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CHAPTER XXIII.

THE PROPHETS.

THE LORD'S REVELATION OF HIS PLANS TO HIS CHILDREN.

Keynote: John xv. 15.

PROPHECY is God's revelation of His secret plans and purposes. It was given not for a merely temporary use, but for all ages and all people. Paul says concerning it, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Rom. xv.4. Prophecy it is manifest can only come from the Lord, for He alone knows the end of things from the beginning, and He only holds the threads of destiny in His hands. Therefore we are told concerning the prophets, that, “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 Ghost.” 2 Peter i. 21. Throughout the books of the prophets, consequently, we read continually, “And the Lord spake,” or, “Thus saith the 368 Lord," or, "The Lord spake, saying; "so that of each one it is manifestly true that "the Spirit of the Lord spake by him," and "His word was in his tongue."

In giving to His people these books of prophecy, the Lord is treating them as friends, for He Himself when on earth said to His disciples "Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what His Lord doeth; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." Abraham was called the "friend of God," and when God was about to destroy Sodom, although it was not a matter that concerned Abraham personally, He said "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do ?" And He stopped on His way to Sodom to tell His purposes to His "friend," listening with all the condescension of a real friendship to Abraham's plea for the doomed city, and even yielding everything that he asked. No sweeter picture of the reality of our position as "friends of God" could be given than this story of Abraham. And I feel that when we come to the study of these prophetical books, we should realize ourselves as being in this blessed position of personal intimacy, and should understand that our Father and our Friend is here disclosing to us His secrets. "Surely the Lord will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets." Amos iii. 7.

Written prophecy began about the year 800 B. C., during the reigns of the divided kingdom when all was outward confusion and the faith of the Lord's true people 369 needed a divine revelation to pierce the gloom that surrounded them on every hand. With the plainest declarations of His judgments on the sin that so abounded in the midst of His people, the Lord, from the first, joined the most distinct assurances of the coming of a Saviour, who should usher in a kingdom of righteousness and peace, that would finally "cover the earth as the waters cover the sea."

The Lord Jesus Christ therefore, and His salvation form the centre of all prophecy, as we read in 1 Pet. i. 10-13, "Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into." Again we read in Acts iii. 24, "Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days." Also in Acts xxvi. 22, 23, Paul declared that his preaching was but a "witnessing to both small and great," of the very things which the prophets and Moses had said should come; "that Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the 370 dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles."

A recent writer has said concerning these books that, "Parallel with the record of prophecy, runs a historical record of its fulfilment, up to the point when light of the gospel of Christ is shed over the world. There was a time when all that was known of God's gracious purposes was matter of prediction only; but now an important part of it has become matter of history; and the transference of events from the one record to the other is continually advancing. It is easy to see the advantage of having these records side by side. The fulfilment of any part of prophecy, besides being important in itself, gives the most confident assurance of the completion of the fulfilment. Thus if we have at first a prediction of glory as the result of suffering, the accomplishment of the predicted suffering is the surest pledge of the coming glory. . . . The great burden of prophecy is the coming of a Divine Saviour to suffer and conquer for man, and then to share the fruits of His conquest with His people. Now the first part we know is accomplished, and this stands to us the pledge of all the rest."

We are encouraged therefore by the literal fulfilment of all the details of the prophecies concerning the first coming of our Lord in humiliation, to look towards an equally literal fulfilment of the prophecies concerning His second coming in glory, and we shall find a careful study of that which is here written in reference to it, of deep interest and great practical value.

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There are seventeen books of prophecy. Hosea, Amos, Joel, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Habakkuk wrote previous to the carrying away of the Jews into Babylon; Ezekiel, Daniel and Obadiah wrote during the course of the captivity; and Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, after the restoration of the Jew's under Ezra and Nehemiah to their own land. The prophecy of Isaiah is the first in the arrangement of the books in our Bibles, but in point of time Joel, Amos and Hosea are supposed to have written their books earlier. A comparison of the dates at the beginning of each book will make this clear to us. But the opening verses in Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea all point to about the same period of time, with only the difference of a few years. "The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah," Is. i. 1. Compare Hosea i. 1 and Amos i. 1. The prophecy of Jonah which is dated 862 B. C., and which had reference to Nineveh only, though containing a hidden type of Christ's death and resurrection, is not taken into account here.

