“Here Is the Bridegroom!”
1. During this indefinitely long sleep of the “ten virgins,” there would be stirrings on whose part, and especially after what religious awakening?
DURING that indefinitely long sleep as foretold in Jesus’ parable, there must have been some stirrings on the part of the symbolic “virgins,” especially on the part of the “discreet” virgins who had brought along an extra supply of oil in their receptacles. This was so particularly after there was a religious awakening in the early sixteenth century C.E. and an effort was strenuously put forth in Europe to return to the inspired Holy Scriptures as the sole book of divine truth, the true inspired guide for the followers of Christ the Bridegroom. Christ’s promise to come again made quite an impression on sincere Bible readers and students. They saw that this second coming would be premillennial, that is to say, before the promised Millennium began, this millennium to be marked by Satan’s being bound and imprisoned in the “bottomless pit” or “abyss.”
2. How did the Lutheran theologian J. A. Bengel play a part in such stirrings religiously?
2 For instance, in the first half of the eighteenth century there arose a Lutheran theologian named Johann Albrecht Bengel, who was born at Winnenden in Wuerttemberg, Germany, in 1687 and died in 1752 C.E. He wrote a number of books on the Sacred Scriptures. Says the Encyclopædia Britannica (eleventh edition) concerning them:
The more important are: Ordo Temporum [Order of the Times], a treatise on the chronology of Scripture, in which he enters upon speculations regarding the end of the world, and an Exposition of the Apocalypse which enjoyed for a time great popularity in Germany, and was translated into several languages.—Volume 3, page 737.
Says M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia concerning Bengel:
His chronological works, endeavoring to fix the “number of the beast,” the date of the “millennium” (he was positive in fixing the beginning of the millennium at the year 1836), etc., have rather detracted from his reputation for solidity of judgment.—Volume 1, pages 749, 750.
3. (a) Why did those published writings of Bengel not prove to be the midnight cry about the Bridegroom? (b) How did another stirring come with William Miller of Pittsfield, Massachusetts?
3 However, the published writings of Bengel in the first half of the eighteenth century did not prove to be the midnight cry: “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” “Here is the bridegroom! Be on your way out to meet him.” (Matthew 25:6, Revised Standard Version; New World Translation) Those who followed up Bengel’s publications and acted according to them did not meet the heavenly Bridegroom in the year 1836 by a visible return of Him in the flesh. In course of time there came other stirrings among those Christians who professed to be of the “chaste virgin” class, particularly that in connection with a man born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A., in the year 1781. This man was William Miller, who became the founder of the so-called Millerites or Adventists. Says M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia, Volume 6, page 271:
About 1833, when a resident of Low Hampton, N.Y., he began his career as an apostle of the new doctrine, which taught that the world was coming to an end in 1843. The main argument on which his belief rested was that relative to the termination of the 2300 days in Daniel 8:14, which he regarded as years. Then considering the seventy weeks in Daniel 9:24, as the key to the date of the 2300 days of the preceding chapter, and dating the periods B.C. 457, when Artaxerxes, king of Persia, sent up Ezra from his captivity, to restore the Jewish polity at Jerusalem (Ezra 7), and ending the seventy weeks, as commentators generally do, in A.D. 33, with the crucifixion of Christ, he found the remainder of the 2300 days, which was 1810, would end in 1843. For ten years he held forth to this purport, and succeeded in gathering a large number of followers, which is said to have reached fifty thousand, who awaited, with credulous expectation, the appointed day. The result, however, turning out contrary to the teaching of their apostle, the Adventists, as they are sometimes termed, gradually forsook Miller. He died at Low Hampton, Washington County, N.Y., December 20, 1849.
4. (a) How did the Miller movement not prove to be the midnight cry? (b) Thirty years later, what did an independent group of Bible students discover about Christ’s second coming?
4 Evidently, then, the launching of the Millerite movement did not turn out to be the midnight cry, “Here is the bridegroom!” The heavenly Bridegroom did not appear in the flesh visibly to those Adventists and take them in a rapture to their desired heavenly home, in 1843. And yet Bible study continued on. Thirty years later found a small group of men, not associated with the Adventists or affiliated with any of the religious sects of Christendom, studying the Holy Scriptures at Pittsburgh (Allegheny), Pennsylvania, U.S.A. They studied independently so as to avoid looking at the Bible through sectarian spectacles. Among these men was one Charles Taze Russell, just entered into his twenties. They were, of course, intensely interested in the second coming of the heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. However, their Bible studies led to their discovery that Christ’s return would be an invisible one, not visibly in the flesh as a materialized man, but invisibly in the spirit, inasmuch as he was no longer flesh and blood. His arrival would therefore be unseen to men, and this arrival would begin an invisible presence or parousia on his part. But it would be made manifest by evidences.
“SEVEN TIMES”—“THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES”
5. In the course of their studies, what time period mentioned by Jesus did they consider, and, in 1876, what did Russell have published about the end of that period?
5 In the course of their Bible studies, these searching students took up a consideration of the “times of the Gentiles,” as spoken of by Jesus at Luke 21:24 (AV), and they associated those Gentile Times with the “seven times” mentioned four times in Daniel, chapter four, verses 16, 23, 25, 32. What did those Bible students determine to be the date for those “seven times” of Gentile domination of the earth to end legally before God? Well, at that time there was a monthly magazine being published in Brooklyn, New York, by one George Storrs, and it was called “Bible Examiner.” In the year 1876 the twenty-four-year-old Russell made a contribution on the subject to this magazine. It was published in Volume XXI, Number 1, which was the issue of October, 1876. On pages 27, 28 of that issue Russell’s article was published under the title “Gentile Times: When Do They End?” In that article (page 27) Russell said: “The seven times will end in A.D. 1914.”
6. (a) In 1877, what book did Russell join in publishing, and what did it say about the end of the Gentile Times? (b) When did the chronology then followed end six thousand years of man’s existence, but in what year was the seventh millennium figured to begin?
