The run of ten Egyptian plagues in result of which the Israeli nation got the freedom, they are the splendid illustration of turbulent changes, which take place in the today's world with their joyful end, when whole mankind shall be delivered from the bondage of sin and death "into the liberty of the glory of the children of God." In the type, the plagues upon the Egyptians were preceded by three signs or testimonies, by which the Israelites were convinced that Moses has been sent by God and deliverance of them was at hand.
What are the today's symbolic equivalents of those typical signs?
Since sin entered the world and the people went their own ways, there began to grow lawlessness, which weakened universally the motivation for serving to God. The prophet Malachi described such state of affairs as follows (3:14, 15): "Ye have said, It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept his charge, and that we have walked mournfully before Jehovah of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are built up; yea, they tempt God, and escape."
The situation in the world was worsening more and more, therefore many intelligent people, particularly people of God looked continually into reasons of a such state of affairs.
(1) "Those who feared the Lord" – as Malachi them names – were tormented with question, why God at all allows on such condition of lawlessness?
(2) The good prophet Daniel was very terrified and ill, when God showed him future persecutions of his saints by "the little horn". Daniel did not know obviously that the prophecy did not related to his Israeli brothers but to followers of Christ who will have been destroyed by bestial papal system and its "holy inquisition." The question troubled him, why all these who desire to serve to God, they have unfairly to suffer. How long has such state of the thing to last?
(3) The another enigmatical matter induced the Lord disciples to ask him, why does he speak to the crowds so mysteriously, in unclear parables and similarities, whereas they, a handful only, had all thing explained exactly. The Lord answered them that to them that is to his followers only has been granted to know the secrets of the kingdom of Heaven, whereas wide crowds have to stay in ignorance (Matt. 13:10-16). Why?
God's people through the whole Gospel age tried to explain to itself all this, but the most plain, credible and exhaustive answers on these questions were given when came due time for this, namely when began the seventh thousand of the years, which went by from the sin of Adam. Sincere hearts became then convinced entirely by the thematic arguments, which appeared at that time in publications numbering millions, that the dawn of the second presence of Christ had come and that is why the era of freedom for the mankind had come also.
The history of the liberation of Israel from Egyptian captivity, the series of ten plagues followed the voice of three signs, all this has created the expressive pictorial scene of changes happening in the world from the beginning of seventh millennium of the history of the mankind.
THE VOICES OF THE THREE SIGNS
History of Moses and his two presentations of himself to the Israelites, as their deliverer from Egyptian bondage, they belong to the things, which "were written aforetime for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages are come." (1 Cor. 10:11.)
Considering the matter from this standpoint, we perceived, that the three signs by which the Israelites were convinced that God's deliverance of them was at hand, at Moses' second presentation, must have been intended to typify some corresponding three signs or testimonies at the second advent of Christ; testimonies which will be convincing to the true Spiritual Israelites.
In the type these three signs or testimonies preceded the plagues upon the Egyptians; and this in the antitype must mean that the three signs or testimonies to Spiritual Israel respecting the second advent of our Lord and respecting the great deliverance which he is to accomplish, must precede the plagues, the great time of trouble, coming upon the world in general shortly.
Where are these signs or testimonies, which the type teaches us we should expect at this time, to convince all the true Israelites that the time of deliverance of the world from Satan's captivity came?"
The looking for miraculous tokens would be out of the Lord's order, as the antitype is always on a higher and grander scale than the type: as for instance the typical Passover lamb but feebly foreshadowed the Lamb of God, and the great things accomplished through his sacrifice.
Our Lord declares Moses to have been, in some particulars a type of himself, saying, "Moses wrote of me." Moses himself declared, "A prophet [teacher] shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren like unto me." (John 5:46; Deut. 18:15; Acts 3:22.)
But in the present instance we are specially interested in considering his conduct with the Israelites in connection with their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt. In this type we see him distinctly as a representative of Christ Jesus.