I have no doubt the order of these books as it is given to us in our Bibles, has some spiritual revelation in it, which we have not yet perhaps fathomed; and so also, I believe, have the meanings of the names of the different prophets. These meanings can be found in chapter ii.

The prophecies deal mostly with the dispersion of the ten tribes, the captivity and restoration of Judah, 372 and the utter apostasy of the people from the worship of the true God, together with the Lord's final purposes of grace and mercy. They are full of appalling descriptions of the doom of an apostate nation, but these are always coupled with exulting descriptions of the mighty Redeemer who was to come, and of the glory of His reign. Thus Amos says concerning Israel, "I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve;" but adds a little after, "In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen; . . and I will bring again the captivity of Israel, . . . and I will plant them in their own land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God;" Amos ix. 11-15; a prediction which in Acts xv. 16, 17 is declared to refer to Christ. Joel also, who predicts the awful destruction from the Almighty to come upon the rebellious nation, also declares that "then will the Lord be jealous for His land, and pity his people. Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto His people, Behold I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith, and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen. . . . And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh. . . . And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call." All of which is shown us in Acts 373 ii. 16-21 to have had an incipient fulfilment on the day of Pentecost; and which also plainly points onward to a future complete and glorious fulfilment, when Christ shall come in power to establish His outward millenial Kingdom. With equal plainness do all the prophets, whether those before the captivity, or those who shared it, as well as those who were restored from it, speak of this coming glory.

These prophecies take no note apparently of the centuries of time which were to elapse between the incipient fulfilment of the promises in Christ's first coming, and their complete fulfilment at His second coming. The long period of the Church's history called in Luke 21: 24 the "times of the Gentiles" were apparently utterly ignored, and our Lord's coming in humiliation to die, and His coming in glory to reign, are connected often in the same sentence, as though they were to be coincident in time. It is essential to the right understanding of prophecy to be aware of this. The reason given for it by students of Scripture has been, that, with the death of Christ, and the "cutting off of the Jews," Jewish history ceased; and that the "times of the Gentiles" which are going on now, until the return of Christ, and the restoration of the Jews, during which "Jerusalem is to be trodden under foot of the Gentiles," is not noticed by anything more than sometimes a slight allusion; the prophecy for the most part passing right over it, and taking up the thread of Jewish history at its close, as though no time had elapsed between. Paul speaks very 374 fully concerning these "times of the Gentiles" in Rom. xi. 11-27, closing with the words, "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins."

The passage quoted by our Lord in Luke iv. 16-19 is a striking illustration of this close connection in the prophecies, of things, which in actual experience were to be many centuries apart. He read from the prophet Esaias in chap. 61: 1, 2, stopping short however in the middle of verse 2. The verse reads in Isaiah, "To proclaim the acceptable year of our Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn." But our Lord stopped at the end of the first sentence, "To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord," although only a comma separates it from that which follows, "the day of vengeance of our God." The reason of this was, that the acceptable year had come, but the day of vengeance had not come, and has not come yet. Nearly 1900 years at least have therefore in fact separated these two things, which in prophecy seemed to be coincident. Following out this prophecy, on from the point where our Lord closed the book and sat down, to its end, we find the final restoration of the Jews plainly declared, 375 their authority over the Gentiles re-established and Jerusalem again made a "praise in the earth. See Isaiah lxi. 4-11; also lxii. which is plainly a continuation of the same prophetic message.