6 In the following year (1877) Russell joined with one Nelson H. Barbour, of Rochester, New York, in publishing a book entitled “Three Worlds, and the Harvest of This World.” In this book it was set forth that the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E. would be preceded by a period of forty years marked by the opening of a harvest of three and a half years, beginning in 1874 C.E. This harvest was understood to be under the invisible direction of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose presence or parousia began in the year 1874. Shortly afterward was understood to be the beginning of the great antitypical Jubilee for mankind, that had been foreshadowed by the ancient “jubilee” observances of the Jews under the law of Moses. (Leviticus, chapter twenty-five) According to the Bible chronology that was thereafter adopted, the six thousand years of man’s existence on the earth ended in the year 1872 but the Lord Jesus did not come at the end of those six millenniums of human existence, rather, at the start of the antitypical Jubilee in October of 1874. The year 1874 was calculated as being the end of six millenniums of sin among mankind. From this latter date mankind was understood to be in the seventh millennium.—Revelation 20:4.
7. (a) Why did Russell’s religious magazine when published in 1879 include in its title “And Herald of Christ’s Presence”? (b) What was to happen when that “presence” reached the end of the Gentile Times in 1914?
7 From that understanding of matters, the “chaste virgin” class began going forth to meet the heavenly Bridegroom in the year 1874, as they believed him to have arrived in that year and to be from then on invisibly present. They felt that they were already living in the invisible presence of the Bridegroom. Due to this fact, when Charles T. Russell began publishing his own religious magazine in July of 1879, he published it under the title “Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.” He had already become familiar with Wilson’s The Emphatic Diaglott, which translated the Greek word pa·rou·siʹa as “presence,” not “coming,” in Matthew 24:3 and elsewhere. The new magazine was heralding Christ’s invisible presence as having begun in 1874. This presence was to continue until the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, when the Gentile nations would be destroyed and the remnant of the “chaste virgin” class would be glorified with their bridegroom in heaven by death and resurrection to life in the spirit. Thus the class pictured by the five wise virgins would enter through the door into the wedding.
8. (a) What did the remnant of the “chaste virgin” class look forward to eagerly, and why? (b) On the morning of that day, what did Russell announce to the headquarters staff of workers in Brooklyn, N.Y.?
8 As the years passed by and the time drew closer, the remnant of the “chaste virgin” class looked ahead with intensifying interest to that critical date, October 1, 1914. These were a class of Christians separated from this unclean world and fully “consecrated” to God through Christ, and they had symbolized their “consecration” to God by water immersion. They were endeavoring to let their light shine as they approached the time when they expected to meet their Bridegroom in the heavens. Finally the day arrived, October 1, 1914, and on the morning of that day Charles T. Russell as president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society announced to the headquarters staff of workers in Brooklyn, New York: “The Gentile Times have ended and their kings have had their day.”
9. However, when did Russell himself die, and what conclusion must be drawn therefrom?
9 However, with that end of the Gentile Times there did not also come the anticipated glorification of the remnant of the church in the heavens. It was first on October 31, 1916, that Russell himself died, leaving the Society’s presidency to another. Something must have been miscalculated.
10. (a) What did October 1, 1914, see shaping up for the remnant of the “chaste virgin” class on earth? (b) When did the persecution reach a climax, and what letter shows a heart yearning for union with the heavenly Bridegroom?
10 Instead of seeing the glorification of the Christian church in heaven, the date of October 1, 1914, saw great trouble shaping up for those who were desirous of meeting the heavenly Bridegroom. As the years of World War I dragged on in a horrifying fashion there came a climax to the persecution that continued to be heaped upon the “chaste virgin” class. This came in the summer of 1918, when the Watch Tower Society’s new president, Joseph F. Rutherford, and the secretary-treasurer thereof, W. E. Van Amburgh, and six other Christian men connected with the headquarters staff in Brooklyn, New York, were unjustly convicted in a Federal court and imprisoned in the Federal penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia. From his cell there, President Rutherford addressed a letter to his fellow Christians who were undergoing persecution outside prison bars and walls. A portion of this letter was printed on the fourth page of the program of the four-day convention of the International Bible Students Association, August 30 to September 2, 1918, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin.* This letter revealed the heart-yearning of the “chaste virgin” class for an early union with the Bridegroom in the heavens, especially in these lines that we quote therefrom:
TO THE ISRAEL OF GOD
“Dearly Beloved in Christ:—
“Prison life seems strange; and yet every experience is attended with joy, since we look at all such from the heavenly viewpoint. Truly now we can sing:
‘Fade, fade, each earthly joy,
Jesus is mine!’
“In fact, there are now no earthly joys; but we are looking with joyful anticipation to our gathering home. . . . We often feel in a strait betwixt two—whether we would prefer to depart or to come and serve you a season before we go home. His will be done! I feel sure that all these experiences are ripening the church preparatory to the final ingathering. The letters from the dear ones elsewhere show how sweetly they are yielding to the fire that is consuming the sacrifice. . . .
“ . . . Do all you can to encourage the dear sheep of the flock. Comfort them with the sweet promises of an early and glorious home-coming. Never have I loved you all so much as now. How sweet it will be to gather around our Father’s throne and rejoice with joy unspeakable forevermore!. . .
“I thank our dear Father for being so good as to send seven brethren with me, that we may have these privileges together. . . .
“Know of a certainty that we greatly love you all. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
“Your brother and servant by His grace,
“J. F. RUTHERFORD.”
11. (a) During that persecution, what did the remnant of the “chaste virgin” class not appreciate regarding 1874? (b) How long did the Society’s representatives serve in penitentiary, and what opened up on their release?
11 During all these hard experiences amid the darkness of World War I the suffering remnant of the “chaste virgin” class did not appreciate that the year 1874, then over forty years in the past, had not been the time of the Bridegroom’s return and the time for announcing: “Here is the bridegroom! Be on your way out to meet him.” The time of the midnight cry was yet ahead, but close at hand. The time spent in prison by President Rutherford did not prove to be twenty years, according to the sentence that had been imposed upon him by the court on June 21, 1918, but turned out to be only nine months. On March 25, 1919, he and his seven companions were released from the Atlanta Penitentiary and returned to Brooklyn, New York, where, on March 26, they were all admitted to bail and an appeal was granted to them. They were again free to take up their postwar work with all other members of the remnant of the “chaste virgin” class. This remnant had experienced no ingathering to their heavenly Father’s throne away from the increasing darkness of this wicked world. A new period of Christian service on earth was opening up!
