8 And Zacchaeus [Zakkai] stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
A man without humility cannot be saved: it comes to that. A proud man, who must have the first place, and who cannot be satisfied without overbearing his neighbours, is unfit for a kingdom, of which the prevailing sentiment will be the grateful humility of forgiven sinners.
This is why he also says so frequently that a rich man shall hardly enter the Kingdom of God. Rich men are usually proud men, because riches give power and importance. Because proud men cannot, rich men scarcely can, inherit the Kingdom of God.
Rich men may; Zaccheus was one, but he gave "half of his goods to feed the poor," and was of the child-like sort. Such, also, were those whom Paul exhorted by Timothy, to lay up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come (1 Tim. vi. 18). Such, also, those whom Jesus commanded to make to themselves friends out of the mammon of unrighteousness.
No man is more beautiful than a good, useful, faithful, humble, rich man. But there are not many of them. Poverty is usually more conducive to the training of the spiritual man. Poverty by itself is no recommendation...Poverty is good manure; it is neither the soil nor the plant.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 38
11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
Time went on; things took their course, and as Jesus had predicted, the love of many waxed cold. Business, family cares, persecution, and one thing and another, began to cool the ardour of many who started well; iniquity abounded, hate came into play, social chaos prevailed, to the discouragement and subverting of such as had no root in themselves, and were not training themselves in spiritual development. The number of the faithful became comparatively few; the signs of the times thickened; and the hand of God appeared, but only to such as discerned.
An ordinary quarrel sprang up between the Jews in Jerusalem and the Roman army that garrisoned the country. As the result of the quarrel, Cestius the governor of Syria, invested Jerusalem, the Jews resisted and by violent sorties broke up the investment and drove the Romans out of the country.
The whole nation then revolted and appeared to establish a successful defiance of Rome. Unbelief said
"There! this is very like what you were looking for, isn't it; where is the destruction of Jerusalem? Where is the promise of His coming?"
But the faithful reasoned the other way. They took warning from the fact of Jerusalem having been surrounded. They took this as the sign, and quietly retired; they as much as said this,
"the Jews are successful now, for which we were not looking, but the city has been surrounded, and we know what that means."
Sunday Morning 27 - TC May 1871
12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
The gospel is not preached when the things of the kingdom are omitted. And this is one grand defect in modern preaching; either there is nothing said about the kingdom, or a kingdom is preached which is a mere matter of speculation, a kingdom of heaven in principle, in the hearts of men, or somewhere beyond the skies!
But, the gospel does not treat of such a kingdom as this, a mere fiction indoctrinated into men's minds by "the cunning craftiness of those who lie in wait to deceive." So inseparable is the idea of gospel from that of kingdom, that we find them not only substituted for each other, but associated together as terms of explanation.
Thus, "Jesus went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God" (Luke 8:1; Mark 1:14); and in the prophecy of Mount Olivet it is written, "THIS gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the habitable (EN HOLE OIKOUMENE, the Roman empire) for a testimony to all the nations: and then shall come the end" (Matt. 24:14).
After He rose from the dead He commanded the apostles, saying go preach the gospel to every creature: he that believes and is immersed shall be saved: and he that believes not shall be condemned," and "lo, I am with you unto the end of the world." In view of these texts can anyone be so mystified as not to see that salvation is predicated on believing the gospel of the kingdom, and being baptized into Jesus Christ?
They were to preach "this gospel of the kingdom" in the name of Jesus; how did they execute the work? "They went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming THE WORD with signs following" (Mark 16:20). They began at Jerusalem, passed throughout Judea, then went to Samaria, and, lastly, to the end of the land (ESCHATOU TES GES). They began on the day of Pentecost and preached only to the Jews for several years, at the end of which Peter and Paul began to proclaim the kingdom to Gentiles also.