Many devout readers of the Bible have objected to the thought of a literal fulfilment of prophecy, and have been inclined to think that it refers only to the Church in a spiritual sense. But I believe most careful students of the present day take a different view, and agree in thinking that these prophecies refer primarily to Israel and Judah, although they have also a very blessed typical application to Christians. We who now by faith enter into the inward spiritual kingdom of our Lord, enter also into spiritual blessings, which have a wonderful correspondence to the temporal ones here set forth. There is doubtless to be a real outward millennium on this earth, when the "kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ;" but there is also now and here, for every faithful heart, an inward millennial experience, which answers spiritually, to the descriptions these prophecies give of the future earthly glory. It is doubtless from this cause that the mistake has arisen in the Church, of monopolizing to herself prophecies, which belong primarily to Israel, and which are plainly to have a literal as well as a spiritual fulfilment.

It is curious however that, in this appropriation, Christians have taken only the blessings to themselves, and have handed the curses over to the Jews, and this fact 376 should have long ago opened every eye to the mistake. For in many places the blessings and the curses are together in one sentence, and cannot be understood by any really intelligent mind other than as referring to one and the sane class of people. It is plainly the people who have been cursed, who are to have the blessings. And while, as I say, we may use these glorious prophecies as the typical expression of our present inward millennial joys, we must never lose sight of the fact that they are to be literally and actually fulfilled to the Jews, in their triumphant return to their own land, and their restoration there to acceptance with the Lord, and to true righteousness before Him.

In tracing the course of prophecy I have not space to dwell long upon those prophecies which refer to Christ's first coming, and their literal fulfilment, especially as they are already familiar to every student, and the references in the margins of any good reference Bible bring them all out with great clearness. I will therefore simply insert at the close of this chapter, out or the Bagster Bible, a collection of all the prophecies referring to Christ, with their parallel passages in the New Testament.

In reference to the prophecies referring to Christ's second coming in glory, and the restoration of the Jews, I can only give a general view. The field of unfulfilled prophecy is too vast to be taken up in detail within the limits of a book like this. Moreover, the views of careful and earnest students, concerning its details, differ so 377 widely, that I should feel very cautious about entering into it too minutely or stating anything too positively.

That the Lord Jesus Christ will surely come again to reign in a kingdom of universal righteousness on this world is, I think, accepted by most Christians in the present day. But as to the details of this event there are, as I have said, a variety of views. The two principal are called respectively the Pre-millennial and the Post-millennial Advent. The one states that Christ is to return before the millennium, and is to usher in that blessed time by His redeeming and purifying presence. The other states that He is to come at the close of the millennium, and that the world is to be prepared for His presence by the previous universal reign of righteousness and peace. My own view is the former, as it seems to me most in accordance with. Scripture teaching.

The story as I receive it, is simply this:--

I. The Lord will come back suddenly, like a thief in the night, to receive His saints to Himself. Those who are dead will be raised, and the having saints will be caught up with them, to "meet the Lord in the air," as we read,

"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 1 Thess. iv. 14-17.

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"Behold, I shew you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52. See also 2 Thess. ii. 1; Luke xvii. 26-37 with Isa. xxvi. 20; Luke xxi. 36; Matt. xxv. 1-13.

The Lord will not be visible to the world at large at this time, for the saints must first be gathered up to meet Him thus, "in the air;" and the only thing the world will know about it, will be the sudden and unaccountable disappearance of all the Christians out of it.

"I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed: the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left." Luke xvii. 34, 35, 36.

II. While still "in the air," the saints will be judged in reference, not to their salvation but as to their rewards. See 1 Cor. iii. 12-15. The marriage of the Lamb will take place, and the Son will present His bride before the throne with exceeding joy. As we read,

"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready; And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints." Rev. xix. 7-9 with Matt. xxv. 1-13. See also Jude 24; 2 Cor. iv. 14; I Cor. iv. 3-6; Matt. xvi. 27; Rev. xi. 18; xxii. 12; 1 Cor. ix. 24, 25; 2 Cor. v. 10; Rom. xiv. 10-14; Heb. x. 35-38; 2 Tim. iv. 1-9; 1 Pet. i. 7: 1 Pet. iv. 13; I Pet. v. 1-4; 1 John ii. 28; Ps. lxii. 12; Ps. xiv. with Dan. vii. 9-14; Jude 24; Col. i. 22.