12. What part of Jesus’ parable of the “ten virgins” did they then experience?
12 It was at this critical juncture that they experienced what was foretold by the heavenly Bridegroom in his parable of the “ten virgins,” in these words: “Right in the middle of the night there arose a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Be on your way out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and put their lamps in order.”—Matthew 25:6, 7.
13, 14. (a) In the parable, by whom was the bridegroom’s presence announced, and how was this fulfilled? (b) Since 1914, what evidence was there to prove that the heavenly Bridegroom was really present?
13 In the parable the announcement of the bridegroom’s being there was not made by the “ten virgins.” It was evidently made by the bridegroom’s attendants. The virgins merely heard the cry. Likewise, in the year 1919 C.E., the fact of the heavenly Bridegroom’s invisible presence was thrust upon all those who claimed to be like the virgins awaiting the coming of the Bridegroom to lead them to the spiritual wedding feast inside his Father’s home.
14 Hence, the year 1919 proved to be a rousing year for all the professed “virgins,” the foolish ones and the discreet ones. The first global war was over, and the League of Nations was pushed forward as an international organization for world peace and security. Since the outbreak of that world war in 1914 a sufficient number of features of Jesus’ prophecy concerning his parousia and the conclusion of the system of things had been fulfilled to make up a composite “sign” that Jesus Christ had indeed come into his heavenly kingdom at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914. So the promised Messianic kingdom of God had been established in the heavens. World history and Church history now really proved that the Christ was present!
PUTTING THEIR “LAMPS” IN ORDER
15. (a) What subtitle could the Watch Tower magazine now correctly bear? (b) Watch Tower readers world wide were stirred by what announcement in the issue of April 15, 1919?
15 Now at last the Watch Tower magazine could rightly bear the subtitle “And Herald of Christ’s Presence.” The eight Christian Bible students released from the Federal penitentiary in March were privileged to attend the annual celebration of the Lord’s Supper on Sunday night, April 13, 1919, and, according to an incomplete report of the total attendance published in The Watch Tower as of May 15, page 151, there were upward of 17,961 who celebrated. Pages 117, 118 of the Watch Tower issue of April 15, 1919, announced the release on bail of $10,000 each of the eight falsely accused men, and the grand reception that was given to them at the Brooklyn Bethel home by hundreds of fellow Christians. This announcement, published world wide, had a stimulating effect on readers of The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.
16. (a) According to Isaiah 60:2, for what was it then the time? (b) How was the courage of the “consecrated” Bible students strengthened, and what international gathering was held?
16 It was now no time for spiritual drowsiness and sleep. It was a time for action when, as Isaiah 60:2 foretold, “darkness itself will cover the earth, and thick gloom the national groups; but upon you Jehovah will shine forth, and upon you his own glory will be seen.” The world situation called for courageous action on the part of all the “consecrated” Bible students. No time was lost in strengthening the Christian courage of those who had been looking for the Bridegroom, for, in the Watch Tower issues of August 1 and 15, 1919, there were published the two articles on the theme “Blessed Are the Fearless,” together with announcements of arrangements for a “General Convention: Cedar Point, Lake Erie,” for eight days, September 1-8, and on an international scale. Vigorously shaking themselves free of spiritual sleepiness, thousands of God’s “consecrated” people flocked to the convention location, around 6,000, particularly from Canada and the United States, attending the daily sessions. That stirring convention was an occasion for the “consecrated” ones to renew their resolves to be wide awake and active in God’s service that lay ahead.
17, 18. (a) On “Co-laborers Day” of that General Convention, what was announced for publication, and with what prospect? (b) In what way were the instructions on how to proceed with the work encouraging, and were the happenings of that convention day merely of passing interest?
17 Tremendous enthusiasm was evoked on “Colaborers Day,” Friday, September 5, when President J. F. Rutherford announced the publication of a new magazine from October 1, 1919, onward, to be entitled “The Golden Age.” This was to be a companion of the Watch Tower magazine for publishing the good news of God’s Messianic kingdom, and God’s “consecrated” people were encouraged to take part in getting subscriptions for it, looking to the time for the circulating of 4,000,000 copies of an issue. Later, additional instructions on how to proceed in this worldwide publicity work appeared in the two-and-a-half-page article entitled “Announcing the Kingdom,” on pages 279-281 of The Watch Tower as of September 15, 1919.
18 What an energizing call to all readers was the statement in the third-last paragraph of this article: “Enter it quickly. Remember as you go forth in this work you are not soliciting merely as the agent of a magazine, but you are an ambassador of the King of kings and Lord of lords, announcing to the people in this dignified manner the incoming of the Golden Age, the glorious kingdom of our Lord and Master, for which true Christians have hoped and prayed for many centuries”! There was an instantaneous response to that invitation into this new feature of the Kingdom work, and today, more than fifty-three years later, that same magazine bearing now the name “Awake!” has a printing of 7,500,000 copies of each issue. Certainly the presence of those 6,000 “consecrated” Christians there at Cedar Point, Ohio, and their hailing of the announcement of the Golden Age magazine on Friday, September 5, 1919, were not by any means things of passing interest, that were of no consequence in the history of God’s “chaste virgin” class in this true time of Christ’s parousia. That virgin class has not gone asleep again!
19. The putting of the lamps in order called for what action, and why did this lead to a division between the virgins?
19 That was truly the time when “all those virgins rose and put their lamps in order.” (Matthew 25:7) In the parable, this required the virgins to refill their lamps with oil, for their lamps were “about to go out.” But, alas! the foolish virgins found that they were unable immediately to refill their lamps; they had brought no receptacles filled with oil along with them, whereas the discreet virgins had done so. This led to a division among the virgins. Why? Matthew 25:8, 9 explains, saying: “The foolish said to the discreet, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are about to go out.’ The discreet answered with the words, ‘Perhaps there may not be quite enough for us and you. Be on your way, instead, to those who sell it and buy for yourselves.’”
20. Was it selfish on the part of the discreet virgins to refuse to share their oil with the foolish ones, and what was the resolve of the discreet ones?