The labours of the apostles were indefatigable. They filled the Roman empire with their doctrine, and made such an impression upon it that tumults were excited, and they were charged with treason against the state, because they proclaimed another king than Caesar (Acts 17:7, 31) who should rule the world in righteousness as the sovereign Lord of all the earth. "They spake the word of God with boldness."
"The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul," and great kindness was among them all. In about thirty years the gospel of the kingdom was proclaimed in all the world, to every creature under the heaven (Col.1:6, 23). They finished their work, and fell asleep, the Lord having abundantly fulfilled His promise of co-operating with them to the end of the world.
Thus the same gospel that was preached to Abraham was preached also to Jews and Gentiles by the apostles after the ascension of Jesus to the right hand of power. There was, however, this difference -- when it was preached to Abraham and to the generation which perished in the wilderness, it was altogether a matter of promise, but when preached by the apostles to the Roman nations some things connected with the promise were fulfilled, so that the gospel of the kingdom as they preached it was partly a matter of promise, partly a matter of history, and partly doctrinal.
It was thus presented to mankind in a threefold point of view, which may be stated in this form --
I. Promises to be fulfilled; or things concerning the kingdom of God.
II. Promises fulfilled already; or things concerning Jesus.
III. The doctrinal import of the fulfilled promises; or things concerning His Name.
Elpis Israel 2.1.
13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
There is no retirement age in the Truth. This is a fatal folly. "Retirement" is such an obsession in this indulgent and decadent age that it can infect out thinking in the Truth. We do not mention names very often, but we feel we must here. Bro. Gibson has never retired, though he is now ninety years old. He still carries on his ecclesial duties each week, and his considerable correspondence, and his work in the magazine to the best of his ability. He finds he can do frustratingly less now than in former years, and the effort is harder, and the joy of vigorous activity has gone, but other and deeper joys take its place.
"Occupy (pragmateuomai: work, keep busy -- from pragma, work) until I come" ... "He that endureth to the end shall be saved." Don't be trapped and deceived into the lazy, selfish, worldly "retirement" complex. The Truth needs faithful workers unto the end. Let us be among them.
Both the brethren above have ended their life-long labours 'in the truth' and await resurrection.
Occupy Till I come
Brother Greer writes (excerpt) '...We ought not to preach that Christ will come in a few years and at the same time engage in a business that we know we shall not reap the benefit of within that time. With my convictions, I would not sell a place on five or six years' time; no, not on three years' time, for I believe that would be beyond my time of using it.
How would it look for a brother to plant a vineyard or set out a pear orchard while teaching that he really believed that Christ would come and call him away in a year or two, and yet he says what we do we ought to do all to the glory of God? If anyone can see how he can glorify God with such an inconsistent faith, he can see farther than I can. I am aware that some may laugh at me, but I hope I have a faith strong enough to enable me to shape my temporal affairs accordingly, and strong enough to stand laughing at also...'
Remarks.-The confident and hearty tone of brother Greer's letter is interesting and refreshing in the midst of the sceptical indifference characterising our generation. At the same time, it requires tempering with the counsels of wisdom. Two considerations must be allowed the force that belongs to them. First, "Occupy till I come," is the order of the day which "the Lord of those servants" has published. This "occupy" varies with all the varying circumstances of human life.
If a brother is a fruit grower, it is his duty to be a wise fruit grower, and to be found in the act at the last moment. It would not be wise to suspend or circumscribe his arrangements on a time hypothesis, which has only the force of a probable opinion. If the Lord had expressly revealed it, the case would be different. If He had enjoined on us, as on Israel in Egypt, to have "loins girded, shoes on feet, staff in hand, and to eat in haste," because "this night" or in 1896-8, the Lord would do thus and so, then it would be criminal and insane to engage ourselves in any other enterprise whatever. But seeing we have received no instructions beyond the general direction to "be ready" in the wise discharge of all the duties that come to our hand; and no time revelation, beyond the general indication of historic periods whose precise commencement is a little in haze, it is manifestly the part of wisdom for every brother to so arrange his affairs as that they would suffer no detriment in case of our construction of the time period proving incorrect.