Moses was rich, a prince in high honor, learned in all the learning of his times, but for Israel's sake he renounced these, left them all, and they being bondmen, he took his place amongst them, to be their leader and deliverer. How like this is to the description given us in the Scriptures of our Lord's course! He left the glory of the heavenly condition and spiritual plane of being; he took a bondman's form and was found in fashion as a man. He came to deliver his brethren from bondage. (Phil. 2:6-8, Diaglott.)
When Moses came to his own people they rejected him, and he fled for his life to the land of Midian, from whence he came to them a second time. So Christ came to his own, and his own received him not (John 1:12); and he went into a far country, even heaven itself, from whence he has now, a second time, come, and will deliver all who are true Israelites indeed from the bondage of sin and death.
THE VOICE OF THE FIRST SIGN
At Moses' second presentation to Israel he did not address them personally and directly, as at the first. God said to him, "Aaron shall be thy prophet or mouthpiece, and thou shalt be a god unto Aaron." This item of the type would seem to imply just what we see to be the fact of the case now, videlicet, that the Lord Jesus does not address himself to the true Israelites in person now, as at the first advent, but through his agent, through a mouth-piece. Aaron, the mouth-piece or agent of the Lord, we would understand to represent the Royal Priesthood – those of the Lord's consecrated people still in the flesh, still sacrificing, – who have not yet passed beyond the vail into glory. The type, then, seems to say that the signs or testimonies which will convince all true Israelites now living respecting the presence of the Lord and his mighty power to deliver, his ultimate victory over Satan, sin and death will be of or from our present Lord, but by or through the living members of his Body, his brethren, represented in Aaron.
The first sign or testimony to Israel was the casting of the rod upon the ground, and its becoming a serpent, and the taking of the serpent by the tail, and its becoming a rod again in the hands of Aaron.
It was Moses' rod, and Aaron was merely his representative in every act. The Natural Israelite merely saw this as a miracle, and discerned in it no teaching; but the Spiritual Israelite is not to expect a larger rod and a larger serpent as the antitype, but should expect to comprehend the meaning of the rod and of the serpent as an antitypical instruction or testimony today.
A rod symbolizes authority. Moses' rod was frequently used in connection with the plagues, as well as in connection with the signs, as signifying divine authority. A serpent is a symbol of evil – of sin and all its consequences, evil in general. The lesson for the spiritual Israelites today is (1) that they are now to understand that all the evil there is in the world is the result, directly or indirectly, of God's having let go of his rod or authority; and (2) they are to understand further that it is God's intention or purpose, as it is also his promise, to take hold upon the present evil conditions, which have lasted now more than six thousand years, and to bring order out of confusion – to re-establish his authority in his own hand.
These acts or signs are said to have "voices" or to be testimonies. (Exod. 4:8, 9.) Until the time of the second coming of Christ this sign was not given. Nobody even from among people having faith in God did not answer a question comprehensibly and credible – why did God permit evil in the world. Heretofore it has been a matter of speculation amongst peoples and theologians of all classes and shades of Christian belief, but the question still remained unanswered.
Some have blasphemously held that God has caused the evil, that good might follow; but this God himself most emphatically denies, and everything pertaining to his character refutes it. He declares that every good and every perfect gift is of him, with whom is no changeableness or variableness. "His work is perfect." Others have claimed that a conflict is in operation between God and Satan, between good and evil, and that each side is doing its utmost to conquer the other – with evil and Satan predominant in the world, on account of which it is spoken of as "the present evil world," in which there is "none righteous, no, not one."
But whatever the standpoint of view, it has been confusion only until the dawn of the second presence of our Lord, when the true light upon the subject began to shine forth, showing that when sin entered the world God gave mankind over, let them take their course, let the rod of divine authority drop, permitting sin and evil to flourish – not, however, intending that it should flourish forever as a serpent, but fully intending, predestinating, and even foretelling, that in due time he would set up his Kingdom in the person of the Messiah, who should lay hold upon that old serpent, the devil and Satan, and restrain his power. Showing, too, that he will ultimately bring all evil conditions back to subjection and harmony with the divine authority and law – destroying the evil connected therewith.