20 We can imagine what difficulty that would entail upon those foolish virgins, to go at that hour of the night and try to locate an open oil shop or oil dealers who would accommodate them with the needed oil. Well, then, was that not selfish on the part of the discreet virgins, not to share their supply with the indiscreet virgins? No! for had they done so, then none of the ten virgins would have got to the door of the bridegroom’s house and entered into the wedding feast. The divided supply of all the ten would have given out before they got there. The discreet virgins showed that they felt obligated to get there by bringing along an emergency supply of oil. This showed, also, that they all had determined to get there, and now these discreet virgins were not allowing themselves to be frustrated and come short of their good purpose to the honor of the bridegroom. Furthermore, oil was still available for the foolish virgins from other sources without their hindering or endangering the success of the discreet virgins.
21. What does this not mean as to the “discreet” virgin class’ treatment of one who desired to study the Bible and learn about the Bridegroom?
21 How does this work out in the fulfillment of the parable in this time of the parousia or presence of the heavenly Bridegroom? Does it mean that, if some honest person who heard about the invisible presence of the Lord Jesus Christ desired to have the “discreet” virgin class study the Bible with him and share in honoring the Bridegroom, the “discreet” virgin class would refuse to do so but would tell the person to shift for himself? If he wanted to get filled with God’s Word and holy spirit, would it be violating the lesson of the parable to do so? Not at all.
22. In considering the question of sharing the “oil,” what should we remember that holding aloft the lighted lamp signifies, and the “oil” symbolizes what?
22 Why, then, in the fulfillment, do the “discreet” virgin class refuse to divide their “oil” with the “foolish” virgin class? We must bear in mind that the having of oil in one’s receptacle is the same as having the symbolic “oil” in oneself. Also, the holding aloft of the lighted lamp is the same as one’s letting one’s light shine, the same as one’s shining as a luminary, in order for people in this dark, benighted world to see our good works and to glorify God because thereof. (Matthew 5:14-16; Philippians 2:15) It is the symbolic “oil” that gives the illuminating power, and this “oil” pictures both God’s Word, which is as a lamp and a light to a worshiper of God (Psalm 119:105), and also God’s holy spirit, which illuminates God’s Word to us and produces in all its possessors the fine godly qualities that are called the “fruitage of the spirit.” (Galatians 5:22, 23; Ephesians 5:18-20) Well, then, should the “discreet” virgins reduce the amount of this “oil,” this illuminative power, in themselves? Finally, cease shining?
23. (a) What do the “foolish” virgin class desire the “discreet” class to do toward them? (b) What kind of “Christians” are the “foolish” virgin class?
23 This is what the “foolish” virgin class would like the “discreet” ones to do. The “foolish” ones desire the “discreet” ones to compromise with them. The announcement of the heavenly Bridegroom’s invisible presence in 1919 C.E. posed a challenge to all those who professed to be “virgins” with a desire to meet and share the joy of that Bridegroom. Those who are like the “foolish” virgins have merely a profession of Christianity; they are largely nominal Christians, but do not meet the requirements of true Christianity. They may have some knowledge of the Bible, especially knowledge with a sectarian understanding of such Bible knowledge. They may have been influenced by what knowledge of Scripture that they have, but not to the point of having God’s powerful spirit in them for producing the “fruitage of the spirit.” Their conduct does not conform to the true Christian pattern. They shine merely as nominal or professed Christians in the religious formalisms of their sect in Christendom. They expect to go to heaven when they die!
24. (a) Does the religious development of the “foolish” virgin class enable them to accept the provable evidences of the Bridegroom’s presence? (b) To what level of Christian profession do the foolish want the discreet to bring themselves so as to keep together?
24 However, their religious development does not enable them to meet the challenge when the midnight cry is made, “Here is the bridegroom! Be on your way out to meet him.” In fact, they do not discern, they do not accept the provable fact of the Bridegroom’s presence since the year 1914. They profess to believe in the Bridegroom and that the church is his bride, but they insist on meeting the Bridegroom and entering into his joy in their own way, their sectarian way. So, if there is to be a sharing of company between them and the “discreet” virgin class, there has to be a compromise. There needs to be an interfaith amalgamating of them all as professed Christians and heirs of heaven. The “discreet” class must take away from their own supply of spiritual “oil” and bring down their level of Christian development to that of the indiscreet religionists. Thus the “discreet” ones should make themselves religiously foolish in order to keep company with the “foolish,” indiscreet, imprudent professors of Christianity.
25. (a) What, then, is the issue as respects the “discreet” virgin class? (b) To meet the requirements finally, what words of Peter and Paul do they need to carry out?
25 The issue is clear: Are those of the “discreet” virgin class to be influenced by mere religious sentiment such as is found in Christendom? Are they going to let themselves be drained of their spiritual “oil” and become incapacitated to shine as true Christians down to the end, obliged in course of time to drop out of the procession of light bearers who are accompanying the Bridegroom to the door of the wedding-feast chamber? They need, as 2 Peter 1:10 says, to “do your utmost to make the calling and choosing of you sure for yourselves.” They need to imitate the apostle Paul, who, toward the finish of his earthly life, wrote: “I have run the course to the finish, I have observed the faith. From this time on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me as a reward in that day.” They must measure up to the full Christian requirements when they reach that door to the wedding feast of the Bridegroom.—2 Timothy 4:7, 8.
26. How did the “discreet” virgin class come under restraint during World War I, and why did it part company with the “foolish” virgin class in 1919?
26 For that reason the “discreet” virgin class parted company with mere professors of Christianity, like the weeds in the parable of the wheat and the weeds or tares (darnel). During World War I they had been brought into bondage to Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, and her military, political and judicial paramours. Not only were they under restraints due considerably to the fear of men in powerful positions but they were in literal captivity through imprisonments and confinement in military camps and other places of detention. In 1919 they acted upon the call from heaven regarding Babylon the Great: “And I heard another voice out of heaven say: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4) They could not compromise with the “foolish” virgin class on that issue. They must obey God rather than Babylon the Great and her worldly paramours. They could not go along, also, with Babylon the Great in worshiping the image of the wild beast, the League of Nations, which Babylon the Great made her riding mount in the year 1919 C.E.—Revelation 13:14, 15; 14:11, 12; 17:1-18.
27. How was the position of the “discreet” virgin class unequivocal from the start, as evidenced by the public statement made on Sunday, September 7, 1919?
