Watchman's Teaching Letter #225 January 2017
This is my two hundred and twenty-fifth monthly teaching letter and continues my nineteenth year of publication. I have resolved to do a series of lessons providing clarifying criticism of Howard B. Rand’s books, tracts and articles published in his Destiny Magazine, which includes several guest writers of varying degrees in excellence. Although I rate Rand and his associates’ research only 50%, some of their articles are simply outstanding.
With this lesson, I will continue a critical review of a series entitled “The Book Of The Kingdom” found in Destiny magazines from January, 1949 until April, 1952, in 24 chapters, and oddly enough Rand does not identify an author. He may have written it all himself, or it might have been a team effort with some of his associated writers. So Rand either wrote it or if by the help of others, at least he authorized it, and is therefore responsible for it (and it will be edited by me):
“The Book Of The Kingdom”, chapter V of XXIV, Destiny, April 1949:
“The Period Of The Judges”:
“Because the generations that followed Joshua’s [i.e., Yahshua’s] day refused to heed the commandments of Yahweh, He allowed their adversaries to plunder and rob them. A time of religious corruption and anarchy was initiated in the conditions which existed in the land during this interval in Israel’s history known as the period of the judges.
“Yahweh was moved to pity by the groans of the people due to their intense suffering under the grip of tyrants and oppressors. Leaders, called judges, were raised up in Israel to deliver them from the power of those who were despoiling them. Under their leadership the people were directed to repent of their evil ways but they refused to heed the warnings given and continued their evil practices. Thus, though Israel was rescued from time to time out of the hands of their enemies, the deliverance was always only temporary. As soon as one judge died the people would lapse into disobedience, often corrupting themselves worse than before by forsaking their own Almighty to worship and make sacrifices to [heathen deities].
“‘And the anger of Yahweh was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice; I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua [i.e., Yahshua] left when he died’.” (Judges 2:20-21)
“Why had Joshua [i.e., Yahshua] failed to drive out all the nations that the Almighty had commanded should be driven out of Canaan? The account states that Yahweh refused to let Joshua [i.e., Yahshua] complete this task for He wished to try Israel to see if they would obey His commands as their fathers had done. So He left some of the inhabitants in the land to prove, or test, them. A list of the nations which were left in the land for this purpose is given. Israel violated the Almighty’s covenant by taking the daughters of the heathen nations to be their wives and by giving their daughters to the sons of the Canaanites in marriage, and by serving heathen [deities] :
“‘And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of Yahweh, and forgat Yahweh their Almighty, and served Baalim and the groves’.” (Judges 3: 7.)
“Rejecting The Almighty
“This introduces some interesting observations to account for the fact that false prophets were allowed to arise in Israel who led the people astray. The purpose of allowing them to exist in the land was to prove the people, testing them to see whether or not they would serve Yahweh. The same purpose is back of the rise of modernism in our own day and under the testing brought about by the promulgation of evil doctrines by false religious teachers, multitudes in our churches have turned away from the Bible as the inspired Word of Yahweh. Following the lead of modernist scholarship, they have rejected the vicarious atonement of our Yahweh refusing to believe that He is the Almighty, the Son, discounted the recorded miracles and belittled the fact of the resurrection and the ultimate triumphant return of Jesus [i.e., Yahshua] Christ as [Yahweh of Adoni] and King of kings to take the throne of His father David and reign over the House of Jacob forever. Present-day ‘easy’ religious concepts, which place little or no emphasis on personal purity and obedience to Yahweh’s laws, compel everyone to choose between the worship of Yahweh and the worship of [deities] of their own fashioning.
“Why Yahweh Allows Evil
“This, then, is the answer to those who raise the question, ‘Why does Yahweh allow such evils to exist?’ The reason is that He proves; or tests, His people to see whether or not they will reject evil and accept good, keeping His Commandments and laws and serving Him alone. The present great apostasy in our midst is an indictment of our nation, for this generation has been as prone to turn from the paths of righteousness and in unbelief follow the [deities] of unrighteousness and worship at the shrine of modernist scholarship as our forefathers were when they turned away from the truth in their day and ran after other [adoni].
