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Prophecy

CHAPTER I

Origin and Purpose

JEHOVAH, the Almighty God, the Most High, is the Maker of all things good. He is from everlasting to everlasting, and there is none other. He covers himself with light for his garment, and all light proceeds from him. He created the heavens and stretched them out like a curtain and filled them with his reflected glory. He laid the chief corner stone and foundations of the earth and built it according to his sovereign will. In its youth he made the cloud for its garment of covering and the thick darkness for its swaddling-cloth. He set the sun in the heavens for the light of the earth by day, and the moon and the myriad of stars for its light by night. He even numbered the stars and gave each one a name. With him every thing is order and there is no confusion. He causes the stars and the planets to take their respective places and move continuously in their assigned orbits. He has made the mountains to lift their heads high above the sea and has commanded the eagle to mount up above the rocky crag and to make her nest in the strong places. He has clothed the earth in verdure and filled the great forests with beasts and fowls of the air.

He created man in perfection and made him the prince of earth's creation. The eternal destiny of all creation he holds in his mighty hand. The depth of the riches of his wisdom and knowledge, and the

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height of his power and love, are too great for the comprehension of man. The Almighty One, however, condescends to invite man to come and reason with him and to learn of his way. To know and to obey God means to have life everlasting in peace and happiness. Where then should man expect to find knowledge and wisdom except in the revelation of the Almighty God? His Word is a fountain of knowledge and wisdom, ever flowing to supply refreshment and life to those who drink therefrom. He is the Fountain of life everlasting.

Jehovah God is the origin and source of all true prophecy. In proof of this statement it is written: "Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God. And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I established the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and that shall come to pass, declare unto them. " — Isa. 44: 6, 7, R. V., margin.

Every man who loves righteousness and truth, and who loves God and has devoted himself to the Most High, can approach the study of God's Word without fear, and with confidence that his efforts shall be richly rewarded. When he does so, he not only will rejoice but will sincerely desire to tell others about the goodness and loving-kindness of God. To those who are devoted to him the Lord says: "Fear ye not, neither be afraid; have I not declared unto thee of old, and showed it? and ye are my witnesses. Is there a God besides me? Yea, there is no Rock; I know not any." — Isa. 44: 8, R. V.

Every one who understands and appreciates the prophecy of God will delight to bear the precious truths to others, that they too may rejoice and find

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the way to life. God is unselfish, and therefore he loves the creatures which are the work of his hand. All his works are perfect. He made man perfect and in his own likeness and image. (Ps. 111: 3) God can not look with approval upon sin, evil or wickedness. The sinner is one who breaks God's law. God is merciful to the sinner who repents and seeks God's favor in the way appointed. Sin is always attended with sorrow. A wicked one is he who, having been enlightened, wilfully and maliciously sins against that light. Satan is the wicked one, and became such because he wilfully betrayed his sacred trust in order to accomplish his covetous purpose. In so doing he had no regard for the right of man and no consideration for his solemn duty to God. He therefore manifested a malicious heart or motive and acted deliberately and contrary to the light of truth. All who, after having been enlightened, knowingly and persistently go in the way of Satan are wicked. The wicked is ensnared with the work of his own hand. (Ps. 9:16) All the wicked God will destroy. (Ps. 34:16; 145: 20) "Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way." (Ps. 25:8) All men aside from Adam were born in sin and shapen in iniquity. (Ps. 51: 5) Therefore God has provided the way for the sinner to return to him and to be fully reconciled to him.

The first prophecy was spoken by Jehovah while man was in Eden. That great prophecy covered the whole period of time from the beginning of the manifestation of evil until the recovery of obedient man. At the same time it foretold the destruction of the wicked one who had been the agency that caused man to fall by reason of sin. — Gen. 3:14-19.

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The last great prophecy recorded in the Divine Record was one which Jehovah God gave by and through his beloved Son. (Rev. 21:1-7) It foretells the new and glorious government of righteousness in operation for the good of man. The first prophecy marks man's way in sorrow, sickness, weeping and death. The last great prophecy tells of the blessed time coming when God will wipe away all tears, when sorrow and crying shall cease, when death and the grave shall be for ever destroyed, when all things shall be made new and all obedient ones restored and all humankind shall be the sons of God and for ever blessed.

All true prophecy uttered between the times mentioned has been spoken by creatures as the mouthpieces of Jehovah God and is intended for the benefit of man who seeks truth and life. The study of divine prophecy is the most enlightening and profitable study in which man can engage. Knowing that it proceeds from the Most High and that it is given because of his love for his creatures, the reverential person approaches its study with confidence that it will point out to him the way to endless life and joy.