27 The position taken by the “discreet” virgin class on this issue was unequivocal from the start. In evidence of this, on Sunday afternoon, September 7, 1919, at the Cedar Point convention, President Rutherford gave his public address on “The Hope for Distressed Humanity,” in which he pointed out God’s disapproval of the League of Nations. To quote from the report published in the Sandusky (Ohio) Star-Journal on Monday, September 8, 1919:
President Rutherford spoke to nearly 7,000 persons under the trees Sunday afternoon. He declared a League of Nations formed by the political and economic forces moved by a desire to better mankind by establishment of peace and plenty would accomplish great good, and then asserted that the Lord’s displeasure is certain to be visited upon the League, however, because the clergy—Catholic and Protestant—claiming to be God’s representatives, have abandoned his plan and endorse the League of Nations, hailing it as a political expression of Christ’s kingdom on earth.—The Watch Tower, under date of October 1, 1919, page 298, column 1.
28, 29. Why did the “discreet” virgin class take this stand, and what reproachful term used by James could not be applied to them?
28 The “discreet” virgin class had the faith that the kingdom of God’s dear Son had been established in the heavens at the close of the Gentile Times in 1914, and they stood uncompromisingly for it and refused to recognize and worship any substitute. They could not afford to give away any of their spiritual “oil” and reduce the full measure of their devotion to God’s Messianic kingdom. This staunch attachment to the Kingdom did not make them popular with this world or friends with this world. It intensified the hatred of this world toward them. But this hatred and enmity from the world made it all the more apparent that they were holding true to their relationship to the heavenly King-Bridegroom. Not to them could be applied the reproachful term “adulteress” for the reason for which the disciple James directed the term to certain members of the congregation of the first century, saying:
29 “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.”—James 4:4.
30, 31. To whom did the “discreet” virgin class thereby show the qualities of a betrothed virgin, and how is such bridal beauty described in Isaiah’s prophecy?
30 So by uncompromisingly keeping their full supply of spiritual “oil” and using it to keep themselves as “lamps” continually burning with a bright flame, the “discreet” virgin class were honoring their heavenly Bridegroom, to whom they were betrothed or promised in marriage. They were letting shine forth in themselves the loyal, chaste, clean, pure qualities that are looked for in those who are to be made the heavenly bride of their “one husband,” the Lord Jesus Christ. They rejoice with him that God’s time for his beloved Son to lead his “bride” home to himself has come; they share in his exultation, just as it is written: “With the exultation of a bridegroom over a bride, your God will exult even over you.” (Isaiah 62:5) To match the glory of his appearance, they also want to look beautiful like the bride on the wedding day, accepting the adornment that the heavenly Father gives to them. This lovely balance of beauty between bridegroom and bride is described in Isaiah 61:10:
31 “For he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; with the sleeveless coat of righteousness he has enwrapped me, like the bridegroom who, in a priestly way, puts on a headdress, and like the bride who decks herself with her ornamental things.”
32. How does the “discreet” virgin class shine in honor of its Bridegroom?
32 Nothing on the part of the “discreet” virgin class on earth should reflect against the glory of the heavenly Bridegroom, who is all radiant like the sun: “It is like a bridegroom when coming out of his nuptial chamber.” (Psalm 19:4, 5) It is therefore incumbent upon the “discreet” virgin class to shine in their Bridegroom’s honor like luminaries by displaying those Christlike qualities that distinguish them from that religious harlot, Babylon the Great, and all her religiously immoral “daughters.” By thus shining they do not misrepresent their beloved Bridegroom to mankind.
BUYING LAMP OIL FROM THE SELLERS
33. According to Jesus’ parable, what only could the “discreet” virgins say to the “foolish” ones, and what did the “discreet” thus show?
33 For lack of the spiritual “oil” the “foolish” virgin class could not shine in honor of the Bridegroom who had arrived and was present and proceeding to the wedding feast. They were not entitled to any of the “oil” that the “discreet” ones had brought along with them and that they needed to follow in the steps of the Bridegroom. So, according to the parable, all that the “discreet” could say to the “foolish” was: “Perhaps there may not be quite enough for us and you. Be on your way, instead, to those who sell it and buy for yourselves.” (Matthew 25:9) In taking this position, the “discreet” virgins further showed their discreetness, and the foolishness of the indiscreet, imprudent virgins turned out to be disastrous for them. They were obliged to seek out oil dealers and get their lamps refilled.
34, 35. In the parable’s fulfillment, how was this buying of oil accomplished, but what does the parable show would happen in the meantime?
34 Similarly, in the fulfillment of the parable, the “foolish” were obliged to get their own needed supply of spiritual “oil.” They went to where they religiously felt that they could get the “oil” that would pave the way for their entry into heaven, according to their religious creeds. Accordingly, they sought out their denominational, religious sectarian systems for the type of “oil” that these sold and from such dealers they got the kind of “oil” that they were willing to pay for, without the right kind of devotion to the heavenly Bridegroom. But will the religious “oil” that is bought from the oil dealers at their price prove to be effective toward gaining admission to the marriage feast? On this we read:
35 “While they were going off to buy, the bridegroom arrived, and the virgins that were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut.”—Matthew 25:10.
36. Which virgins enjoyed the bridegroom’s presence in the procession, and what enabled these to pass inspection at the “door”?
36 The “discreet” virgins and the “foolish” virgins went in opposite directions—the “foolish” away from the Bridegroom, and the “discreet” to the arriving Bridegroom. There was a distance from where the “discreet” virgins met the bridegroom to the “door” of the house where the marriage feast was to be held. Between those two points there was for a time a lighted procession, and during that period of time the “discreet” virgins were with the bridegroom and the bridegroom was present with them. When the joyful procession reached its destination and proceeded through the door of the bridegroom’s residence, the lamps of the “discreet” virgins were brightly burning. Their oil supply had not run out before they reached the “door.” Then the “discreet” virgins proved that they were part of the procession that followed in the steps of the bridegroom. This entitled them to admission to the marriage feast. The importance of their being prepared for the inspection is emphasized when the parable says: “And the virgins that were ready went in with him to the marriage feast.” The door was not shut in their faces but was shut behind them!
37. At the inspection point, the “virgins” of today prove themselves to be shining in what way, and the Bridegroom admits them to the “bride” class for being in what condition?