No harm will arise from our affairs being in a prudent shape at the moment we are cited to appear before the Lord. There might be much harm if we arranged them on what might prove a wrong supposition of how long they would last. For example, a man having enough under his hand to last, say till 1898, ceasing to attend to the business in which he is engaged, in the conviction that nothing would be wanted after that date, would find himself in a woeful position if it should prove that the Lord's coming is not due then. The great thing is to "Take heed that the heart be not overcharged," that is, too much engrossed in the affairs in hand, whatever they are.
Do all your business as the Lord's servant till the last moment-not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. It is an extreme probability that the Lord will come some time during the era 1896-1900. The grounds of this probability have been exhibited: but it must be remembered that it is not an absolute demonstration. The statement that "There shall be 1,290 days" from the setting up of the Roman abomination, does not definitely say more than that that period must elapse before the standing up of Michael and the resurrection of the dead. It does not say that these events will certainly occur as soon as that period is at an end. If a man say, "I will be 50 days from home from the time the steamer sails," it may be a reasonable conclusion that he will be home on the fifty-first day, but it does not follow. If he were 60 days away, he would not break his word. If it were said to him, "You said you would be back in 50 days from the sailing of the steamer," he could reasonably rejoin: "I did not say so: I said I would be 50 days away. I did not say I would not be more."
This is one of the elements of uncertainty as to the ending of the 1,290 days. It looks as if it were more definite than this, and it may prove to be so-(especially with the analogy of Moses in Egypt in view), but it is not certain that it is so. Another element of uncertainty is the time of the commencement of the period. The establishment of the Papacy was such a gradual process that it is difficult to put the finger upon any date and say with absolute certainity that that was the moment it was "set up." The ground of confidence on this point is tolerably strong in the coincidence of two items, viz., the disappearance of the temporal power in 1867-70, and the imperial appointment of the Bishop of Rome as head of Christendom in a.d. 606-8. The currency of 1260 years between two strongly marked epochs like these, seems to leave little room for doubt that in that accomplished period, we identify the revealed lease of Papal power. It comes very near absolute certainty.
Still, as it stands upon a human construction of history, and not upon the authority of an inspired interpretation, there cannot be the absolute confidence which a message from God would inspire. We make these remarks merely to show the unwisdom of acting upon a probable interpretation as if it were a divine declaration. The interpretation may turn out to be correct. Everything favours the idea that it will; but there is just the possibility we have indicated that the divine programme may hold the coming of the Lord Jesus at an unrevealed point beyond the expiry of the 1,290 days, and it is the part of wisdom to take this into account.-Editor.
The Christadelphian, May 1894. p174-175
21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
"These are hard sayings; how severe, how discouraging!"-and they walked no longer with him. Where did they go? Did they find something better or more satisfying?-an easier way to life?
That was the majority-and Jesus let them go. He made no effort to persuade them to stay. He had shown them the power of God, and the way of life-and it annoyed them to consider the change and effort it involved. He had revealed to them eternity-and it was too big for them. They preferred to slip back into the easy darkness. And he let them go.
But there was another class. Very few; just a handful. Consider their answer when he turned and put the choice to them:
"Where SHALL we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life."
This was the way of life, and there was no other. So they gave their whole heart and soul to laying hold of it, and did not complain about its hardness, or about "discouragement."
The cost of the Pearl of Great Price was "all that he had" (Matt. 13:46). There are two classes of people illustrated by these parables. There are those who are anxious to pay the price and wish they could give more; and there are those who begrudge it and would like to get it cheaper.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4. 20.
27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them [the ones refusing me the Kabbalas HaMalchus (refusing my sovereignty as king)], bring hither, and slay them before me.
But not seeking to dwell unduly on one point, I will just for a moment notice the objections Mr. Stern has brought forward in disposal of the New Testament. They are just of the character I expected. He quotes "Thou shalt not kill," and contrasts with this the prospective words which Christ employs concerning himself: "Bring them hither and slay them before me."
