Your word is a lamp
for my feet and a light
for my path.
Psalms 119:105

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The PhotoDrama of Creation

Section 6

King Belshazzar's Feast

Pride overbalanced Nebuchadnezzar's judgment, and, in the plain of Dura, he was led to erect a great image of himself as Earth's Ruler, to which all people were required to bow down in obedient reverence! If the people could regard him as a god, they would be the more sure to obey him. But among them were three Hebrews who refused to bow the knee. Their religious scruples were not respected. It was enough that they were defying Emperor Nebuchadnezzar. A great furnace was heated seven times, or as hot as possible, and into it the three servants of God were cast. The men who threw them in inhaled flame and died. Nebuchadnezzar and his lords, looking over toward the furnace, saw the three unhurt and with them One like unto the Son of God. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the God of the Hebrews and commanded all the people to worship Him. Although God's people today may be subjected to fiery trials, they will probably not be literally burned in a furnace. Nevertheless, God's power can keep their hearts in every trouble.

It was after this that Nebuchadnezzar became insane and beast-like lived upon herbage, seven years, after which his reason was restored and he gave glory to God.

Later on came Belshazzar's Feast, the handwriting on the wall and the fall of Babylon, when the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, represented in the Image by the silver, and by the Bear in Daniel's vision, took possession of the dominions once ruled by Babylon. Cyrus' army turned aside the Euphrates, marched in through the river-bed and captured the city supposed to be impregnable.

Babylon is the symbolical name in Revelation for a great Ecclesiastical System. Its fall is described as accomplished through the drying up of the symbolical river Euphrates, that the way of the Kings of the East might be prepared--a Royal Priesthood, of which Christ is the Head. The river represents people and wealth.--Revelation 17:15.


King Darius and Cyrus

Daniel the Prophet ranked high with King Darius for his integrity. His associates hated him because he prevented graft. They knew of no way to get hold of Daniel except on account of his religion. They urged upon King Darius the influence that would accrue from announcing himself the only one to be worshiped. They urged that this would impress the people, make them more loyal to his government. They got a decree issued that anybody worshiping any other god than Darius should be thrown into a den of lions. Then they spied upon Daniel and convicted him. It was a Medo-Persian law that royal decrees could never be ignored. Hence, although King Darius was very sorry to know of his most faithful officer being caught, he was unable to change the arrangement. His only hope was that Daniel's God might do something for his deliverance.

Daniel was cast into the den of lions, but in the morning was brought forth safe. Then those who had thus entrapped him, by the King's command were cast into the den of lions, the same as Daniel, and devoured.--Daniel 6:14-24.

At the end of the seventy years of the desolation of Jerusalem, God stirred up the heart of Cyrus, who then was on the throne, to issue a proclamation giving liberty to all Israelites to return to Palestine. He also gave money, and decreed that the vessels of the Lord's House, which had previously been taken, should be restored. Approximately fifty thousand Israelites returned--so few out of the many taken into captivity. The zealous, full of faith in the Abrahamic Promise, returned, rebuilt the city, and, in Ezra's time, the Temple. The others had become worldly-minded and interested in Babylon. Thus God separated the dross of Israel to prepare them for Messiah. Yet the "Israelites indeed" were few compared to the whole, when their day of visitation came.

The romantic story of Queen Esther, wife of King Ahasuerus, follows the period of King Cyrus' decree.


The Valley of Dry Bones

Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones, which came together, were clothed with sinews, and then with skin, an exceeding great army, is supposed to represent the resurrection of the dead. But this conjecture seems to be erroneous. The Prophet declares that this picture represents the revival of Israel's Hopes. First the dry bones of hope, then sinews of strength, and finally comeliness and completion. We read, "This is the whole House of Israel, which say, Our hope [of again becoming a nation] is dried; we are cut off from our parts."--Ezekiel 37:1-14.

The fulfilment of this prediction seems to be in progress now amongst the Jewish people. Only a short time ago they had no hope; then came Zionism, the dry bones of hope for amelioration from suffering, but without any faith in the Abrahamic promise. Later, we see the Jews growing in trust in the Abrahamic promise and coming together with strength, wealth and faith. The time is evidently not far distant when their national hope will be rehabilitated and they shall rejoice again as a people.--Isaiah 40:1, 2; Romans 11:25-33.