37 In the parable’s fulfillment in our time, the “discreet” virgin class continue in the procession that honors and magnifies the glorious Bridegroom down to the end. When they reach the inspection point at the “door,” they prove to be worthy of admission into the marriage festivities. The inspecting of them by the heavenly One to whom they are promised in marriage brings to light that they are shining with the Christian personality that the Bridegroom approves for his heavenly “bride.” They present themselves “as a chaste virgin to the Christ.” They have not let themselves be “corrupted away from the sincerity and the chastity that are due the Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2, 3) The Bridegroom can accept these “discreet” virgins of today as part of the Christian congregation, concerning which it is written: “That he might present the congregation to himself in its splendor, not having a spot or a wrinkle or any of such things, but that it should be holy and without blemish.”—Ephesians 5:27.
“AND THE DOOR WAS SHUT”
38. How many, eventually, will be admitted to the wedding festivities, and when will the “door” be officially shut? And why?
38 Of course, no more will be admitted through the “door” to the marriage feast except those who will complete the number of the 144,000 members of the heavenly “bride” class. (Revelation 7:4-8; 14:1-5) But when is it that the “door” is officially shut? This would be when the “great tribulation” breaks forth at God’s appointed time and destruction starts to come upon Christendom and all the rest of that religious harlot, Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. Then it will be too late for any professed Christians to get out of Babylon the Great in order not to be sharers in her sins and to receive part of her deadly plagues. (Revelation 18:4) Since the number of the days of the “great tribulation” will be “cut short” on account of the “chosen ones,” it is evident that the full number of the “chosen ones,” namely, 144,000, will be completed by the time of the outbreak of the “great tribulation.” This brings about the shutting of the door.
39. In the parable of the “ten virgins,” what finally happens?
39 What is due to happen then? The parable of the “ten virgins” indicates, when it concludes with the words: “Afterwards the rest of the virgins also came, saying, ‘Sir, sir, open to us!’ In answer he said, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you.’”—Matthew 25:11, 12.
40. Why was the bridegroom justified in saying to the “foolish” virgins: “I do not know you”?
40 The five “foolish” virgins procured what oil they could get from what oil dealers they could locate at that hour of the night, and they came to the door with their lamps burning. But their lamps had not shone in honor of the bridegroom. They were not part of the procession that met him and accompanied him with joy on his account. What basis, then, did the bridegroom have for recognizing them as part of his celebrators? None at all! They had not added any brilliance to his marriage procession. Truthfully, therefore, he could say to them: “I do not know you.” This justified him in keeping the door locked in their faces.
41. When the “great tribulation” strikes Christendom, what will those of the “foolish” virgin class find out about themselves?
41 Likewise, when the “great tribulation” begins upon Christendom as the most prominent part of the religious harlot, Babylon the Great, their hopes of going to heaven when they die will be greatly shaken and put in doubt. They will discern that they have not been associated with the correct religious organization that makes up the “chaste virgin,” “the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” They will not find themselves being “caught up” in their physical bodies into the clouds, in a bodily rapture, “to meet the Lord in the air,” according to the interpretation placed by their religious instructors on 1 Thessalonians 4:17. True, they have been shining as members of this or that religious sect of Christendom, but they were merely nominal or professed Christians and not the real thing. What now counts as they enter into the “great tribulation” is, not what their priest or preacher thought or said about them, but what the heavenly Bridegroom says that they are!
42. With their religious organization then gone as a mediator, they will make an appeal for recognition by the Bridegroom on what basis?
42 Too late, as “shutouts,” they approach the situation that betokens a closed door for them, as the religious basis on which they have stood is wrecked by the “great tribulation.” Their religious organization that acted as a mediator for them being destroyed, they will have to deal directly with the Bridegroom Head of the true congregation. His parousia or presence being invisible and he being concealed from their eyes as if he were behind a shut door, they will call out to him to see whether their mere profession of Christianity without the right works will save them and get them to heaven. They have recognized him, by word of mouth, and ought he not to now reciprocate and recognize them? “Sir, sir,” or, “Lord, Lord!” they will call out in hope of being heard by him. That ought to cause the door to be opened to them. But does it do so?
43. (a) What words of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount have those “foolish” virgin class members not taken seriously about calling him “Lord”? (b) What will happen to them when Jesus finally takes those words seriously?
43 They have not taken seriously what the heavenly Bridegroom said on earth in his Sermon on the Mount:“Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21-23) But then, in the “great tribulation,” the “foolish” virgin class will know that the Bridegroom said those words very seriously as a principle for his guidance. He will not open the door to the heavenly marriage feast to them. He will leave them outside in the blackness of the world’s deepest night, to perish with all other “workers of lawlessness.” From their destruction they will experience no resurrection to heavenly life.
44. With what words did Jesus close the parable of the “ten virgins,” and what do the “discreet” ones not dare to allow about their supply of spiritual oil?
44 Consequently, Jesus’ words with which he emphasized the point of the parable of the “ten virgins” are particularly timely for us who live at the “conclusion of the system of things,” namely, “Keep on the watch, therefore, because you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:13) It is the occasion now for the ones who desire to be like the five “discreet” virgins to shine continually with an active Christian personality that meets the requirements for membership in the heavenly “bride” class. They dare not make any compromise with those who seek to make them share the burden of the others’ foolishness and so to take away some or much of their supply of the spiritual “oil.”
45. In whose religious company do the “discreet” ones not dare to put themselves, and in whose honor should they shine continually, and why?
45 We dare not expose ourselves to the danger of having our light burn down and put ourselves in their religious company. We require all the spiritual “oil” with which we can supply ourselves. Our faith in the Bridegroom’s arrival and presence must continue bright, and we need to continue as a part of the shining procession that follows his steps until he brings his bridal congregation completely home. The long delay in the Bridegroom’s arrival is ended. He is here, in his glorious parousia. The time for drowsiness and sleep is past! It is a time to shine in his honor and to rejoice with him in this joy that the heavenly Father set before him, of taking his spiritual “bride” to himself and celebrating this with a marriage feast. It is vitally necessary now to keep on the watch, for we do not know the day or the hour when that “door” of opportunity will be shut, never to be reopened.
A PART OF THE “SIGN” OF HIS PAROUSIA
46. (a) The parable of the “ten virgins” is part of Jesus’ answer to what question of his apostles? (b) How do the “discreet” class see the climax of the parable’s fulfillment, and of what facts does this convince them?
