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“HAVING THE HARPS OF GOD”
And I saw as it were a sea of glass, mingled with fire: And them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, [Omit: “and over his mark”] and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass having the harps of God.
And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying—Great and marvellous are thy works Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways thou King of Nations [margin] who shall not fear thee O Lord and glorify thy name, for thou alone art holy? For all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments [Righteous acts] are made manifest. Rev. 15:2-4.
The question has often been asked: who sing this song and when? The most commonly received answer perhaps has been: This is the second or great company who come up through the great tribulation and they sing this song during the time of trouble. We think this incorrect and wish to express a different view.
First. It cannot be the second company because these have gotten the Victory over the Beast and Image, etc. (As to what these symbolize, see first article in WATCH TOWER January 1880.) The trouble with the mass of Christians is that they are in bondage to this beast and image.
The second company never get the Victory over them and apparently do not recognize their true character until they are overthrown by the judgments of the “day of wrath,” when the “Beast and false prophet are cast into the lake of fire,” they still worship them and it is not until their power is gone that they recognize their overthrow as of God and say: “True and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great harlot.” (Rev. 19:2.) Not these are the Victors, but they who now stand out free while The Beast and Image are ruling and enslaving all who profess the name of Christ with their man-made creeds, and are Lording it over God’s heritage.
Secondly. This scene occurs before the pouring out of the vials of wrath for the angels are seen with the “seven vials full” (vs. 7).
As we proceed to analyze the song, I think you will recognize it as the very song of Restitution which we sing. Then too you will see how none who bow to the decrees of orthodoxy, so called, can sing it being hindered and chained by their creeds, until they get the Victory over them.
“I saw a sea as it were of glass”—Sea symbolizes people of the world, as it were of glass, shows that their condition is easily recognized by those who stand on or above them. The Victors, we and all who can sing this song, we believe to be the Victors. We see the sea (people) mingled with fire, [judgments]. We believe that this fire [trouble] has been mingling or coming among the people since 1873, and that it is to continue until 1914. Though pitying them we cannot stop to weep for our hearts are filled with joy by the unfolding before us of the Word and plan of God, and our mouths are filled with the song of Restitution saying: “Great and marvellous are thy works Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways thou King of Nations.” Who but those seeing, that there is to be a “restitution of all things” can say or think God’s ways with the Nations “just and true?” Look back to the slaughter of great nations—The Amorites, Amelekites, Hitites, Jebuzites, etc., without ever giving them a chance to know Him, whom to know is life eternal. Consider these dealings of God and none can do more than try in a feeble way to excuse God’s action by saying that those were wicked people, forgetting that wickedness can only exist where there is law and a knowledge of good.
Who could do more than attempt an excuse for the destruction of Sodom, when Jesus says that if His mighty works done among the Jews had been done in Sodom “it would have remained until this day.” [Matt. 11:23.] It could not be excused—God doesn’t want us to excuse Him.
“God is His own interpreter,
And he will make it plain”—
if we will only let Him, and not bind ourselves with creeds so that we dare not believe what His word tells us, when we read that these same Sodomites are to be restored—brought back to “their former estate” and under the new covenant given to Israel “as daughters” for instruction in the next age. [Ezek. 16:48-63.] Only we, who see these beauties of God’s plan, can truly say—”Just and true are thy ways, thou King of Nations.”
Again, as we sing our song we say “Who shall not fear Thee, O, Lord, and glorify thy name, for thou only art holy?” and our christian brethren hold up their hands in horror saying, “That’s almost universalism!” “According to orthodox belief nine out of every ten shall not, either in this life, or hereafter glorify God’s name.” But we reply: “There is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all men, to be testified in due time.” When in the millennial age, God’s due time for testifying it to the world—to every man—shall have come, we believe that almost all will fear and glorify Him and love Him, too. What they lack is knowledge:
“If all the world my Saviour knew,
Then all the world would love Him too.”
Who but ourselves, believes the next clause? “All nations shall come and worship before Thee.” Not, those who think that all but a very few are gone to hell torment forever. Not those, either, who believe that all are annihilated except the saints. Nor yet, those who believe in a partial restitution, and that the living nations only are to come and worship God in the next age. No, none of these can or do sing this song. Only we, can sing it in full—a “Restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets.” Even the Sodomites of whom no remnant was left when “fire came down from heaven and destroyed them all.” “All nations shall come and worship before Thee.” “Thy judgments [Righteous acts] are made manifest.” We can see in the unfolding of the great plan that God’s dealings are all
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righteous, and just, and we can make it manifest to all who are not so blinded by traditions of men that the word of God is made to them of none effect.
“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.”
Yes, dear brethren and sisters, we have to some extent at least gotten the victory over the Beast and his image, etc. The song is ours and we are singing it. But you say where are our “Harps of God”—We haven’t got the harps yet? Yes, we have; it is called “The word of God” and Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, David, Job, Moses and all the Prophecies are but strings to our harp; they only require keying up and they will produce the sweetest harmony to this “Song of Moses and the Lamb,” for as Peter says God hath spoken of the restitution by the mouth of all these holy Prophets. (Acts 3:21.)
Then tune up your harps, dearly beloved, and sing aloud our glad song of “Jubilee.” Sing to your dear friends who love God, despite what seems to them his injustice. But if they will not hear sing to the world. It will be a “Bow of promise” to them when they go further down into the time of trouble. And if you cannot do this sing it loudly in your own heart. It will joy and comfort bring you, to think of our Father’s love and realize that “His mercy endureth forever.” (Ps. 136.) It will open and warm your heart and enrich it with love, both for your Father and for those who are the objects of His care and love.
— August, 1880 —