The Scriptures tell about the resurrection of the dead; that it will not be the body which dies that will be resurrected. The body returns to dust. In the morning of Messiah's Reign, God through Him will grant each of Adam's race "a body as it hath pleased Him." The saintly few will share in the First Resurrection, to glory, honor and immortality, the divine nature, far above angels. Then will come God's blessing upon the world, to give them Restitution--earthly bodies. It is manifestly much easier for God to give as He purposes, a new body, than, as we once surmised, to gather each atom of dust from every quarter to restore it as the same body. Not a passage of Scripture mentions the resurrection of the body, but many passages mention the resurrection of the soul, which will be awakened and given a new body, earthly for the earthly class, Heavenly for the Heavenly class.--1 Cor. 15:37-40.


The Logos Made Flesh

The Jewish nation, failing to keep the Law Covenant of Sinai, failed to make good as the Seed of Abraham fit to bless the world. Then the due time came for God to provide Messiah-Redeemer and Deliverer for Israel and all peoples. He would become flesh, of Abraham's family, fulfil the Law Covenant terms, and then by self-sacrifice would become Abraham's Seed on the Spirit plane, able to succor all who would come to the Father through Him.

In St.John's Gospel (1:1-5) Jesus in His pre-existent condition is described as the Word of God, or Logos, "The Firstborn of all Creation."--Colossians 1:15.

Ancient kings addressing their people sat behind a lattice, in front of which stood a representative who uttered the king's message to the people. Such representative was called the Logos--the king's word, or mouthpiece. The illustration is forceful, beautiful, when applied to God's Only Begotten Son, through whom God speaks to humanity--to the Church now, to the world shortly, through the Messianic Kingdom.

The literal translation of John 1:1 throws much light upon a subject hitherto dark. "In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with the God, and the Logos was a God; the same was in the beginning with the God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not one thing made that was made. The Logos was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father." Jesus tells us the same thing in other language, saying, "He was the beginning of the creation of God." (Rev. 3:14.) "He was the beginning and the ending, the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega." (Rev.21:6.) The thought is clear; Jehovah God directly created no other being than the Logos, and Him very great and in the likeness of Jehovah. How distinctly, yet briefly, all this is stated by St. John!

Next in the Divine Program was the annunciation to Mary, then, the greatest event of history, the birth of our Redeemer.


Tidings of Great Joy

Only as we associate the Babe of Bethlehem with the Logos by and through whom all things were made, do we get our mental focus respecting Jesus. His life was not from Adam, through Joseph--a forfeited life. It was a transferred life. The Logos, who was rich in spirit privileges, glory and honor, "for our sakes became poor [The Man Christ Jesus] that we by His poverty might become rich"-- that mankind might be redeemed from the curse--the Death Sentence and all it includes of sorrow, pain and alienation from God. "A body hast Thou prepared Me for the suffering of death!" The death of a spotless One was necessary as a Ransom-price for Adam and his race.--1 Timothy 2:6.

No wonder the angels rejoiced to announce to the shepherds the Logos made flesh--the Babe of Bethlehem. "Fear not! Behold, we bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people!" Few have analyzed the Message, few have seen how comprehensive its scope. It is for Jews and Gentiles--sinners all--"all people." Only a few have yet had opportunity to get this great joy; but the Redeemer promises that He will yet be the True Light to lighten every man that cometh into the world.--John 1:9.

"For unto you [mankind] is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." Ah! the meaning of that word Savior! It means Life-giver! The right to live had been lost--all are dying. The Life-giver came to provide life everlasting for the dying race. Thank God for a Life-giver, a Great One, able to save unto the uttermost!--Hebrews 7:25.

The "Peace on Earth, good-will to men" prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, but it is nearing. The birth of the Babe was one step toward it; the death on the cross was another; the glorious resurrection and ascension of the Logos again to the Spirit plane were other steps. The selection of the Church as Messiah's Bride is another, nearly completed. The Messianic Kingdom will complete the blessed prophecy.