46 The parable of the “ten virgins” was given as part of the answer to the question of Jesus’ apostles: “What will be the sign of your presence [pa·rou·siʹa] and of the conclusion of the system of things?” (Matthew 24:3) The climax of that parable has been undergoing fulfillment since the year 1914 C.E. All the world can see the final features of that parable being realized today. The events set out in detail above were not performed in a corner, out of sight in an obscure spot, but have been taking place in the open where observing persons could take note of them, regardless of whether they understood their significance or not. At least, those who are of the “discreet” virgin class have observed these meaningful happenings, and in them they have strong proof that the heavenly Bridegroom arrived in 1914 C.E. and that his parousia or presence is now in progress invisibly. They discern his presence with their eyes of faith because of the evidence supplied in the fulfillment of the parable of the “ten virgins.” They are assured that the “conclusion of the system of things” began in the year 1914 C.E.
47. How is the proper meaning of the Greek word pa·rou·siʹa borne out by what the “discreet” virgins of the parable did after the midnight cry announcing the bridegroom?
47 Yes, too, the Greek word used by the apostle Matthew in his Gospel, Mt chapter twenty-four, verse three, means “presence,” not “coming,” as many translators render the Greek word. This is borne out by what is described in the parable. The “ten virgins” rise up from slumber and sleep when they hear the midnight cry, “Here is the bridegroom!” When their eager eyes, watching for his lighted procession discern his reaching their location, then they go with him in his train. From that point on it consumed time before they all reached the Bridegroom’s residence where the marriage feast awaited all the worthy ones invited. Consequently, there was a period of the Bridegroom’s presence or parousia after he arrived until he brought his bride into the house prepared for her.
THE CORRECTING OF A MISUNDERSTANDING
48. (a) The editor and publisher of Zion’s Watch Tower calculated that Christ’s presence began in what year? (b) Also, what was the date of man’s creation, as published on the cover page of The Watch Tower for some years?
48 It is true that the editor and publisher of Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence calculated that the “presence” or parousia of the heavenly Bridegroom began in the year 1874 C.E. Also, that the date of the first man’s creation by Jehovah God was in the year 4128 B.C.E., which meant that six thousand years of man’s existence on the earth ended in the year 1872 C.E., as calculated by Russell and his associates. This reckoning began to be announced on the front page of Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence beginning with the issue of July 1, 1906, and this practice continued down through the issue of September 15, 1928. For instance, on the first of such mentioned issues appeared the date of issue: “July 1, A.D. 1906—A.M., 6034”; whereas the dating of the last mentioned issue was: “Anno Mundi 6056—September 15, 1928.” The Anno Mundi or “Year of the World” date was calculated to be the year 4128 before our Common Era.
49. (a) When was sin’s entrance calculated to have occurred? (b) When, therefore, was the millennium to begin for Satan’s casting into the bottomless pit and for Christ’s reign?
49 Two years, however, were allowed for the innocence of the perfect man and woman in the Garden of Eden before sin entered, and hence the year of sin’s entrance was calculated as 4126 B.C.E. This resulted in their calculating six thousand years of sin as ending in 1874 C.E., in which year also, in the autumn, the seventh millennium began, for the instigator of sin, Satan the Devil, to be bound and cast into the bottomless pit and for Christ to start reigning for the foretold thousand years. This meant that the year of the start of Christ’s reign was also the year of his return and the beginning of his invisible presence or parousia.
50. That chronology followed what footnote on Acts 13:20 as found in Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott?
50 The above chronology followed the suggestion that was made in Wilson’s The Emphatic Diaglott, in its footnote on Acts 13:20, which verse read: “And after these things, he gave Judges about four hundred and fifty years, till Samuel the prophet.” The footnote on this reading of the verse said:
A difficulty occurs here which has very much puzzled Biblical chronologists. The date given here is at variance with the statement found in 1 Kings 6:1. There have been many solutions offered, but only one which seems entirely satisfactory, i.e., that the text in 1 Kings 6:1 has been corrupted, by substituting the Hebrew character daleth (4) for hay (5) which is very similar in form. This would make 580 years (instead of 480) from the exode to the building of the temple, and exactly agree with Paul’s chronology.
51. (a) Accordingly, what did author C. T. Russell say on page 53 of “The Time Is at Hand” regarding 1 Kings 6:1? (b) According to that, when was man created, when did 6,000 years of sin end, and when did the Grand Jubilee begin?
51 Accordingly, on page 53 of the book entitled “The Time Is at Hand,” author C. T. Russell wrote, referring to 1 Kings 6:1:
It evidently should read the five-hundred-and-eightieth year, and was possibly an error in transcribing; for if to Solomon’s four years we add David’s forty, and Saul’s space of forty, and the forty-six years from leaving Egypt to the division of the land, we have one hundred and thirty years, which deducted from four hundred and eighty would leave only three hundred and fifty years for the period of the Judges, instead of the four hundred and fifty years mentioned in the Book of Judges, and by Paul, as heretofore shown. The Hebrew character “daleth” (4) very much resembles the character “hay” (5), and it is supposed that in this way the error has occurred, possibly the mistake of a transcriber. I Kings 6:1, then, should read five hundred and eighty, and thus be in perfect harmony with the other statements.
Thus, by inserting 100 years into the Bible chronology during the period of the Judges, man’s creation was pushed back 100 years to 4128 B.C.E., and the six thousand years of man’s existence on earth ended in 1872 C.E. (The Time Is at Hand, page 42) Then the allowance of two years before the entry of sin led to the year 1874 as the year in which six thousand years of human sin terminated and the seventh thousand years for the elimination of sin by Christ’s reign began. So the Grand Jubilee was then due to begin.
52. According to the oldest Greek manuscripts, the 450 years of Acts 13:20 apply before or during the period of the Judges, as shown by modern Bible translations?
52 According to the oldest manuscripts of the Christian Greek Scriptures, however, the reading of Acts 13:20 is different from that given in The Emphatic Diaglott and the King James Authorized Version of the Bible. So, according to the most ancient manuscripts, the four hundred and fifty years are not applied to the period of the Judges. In verification of this, The New English Bible (of the year 1970) renders Acts 13:20 as follows: “for some four hundred and fifty years, and afterwards appointed judges for them until the time of the prophet Samuel.” The Jerusalem Bible (English translation of 1966) reads: “for about four hundred and fifty years. After this he gave them judges, down to the prophet Samuel.” The Revised Standard Version Bible of 1952 reads similarly, and so does the American Standard Version Bible of 1901 C.E.