“It is not necessary to give in detail here the activities of the many judges as little by way of comment needs to be added to the account of their leadership given in the Book of Judges. The pattern is simple: the anger of the Yahweh was kindled against His people because of their sins and, when He did not defend them, their enemies had an opportunity to lord it over them. After a period of servitude Israel cried out to Yahweh for deliverance and the Almighty raised up a man to judge them and lead them to victory against their oppressors. Israel would then have rest from war during the lifetime of that judge. But upon his death they would invariably lapse into idolatry and the cycle would repeat itself as Israel would again be delivered into the hands of their enemies.
“The Book of judges tells a complete story of this vacillation on the part of Israel and of the judges Yahweh raised up to deliver His people from their enemies. The story of Deborah, a prophetess, records a period in Israel’s history when a woman for the first time led Israel to victory. Evidently the nation had dropped to such a low spiritual state that there was no man capable of leading the people to victory. Under these conditions Yahweh raised up a woman to furnish leadership for His people.
“Victory Over Sisera
“It was under Deborah’s direction that Barak attacked the armies of Sisera (Judges 4:4-10). Sisera escaped and took refuge with Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. He instructed her to say that no man had passed that way and he retired in her tent. While he was asleep Jael slew him by driving a peg into his temple. She then went out to meet Barak and led him to the tent where he found the body of his enemy. Deborah’s prophecy was fulfilled that Sisera would be delivered into the hand of a woman. This victory over Sisera was commemorated by a song sung by Deborah in which reference was made to the fact that deliverance came ‘when the people willingly offered themselves’ (Judges 5:2). [“Kenite”, Jael’s husband was a kenite in the sense of a smith, and therefore she knew how to use that hammer. C.A.E.]
“In her song Deborah asked the question, ‘Why did Dan remain in ships?’ (Judges 5:17.) This question seems to indicate that Dan, a maritime tribe, held aloof from the conflict, but there is also a deeper prophetic significance to this question propounded by Deborah the Prophetess. Even in her time Dan was already colonizing along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, establishing outposts of the Israel people in lands far removed from Palestine. As the pioneer tribe, they set sail in their ships to the Isles of the Sea (the British Isles) and prepared the way for Israel to follow later when it became necessary for them to leave the Land of Promise.
“Perhaps one of the most interesting references in Deborah’s song is the statement concerning the stars in their courses:
“‘They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses [paths] fought against Sisera’.” (Judges 5:20.). [Note: brackets not mine.]
Mofffatt translates this: “‘The very stars in heaven were fighting – fighting Sisera from their spheres’.”
“Sisera, a heathen king under the influence of his [deities], had no doubt consulted his prophets prior to his invasion of Palestine. Casting his horoscope, they had evidently predicted a successful campaign for him. In this instance, therefore, the forecast by the stars had actually lured him on to his destruction. Thus, Deborah could say in her song that the stars in their courses fought against him. This brings to mind Isaiah’s derisive statements regarding those who follow such advice:
“‘Practice all your magic arts! Perhaps you will make something of them, perhaps be able to scare off your foes! You have worn yourself out with them all; let the astrologers come forward now, let the star-gazers save you now, who calculate the future, month by month! They fare no better than the straw burned by a fire; they cannot save their own lives from the flames of war’.” (Isa. 47:12-14, Moffatt Trans.)
“As was the custom of the times, no doubt, astrologers accompanied the army of Sisera in his campaign against Israel, for he would want to have them present for immediate consultation. But they were also destroyed when Israel overwhelmed Sisera so, as later intimated by Isaiah, they were unable to save themselves though they purported to understand the future, and be able to prognosticate coming events.