John the Forerunner

The work of redemption began with Jesus' consecration to death at 30 years of age, symbolized by His baptism. There He who was made flesh for the purpose, gave Himself to be a Ransom-price for all, to be testified to all in due time. The humbling of the Logos to take human nature, the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem, and the years of development afterward, were incidental. Similarly, the work of John the Baptiser was a preparation. His mission was the announcement of Jesus as "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." He reproved sin and exhorted to righteousness as necessary to all who would receive Messiah and be received and blessed by Him as sharers in the Kingdom He would establish.

John preached, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! Repent ye!" Only the Israelites indeed, without guile, received Messiah, and became associates in His glorious work. John's Baptism was the washing away of sins against the Jewish Law, and was intended only for Jews not wholly faithful.

John's Baptism symbolized cleansing from defilement, and was preached to the Jews, and was applicable to them only. Gentiles were excluded. How could they repent and get back into covenant relationship when they had never been in relationship? The Jews, still under the covenant made with them at Sinai through its mediator, Moses, had relationship with God, for, as St. Paul says, they "were all baptized into Moses, in the sea and in the cloud." Every Israelite in heart relationship with God through Moses, was transferred from Moses, to Christ, and needed no additional baptism into Christ, because already accepted in Moses, the type of Christ.

When the call began to go to the Gentiles, several at Ephesus believed and were baptized by John's Baptism, as though they had been Jews. This was a mistake. At St. Paul's word they were rebaptized, into Christ's death. Gentiles needed to be baptized directly into Christ's death.--Acts 18:25; 19:3-5;Romans 6:3;11:17-25.


The Baptism of Jesus

When Jesus presented Himself to John at Jordan to be baptized, it caused surprise. John declared, I have more need to ask You to baptize me! You have no sin to wash away! Jesus did not explain the matter. He merely said, "Suffer it to be so now." He thus intimated that He was not following John's baptism to wash away sins, but that His baptism had another special meaning, which He did not disclose. St. Paul explains to us that Jesus' baptism symbolized His full consecration of His life to God as a sacrifice, even unto death.--Hebrews 10:5-9.

Jesus afterward indicated that His entire ministry was a fulfilment of the consecration made at thirty, when He was baptized. It symbolized His immersion into death--yielding His life to the service of God. At the close of His ministry, He said, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!" (Luke 12:50.) The next day, on the cross, He cried, "It is finished!" His baptism into death, begun at Jordan, was there completed.

In this matter the followers of Jesus copy Him. They are baptized into His death, and thus into His Body, the Church. (Romans 6:3.) This baptism into The Christ company, or Body, will not be completed until the last member shall have passed into death. Then the baptism of Christ as a whole will be finished. Then beyond the veil, by the First Resurrection, the entire Body will receive glory, honor and immortality and be joint-heirs with Jesus in the Kingdom then established. "If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign."

As Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens [higher things] were opened to Him. Heavenly Truths became clearer. He could understand the "deep things of God." (1 Corinthians 2:10.) This enlightenment came by the receiving of the Holy Spirit. So His followers received a measure of the Spirit, begetting them as sons of God, joint-heirs with Christ. They also are illuminated.--Hebrews 10:32.


Gospel of the Kingdom

For more than sixteen centuries Israel had waited and prayed for the coming of Messiah's Kingdom to exalt them, and to bless the world. The announcement that the Kingdom was at hand was a good Message--or Gospel.

But not enough Jews were in condition of heart to be Israelites indeed, worthy to share with Jesus in the glorious service of His great, long-promised Kingdom. "He came unto His own [people], but His own received Him not"--they crucified Him. But to as many as received Him [few] He gave the liberty, or privilege, of becoming sons of God, of passing from the House of Servants, under Moses, to the House of Sons, under the Headship of Jesus. This was effected at Pentecost, by the begetting of the Holy Spirit.--John 1:11-13; Heb. 3:1-6.

Not enough worthy Jews being found, the Kingdom offer was withdrawn from them, and for nineteen centuries God has been completing the foreordained number from saintly Gentiles. Outward signs and the prophecies demonstrate that the Kingdom was not set up then, and did not begin to bless the world. Instead, all the unready of Israel were broken off from Divine favor for a time, while the Call to the Kingdom was sent to the Gentiles, to take out of them a people to complete the foreordained "Body of Christ." (Romans 11:1-7,11,12.) Holy, saintly characters from every nation have been gathering for nineteen centuries, until now the number is nearly complete and the Kingdom about to be established.