This teaching, then, is the sign whose "voice" or testimony was typified by Aaron casting the rod upon the ground, its becoming a serpent, and his taking it back into his hand again. How much grander the antitypical teaching than the typical sign! How much more forceful!
Was this sign has already been given? Yes it was. Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence was founded in 1879, and the "voice" therefrom, to the true Israel of God, announced that the second advent of our Lord, as the deliverer of the world, had already taken place – that he was present but invisible, a spirit being not possible to be seen by any, even his Church, until they should be "changed" and made like him in the First Resurrection.
The message further declared that he was present for the purpose of establishing his Kingdom and delivering his saints and the whole groaning creation from the bondage of corruption – as many as will obey him. And it is very remarkable that very shortly a special number of this journal was issued, bearing the significant title, "Food for Thinking Christians – Why Evil Was Permitted." This voice or testimony was spread abroad amongst the Spiritual Israelites in an extraordinary manner – over a million and a half copies being circulated through the mails and at Church doors in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. And the voice or testimony of this first sign, token, teaching, is still being repeated from one to another of the Lord's people throughout the world, and now in various languages. In that pamphlet for the first time, so far as we know, was shown that the evil in the world, the bondage to sin and death and the reign of iniquity and the various oppressions to which the whole groaning creation is subject, are the results of God's having let go his authority (rod), and not the result of his inability to hold the authority, nor in any sense the outworking of the authority in his hand. It showed also how complete will be the restraint of evil and its complete annihilation when again the Lord shall take unto himself his great power and reign. Could there possibly be a greater or a grander antitype for the sign which Moses and Aaron presented to Israel through the rod and the serpent? Is not the truth on this subject much more convincing to the Spiritual Israelite today than any natural signs or wonders or miracles could possibly be? Does not the knowledge now granted the Lord's people respecting the divine plan of the ages, and its purpose, and the result, satisfy our longings as nothing else could do, and assure our hearts that deliverance is nigh?
Who of the true Israelites who has heard this testimony is any longer in doubt respecting the speedy deliverance of all of God's people from the power of Satan, sin and death?
THE VOICE OF THE SECOND SIGN
The second sign to be given to the Israelites was that of the leprous hand. Hidden in the bosom, when revealed it was leprous; but when hidden again, and revealed a second time, it was whole.
Again, we say that the Natural Israelite discerned nothing but the natural sign, but it was intended of God that the Spiritual Israelite should discern a much grander lesson, and that a testimony through this grander lesson would be still more convincing to him than was the typical sign to the typical Israelite. A hand is a symbol of power. In this case the hand represented divine power. Leprosy is a symbol of sin.
The teaching, therefore, would seem to be that divine power was first manifested without sin or imperfection or blemish; secondly, that the same divine power, hidden for a time, was afterward manifest in sin and imperfection; and thirdly, that the same divine power, hidden again for a time, will subsequently be manifest without sin.
What teaching or testimony is this? We answer that it is in harmony with the previous teaching respecting the permission of evil, but does not apply to evil in general, but rather to sin in particular; does not apply to the world in general, but specially applies to the people of God – to those whom God uses as his agents or representatives, his hand, his power in the world. God's power originally was manifested unblemished by perfect man, Son of God, Jesus Christ, during his first presence. But since then, during this Gospel Age he has been represented by his consecrated people, the members of the Body of Christ, who are his ambassadors and representatives; but they are leprous, actually imperfect, though reckonedly perfect in Christ. As the world sees them they are blemished, but from the divine standpoint their blemishes are all hidden, covered with the merit of Christ's righteousness. Nevertheless, these have been the hand or power of God in the world for more than nineteen centuries; but by and by they are to be received into his bosom, and "changed" in the First Resurrection, so that when manifest again in the future they will be without sin, "without spot or wrinkle or any such thing."
And is this also a sign or a testimony peculiar to this time in which we live, and was this subject never clearly seen before?
