Learning from the Mistakes of Others
Most of us learn by experience. Wise men learn from other people’s mistakes.
Rehoboam vs. Jeroboam I. We see both good and bad examples for us in Rehoboam. Solomon, his father, had made Israel wealthy and famous, which would have been a hard act to follow. When faced with a wearied people, he did wisely in asking advice from the older advisors and also the younger. Yet afterwards he should have inquired of God. Thence he put his own aspirations ahead of the people; so the weary people rebelled.
Similarly, Jeroboam put himself ahead of his people too. We should ask ourselves, Do we bind more burdens on newer ones than they can bear? Perhaps we expect them to do more than they are able. Or do we expect that they will quickly have full knowledge, while we ourselves see in a mirror darkly? Consider what happened to the Second Advent movement when 1843 and 1844 passed, and groups began dogmatizing and separating. Consider what happened to International Bible Students when Pastor C. T. Russell died. Let us encourage one another to do better, and to think and study the Bible better, without turning their allegiance away from our Lord and towards ourselves.
Ahab, Errant King of Israel. Ahab was a notoriously wicked king of Israel, but his wife, Jezebel, was yet more wicked. The message to the fourth period of the Gospel Age church denounces their allowing Jezebel to teach sin and idolatry (Revelation 2:20). Therefore, we are to view Ahab and Jezebel as typical of things that were to come during the Gospel Age, as suggested in the Ahab article above.
Ahab and Jezebel were king and queen of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, who professed to be God’s people. Ahab typifies the pseudo-Christian political world, while Jezebel typifies the pseudo-Christian institutionalized religious world. (See also “Studies in the Scriptures,” Volume 2, Study VIII, especially page 256.)
Of particular interest is the 3½ years drought in Ahab’s reign, prophesied by Elijah (1 Kings 17:1-18:45, James 5:17). We learn from Daniel 7:25, 12:7, and Revelation 11:2, 3, 12:6,14, 13:5, that this drought is a picture of the prophetic 3½ years = 42 months = 1260 days of the reign of the “beast” and the flight of the “woman.” The type is always less than the reality. Following the example of Ezekiel 4:6, taking a day for a year, we may look for something that lasts for 1260 years.
If the long-reigning “beast” is Rome, and the “woman” is the Sarah / Promise Covenant or the true church, then the 1260 years might be as tabulated below:
|Beginning of Papal Rule||Termination of Papal Rule|
|538 Summer solstice: General Belsarius leaves Rome to pursue Ostrogoths. Pope begins to exert civil power in Rome. |
539 Belisarius tricks Ostrogoths into submission. Pope becomes a dominant political ruler in Italy.
540 Belisarius recalled to East Roman capital, Byzantium. Pope gains unchallenged power.
|1798 February 20, French General Berthier drives pope from Rome to near Florence, Italy. |
1799 Pope continues to be driven into France, dies August 29. Napoleon returns from Egypt and prevents election of a new pope in Rome.
1800 March, new pope is elected in Venice, with help of Austria, Russia, and England
During the 1260 years, the holy Spirit primarily operated outside of institutionalized Christianity, while the reigning Church persecuted the truly faithful.
Later in the century, Pope Gregory I (590-604) “saw that Rome’s poor were fed and that the church fabrics of the city were repaired and maintained. He managed the estates of the church so successfully that their revenues were increased, but with humane treatment of those who cultivated their lands. He raised armies, kept Rome inviolate from Lombard attacks, negotiated with both Lombards and imperial officials, and on his own authority made peace with the Lombards. During his pontificate he was the outstanding figure in Italy, in its political as well as its ecclesiastical life. He … insisted on the primacy of Rome, especially against the claims of the Patriarch of Constantinople” (Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity; New York: Harper & Brothers, 1953, pages 338-339).
Many Protestants took note of the 1260 year span. In America, the Christian Connexion began then (possibly as early as 1798), with the Bible as their only creed and Christian character as their only test of fellowship. Bible societies began in 1804 to distribute the Bible freely worldwide. Then, the Adventist Movement began in England about 1828-1829 (with first publication of the Albury Prophetic Conference proceedings), and 1831 in America with William Miller.
