge of it.
The average individual, for example, appears singularly ignorant of history - even of the little uncertain light on the past that secular history offers.
The reason is quite obvious - the average natural man has no incentive to investigate history. Apart from a knowledge of the plan of God, history is uninteresting, purposeless, and depressing to the mind.
The natural man, like an animal, lives within the restricted sphere of his own personal activities, absorbed in himself, ignorant and heedless of either the future or the past.
But the student of Scripture finds his view extended boundlessly in every direction. The world around him, and the long colourful cavalcade of history is invested with intense interest and purpose. He is like a man suddenly released from a dungeon and placed on a mountain top.
The alphabet of Scriptural education is the historical detail of the Old Testament. This sketches, often in the briefest terms but always sufficiently, the general background upon which the inner significance of the play is developed.
This background is essential to a proper knowledge of the whole. Not, of course, every detail of it, but at least the general outline in its proper proportions.
We learn, and sometimes it seems that this is more important than anything else, that there is nothing particularly unique about ourselves, our lives, our problems.
An endless procession of humanity has preceded us. Every phase and shade of human experience and emotion has come, and gone, and come again, time without number. We are no different. We are no exception.
The rules of life and death were written long before we came. Every situation that confronts us is a well-trod path in which, of those who have passed, a few have succeeded by accepting divine guidance and the rest have failed.
And now it is our turn. The rules will not be changed on our account. We must write a record to put beside the rest. Life is complex, but the rules of life are simple-
"Fear God, and keep His commandments."
Bro Growcott - Destroyed for lack of Knowledge
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
I proceed now to remark, that the second proposition of our opponents is as foundationless as their first.
They say that the " righteous are not to be brought to judgment." By this they mean that the elect are not to stand at the bar of Christ's tribunal, and there to tell the story of their lives, as developed in connection with the profession of the faith.
Their theory of being conceived, quickened and born of the spirit in an instant of time, will
not allow of giving account. They are satisfied with nothing short of an instantaneous and sudden bound from the dust, somewhat after the manner of a rocket skyward through the air !
They do not seem to have any respect for figures, or analogies ; and, I am sorry to say, some of them manifest as little deference for the plain and direct testimony of the Word.
Moses and Paul both testify that " Yahweh shall judge His people " (Deut. xxxii. 36 ; Heb. x. 30). And Solomon says, " The Elohim shall judge the righteous and the Wicked " (Eccl. iii. 17). This Elohistic Judge is the Father and the Son in flesh-manifestation, justified by spirit (1 Tim. iii. 16). "The Father hath committed all judgment to the Son, and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man " (Jno. v. 22, 27). " As I hear," adds Jesus, " I judge; and my judgment is just." " The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day " (Jno. xii. 48). " The Lord will not condemn the righteous when he is judged " (Ps. xxxvii. 33). " He shall bring every work into
judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil" (Eccl. xii. 14). " Every injurious word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in a day of judgment " (not merely when they confess in prayer) : " for by thy words," saith Jesus, " thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned " (Matt. xii. 36-37).
Paul teaches that
"men treasure up for themselves wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of Deity : who will render to every man according to his deeds : to them who by patient continuance in well doing SEEK FOR glory and honour and incorruptibility, eternal life ; but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first and also of the Gentile ; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile ; for there is no respect of persons with Deity. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law ; and as many as have sinned in the law, shall be judged by law, in the day when Deity shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel" (Rom. ii. 5-12,16).
No teaching can be plainer than this. There is a day styled " the last day," which is " a day of judgment " ; specified by John as " the time of the dead that they should be judged " (Rev. xi. 18). In that day, " a great white throne " is set; and " the dead, small and great, stand before Deity " sitting thereon : certain books are then opened;" and the dead are judged out of those things which are written in the book, according to their works " (Rev. xx. 11-15).