“There is a true astrology – in fact, it is the parent science of modern astronomy – but it is far removed from the present popular method of forecasting the horoscope of individuals as it deals with the story the Bible tells. The stars which the Almighty declared would be for signs (Gen. 1:14) testify to the eternal truths of Scripture, for upon the great vault of the heavens there is traced in graphic and grand illustrations a pictorial presentation of these truths. Pictures speak in every language, and this was evidently in the mind of the Psalmist when he said that the heavens declare a Divine meaning, in universal language, to all [Adamic] people everywhere. By this means Yahweh revealed Himself and His plans to mankind before the Bible was written. It was because of an understanding of these ancient revelations that the Wise Men recognized in the new star in the constellation of Virgo that the coming King had been born.
“Sisera was enticed to his destruction by those whom he had consulted and whose prognostications he had followed. The results of Israel’s victory over the enemy introduced a period of forty years of peace for the people. But, as before, Israel again lapsed into sin and idolatry at the end of that time and the new generations were delivered into the hand of the Midianites.[It seems that stars in Deborah’s poem have another meaning, as an allegory for the people Israel. CAE]
“Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel had to make dens in the mountains and strongholds in the hills in which to hide. When the people sowed their fields, the Midianites, with the Amalekites and other bands of marauders from the east, would come against them. This great army of invaders would destroy all their crops, with their sheep and oxen. The account declares that they came up upon the land like grasshoppers, so great was the multitude and so complete the destruction wrought. Israel became greatly impoverished because of these periodical invasions of their land so they cried out to Yahweh in their distress:
“Yahweh sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, ‘Thus saith Yahweh Almighty of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage; And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land; And I said unto you, I am Yahweh your Almighty; fear not the [deities] of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice.’ (Judges 6: 8-10.)
“Here we have recorded the first appearance of a prophet to Israel since the time of Moses and Joshua [i.e., Yahshua]. He brought a message from Yahweh saying, ‘Thus saith Yahweh’ and it was a message of warning. He called the people to repentance and exhorted them concerning their need to reform and abandon their sinful ways.
“Evidently his message stirred the people to the point where they were willing to turn to Yahweh for deliverance, for the Angel of Yahweh came and sat by an oak where Gideon was threshing wheat inside a wine-press. This indicates the straits the people were in. Apparently, because of the Midianites, they feared to use the regular threshing floors in the land, doing that type of work in a wine-press, or hole in the ground, to conceal the fact that they were threshing grain. The Angel of Yahweh addressed Gideon, saying, ‘Yahweh is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.’ But Gideon replied by inquiring why all the trouble had befallen his people if Yahweh was with them. Furthermore, he asked where the miracles were that their fathers had told them about. He then said that Yahweh had evidently forsaken them and delivered them into the hands of the Midianites. The Angel of Yahweh looked upon Gideon and said:
“‘... Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?’ (Judges 6:-14.)
“Angel With Gideon
“Gideon questioned his own ability to do this, declaring his family was poor, while he was the youngest member of his father’s household. But the Angel replied by declaring He would be with him and that Gideon would smite every man of the Midianites.
“Here is an interesting answer to be considered by those who question their ability to perform difficult tasks in the service of Yahweh because they lack financial means or backing, or because they do not occupy a place of prominence in their community. Actually, the requisite for accomplishment is set forth in the reply of the Angel of Yahweh to similar objections raised by Gideon: ‘I will be with you.’ Without such assurance no man, regardless of his financial backing or social standing, can prosper in any great spiritual undertaking. Often the Christian Church itself has failed to accomplish what should have been done because its constituents have tried to perform tasks relying upon their own strength and power rather than upon Yahweh. But no task is too difficult to perform, nor one’s resources inadequate, if Yahweh prospers the undertaking.
“In his uncertainty Gideon asked for a sign of some sort that it was indeed Yahweh who talked with him, for it seemed an incredible thing to him to have found favor in the eyes of the man by the oak if he was Divine. Gideon requested that he remain there until he had time to return with a present for him. The Angel of Yahweh promised he would await Gideon’s return.