An important lesson for us is that we not be as Ahab, and especially not as Jezebel, and attempt tyranny over those who may be less advanced than we are in the Christian walk.
Jehu, the Anointed of Israel. We are told of several kings of Israel or Judah who are anointed. King Saul was anointed and typifies for us the nation of Israel during the Jewish Age. King David was anointed three times, typifying Jesus at his First Advent, then at his return as king over the faithful church, and then after Armageddon as king over fleshly Israel and the whole world. Similarly, the anointing of King Solomon typifies Jesus as king over the world to come. Jehu was the first king anointed solely over the later ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. Jehu was anointed to destroy King Ahab, his house, and his wife Jezebel. Jehu evidently typifies Jesus, who is anointed and will terminate this present evil world and false religion, and will become the King of the thousand year kingdom of Christ. King Ahaziah of Judah had allied himself to his uncle, king Joram of Israel; so evidently those who will ally themselves to spiritual “Babylon” will also fall.
Joash of Judah, the Ingrate. Jehoiada, the priest, and his wife saved the life of the baby Joash, and made him king at age seven. After Jehoiada died, Jehoiada’s son Zechariah scolded Judah for forsaking Jehovah. Joash commanded that Zechariah be stoned to death, scorning the man who had spared his life and then made him king. Then, his own servants assassinated him, and he was not even buried among the other kings (2 Chronicles 22-24).
Jesus presents Joash’s murder of Zechariah as the worst of killings, “Upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous unto the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the sanctuary and the altar” (Matthew 23:35). (Barach-iah means Blessed of Jehovah, an apt description of Jehoiada, a priest.)
Joash had no gratitude for the priest who had saved his life and made him king! A man cannot be happy without gratitude and lovingkindness. Jesus spoke a parable of a man forgiving different amounts to two debtors, and the one who was forgiven most would love him most (Luke 7:40-43). The gratitude lesson is for us.
Manasseh, the Repentant. Although Manasseh may be a type of Israel’s experiences from the Gospel Age to Christ’s Kingdom, there is a practical lesson for us. As a young king, Manasseh not only built-up foreign religions, he even made an idol and put it in the house of God! Yet, when he was punished and repented, and prayed to God, God gave him favor. No matter how far we each might have fallen, there is still opportunity for repentance. “A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
Lest we forget, Jesus gave us the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). In addition, we must each prepare our hearts to receive repentance in the hearts of others. Some Levites went astray, ministered to Israel before their idols, and “became a stumbling block of iniquity unto the house of Israel.” Therefore, they bear their iniquity and lose the opportunity to execute the office of priest unto God. But the Lord Jehovah says, “Yet will I make them keepers of the charge of the house, for all the service thereof ” (Ezekiel 44:10-14).
Let us not be tempted to think this one, or that, is beyond repentance. Paul reminds us, “None of the rulers of this age hath known: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8 RVIC). “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
Zedekiah, the Oath Breaker. The young King Zedekiah was a bad king of Judah, but he was not the most evil king. Still, he did one thing worse than all the other kings before him. Under duress, he had sworn by God that he would serve the king of Babylon. Then he broke his oath by trying to make an alliance with Babylon’s enemy, Egypt (Ezekiel 17:13, 2 Chronicles 36:13).
If Zedekiah and the fall of Jerusalem is intended as a type, likely it shows Christendom failing in its oath to God. It took Nebuchadnezzar’s army 18 months to take the city, suggesting the last seven plagues may span many years in our time. The Temple was destroyed four weeks later, perhaps suggesting the governments of Christendom may fall before their institutionalized religion (2 Kings 25:1-12, Jeremiah 25:15-26?). Let us watch, and wait, and see.
Therefore, the Lord’s people are called to come out of Babylon (Jeremiah 50:8, 51:6, 45) at the time of harvest (Jeremiah 51:33). In the Gospel Age, this period of the call begins with Christ’s return (Revelation 18:1‑5).