"Ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it that ye do not discern this time?" Luke 12:56-59.
Glance backward for a little more than eighteen centuries. There stands Jesus with twelve disciples; they are mostly young men, the Master himself being but little over thirty. They have never had an education, and most of them have been ordinary fishermen. But though "unlearned and ignorant men" (Acts 4:13), the disciples had a confidence and power in teaching which marked them among men as peculiar; and wherever they went "they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus," for though their Master had "never learned," yet he was scholarly, a man of letters. John 7:15.
But after all, that was an insignificant little band in the eyes of the military governor Pilate, in the eyes of the chief priest, and in the eyes of the Scribes, and Phariseesthe Doctors of Divinitythe apostles of legal holiness in that day. The class chosen to announce Jesus as the King of the Jews, saying, "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1:15), was not a prepossessing one, and to the zealous Jew was so unlike what might be expected of their long anticipated Messiah, and so out of harmony with their great religious teachers, that they failed to recognize Jesus as such.
The miracles and teachings of Jesus, and the correspondence of these with the predictions concerning Messiah, made by the Lord's prophets long before, were the only evidence Israel had, that Jesus was the long-expected King. This could be evidence to such only as by careful heed to the "more sure word of prophecy," knew what to expect, and who by humility of mind would be prepared not only to note the prophetic utterances which foretold the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus, but to receive him who came in meekness with the escort of humble fishermen.
Even John the Baptizer, his cousin, who had immersed Jesus, and who saw and bare witness to his anointing by the holy spirit of God was sorely puzzled by the strange course events were taking. He had perhaps supposed that when anointed, Jesus would publicly announce himself with power and authority, and bring honor and dignity to all associated with him; but to the contrary of this, Jesus was going about quietly and not attempting the exercise of marked power as a ruler, while he (John) had been cast into prison. Things progressed so differently from what he had expected that even John's faith in Jesus as the Messiah began to fail, and he sent a message to Jesus, saying: "Art thou he that should come, or [are you also merely a forerunner as I was, and] look we for another," to be the Deliverer, the Messiah to bless Israel and through them all the nations?
Mark carefully the answer of Jesus to John; he in substance recalls to him the transpiring events, as in the Scripture at the head of this article; and he expected John to be able to DISCERN THE TIME by the events. He said, "Go and show John again, those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them." Matt. 11:3-6.
There was in transpiring events proof that he who was then present, was no less than the Messiah promised. But we should not forget either, that not only were Jesus' miracles performed with a degree of secrecy, but that they were done over a large area of country, and that the majority of the Jews probably never saw one of the healed persons. Nor had they the printing press and its reporters to spread reports of the details of the miracles.
The learned there, might have known from Daniel's prophecy that The time was fulfilled; (Dan. 9:24-27; Mark 1:15,) but for the masses, the evidence was simply, and only, the signs of the times; but these because blinded by the traditions of men, they did not appreciate. In following men the word of God became of none effect, so that the people as well as the leaders were blind. The blind followed the blind; both stumbled; and thus Israel as a nation received not the blessing but only the electthose who were of the class chosen, "Israelites indeed."
And now what do we see? Messiah is present again; the time is fulfilled for his Second AdventJesus a spiritual being, in power, is about to exalt his "body" to his own condition, and to judge, cleanse, heal and bless the worldthe House of Jacob and all the families of the earth.
What are the evidences? They have been repeatedly furnished in these columns, and are ever increasing. We have shown the testimony of the prophets to be thatThe Day of the Lord [the time of Christ's presence] is a day of trouble; that in it the powers of the heavens shall be shaken [earthly governments and authorities removedMatt. 24:29; Heb. 12:27,28; Danl. 2:44.] In it, when fully under way, all the tribes of the earth shall mourn because of him who now is assuming the control, and who will shake to pieces every evil system which hinders, binds, oppresses, or blinds the people whom he comes to blessall of earth's families. Then the great ones shall fear as they look after those things coming upon the earth. They are already in this condition. They see the spirit of liberty working among the masses, and they truly see that it will soon lead them to madness and bring a sanguinary conflict. Again, it is noted in Scripture that in the coming troubles the rich of this world will suffer much; (James 5:1-4) and so it is, to-day, the aims and threats of the discontented are against the wealthy. We see these things all about us; are they not signs of the times in which we are living?
Look again; see the Jew once more finding a home in the land of promise from which for so long he has been an exile. Note, too, the fact that there is now a beginning of the turning away of his blindness, and he is beginning to recognize Him whom they have pierced and lament therefor. (Zech. 12:10.) Turn now to the apostle James' statement, and note that this rebuilding of Israel is due "after" the selection of the people for his name, the Bride from the Gentiles. (Acts 15:16,17.) Turn to Paul and note his statementthat when the fulness of the Gentiles is come in [the full number selected from the Gentiles to be joint-heirs with ChristHis Bride] then, blindness shall begin to depart from JacobIsrael after the flesh. Rom. 11:25-32. A letter from the one whom God seems to be raising up as a teacher among the Jews, will be found in another column, and is of deep interest as bearing upon this feature of restitution. What is this, if not an evidence of what the time periods of the prophets have already showed us?that we are living in the harvest of the Christian age, the dawning of the Millennial age; that the selection and trial of "the Church which is His (Christ's) body" is about complete. It proves that the DELIVERER (head and body) is come, and the blessing coming to Israel is but a premonition of the coming blessings upon all nations, of which they are the first-fruits.
Look again, but in another direction; Note the increase of special healing of diseases since 1874. Some are in answer to prayer, some in answer to anointing with oil and prayer, and some without prayer, or oil, or anything. Thus in various ways to-day, ye see increasingly that the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dumb speak, blind eyes are opened, and the Gospel (good tidings) of a "restitution for the groaning creation, of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets" (Acts 3:21.) is preached.