When mankind was well on the downward road of evil, God caused a prophecy to be uttered concerning his future purpose to send his great executive officer, with his retinue of holy angels, to execute judgment upon all. (Jude 14,15) Enoch was the one who delivered that prophecy, and it was the first prophecy uttered by man. Then in due time followed the prophecy from God uttered by Abraham. That great prophecy foretold of the time coming when God would bring forth "The Seed" through which all the families and nations of the earth shall be blessed. (Gen. 12:3; 22:18-22) All subsequent prophecy may well

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be said to have related to the carrying out of these expressed purposes of God and to have been so stated that its understanding could be had by man only in God's due time. A general rule by which the student of prophecy is to be guided with reference to the study thereof may be stated thus: Prophecy can be understood by those devoted to God when the prophecy has been partially or completely fulfilled or is in course of fulfilment. The understanding will be given only in God's due time.

PROPHET AND SEER

What is a prophet? A prophet is one who speaks for and in behalf of another. The word "prophet" is almost always used in connection with the message which purports to be from God, whether the message is true or false. It is nearly always used concerning those persons whom God uses to speak his message of truth to his people. Such is a true prophet. One who claims to speak in the name of the Lord but who does not is a false prophet. Enoch was a true prophet of God, who spoke in the early days before the great deluge.

There are two words used in the Hebrew Bible from which the English word "prophet" is translated. Those words are nabi and roeh. Nabi is used more frequently. Roeh is rarely used, comparatively, and is generally translated seer. The word nabi is closely related to the word naba, which means to gush forth as a fountain or to rush along as a stream of water. The utterance of the prophet of God did not come forth in measured terms of carefully chosen words, but, as the psalmist has put it, 'as the heart bubbling over': "My heart is inditing a good matter"; (or, R. V.) "my heart overfloweth with a good-

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ly matter." (Ps. 45:1) In that manner the prophet of God spoke. He was a teller forth of that which God had given him. It would not be true to say that the prophet had no control of his own language. Those who are under the control of evil spirits speak without control of their own language; but not so with the prophet of God. The prophet might not choose his own phrase, but he was the servant of God commissioned to do a specific work and deliver a specific message; and in so doing, the power of God operated upon his mind and caused him to speak as God would have him speak. His mind and his devotion must be upon his work. He was not merely a writing automaton, but God directed him what to say.

A seer was somewhat different. The seer might be a prophet, but was not necessarily so. The seer was one who discerned the will of God and who was permitted to interpret that will. Sometimes, however, the seer was used by the Lord to carry a message to the people (1 Chron. 25: 5); but that did not necessarily raise him to the rank of prophet. Gad was called King David's seer, and was also called a prophet. (2 Sam. 24:11) Jacob on his death-bed discerned the will of God concerning his own sons and what should come out from them, and he gave an interpretation thereof.  — Gen. 49:1-27.

It was in the latter days of God's chosen people Israel that the prophets were most in evidence. After the institution of the prophets of Israel there is only one instance where a prophet of God was sent to another people, and that instance was the sending of Jonah to the people of Nineveh. In the early days of Israel, when God would deliver his people from the bondage of Egypt, he spoke to Moses and offered him

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the service of delivering his people from oppression. Moses was reluctant about undertaking the task, saying to God that he was a man of few words. Then God told Moses that he would make Aaron his prophet. Moses was as God to Aaron, and Aaron should speak the words which Moses directed him to speak, and that he did. That was the first instance where one speaking for another was called a prophet and that apart from any suggestion of foretelling events.  — Ex. 4:15,16; 7:1.

Samuel marked the beginning of the regular line of prophets. Peter the apostle furnishes the proof when he says: "Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after." (Acts 3: 24) Samuel was not the predictor of future events, but he served for the future as well as for the people of his time. It was Samuel who under the power and direction of Jehovah made preparation for the kingdom of Israel. In his day and generation he was specially used by the Lord to serve him. Before Samuel the first who had preeminence as a prophet and servant of God was Moses. While his work was used to guide the people of Israel, it took on a wider scope in that he predicted future things. He foretold generally what should come to pass with Israel. Speaking in the name of Jehovah he uttered some of the most important prophetic speech that is recorded. He prophesied concerning the coming of the great Prophet of which he, Moses, was a representation. He prophesied that such great Prophet was to be raised up from amongst his brethren, that is to say, an Israelite, that in all things the people should hear him, and if they would be pleasing to God they must obey that great Prophet. (Deut. 18:15,18) Moses and Samuel were both spokesmen for Jehovah. To be merely a

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spokesman for the Lord, however, is not all that is required in order to be a prophet. In speaking for the Lord and for the immediate service of his people, and in interpreting the will of God concerning his people, Samuel was a seer before he became known as a prophet. — 1 Sam. 9: 9-11,19.