“Fire of the Lord [i.e., Yahweh]
“Leaving the man, Gideon prepared an offering. He took a kid from among his goats and made unleavened cakes. He placed the meat of the dressed kid on a tray and the broth in a bowl, and brought the meat and the unleavened cakes to the man by the oak. The Angel of Yahweh instructed Gideon to take the meat and the biscuits to the top of the rock and pour out the broth. Gideon did as he was commanded and the Angel of Yahweh extended the end of the staff that was in His hand and touched the meat and the biscuits. Fire came out of the rock and consumed the offering. Then the Angel of Yahweh disappeared out of Gideon’s sight.
“The atheist, agnostic and – we are sorry to say – many ministers of the Gospel, because they have accepted the doctrines of modernism, disbelieve the account of the appearing and disappearing of such Beings as the Angel of Yahweh. Also, they discount the statements of the New Testament that [Yahshua] Christ did the same thing. His disciples handled Him and found His body to be flesh and bone. ‘How could substance become visible and invisible at will?’ ask the agnostics and those who will not accept the witness of the Scriptures.
“This question was being pondered one day as an electric fan was observed revolving at high speed. It was noticed that the steel blades of the fan were invisible to the eye; in fact, it was possible to see through them to objects beyond the fan as though the fan blades did not exist. Yet, obviously, the fan blades were right there in place all the while. Here was an interesting demonstration of substance in existence but invisible to the human eye. Thus, rapidity of movement, either continuous or vibratory would have the effect of making the object which was moving invisible. On the other hand, the blades of a rapidly whirling fan can be instantly made visible to the human eye by the rhythmic flashing of light in step with the speed of the blades. To all intents and purposes, the blades would appear to be at rest though they would actually still be revolving at a high rate of speed.
“Such a simple demonstration poses the interesting question as to whether the difference in vibration between terrestrial and celestial objects and beings accounts for the fact that angels can be present yet invisible to men. Is it also possible that, either by slowing that rate of vibration or by focusing a light tuned to the rhythm of the celestial being upon him, visibility to human beings is brought about. The removal of the vibratory light, which man may not necessarily be aware exists at the time he sees the celestial being, would immediately make him invisible in the same way that the Angel of Yahweh became invisible to Gideon. These are interesting questions, for the entire universe is subject to law – even the appearing and disappearing of those beings whom men have seen and talked with from time to time.
“Another interesting phenomenon is the fire that came out of the rock when the Angel of Yahweh extended the end of the staff in his hand to touch the meat and biscuits on the rock. Evidently this is one of a number of demonstrations given in the Scriptures of the fire of Yahweh which is of the nature of atomic fire which scientists have only recently discovered. Elijah had command of this fire of Yahweh in his trial with the prophets of Baal. On that occasion the fire consumed not only the burnt-offering, but the wood, stone and dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench around the altar.”
[Note by Clifton A. Emahiser: Elijah’s fire burned downward while atomic fire burns upward; the rock radiated heat.] – Back to Rand:
“Having seen and talked with a Being who could demonstrate the power of Yahweh and who immediately disappeared thereafter, Gideon came to a full realization that he had been visited by the Angel of Yahweh. He was filled with consternation and exclaimed:
“‘... Alas, O Yahweh Almighty! ... because I have seen an angel of Yahweh face to face’.” (Judges 6:22.)
“Angel of the Lord [i.e., Yahweh]
“Gideon was aware of the Scriptural fact that no man could look upon Yahweh and live, so, having seen the Angel of Yahweh face to face he expected that he would die. Apparently, for the moment at least, what he did not know or recognize was that his visitor was the second person in the Godhead who talked with him and who had talked face to face with Moses on many occasions. This was none other than Christ in His Angelic form before He took a body of flesh when later He was born as Jesus the Messiah. Though the Angel of Yahweh was now invisible to him, Yahweh spoke to Gideon, who heard His voice saying:
“‘Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shall not die’.” (Judges 6:23.)