It is really too idle to deserve notice. Does Mr, Stern mean to say that the command not to kill, was to apply in all possible circumstances? If so, how does he understand the stoning of Achan for trespass, or the slaughter of the Canaanites, when Israel crossed the Jordan under Joshua? The command not to kill had to do with ordinary civil relations. It is not inconsistent with the judicial function which the very same law prescribes.
So though Christ was under the law of Moses in the days of his flesh, this is not inconsistent with the fact that he is to exercise judicial power in the day of his glory. I should like to know how he reconciles the objection with his own idea of the Messiah. Is it not written of him that he shall slay the wicked? (Isaiah 11:4).
Now, though Mr. Stern does not believe Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, he must believe that when the Messiah does come, he will "slay the wicked." How then about "thou shalt not kill?" If it is a contradiction against Jesus, it is a contradiction against Moses, against Joshua, and against the Messiah himself, even if Jesus were not he. It is a contradiction which does not exist.
The precept not to kill is one regulating private life, but does not interfere with the judicial right to take away life when the general interests call for it. Who calls into question the prerogative of the Queen, in the name of the public well-being, to take away the life of a murderer?
Bro Roberts - Was Jesus of Nazareth The Messiah?
28 And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.
Topographical coincidences run through the whole plan
The offering of Isaac on Moriah required that Jesus should be offered there also. The birth of David at Bethlehem required the same thing of Jesus.
David's flight up the face of the Mount of Olives from the presence of Israel's rebellion seems to find a counterpart in Christ's ascent from that Mount from a nation that said
"We will not have this man to reign over us;"
and David's return via that Mount, a counterpart in Christ's coming back to the Mount of Olives before his enthronement in Jerusalem.
Israel's scattering among the nations finds Christ so scattered in his body during all the times of the Gentiles. The holy portion of the land in the age of glory covers the place of Abraham's sojourn in the land as a stranger, and David's flight among the rocks of Engedi; and Christ's trial, mockery, condemnation and death.
The divine plan is full of such interesting and fitting coincidences, among which, we are bound to place the fact that not only the national but the personal Messiah, came out of Egypt in the beginning of his existence upon the earth.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 9
39 And some of the Pharisees [Perushim] from among the multitude said unto him, Master [Rabbi], rebuke thy disciples [talmidim].
It is quite evident they were displeased and out of harmony with the spirit of the event.
Doubtless they sincerely felt it was presumption and blasphemy. Doubtless they also felt it was a very undignified and unseemly proceeding, out of harmony with solemn, restrained religious worship and liable to bring upon them the restrictions of the Romans.
And as the acknowledged religious leaders of the people, they would resent any popular religious movement that was outside of their own initiative and control. Probably this latter would be the most powerful motive of their annoyance, though they would not recognize it as such.*
Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of Yahweh
there is a distinction between true dignity and false. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the whole multitude of the disciples began spontaneously to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice (Luke 19:37). And some of the Pharisees said-
"Master, rebuke thy disciples."
According to their standards of etiquette, that was not a fitting way for people to act. They were completely unmoved by the significance of the occasion. They said the same thing when the children praised him in the Temple.
The Pharisees were always there to cavil over trifles, and to throw an ugly, jealous shadow over the pure joy of the occasion.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4.22.
40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. [CHABAKUK 2:11]
41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city [of Yerushalayim], and [Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach] wept over it, [YESHAYAH 22:4]
From the crest of the Mount of Olives road, as the palm-bearing and singing multitude approached from the east, the whole city lay spread out before them. On the left, to the far south, was Gehenna, the valley of Hinnom; above that, within the south wall, the royal hill of Zion.
Before them, in the valley between them and the city, was the Garden of Gethsemane, which would mean nothing to the multitude, but much to Christ as he gazed on the scene.