Israel was God's chosen people and was used by illustration to set forth God's purposes for his people in future days. The people of Israel were used to foretell the future of spiritual Israel, that is to say, the people who should become God's sons by reason of their faith and consecration to do his will. Israel was therefore used to foretell events of the future that would affect all the nations and peoples of the earth. The affairs of the people of Israel were so arranged that what came to pass with them furnished a storehouse of important knowledge for the future. In the formation of the earth God caused a great treasure of coal and oil and mineral and metal to be stored up for man. In the history of Israel God provided a great storehouse of knowledge and truth for those who would seek the truth.

God sent messages by his servants or prophets to that people, which messages have been recorded for the benefit of those who should come after them, and particularly for the benefit of all the true followers of Christ Jesus. The messages thus sent, while frequently intended for immediate use, more particularly had an application to the future. Much thereof could not be used at the time, nor even understood by the prophets themselves. Only in God's due time could those messages be understood. It seems that God's due time is now coming for them to be understood, and hence the due time for the careful study of divine prophecy.

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The day of the literary prophets, which the little company of sixteen may well be called, extended from the time when the kingdom of Israel was about to be broken up and the people scattered, to the time of their return from Babylon, when God sent the last message by his prophet Malachi. To be sure, those prophets mentioned in the Bible from Isaiah to Malachi were servants of God for their own generation. It is through their writings, however, that the common understanding of the word "prophet" arises, because they spoke particularly of future events. Those who lived before the exile of Israel to Babylon foretold of the destruction of the Assyrian power and of the Babylonish power that was yet to be destroyed. They also foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, which must have been a painful service for them. They also foretold of a time in the far distant future when the despised, dispersed and persecuted Israelites would be regathered and planted again in their homeland and fully restored to God's favor. They also foretold of things which are coming to pass at this present time and which are seen by all who observe current events.

Because these prophecies are partially fulfilled and in course of fulfilment, he who is now on the Lord's side can see approximately what is coming to pass in the very near future. These things affect the entire human race. Therefore the study of prophecy at this particular time of the world's history is most wonderful, thrilling and awe-inspiring. These prophecies give one a broader conception of the Most High, and enable him to see some of the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of God's marvelous love made manifest toward the children of men.

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TRUE AND FALSE

The prophets of Israel claimed to speak in the name of Jehovah. They began their message by saying, "Thus saith Jehovah." Other men put themselves forward and spoke to the people, claiming to speak in the name and by the authority of the Lord, but having no commission from the Lord to speak. It was necessary for the people to be able to know whether a prophet was true or false. God provided a test by which the people might know, and that rule or test holds good at all times. The test is set forth in the Scriptures: "And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously; thou shalt not be afraid of him." — Deut. 18: 21, 22; see also chapter 13:1-5.

From this and other scriptures it will be observed that three things must obtain to prove that the one speaking was truly God's prophet and representative: (1) He must speak in the name of the Lord; (2) the prophecy that applied to the immediate future must come to pass; and (3) his words must not tend to turn the people away from God but must teach them to be faithful and true to Jehovah. Even though a professed prophet spoke in the name of Jehovah and his prophecy came to pass, yet if it appeared from his words that his speech would induce the people to turn away from Jehovah God, then he was false and must be put away from the people and be put to death.

One instance is here mentioned. Jeremiah the prophet of God prophesied to Israel that the people

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should be taken captive and carried away to Babylon and that Babylon should dominate all the nations. Hananiah claimed to be a prophet of God and he prophesied before the people exactly contrary to the speech of Jeremiah and told the people that they were to have peace. Then Jeremiah answered and said: "The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him." (Jer. 28:9) Thus Jeremiah restated the divine rule. God had already sent the Prophet Jeremiah before the people to be his true prophet. Hananiah now attempted to prove himself as a true prophet. "Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah's neck, and brake it. And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years. And the prophet Jeremiah went his way." (Jer. 28: 10,11) The words spoken by Hananiah were contrary to Jeremiah's words and tended to turn the people away from God.