[Comment by Clifton A. Emahiser: This could not have been Christ, as Yahweh didn’t come in the flesh until He was born of Mary. Neither did Moses, “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches ...” at Hebrews 11:26, as Christ should have been rendered “the anointed”, meaning his Israelite brethren.] – Back to Rand:
“As a result of this experience Gideon erected an altar to Yahweh on the spot where he had talked to Him face to face. That same night Yahweh appeared to Gideon, evidently this time in a vision, and told him to throw down the altar of Baal which his father possessed and cut down the grove by that altar. He was then to build an altar to Yahweh in its place, using the wood of the grove to make the fire upon it. He was to offer the bullock upon this altar which he had been instructed to select for that purpose.
“Altar of Baal Destroyed
“Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as Yahweh had instructed him to do. But because he feared his father’s household and the men of the village, who most certainly would have resisted his action, he did not dare to do the work by day. He therefore went out in the night with his servants and destroyed the altar of Baal and cut down the grove, building an altar to Yahweh in its place and offering the sacrifice upon it.
“Early the next morning, when the men of the city came to the grove, they found it cut down and the altar of Baal destroyed. They also saw the altar that Gideon had built with the two bullocks burned upon it. Upon making inquiry as to who was responsible for all this, they were informed that Gideon, the son of Joash, had destroyed the altar of Baal. Immediate demands were made upon Joash that Gideon be brought out so that he might be slain for what he had done. But Joash told them to let Baal defend himself, for he said:
“‘... if he is a god, let him kill Gideon, for what he has done to his altar’.” (Judges 6:31.) [Rand does not identify this Bible version.]
“Let Baal Plead
“The men of the city recognized the justice of letting Baal plead for himself so Gideon escaped death at their hands. However, as a result of what he had done, Gideon received a new name and was called Jerubbaal, which means ‘Let Baal plead.’
“Over and over again Yahweh had warned Israel not to worship other [deities] and there in their midst was an altar to Baal. Its very presence in Israel was a testimony against the people. Gideon had said to the Angel of the Almighty that Yahweh had forsaken them, delivering the people into the hands of the Midianites. In the command to overthrow the altar of Baal, Yahweh pointed out the reason why He had forsaken their defenses. They had first forsaken Him. Gideon’s obedience to the command of Yahweh to overthrow the altar of Baal was the first act in the task of destroying the accursed thing from their midst, the primary source of Israel’s difficulties, for as long as idolatry existed among them, Yahweh could not give protection from their enemies. It was also necessary for the cleansing to begin with the household of the man whom Yahweh had selected to deliver His people from oppression.
“The Midianites and Amalekites, with the children of the East, gathered for an invasion of Israel’s land. They had encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. The Spirit of Yahweh came upon Gideon and he blew a trumpet, calling the people together for battle. Messengers were sent throughout Israel and men came into camp to Gideon.
“Before going against their enemies, however, Gideon needed to know definitely if Yahweh was to use him to bring deliverance to Israel so he asked for a test:
“‘And Gideon said unto Yahweh, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. And Gideon said unto Yahweh, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. And Yahweh did so that night; for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.’ (Judges 6:36-40.)
“Why was it necessary for Gideon to make the second test? He knew the Law of Yahweh and that one witness under that law is not sufficient to establish a final testimony. The law requires that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established. He needed the double witness and received it in the two tests made with the fleece.
“Gideon, and all the people with him, were encamped beside a well of Harod, i.e., ‘Trembling.’ The meaning of the name of the well indicated the mental state of the people that subsequent events proved to be correct. Yahweh told Gideon that there were too many people with him. He explained that if He delivered the Midianites into their hands, Israel would say that they saved themselves from their enemies. Yahweh did not intend Israel to assume the glory of victory for themselves so he instructed Gideon to announce to all those who had gathered to him that any who were at all fearful were to return to their homes. As a result of this proclamation, 22,000 left, leaving only 10, 000. But even this number, Yahweh informed Gideon, was too many.“
“Instructions were given that the men were to go down to the brook and there Yahweh informed Gideon He would indicate the ones who were to go with him. The men were to have a drink from the brook and everyone who lapped the water with his tongue as he scooped it up with his hand should be set on one side. All those who went to their knees to drink were to be placed in another group. The number who lapped the water, scooping it up with their hands, was three hundred. Yahweh now informed Gideon that by those three hundred men He would deliver Israel. The rest of the 10,000 were sent home. The significance of the ‘water test’ was that the more alert men among the 10,000 would not risk getting on their knees to drink; they scooped up the water in their hands, remaining ready to spring away from the brook in case of need. Obviously, those who did this were more fit to join Gideon’s band of fighting men than the others.