Yes, it is. It is peculiar to our day, and was never clearly seen before. In the past many have seen something of justification, something of sanctification, something of a coming deliverer; but never before have these subjects been seen in the clear light in which they are now seen as related to each other. Never before was the relationship distinctly seen between justification and sanctification and deliverance; that justification is of divine grace, accepted through faith; that sanctification implies works and sacrifice, based upon justification; and that to these justified and consecrated ones who faithfully overcome, by the grace of God in Christ, shall be granted a share in the "glory, honor and immortality" of the divine nature in the First Resurrection.
But has the voice or sign of this testimony gone forth in any particular channel, as did the preceding voice or testimony? We answer, Yes: in the Study in the Scripture series of volumes, the first of which was published in 1886. The united testimony of these relates to the Church, showing original sin, the first step out of it into justification through faith in Christ, the second step of sanctification and sacrifice, and the ultimate change in the First Resurrection to the divine nature and glory and joint-heirship. These volumes deal specially with this subject from its various standpoints, the ransom-sacrifice of our Lord, on account of which the cleansing will come to us in due time, being everywhere prominently set forth; and also the fact that no absolute purity is to be expected until the Lord shall take us to himself in our "change."
THE VOICE OF THE THIRD SIGN
To Natural Israelite the third sign was the taking of the water from the river and pouring it upon the earth, where it became blood. They saw merely the sign, the miracle; they read not its meaning, as the Spiritual Israelite must seek to do.
In explanation of the symbolical teaching of this type we suggest that water is here, as elsewhere, a symbol of the Truth; and that the earth is here, as elsewhere, a symbol of society. The pouring of the water upon the earth would ordinarily mean the refreshment of the earth, a blessing; and the pouring of the Truth upon society would ordinarily be expected to mean a blessing to society; but in the symbol the water turned to blood, repulsive, abhorrent, symbolizing death; and this, in the antitype, would signify that in the present time the pouring out of the truth upon society will produce an effect contrary to what might ordinarily have been expected. The situation has unfolded exactly in the way as this sign suggested.
Society, civilization, has been claiming, especially within the 19th century, to be searching high and low for the truth. But this type says that the time has come when these professed truth-seekers (the word science signifies truth) will reject the truth, disdain it, and to them it will seem obnoxious, loathsome, intolerable. Our Lord foretold a such situation of present time, "The sun shall be darkened and the moon shall be turned into blood."
The moon is the symbol of the Jewish Law, as the sun is the symbol of the Gospel message; and that the Gospel message will become darkness to the eyes of society in general through the sophistries of Higher Criticism, Evolution theories, etc., of this boastful day; while the Law, represented by the moon, will be viewed as bloody – that its sacrifices will not be esteemed as types nor appreciated as such, but be regarded as the work of misguided Jews, who slaughtered their animals by the thousands because of their ignorance and superstition, and that the commands which they obeyed were not of God, but of their own conjecture and of priestly connivance. The same thought attaches to this sign or testimony of the water of truth being poured upon the social earth. It will be resented as bloody instead of being absorbed as truth.
Was there anything corresponding to this sign in the world that could be esteemed a sign or testimony to the True Israelites, such as never was before given? Yes, there was. A very remarkable movement has been in progress at the turn of the 20th century, during which the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society has supplied tracts free in any quantity to those who would promise to use them reasonable. The millions of pages have thus been circulated – the truth being thus poured upon the symbolical earth, society, liberally in many lands and in many languages. But especially has this pouring out of the water, truth, progressed wonderfully, when hundreds of the Lord's consecrated people had systematically, season after season, distributed to Christian people tracts and booklets which the Society has supplied freely – the donations covering the expense coming in without urging or even request.
But what was the effect of this pouring out of the water upon the most enlightened peoples of the world, professed truth-seekers? Was it gladly received, joyfully absorbed? Only by the few – the vast majority seemed to be angered, as the Scribes and Pharisees and doctors of divinity at the first advent were angered when they perceived that the Lord and the apostles were teaching the people, and that without money and without price. (Acts 4:2.) Nothing can be more evident than that the professed teachers of Christendom do not want to be taught themselves and do not want their people to be taught the truth. They bitterly opposed it and persecuted and spoke evil of those who in this way are seeking to do good. More and more they were getting so changed from the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ to the theory of Evolution and Higher Criticism and sectarian pride and worldliness that the truth seemed repulsive to them, undesirable, bloody. They not only viewed the typical sacrifices as bloody, but they resented the thought that the antitypical sacrifice for sins was the death of Christ – they resented the thought that divine justice required this sacrifice, and that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins," as the Apostle declared. (Heb. 9:22.)