The Lord directed his prophet then to prophesy: "Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him: and I have given him the beasts of the field also. Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; the Lord hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will cast thee

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from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the Lord. So Hananiah the prophet died the same year, in the seventh month." (Jer. 28:13-17) Hananiah, being exposed as a false prophet, was put to death.

Even so it is at the present time. The clergy of today claim to speak in the name of Jehovah God. Their words, however, prove them to be false and untrue representatives of God. The Scriptures show that God is love. The clergy tell the people that God has provided a great lake of fire and brimstone in which to torture for ever those who are not in harmony with what is taught in the churches. Their words therefore tend to turn honest people away from God. The clergy tell the people that many are in purgatory and it is possible to pray them out, and that the clergy can perform this work. Such words are also false and tend to turn away from God honest people not wishing to know a God who would torture a creature and then release him at the supplication of an imperfect man.

The clergy tell the people that the blood of Jesus had no purchasing value, and that the people can save themselves by merely looking upon Jesus as a good man and by becoming a member of the church and following what the church teaches. Those words are not true and they tend to turn honest people away from such a God as the clergy represent. Others of the clergy tell the people that God did not create man perfect, that man did not sin and fall, and that there is no truth in the ransom sacrifice. They tell men that man is a creature of evolution and can and will bring himself up to perfection by his own efforts. Those words are false and tend to turn the people away from Jehovah God.

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The clergy teach the people the doctrine of the trinity, to wit, that "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost" are three persons in one, and all three equal in power, substance and eternity. Such speech or prophecy, which no one can understand, not only is confusing, but dishonors Jehovah God and turns reasonable people away from the great Jehovah God besides whom there is none other. — Isa. 42: 8; 45: 5, 6.

The clergy tell the people that they 'need not study the Bible, because they can not understand it', that the clergy are the only ones who can understand it, and that therefore the people should take their instruction from the clergy and follow what they tell them. That speech tends to turn the people away from Jehovah God and to cause them to forsake his Word.

The clergy tell the people that the governments of the world which are called "Christendom", although very evil and corrupt, constitute God's kingdom on earth and that the people must be gladly submissive to whatsoever they may suffer from these governments. By such speech honest people are turned away from Jehovah God.

The clergy tell the people that there is no evidence of the second presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, that there is no reason to believe that God will ever bring restitution blessings to the people, that all who are saved must go to heaven, and that those who do not choose to follow in the way the clergy teach concerning heaven must go to eternal torment. Such speech is false and tends to turn the people away from God.

The clergy of modern times teach nothing that induces or tends to induce the people to love, adore and worship the great Jehovah God and to magnify his

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name; and therefore their speech shows them to be false prophets. While they claim to speak in the name of the Lord, their predictions neither come true nor tend to magnify Jehovah's name. According to the divine rule they prove to be false, and the Lord promises that in due time he will deal with them as he does with all hypocrites. — Matt. 24: 51.

From the rules by which the prophets would be tested or judged it is evident that some things which were spoken in the name of Jehovah by the prophets were to have fulfilment soon after the time spoken. But the coming to pass of some of these events was not alone sufficient to prove one a prophet. Complete fulfilment must take place in due time. When Jehovah had a message for the future time it was indicated by words of the prophet such as Jeremiah used, to wit, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord," or as Isaiah said, "It shall come to pass in that day." This is an important point in studying prophecy, and the student must keep it in mind. The test was provided by Jehovah, and to such test all the prophecies must be subjected. Many things spoken by the prophets of God have not yet had fulfilment. For instance, Isaiah prophesied that God would establish on earth a righteous government which shall rest upon the shoulder of the Messiah. (Isa. 9: 6, 7) Also that all the nations would go up to Jerusalem and learn of Jehovah, follow his teachings through his government, and learn war no more. (Isa. 2: 2-4) Jeremiah prophesied that God would make and inaugurate a new covenant with Israel and that by the terms of that covenant both those dead and those living should have an opportunity for a blessing. If these prophecies have not been fulfilled, and if all possibility of fulfilment is past, then these prophets are proven false.

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The clergy seize upon such as a basis for denying that God will restore Israel and establish his righteous government on earth through Christ. They deny that those men, who thus spoke, truly represented Jehovah God. By so doing the clergy make God a liar, or else these prophets are false. But those who are now truly devoted to the Lord can see from present conditions in the earth that many of the prophecies are at this time in course of fulfilment. The Lord has announced certain physical facts that will come to pass in fulfilment of prophecy by which facts the student can determine when the prophecy is in course of fulfilment. These physical facts show that God's prophets spoke the truth, and indicate that in the near future all their prophecies will be fulfilled according to God's will.