“Having left Gideon only three hundred men to fight against the hordes which had invaded the land of Israel, Yahweh was not unmindful of the need of strengthening Gideon so that he might have confidence in the mission which had been assigned to him:
“‘And it came to pass the same night, that Yahweh said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand. But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host: And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host ...’ (Judges 7:9-11.)
“Gideon and his servant Phurah made a reconnoitering trip to the camp of the Midianites and found a very great army encamped in the valley, since the hosts of the Midianites were increased by the Amalekites and certain clans of the East who were encamped with them. It is recorded that they were ‘like grasshoppers,’ there were so many of them. No wonder there was fear among the Israelites. Gideon and his servant overheard a man in the enemy camp telling a dream to one of his comrades. He said that in his dream he had seen a cake of barley bread tumble into the midst of the camp of the Midianites. Continuing, he said it came to a tent and destroyed it. The man to whom the dream was told said:
“‘... This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath the Almighty delivered Midian, and all the host.’ (Judges 7:14.)
“When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation he worshipped Yahweh, then returned to the camp of Israel and informed the three hundred men that Yahweh had delivered the hosts of Midian into their hands. The company was then divided into three groups of one hundred each. To each man Gideon gave a trumpet and empty pitchers with torches in them. They assembled on three sides of the camp of the Midianites and, at a signal from Gideon, all three hundred blew their trumpets and at the same time broke their pitchers, exposing the burning torches and shouting,‘The sword of Yahweh, and of Gideon!’
“Ephraim Finds Fault
“Consternation and confusion filled the camp of the enemy and in the stampede that followed every man fought against his comrade as he fled away from his own camp. In response to a general call, all the men of Israel rallied their forces together with the men of Gideon’s band and pursued their enemies. The men of Ephraim took the fords of the Jordan and captured two princes of the Midianites. However, because Gideon had failed to call the men of Ephraim in the first place, the Ephraimites came to him and upbraided him. Gideon replied that regardless of that they had done better than all the rest as Yahweh had delivered the princes of Midian into their hands. The anger of Ephraim was abated in this reply of Gideon to their protest.
“Succoth and Penuel
“Gideon and his band passed over the Jordan in their pursuit of the Midianites but the three hundred men were faint for the want of food, so he asked the people of Succoth to give them food to eat. But the princes of the city asked why they should give bread to his army, reminding him of the fact that the Midianite Kings, Zebah and Zalmunna, were not yet in his hands. Thus, these princes were playing safe for fear Gideon might not be able to destroy the Midianites, having failed to recognize that Yahweh was with him. Succoth was a city in Israel in the possession of the tribe of Gad and thus it was Gideon’s own people who refused to help him in that critical hour in his pursuit of their common enemy. Gideon replied by saying that when Yahweh had delivered the two kings of the Midianites into his hands, he would return and punish the princes of Succoth, declaring he would use thorns and briars from the desert for that purpose.
“The same request was made at Penuel as had been made at Succoth, but the leaders of that city answered Gideon as the princes of Succoth had done. Gideon informed them that when he returned, he would break down their strong tower ....”
Because I have run out of space on the present lesson by Howard Rand, “The Book Of The Kingdom”,Destiny, April 1949, chapter V of XXIV “The Period Of The Judges”, it will be continued in the next lesson, WTL #226. In the middle of 226, I will commence with chapter VI. It is now the responsibility of each reader to research and critique this evidence and come to their own conclusions!