At the north end of the city (now looking toward the right) was the gleaming white Temple, built by an Edomite usurper who had striven to destroy the royal Heir at his birth. Edom is the same root as Adam-red earth. The Temple truly stood for the flesh - the very symbol Jesus himself used-shining in its whitewashed hypocrisy of external religious pretension and internal fleshly bickering and hate.
God was in His holy Temple - but not in this one. The glory had departed from this spot six hundred years before, as Ezekiel saw in vision. God was in the Temple He had prepared for Himself - the spiritual Temple that this fleshly Temple was even now plotting to destroy, and did destroy. But in three days God raised it up again.
And further north-beyond the city wall-the hill of Calvary.
Bro Growcott - He Found nothing but Leaves
42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day [HaYom HaZeh], the things which belong unto thy peace [shalom] ! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
"At least in this thy day!" The great day of crisis and of opportunity for Jerusalem came - and passed, and they did not know.
He was not deceived by the fickle Hosannas of the multitude. He knew that within a week all this shallow enthusiasm would have melted away and he would be standing in Pilate's judg-ment hall, looking out alone upon a human sea of malice and hate, self-hypnotized by the chant of "Crucify him, crucify him!"
Bro Growcott - He Found nothing but Leaves
43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, [construct a siege against you and they will surround you and will hem you in from all directions.[Isa 29:3; Jer 6:6; Ezek 4:2; 28:6]]
46 Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.
An evil priesthood and their violent deeds
And who were the opponents of godly Hannah and faithful Elkanah? Why Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli. These sons of Belial were the worst of men, infamous for their aggressive deeds, 33 and notorious for their arrogant words. 34 They were driven by the spirit of greed, 35 as they sought to enrich themselves, not only at the expense of the people, but at the desecration of their worship.
Worse still, their absolute dominance of the priesthood made it impossible for any to challenge them. In such a time of spiritual barrenness all sense of holiness and sacredness was lost. Indeed, it was this very state of affairs which pierced Hannah to her soul, and brought about the birth of her son whom she dedicated to the temple.
His arrival must have been a cause for surprise, for none before had ever dedicated a child so young as he. No one knew what Hophni and Phinehas thought about the little boy who walked within the temple precinct. They may have noticed his godly disposition, but given that he was but a child, they were unaware that in him they beheld their nemesis. God was already at work with Hannah's son, whose destiny was linked to their downfall.
Their example had already incurred the divine displeasure, but Samuel's own example was the antithesis of theirs. 36 His personal integrity was irreproachable, as he eschewed every form of greed or personal enrichment from bribes or oppression.
Samuel's personal conviction doubtless sprang from the hand of his mother, who had instilled into her son from the earliest moment a hatred of such corruption and an awareness of the terrible effect it would have upon the worship of the people. When he came to fulness of maturity, his own spiritual standards would be the guide to return Israel to the proper worship of their God. His example would both inspire and direct the nation. Christ would do the same, and the spirit of Samuel would be seen in the child of Nazareth.
At the time of Christ, the priesthood at the sanctuary was just as corrupt and just as evil as it was in Hannah's day. Annas had come to power as High Priest when Christ was still a young child. 37 Although his own tenure lasted for but nine years, he remained a powerful figure, and through bribery and corruption kept his family dominant in the priesthood for the next six decades. 38
When Christ came to the temple as a boy of twelve, he deliberately engaged in discussion with the priests. 39 Even then, he showed such spiritual promise in his earnest questions and discerning; answers, that the first stirrings of unease and the first inklings of a future hostility prickled in the air. 40 The priests had beheld the man who would rise to supersede them. And in contrast to their own spirit of avarice and hypocrisy, Jesus would reveal the same standard of personal integrity that was manifest in Samuel in an earlier age. 41
The House of Annas was extremely rich, and they held a strong grip on the priesthood. The key source of the family's wealth came from the temple market which they operated in the Court of the Gentiles. Known as the "Bazaars of the Sons of Annas", these market stalls controlled the temple activities related to the offerings of the worshippers.