The modern clergymen deny that the prophets of the Old Testament spoke anything that applies to the present or future days. To appear considerate before the people they say that those men of old doubtless spoke what they believed to be true, but that they were wrong, and that the modern clergyman has more wisdom than the prophets of old. The clergymen are now what Jesus said about the scribes and Pharisees; namely, they are blind guides of the blind. They do not discern God's purposes, first to gather 'the seed of promise', and then through 'the seed of promise' (The Christ) to restore Israel and bless all the peoples of the earth with life by restitution. The clergy therefore dishonor the name of Jehovah God and turn the people away from him.

The issue is now sharply drawn, and is this: Is Jehovah the Almighty God, or is there another? Is the Bible the Word of God or merely the words of men? This issue will be decided in due season. God

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has caused his Word to be spoken and recorded. In due time he will vindicate both his Word and his name. Therefore God will have at this time some people on earth who will faithfully and truly proclaim his name and his Word to the end that those who desire to know him may learn that he is the one true God, and that the peoples of earth may have notice of his purpose to carry into full operation all that the prophets have foretold.

Those holy men of old called prophets did not write their own message. They wrote as the spirit of the Lord God moved them to write. The spirit of God, or holy spirit, is his power invisible to man but used by him to direct men who were devoted to him. His invisible power operated upon those men of old, his prophets, and caused them to write down the vision they had for the benefit of those who are now on earth. "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the holy [spirit]." — 2 Pet. 1: 21.

PURPOSE

Prophecy recorded in the Bible is not mere literary essay to be dissected by modern critics and compared with their own learning. It is not intended for those who deny the great ransom sacrifice and teach that man is a creature of evolution. It is not intended to be understood by those who push aside the name of Jehovah and exalt the name of some creature. It is not even for those who profess to be followers of Christ Jesus but who magnify the name of some creature instead of honoring and magnifying the name of the Creator. It is not for those professed Christians, even, who 'accept a man's person or give flattering titles to men' and who therefore look to men to guide them

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rather than to the Lord and his Word.  —Job 32: 21, 22.

For what purpose, then, was prophecy written? It was written for the benefit of the true followers of Christ Jesus who are fully devoted to Jehovah God, and especially for those who in the "last days" are giving their all to Jehovah God and to the honor of his name. (Rom. 15: 4; 1 Cor. 10:11) "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work." — 2 Tim. 3:16,17, R. V.

Those who wholly devote themselves to the Lord God and joyfully obey his commandments shall understand, because they are wise within the meaning of the Scriptures. They are wise in that, being devoted to the Lord, they apply their knowledge to do as the Lord directs them to do. The wise shall understand, but the wicked shall not understand. — Dan. 12:10.

Jehovah used his chosen people Israel to make pictures, or what we call types, and the reality thereof comes to pass or is applied long after the picture is made. Such pictures or types are really prophecies. He used some other men, such as Job, as types or to make pictures, which constitute prophecies. The tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem spoke each a prophetic message, although themselves silent. The priesthood, Aaron and his family, and Isaiah and his sons, were types or pictures which spoke prophetically of things to come to pass immediately preceding the inauguration of God's righteous government. All these things are to be considered as prophecy, in the examination of the subject.

Man had been alienated from God by reason of sin put in active operation by Satan the Devil. God, to

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be sure, knew that Satan would ever continue to besmirch his good name and bring reproach upon it and turn man away from him and away from the truth. He would let Satan go to the full and let man have the opportunity to choose good or evil. He would also furnish honest and faithful men with evidence of his own supreme power, justice, wisdom and love, and prove that in his own due time he would establish a righteous government, destroy the evil and the workers of iniquity, and magnify his own name that all men might learn the way to life. Therefore he caused the prophets to be his witnesses, and the truth of their testimony he proved centuries after it was uttered. He brings to pass the events which they foretold when speaking as his mouthpieces. Thereby the proof con-elusive is furnished that Jehovah God knew the end from the beginning, and that Jehovah alone is the only true God.

James, seeing this and moved by the spirit of the Lord, said: "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." (Acts 15:18) Jehovah, knowing the end from the beginning, furnished prophetic testimony by which the man now devoted to God can be thoroughly furnished with the light that enables him to pursue a good and righteous work.



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