III. Certain events will meanwhile be taking place upon the earth. Antichrist will arise and restore many 379 of the Jews to their own land, making a covenant with them for seven years, which he will break at the end of three and a half years, and will assemble all nations around Jerusalem to besiege it. This siege will at first be successful, and the Jewish nation, in their distress, will at last be brought to know the depth of their need, and to call upon their God for help. As we read,

"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before." Matt. xxiv. 24, 25.

"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week" [seven years]; "and in the midst of the week" [at the end of three and one half years] "he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." Dan. ix. 27.

"And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days" [about three and a half years]. Dan. xii. 11.

"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth let him understand), then let them which be in Judæa flee into the mountains." Matt. xxiv. 15-29 with Rev. xiii. 1-8.

"For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city." Zech. xiv. 1, 2, 9. See also Joel ii. 1-32; Dan. ix. 26, 27; Rev. xiii. 1-8; Dan. xii. 1; Dan. vii. 21-26; Jer. xxx. 4-11; Rev. xi. 2; Dan. viii. 11-27; Rev. xvi. 14; Is. xiii. 4.

IV. And now is the time to which all prophecy points, when Christ shall come again to the earth, bringing all His saints with Him, and His feet shall stand upon the 380 Mount of Olives, that very mount from which He went up into heaven. As we read,

"And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey." Acts i. 9-12.

"Then shall the Lord go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east." "And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord and His name One. All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's wine-presses. And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited." Zech. xiv. 3, 4, 9-11. "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment upon all." Jude 14, 15. "When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." Col. iii. 4. See also on this point, Dan. vii. 21, 22; Joel ii. 1-11, with Rev. xix. 11-21; Is. xiii. 3-6, xxxi. 4-5; Ps. cii. 16, xcvi. 10-13; Mal. iii. 1-5; Ezek. xliii. 1-4; Haggai ii. 21, 22; Is. lxvi. 15; lii. 10; 1 Thess. iii. 13; Is. xxxi. 4, 5.

V. Every eye will now see Him and all the tribes of the earth will mourn at the sight, and will call on the rocks and the hills to cover them, and hide them from the day of His coming. He will deliver Jerusalem, and destroy His enemies, and will gather together His chosen 381 people, the Jews, from all the lands where they have been scattered, and restore them to their own land, where they will recognize Him and mourn for their rejection of Him. As we read,

"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power, and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet; and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Matt. xxiv. 30, 31 with Is. xi. 10, 11.

"And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born." Zech. xii. 8-14.

"And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." Is. xi. 11, 12.

See also Rev. vi. 15-17; Luke xxiii. 27-30; Is. ii. 19-21; Zech. viii.; Zech. xiv. 12-15, Ez. xxxix. 11-22 with Rev. xix. 17-21; Zeph. iii. 8; Mal. iv. 2; Dan. xii. 1; Jer. xxx. 4-9, xxxi. 8-15, xxxii. 42- 44, xxxiii. 14-16; Is. lii. 10; liii. 1, 2, 9, 10; lxvi. 15-21; lx.; lxi.; lxii.; 1 Thess. ii. 1-9 with Is. xi. 1-9; Haggai ii. 7.

VI. At this time the judgment of the nations who are living on the earth, spoken of in Matt. xxv. 30-46, will take place; sin will be purged out of the world by the 382 judgments and rebukes of the Lord, and universal peace and righteousness will be established. As we read,

"When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left." Matt. xxv. 31-33.

"And in mercy shall the throne be established: and He shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness." Is. xvi. 5.

"And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Is. ii. 4.

"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon Him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written that no man knew but He Himself. And was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen white and clean. And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He hath on His vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords." Rev. xix. 11-16. See also Joel iii. 12-16; Ps. ix. 7, 8; Ps. lxxvi. 9; lxxxix. 14; Is. iv. 3, 4; xlii. 4; Matt. xii.18-21; John v. 22; Is. xi. 1-9 with 2 Thess. ii. 1-9; Is. xxvi. 21; xiii. 6-11; xviii. 21, 22; lxvi. 14-16; Zeph. i. 14-18; Zech. xiii. 8, 9; Is. x. 20-22 with Rom. ix. 27, Micah v. 7-8, Zech. xiv. 16; Is. xix. 22-25.