Through these, they held a monopoly on the sale of sacrificial animals, and on the exchanging of money into the temple coins needed for the purchase of sacrifices. Their position of power enabled them to amass enormous wealth from these activities, and they enforced their rights without compunction. The dedication of those who came to worship was the lever which Annas and his family used to enrich themselves. 42
What the Sons of Eli did with the peace offerings at the door of the tabernacle, the Sons of Annas did with all the sacrifices, in their vast market which sprawled across the temple courts. The wickedness present in Shiloh, was as nothing to the corruption seen in the Jerusalem of Annas.
Nor did they hesitate to resort to violence and extortion to achieve their ends. The last of the Sons of Annas to hold the office of High Priest was his namesake, Annas H. His capacity for violence and corruption was typical of the family who had dominated the spiritual life of the nation for sixty years. Of him, it would be recorded that nothing would stop his greed. 43
What chance was there, for the godly in Israel to worship the God of their Fathers in spirit and truth, with such scoundrels in charge? Who could doubt that the priesthood in the day of Christ made worship impossible. Here then, in the time of Christ was the exact counterpart of the rapacious robbery of Hophni and Phinehas. The aggressive actions and arrogant words of the "Sons of Eli' would be seen again in the unrighteous priesthood of the "Sons of Annas". So blatant was their spirit, that the Rabbis of the time described them in this very way. 44
The appearance of another Hophni and Phinehas class called for another Samuel to confront them, and the Lord did exactly that in challenging their unrighteous behaviour. He denounced them in the words of the prophets -
"It is written, My house is the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves". 45
32 Just as Elkanah's household grew (1 Samuel 1:4; 2:21), so Joseph's family increased to at least seven offspring in the mercy of God (Mark 6:3),
33 1Samuel 2: 13,14
34 1Samuel 2: 15,16
35 1Samuel 2: 29
36 1Samuel 12: 3-5
37 Annas was appointed High Priest by Quirinius, governor of Syria in AD 6, and subsequently deposed by the Roman governor Valerius Gratus in AD 15.
38 A passage in the Talmud illustrates the character of the House of Annas - "Woe to the house of Annas! Woe to their serpent's hiss! They are high priests; their sons are keepers of the treasury, their sons-in-law are guardians of the temple, and their servants beat people with staves" (Pesahim 57a).
39 For such were the doctors of the law (Luke 2:46). Members of the House of Annas might well have been there at this first meeting, for Annas was already in power at the time.
40 Rotherham - "Now all who heard him were beside themselves, because of his understanding and his answers" (Luke 2:47).
41 The words of Christ - "Which of you convinceth me of sin?" (John 8:46), were a clear echo of Samuel's own asseveration (1 Samuel 12:3).
42 So influential was the House of Annas, that about the time of Christ, the Sanhedrin transferred its meeting place from the Hall of Hewn Stones in the temple, to the Bazaars of the Sons of Annas (Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, volume 1, book 3, chapter 5, pages 371,372, Alfred Edersheim).
43 The account of his influence is given by Josephus thus "as for the high priest Annas, he increased in glory every day, and this to a great degree ... for he was a great hoarder of money ... he also had servants who were very wicked, who joined themselves to the boldest of the people, went to the threshing-floors, and took away the tithes that belonged to the priest by violence, and did not refrain from beating such as would not give these tithes to them" (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, book 20, chapter 9.2).
44 The Talmud recorded - "Our Rabbis taught: Four cries did the Temple Court cry out. The first - 'Go hence, ye sons of Eli', ye defile the temple of the LORD" (Pesahim 57a). In this remarkable statement, the priesthood of Christ's day was considered to possess the very spirit of Hophni and Phinehas in their wickedness.
45 The words of Christ (Luke 19:45-48) envisaged a future temple accessible by both Jew and Gentile (Isaiah 56:7), and lamented a past temple which was destroyed because the spirit of Hophni and Phinehas was seen there (Jeremiah 7:9-12).
Hannah Handmaid of the Highest Ch 8