It does not fit with their theories. According to their theories man was created next to the monkey, and has been evolving as a race grandly up to the present time, and will continue to evolve and develop until he becomes a god, and hence needs only to be let alone, needs no Savior, no deliverer from the present condition of things, which is not seen to be evil. They put evil for good and good for evil, darkness for light and light for darkness. To these the truth of God's Word respecting the fall, respecting the
ransom, respecting the coming deliverance and restitution blessings which God has provided in Christ, through the Millennial Kingdom, for all the families of the earth – these are all objectionable, contradictory to their theories, hateful, bloody.
As the "voice" of the third sign or testimony was to bring conviction to all of the true typical Israelites, so in the antitype this last testimony or evidence brought conviction to all of the Lord's true people today in the world. They discerned that the systems and theologians in whom they have trusted are going further and further, day by day, away from the appreciation of the true Gospel – the truth as it is in Christ Jesus - into the outer darkness of the world. All these who perceived this condition of things, as they recognized the cleavage between belief and unbelief from the Scriptural standpoint, thus they were convinced, and enabled to take their stand for the truth accordingly. (Z '07-276)
WHAT SHALL WE SAY TO THESE THINGS?
The first sign. The answer to the question, "why sin and lawlessness were so long permitted by God?", and the prospect of near future for suppression of this evil, it brought great relief and joy to the true Israelites "who were hungering and thirsting after righteousness."
The second sign. The understanding of the sign of the leprous hand fully disclosed the Divine programme being executed during the Gospel age. The Almighty was using his power all the period of almost two thousands years, but in the way by the world impercepted. Was not God throwing a veil of secrecy over the choice of the future Kings and Priests, then homages and the praises of the world would make this plan unfeasible. The most reliable test of faithfulness are the conditions of ostracism for the most faithful followers of Christ, perceived "as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things," as sinners full defects and imperfection, as "lepers". By these utterly unfriendly conditions, humiliation and persecutions God polishes his gems to the future glory. The world does not comprehend of it.
God's prophet predicted this time, saying: "Who hath believed our message? and to whom hath the arm of Jehovah been revealed?" (Isa. 53:1.) If the God's Son himself, perfect man Jesus Christ appeared in Jews eyes as "despised, and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (53:3), then how the Lord's followers are presenting themselves in the world's eyes with their words and deeds far from every perfection? The world perceives them as leprous because the people do not know, that from the Divine stanpoint their sin and defects are covered by merit of Christ's righteousness. They were accepted by God owing to this justification and used to his service as righteous. They are now therefore, as their Master, "the hand" of God, by which God's power is acting in this world from almost two thousands years. Their leprosy will disappear as soon as they are changed to the power and glory, and they become exalted seed of Abraham, by which all the families of the earth are blessed.
The third sign. Under the power of the prince of this world, Satan, when the influences of evil are overpowering, the pouring of the water of the truth upon the earth of the society could not bring the blessing, but opposite results. Our Lord quoted prophets: "And there shall be signs in sun and moon and stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the billows" (Luke. 21:25). This explains, why God permitted a such circumstances that the vast majority of the people did not have the access to Bible as much as till the beginning of nineteenth age. If they had, suitably earlier would happen disbelief in God and the disregard of the Scripture – the light of the sun (Gospel), light of the moon (Mosaic Law) and the light of stars (apostolic teaching), leading to atheism, moral decline and anarchy (symbolic sea and waves).
In Egypt, the voice of the three signs convinced the Israeli nation elders so, that they believed Moses and Aaron at last and began to co-operate with them. Similarly in the present fulfilment of this illustration, testimony of these three signs completely convinced true God's people being in the world that second presence of the Christ was the fact (from 1874) and that the time of liberation came.
Added by: Andrzej