VII. The creation will now be delivered from the bondage of corruption, and restored to its original glory. Jerusalem will become again a holy city inhabited by the 383 people of the Lord. Satan will be chained for a thousand years, and the millennium will be ushered in. As we read,

“For the earnest expectation of the creature [creation] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature [creation] was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope; because the creature [creation] itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." Rom. viii. 19-22 with Is. xi. 6-9. "Then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no stranger pass through her any more." "But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation." Joel iii. 16-20. "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season." Rev. xx. 1-3; See also, Is. lx. lxi., lxii., xxxv., lxv. 17-25; Zech. xiv. ; Micah iv. 1-5; Hab. ii. 14; Is. li. 3, 11; xxxii. 15-18; xxxiii. 20-22; Hosea ii. 14-23; Joel ii. 21-27; Amos ix. 11-15; Rom. xi. 26, 27.

VIII. During the millennium the Lord Jesus Christ will reign over the earth, and His saints will share His throne. As we read,

"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name whereby He shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness." Jer. xxiii. 5, 6.

"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither the image, neither had received 384 his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." Rev. xx. 4-6.

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulders: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." Is. ix. 6, 7.

"I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given him a dominion, and glory,, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. . . . . But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever even for ever and ever, . . . And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the dominion under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him." Dan. vii. 13, 14, 18, 27. See also Matt. xix. 28; 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3; Rev. ii. 26, 27; Micah iv. 1, 2, 3; Zech. vi. 12, 13; Ps. lxxii.; Ps. xcvi. 10-13, with Rev. xix. 6. Ps. xcvii. 1-6; Ps. xcix. 1, 2; Is. xxiv. 23; xxxii. 1; Luke i. 32, 33; Rom. v. 17; xv. 12; 1 Cor. xv. 25; Rev. xi. 15.

IX. At the end of the millennium, Satan will be loosed again for a little season, and will induce men again to rebel. A great army will be gathered against the Lord, and will be defeated. Satan will be cast into the lake of 385 fire. The great white throne will be set up, and the dead will be judged. The new heavens and the new earth will be ushered in, and all sin and sorrow will forever flee away. As we read,

"And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison; and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sands of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the take of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. . . And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Rev. xx. 7-15, and xxi. 3, 4.

X. Finally, the Lord Jesus Christ, having accomplished the purposes of His mediatorial coming 386 and reign, will deliver up the kingdom to His Father, and God will henceforth be "All in All."

"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order; Christ tie first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming. Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith, All things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all." 1 Cor. xv. 22-28.

Such are the outlines of the story of the latter days, as I have learned it. Of the times and seasons, I believe, it is not meant for us to know, as these God has put into His own power, Acts i. 6, 7. But that our Lord is coming again to this world of ours, and that His coming is to be at a day and an hour when we look not for Him, there can, I think, be no doubt. Therefore it behooves us to be ready, that we may not be ashamed before Him at His coming. And we would do well to take heed to the warning in 2 Pet. iii. 2-14:

"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last day scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water perished: But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved 387 unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burnt up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness; looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless, we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new , wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”

I am well aware that this is a subject which does not interest all Christians, and which is considered fanciful and unprofitable by many. But if it is indeed a truth, as the angel declared to the disciples on the Mount of Olives, while they looked toward the heavens where a cloud had just received their Lord out of their sight, that "this same Jesus which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven," then it must certainly be important for us to know it, and to enter into the mind of God about it. And I believe myself that there is hardly any truth which has so great an effect in making Christians unworldly as this.

For, if we expect one who is absent from us to return 388 at any moment, we shall surely make ourselves ready for his coming, and will take care to arrange our matters so that when he comes he shall not find us engaged in anything of which we think he will not approve. And it has been very striking to me to notice that the Lord's exhortations to holiness of life are always based, not on the fear of death, but on the hope of His return, and its unexpectedness. As we read:

"Watch, therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." "Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh," Matt. xxiv. 42, 44. "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning: and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding: that when he cometh and knocketh they may open unto him immediately." "Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not," Luke xii. 35, 36, 40. "Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye, therefore; for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning; lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping, and what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch." Mark xiii. 33-37.

