HARVEST WORK MISUNDERSTOOD.
A brother writes among other things: "Are you quite sure that the evidences warrant us in believing that the first seven years of the harvest was the limit of time during which the overcomers were separated and glorified? Is this implied in "FOOD," page 119?"
Dear Brother: We answer this portion of your letter through the TOWER in hope of thus benefiting others who may have the same queries.
Your understanding of the teaching of "FOOD" is in the main correct, but not so when you understand it to teach that the saints would be separated and changed to spiritual beings during the first seven years of the harvest. ("Food" was not published and circulated until the close of those seven years.)
The thought we wish to convey is, that the gathering, or separating of wheat from tares, is part of the harvest work and may be accomplished early in the harvest before the "fire" or judgments of that time come upon "tares," etc. When the ripe wheat is garnered or brought under the special care and labor of the Master, it requires some threshing, winnowing, etc., to fully prepare it for his service.
To our understanding, the seven years which ended in Oct. 1881, with the close of the Jewish sacred year, marked off the limit during which the harvest work and that of sowing of seed for the Gospel harvest, progressed together. In other words, while the harvest work was commencing and in progress, the "call," (Matt. 20:16; 2 Pet. 1:10,) to the "Divine nature" through opportunity to sacrifice, continued to go forth; and up to that time any believer in the ransom who presented himself a sacrifice to God was "acceptable," and reckoned a member of "the body of Christ," and a joint heir in the coming kingdom. But in October, 1881, we understand that the "acceptable year of the Lord" closed, and that the "call" to sacrifice and its promised reward is no longer authorized.
Not that sinners may not still turn from sin to righteousness and come into full reconciliation with God, for this is the very work of the Millennial age just dawning. But their call is to obedience, and faith in the ransom with its reward of continued, everlasting life--as human beings, but not to sacrifice and FILLING UP of the afflictions of Christ, which will be filled up by the Church which is His Body, already selected.
Again, while 1881 marked an important point in the harvest work, it has not completed the work for, much of the wheat already sown and ripening has yet to be reaped, threshed, garnered, etc. Since October, 1881, we understand that two distinct classes of work are in progress: One with the world, leading them to Faith healings, etc., etc., engaged in by many; and the work of perfecting of the saints, assisting those who have already consecrated, to realize their obligation more fully and thus leading them out of Babylon and bondage and darkness into the glorious light, liberty and enjoyment of their birth-right as heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord --if so be that they suffer with him that they may be glorified together. (Rom. 8:17.)
All branches of the Lord's service are grand, honorable and blessed, but to those who appreciate the plan, and who see that the fullness of blessing to the world will follow the completion of the Church and its exaltation to power, the force of the Apostle's words, "especially to the household of faith" will be apparent.