When, therefore, the election of the Spiritual Seed of Abraham shall be accomplished, this Gospel Age will end. Then will begin the Messianic Age, in which Christ and the Church shall reign in spirit power.--Revelation 5:10;20:6.

Then the blindness of Israel will be removed, and the blessings of the New Dispensation will come to them, and through them to all the families of the Earth, as God promised. That the Church is the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, to bless Natural Israel and the world, is clearly shown in Galatians 3:16,29.


Parables of the Kingdom

Jesus' parables chiefly relate to the Kingdom. Some of them show how the Jews failed to become heirs of the Kingdom, and how the Gentiles came in for a share. Others show the Kingdom class suffering violence during this Age as a part of their preparation for the Kingdom glories. "The Kingdom of Heaven [class] suffereth violence." The violent have dominated it by force for centuries.

The parable of the King's Son shows that the Jews had the first opportunity for joint-heirship with Messiah in His Kingdom. Then the Gentiles received the invitation. And these, not many wise or learned, have for eighteen centuries been prepared for Messiah's Kingdom. "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?"--1 Corinthians 6:2.

In the parable the "Wedding Garment" represents a faith relationship with God through Christ's merit. The one who discarded it was cast out of the Bridal Company. This prefigures the fate of all who reject the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ in atonement for their sins. They will be forced out of the light of Present Truth--into the "outer darkness" of the world. By and by they will realize their loss of the Kingdom with chagrin--weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The Pearl of Great Price illustrates the Kingdom's priceless value--it is worth its cost--our all.

The Wheat-field parable of the Kingdom represents the Church during this Age. The wheat, almost choked out by tares of error, yet finally ripened and gathered into the Heavenly garner, will be the Sun of Righteousness to usher in the New Day of Messiah's Kingdom.--Matthew 13:43.

The parable of the Talents represents how each consecrated disciple of Jesus is a steward of his own talents, and that according to his faithfulness will be his share in the Kingdom. Faithfulness in using the few talents of the present will bring great opportunities for blessing the world in the next Age. "I will make thee ruler over many things."--Matthew 25:21.


The Prodigal Son

The Scribes, Pharisees and Doctors of the Law were the Elder Brother of the Prodigal Son parable. Publicans and sinners, careless of spiritual privileges, were the Prodigal, estranged from their Father's House. Jesus shows God's attitude toward the returning prodigal. For such He provides a "feast," a blessing which all may share, if they will. Those who received Jesus' Message included not many great, wise or noble, but chiefly penitent prodigals.

The parable of Dives and Lazarus illustrated the same lesson. The Jewish nation was Dives, the Rich man. His table, his spiritual food, the promises of God, was abundantly supplied; his raiment, fine linen, represented justification, effected through the typical Atonement-day sacrifices. His purple robe represented, symbolically, the fact that he was identified with God's Kingdom, purple being a symbol of royalty. Lazarus represented the hopelessness of the sinners and Gentiles, who hungered for a share in the promises to Abraham, but who got only "crumbs" until Israel's rejection.--Matthew 23:38.

The Poor man's sores represented a sin-sick condition; the dogs which licked them represented the sympathy of Gentile "dogs." This was illustrated in the Syrophenician woman whose daughter Jesus healed. She was not a Jewess, and therefore Jesus at first refused to aid her, saying, "It is not proper to take the children's bread and give it to dogs." But she pleaded: "Yes, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from the children's table." Jesus gave her the crumb.

The Rich man, the Jewish nation, died to his great blessings. Nationally he fell asleep in Hades, and awaits reawakening. But personally the Jews passed into a great time of trouble, symbolically represented as fire, for eighteen centuries.

Lazarus also died to his condition of disfavor, and found himself in "Abraham's bosom"--a child of Abraham. Thus the Gentiles have become Abraham's Seed, and heirs of the Spiritual part of the Abrahamic Promise.--Galatians 3:29.