I am convinced that these passages teach us that the thought of the unexpectedness of our Lord's return is a far more powerful incentive to holiness than the thought of death; and I believe the Church has suffered great loss from having overlooked this. It all depends upon how much we love Him, whether we are longing to see Him back. And our present walk and life will surely be greatly modified by a firm belief on our part, that at any moment 389 we may see Him and hear the voice of the trumpet that calls us to His side. Let us ask ourselves a few solemn questions here. Are we, like the early Christians, waiting for Him to come? Are we ready for His coming? We cannot wait until we are ready. What should we think of a housekeeper, who was expecting a visit from a very distinguished guest, and whose house should be all turned inside out with repairs and painting, and cleaning, with not a quiet room in it, but who should yet say to us, "Oh, yes, I am waiting longingly for my friend to arrive, and am expecting him at any moment?" I am sure we should stand amazed at such waiting as that, and would say, "But how can you wait for him until you are ready? Would not his coming now be, to say the least, very inconvenient and ill-timed; and would you not prefer that he should delay his coming, until you have prepared a comfortable place in which to receive him?"

We may well pause and think, therefore, whether we are ready for our Lord's coming. Are our houses, and our lives, and our churches prepared to receive Him? Would His coming just at this present moment be inconvenient or ill-timed to us? If we knew of a certainty that He were coming next week should we go on with our lives as they are, and carry out our present plans and purposes for the few intervening days? I remember being very much impressed with hearing of John Wesley, that, upon being asked by a friend one morning how he would spend the day if he knew he 390 should certainly die that night, he replied, after a solemn pause, "I should do just the things I have already planned to do. I should attend to the business I have laid out. I should see the friends I have expected to see. I should go to the places I have arranged for. I should read the books I have prepared. I should eat my meals, and take my usual rest, and should quietly await the hour of my death without one anxious thought." It seemed to me, when I heard it, grand to be ready like that! And such, I am sure, was our Lord's thought concerning us, when He said, "Therefore, be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."

We may not perhaps understand all the details. But enough is plain to teach us that our Lord is surely coming again, and to stir our hearts with a triumphant hope of our own personal share in His glory. For if He should come to-morrow, what human tongue could put into words the unimagined and unspeakable joy and gladness that would become the portion of all His people! To see Him face to face, the Desire of all nations, and our own Beloved! To be made like Him! To be done with sin forever! To have our vile bodies fashioned like unto His glorious body! To be presented faultless before His Father's throne with exceeding joy! To sit down with Him in His kingdom! To be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of His house, and to drink forevermore of the river of His pleasures! Ah, who can tell or dream of what this would be?

391

"He is coming! and the tidings

Sweep through the willing air,

With hope that ends forever

Time's ages of despair.

Old Earth from dreams and slumber

Wakes up and says, Amen:

Land and ocean bid Him welcome,

Flood and forest join the strain.

He is coming! and the mountains

Of Judea ring again;

Jerusalem awakens

And shouts her glad Amen.

He is coming! and the tidings

Are rolling wide and far;

As light flows out in gladness

From yon fair morning star."

The books of prophecy close with Malachi in the year 397 B. C. No prophet was to arise after him, and the Jewish nation were left from henceforth to wait, for nearly four hundred years, until "the consolation of Israel" should come. The closing words are a solemn and yet blessed warning and promise:

"For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, 392 with the statues and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."

Had Israel heeded this warning, and received Christ at His first coming as their King, who can say whether the world's salvation would not then have been accomplished? But they rejected Him, and the day of triumph has been deferred until the "times of the Gentiles" shall be fulfilled.

But the Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness, and the glorious" times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" shall surely come at last. And the day will dawn finally, according to the promise, when in "the dispensation of the fulness of times," God will "gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth;: and when "at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

"He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly; Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

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