53. Did the ancient Hebrew Bible manuscripts use alphabetic characters to stand for numbers?
53 Furthermore, the oldest Hebrew manuscripts extant, like those of the Dead Sea Scrolls, spell out the numbers of the Bible and do not use alphabetic characters for numerals, thus not allowing for a transcriber’s visual error at 1 Kings 6:1.*
54. (a) The accepting of Bible chronology just as written would affect the beginning of what period here under discussion? (b) Did dropping of “Presence” from the Watchtower title mean that Christ’s presence was no longer believed in?
54 The insertion of 100 years into Bible chronology during the period of the Judges is thus seen not to rest upon Scriptural grounds. The insertion should therefore be dropped and the Bible should be accepted just as it reads concerning its chronology. Unavoidably, then, this would affect the date for the parousia of the Bridegroom Jesus Christ to begin. With the Watch Tower magazine’s issue of January 1, 1939, the title was changed to The Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, and with the issue of March 1, 1939, to The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. This did not mean that the publishers of the magazine no longer believed in the presence or parousia of Christ as being then in progress. It meant, rather, that more importance was given to the Kingdom, to the kingdom of Jehovah God by Jesus Christ, for it is Jehovah’s kingdom by Christ that will vindicate Jehovah’s universal sovereignty.
55. (a) When and how was the insertion of 100 years into the period of the Judges done away with, so that 6,000 years of man’s existence ended when? (b) How did this affect the date 1874 C.E., and what question arose?
55 In the year 1943 the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society published the book “The Truth Shall Make You Free.” In its chapter 11, entitled “The Count of Time,” it did away with the insertion of 100 years into the period of the Judges and went according to the oldest and most authentic reading of Acts 13:20, and accepted the spelled-out numbers of the Hebrew Scriptures. This moved forward the end of six thousand years of man’s existence into the decade of the 1970’s. Naturally this did away with the year 1874 C.E. as the date of return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the beginning of his invisible presence or parousia. The millennium that was to be marked by the detaining of Satan the Devil enchained in the abyss and by the reign of the 144,000 joint heirs with Christ in heavenly glory was therefore yet in the future. What, then, about the parousia (presence) of Christ? Page 324 of the above book positively says: “The King’s presence or parousia began in 1914.” Also, in the Watchtower issue of July 15, 1949 (page 215, paragraph 22), the statement is made: “ . . . Messiah, the Son of man, came into Kingdom power A.D. 1914 and . . . this constitutes his second coming and the beginning of his second parousía or presence.”
56. (a) In 1950, what new Bible translation was published, and with what rendering of Acts 13:20? (b) Also, what statement was made about Christ’s presence according to straight Bible chronology?
56 In the year 1950, there was published the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, with the most authentic reading of Acts 13:20, and translating pa·rou·siʹa every time as “presence.” Immediately afterward appeared the book “This Means Everlasting Life.” Its chapter 21 was entitled “Second Presence of Life’s Chief Agent.” Here was a whole chapter on the subject according to the straight Bible timetable. On pages 220-222, we read:
The evidence already considered proves that A.D. 1914 God’s kingdom was born and his Son was enthroned with authority to rule with an iron rod amid his foes. Eventually he will dash them to pieces and rid the universe of all fighters against God’s rightful sovereignty.—Psalm 2:8, 9.
So A.D. 1914 marks the time of Christ’s invisible return in spirit. . . . His coming into the Kingdom in 1914 marks the beginning of his second presence or pa·rou·siʹa. This Greek word means presence.
. . . Although invisible in spirit, his second presence is of such importance to people over all the earth that it must not be kept secret, and it will not be. . . . “For just as the lightning comes out of eastern parts and shines over to western parts, so the presence [pa·rou·siʹa] of the Son of man will be.”—Matthew 24:26, 27, NW.
Since 1914 the present Christ has been making the evidences of his second presence or pa·rou·siʹa manifest and understandable to men everywhere.
57. (a) Did Christ begin reigning amidst his enemies before the end of the Gentile Times in 1914? (b) When did the Bridegroom cause the midnight cry to be heard, and what has taken place since is evidence of what important facts?
57 How harmonious with the inspired Scriptures it is, then, that Christ did not begin reigning forty years before the end of the Gentile Times in 1914! Rather, he waited till then at his heavenly Father’s right hand to begin ruling in the midst of his earthly enemies, whom Jehovah places as a stool for his feet! (Psalm 110:1, 2; Hebrews 10:12, 13) Rightly, then, his royal presence or parousia began in that year. In the year 1919, as history proves, he caused the midnight cry to sound on earth and roused the sleeping “virgins” to the urgency of the situation. “Here is the bridegroom! Be on your way out to meet him.” That cry assured them of the heavenly Bridegroom’s presence. The “discreet” virgin class has since been on its way out to meet him. They are seen shining as luminaries in this benighted world. This in itself is an evidence that the promised presence of Christ is upon us. It is also an evidence that God’s kingdom by Christ of a thousand years has approached!
58. Why can we not stop here with the parable of the “ten virgins” in considering the “sign” of the Kingdom’s approach?
58 Fulfillment of the parable of the “ten virgins” is not all there is to the “sign” of the approach of that blessed millennial kingdom. We cannot, therefore, stop with this parable, but must go on to consider other features of that wondrous “sign.”
See the book “Then Is Finished the Mystery of God,” page 274, last paragraph. See also The Watch Tower under date of August 15, 1918, page 249, on Milwaukee convention and Rutherford’s letter.
When, after Bible times, the Hebrews used alphabetic letters for numbers, they had no symbol for zero, as their system had no zero. Hence 400 was not represented by the letter daleth followed by two zeros, and 500 by the letter he followed by two zeros. The number 400 was represented by one Hebrew letter (taw), and the number 500 was represented by two Hebrew letters (taw qoph). The number eighty was represented by the Hebrew letter pe, whereas ten was represented by the one letter yod. So there was no likelihood of mistaking taw pe (480) as distinguished from taw qoph pe (580).
[Picture on page 188]
C. T. Russell