The healings of our day are as pronounced and as true, as were those at the first advent, except that the dead have not yet been raised from the tomb. Nor is it in any one place, but everywhere, that this power is manifested and this feature of restitution work is beginning. We hear from Sweden, and Germany and Britain, in much the same strain, as from all over this land. Among the remarkable insurances coming under our notice recently, is that of a family in Louisville, Ky.,* in which four deaf and dumb persons were perfectly and instantly healed. One of them aged eleven years, had never spoken or heard from birth. The two small towns of Midway and Primrose, Pa., have during the past month been much excited by six remarkable cases of faith cure from various maladies. One old man, Hamilton Smith, Midway, Pa., had been so crippled by rheumatism that he could not stoop down; but was instantly healed, and to a reporter who called to inquire regarding his healing, demonstrated his suppleness by kicking higher than his own height, and the night he was cured he jumped over a fire board fence with ease. He declares that he is stronger than ever, and that he is becoming young again. And in fact this seems true. He is seventy-two years old but in a short time his white hair has commenced to resume its original color; the wrinkles are leaving his face, and his complexion becoming fresh so that he might pass now, for a man of fifty.
We might multiply instances; one of a woman healed after an illness of sixteen years, who is now thirty-seven years old but might readily be mistaken for twenty. She though ignorant of the views presented in the TOWER relative to our being now in the dawn of Millennial Day, expresses herself as satisfied that [R749 : page 1] she has entered on the "Resurrection Life" as she calls it.
If these be not evidences of the beginning of Restitution work, what are they? This is the right time for the work of healing; in the time of the first advent, restitution and restitution works, healing, etc., were not due; they were premature and were only performed to manifest forth beforehand, Christ's glory [R749 : page 2] and to illustrate the powers of the world (age) to come, which now is at hand. In his miracles, as in everything else, Jesus dealt with the end of that age as though it had been the Gospel age which it only typified; hence the works of the restitution which he and the disciples performed, no less than offering himself then as their King, and Reaper, were but illustrations of the end of the Christian age, his assumption of kingly powers, etc., now fully due, because the "body," the church, is complete, and the time for this blessed SEED of Jehovah (Gal. 3:29) to bless all the families of earth, is at hand.
If all could see that the world's hope is restitution to perfection, many more of that class would be prepared to ask the Lord in faith for physical healing and might go on unto the perfection of human nature, instead of into the tomb. Not only is the time at hand when he that believeth need not enter the tomb, but such may go from strength to strength. If men but realized the Scripture teaching, better, and did not get the heavenly hope of the Gospel church, the "body of Christ," mixed with the restitution hope of the world, they would be much better prepared to receive the blessing of restitution now within their reach. The basis of restitution simply stated is this: Man became a sinner and in Adam his right and hold upon life was lost. Since then, death has reigned over all. But Jesus was made flesh in order that he by God's favor might redeem all. He paid the full penalty, DEATH, and thus redeemed ALL. (Rom. 5:17-19.)
Now, all may return to life and perfection because ransomed by Jesus. This restitution might have taken effect as soon as Jesus died and rose and ascending on high presented the sacrifice on man's behalf. Jesus might have returned at once to restore all things but another work intervened the selection of the Christian church"the body" "the Bride" of Christ Jesus, to be his joint-heir in the reign of blessing and work of restitution. Now, the work of restitution is fully due because the selection of the body of Christ, from the world is complete, and the work of restitution is beginning while the sifting of the consecrated saints progresses to completion. Men shall be and now may be, released by faith in him who gave the ransom which not only releases from pain and sickness, but ultimately from every degree of death, to perfect life.
So far as our observation goes, the Lord makes use of various characters as agents in these healings, even as Judas was one of the twelve who worked miracles. And some mentioned as remarkable for doing "wonderful works" (Matt. 7:22), will lack the approval of the Master, and some were not reckoned among the followers of Christ (Mark 9:38,39). Apparently the Lord acknowledges and answers FAITH in this direction by whomsoever exercised, because it is now due time for restitution work of this kind to have a beginning.
As heretofore shown, physical restitution is not the hope set before the "little flock," but on the contrary sacrifice. It is their mission as it was their Leader's whose footsteps they follow, to "lay down" life as human beings, not to take it up. They might be agents of God in blessing others as was Paul (Acts 19:12), and yet like him suffer from maladies they were instrumental in curing in others (2 Cor. 12:8,9). Of the Master it was truly said: "He saved others himself he cannot save." Had he saved himself, he could not have been our Redeemer. So if we would share his glory, and with him bless and restore the families of earth, we must with him, share in his sacrifice.
But while these, appreciating their covenant, will not ask for healing or any earthly blessings, it does not follow that if they asked, God would always, as in Paul's case, refuse them. Thus Jesus said in Gethsemane, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But then how shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be." Matt. 26:53,54.
If the legions of angels had protected him from the priests and soldiery then where would have been his sacrifice? Therefore he did not ask. Likewise those who now tread the same "narrow way" [See "Food," page 134] refuse to ask for the same reasonthat they may complete their covenant of sacrifice. At times, however, without asking, such have been relieved in such manner as to enable them to accomplish further labor in the Lord's vineyard (Phil. 1:12,13,24,25).
What think you of the signs of our times? How is it that you can discern the face of the sky, but cannot discern this time? Is it not more clearly marked than was the first advent? Are there not more convincing proofs now, than there were then, even in the signs of the times, that we are in the Day of the Lord's presence?
The Lord willing, we purpose hereafter to devote more space to the mention of cases of healing on every hand, that this sign of restitution and hence of the Lord's presence (Acts 3:21) may be duly noted by our readers.