Coming World Crises --Part 17

Coming World Crises
Part 17

James Gunn

These are the notes of lectures given to the Men’s Bible Class which meets every two weeks during the winter at Central Gospel Hall, 25 Charles St. E., Toronto, Canada.

“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.” As a light shining in a dark place, during these lectures prophecy illuminated areas which to the human mind seem quite obscure:

The Future of the Ecumenical Movement.
The Return and the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The Future of the Nations.
Europe in Prophecy.
Who is Anti-Christ?
Russia Invades Israel!
Will the Church Go Through the Tribulation?
The Millennial Reign of Christ.
Climax of the Ages.

The Millenial Reign

—continued from last number

Astronomical alteration (Isa. 30:26; Isa. 4:5; Zech. 2:5): Clarence Benson, a Christian and an Astronomer, in his book, Earth the Theatre of the Universe, states: “It is evident that the solar system was not originally what it is now. However, instead of being less orderly, as evolutionists claim, it was primarily perfect, and its present peculiarities are to be accounted for by some great catastrophe. Just as the track of a cyclone can be traced by the evidence of the havoc it leaves in its wake, so the course of this destructive agent in the heavens can be mapped out by telltale marks of devastation that it has left in its course through the solar system.”

Isaiah apparently makes reference to such a catastrophe in our solar system, and informs us that during the kingdom age what is now wrong will then be made right: “Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of His people, and healeth the stroke of their wound” (Isa. 3:28).

The Spirit of God through the Apostle Paul accounts for the catastrophes, deviations, and dislocations in our universe, but assured us that these shall be rectified when the Lord returns: “For the earnest expectation of the creation (K.J.V. margin) waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope. Because the creation itself also 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. 8:19-22).

Sociological transformations (Isa. 65:20-23): Isaiah, who might well be called the Prophet of the Kingdom, predicts that in the Millennium “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks … neither shall they learn war any more” (Isa. 2:4).

Children shall be born during the Millennium. “They are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them” (Isa. 65:23). Those born in that time of peace and righteousness will nevertheless inherit Adam’s fallen nature and some may openly sin, but will immediately be judged and executed.

Life will be prolonged (Isa. 65:20). Men will be what God always wanted them to be, industrious. They will build homes for their families, and will maintain these with joy, cultivating their own properties.

Communication will be universal for the Lord will reverse the judgment of Babel, and will restore to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord” (Zeph. 3:9).

Territorial expansion for Israel (Ezek 47:13-23; 48:15-35): The territory given by God to Abraham will then be possessed and occupied by his descendants, and the boundaries will be those given to Moses by God in Numbers 34:1-15. While the boundary on the north is not known today, those east and west and on the south are readily recognized. On south is the Nile or a branch of it; on the east, the Euphrates, and on the west, the Mediterranean. This territory is eight times larger than the territories Israel occupied during the reigns of David and Solomon when national importance and influence was at its zenith.

The land will be divided into twelve apparently parallel portions, each fifty miles wide.

Spiritual restoration (Zech 13:1-6): Idolatry shall cease forever. The temple will be built (Ezek. 40:45); the priesthood, restored under a descendant of Zadok (Ezek. 44:15), and commemorative sacrifices offered to the Lord.

Theocratic government established (Ezek 47:1-12): The capital city will be called in that day, not so much Jerusalem but “Jehovah Shammah” for the Lord will be there (Ezek. 48:35). The Lord Jesus as Son of Man will be Sovereign (Dan. 7:13-14). “The Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one” (Zech. 14:9).

Under the Lord who then shall be King, there will be a prince of the house of David (Ezek. 44:3; 45:7; 46:2) who will act for the people in administrative and spiritual matters.

A Holy Oblation, an offering of land to the Lord, is to be made (Ezek. 48:9-35). It is to be 25,000 reeds square (There are approximately 11 feet to a reed). This square is to be divided into three sections. The section on the north is of 10,000 reeds and is the portion of the Levites. The centre section, also of 10,000 reeds, is for the priests. The section on the south of the Holy Oblation is of 5,000 reeds (Ezek. 48:15-19); in this section will be the city of Jerusalem (Ezek. 48:30-35).

Now, the millenial temple will not be built in the city of Jerusalem, but in the very centre of the piece of land offered as the Holy Oblation to the Lord (Ezek. 48:10, 20-21). The millennial temple will be approximately one mile square.

The Church During the Millennium

The Church as the Lamb’s wife will share the glory of her Lord and engage in His government (Rev. 5:10). There seems little doubt about the Church’s reigning with Christ (1 Cor. 4:8; 2 Tim. 2:12). Notwithstanding, one feels that there is too much read into Revelation 5:10. In the first place the pronouns “us” and “we” are not found in several manuscripts covering this text. In fact, there is a textual possibility that “thy” and “them” should have been inserted in the translation. This would make the Church sing of Gods redemption for those who will be on earth in those eschatological times.

Then again, some see in the preposition “on,” translated by some as “over,” the Church in a aerial position ruling with Christ above the earth. In this connection there is an interesting millennial reference in Ezekiel 37:27, “My tabernacle also shall be with (over or above) them (God’s recovered people Israel).”

The revelation of the blessed and only Potentate, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords will usher in the long anticipated visible Kingdom of the Son of Man on earth. That kingdom will be characterized by glory, righteousness, peace and prosperity. May our hearts respond to the illumination of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God so that we may devoutly pray, “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

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The Climax Of The Ages

There is a general belief that the Millennium is the climax of the ages; that after it God will hurriedly dispose of any opposition to the theocratic government, that He will judge the impenitent and cast them into the Lake of Fire, and that then He will end time. A deeper study of the Word of God leads to the conclusion that many matters are to be accomplished after the Millennium, and that in all probability considerable time will elapse in the execution of all the purposes of God in a period we might well call the Climax of the Ages. It is to this period that the Word of God makes reference as The Dispensation of the Fulness of (the) Times (Eph. 1:10).

Frequently this designation is applied to the Millennium, but a closer examination of the details in Ephesians 1:10 indicates it is a description of post-millennial events, that it intimates a period which will be the summation, the culmination of all the times in the annals of human history. Definitely all things will not be headed up in Christ until all opposition is abolished.

The Fullness of Times

There are a number of the characteristics of this period which ought to be investigated:

First, its duration: This is an area of prophecy in which there has been much speculation. Some scholars believe that it will be a very brief period, others that it will be very long. Arbishop Trench who has provided valuable tools for the Bible student and Clarence Larkin who is considered a deep student of prophecy for he spent many years in the study of prophecy and producing charts to aid others in similar studies, both believe that it will be as long as the Millennium, if not longer. Furthermore, they both believe that it will provide, before it closes, a perfect state in the Kingdom of God. While one finds it difficult to agree with their contention, it does appear that this period will probably be much longer than most expect.

“A little season:” Much emphasis has been placed upon the prediction that Satan is to be loosed out of the bottomless pit for “a little season” (Rev. 20:3). This statement, “a little season,” has resulted in the prevalent belief that the interval between the end of the Millennium and the close of time will be very short.

We need to remember that “a little season” in God’s reckoning is altogether different from that in ours. Moses said, “A thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Psa. 90:4). Consequently, what is called “a little season” could be a matter of a century or two in human reckoning.

Second, post-millennium population: There are three salient points to be examined here: (a) The post-millennial population will be very numerous. There will be “nations from the four quarters of the earth … the number of whom is as the sand of the sea” (Rev. 20:8). Isaiah speaks of those who will be born during the Millennium as “the seed of the blessed of the Lord” (Isa. 65:23), but alas, although they will be raised with a God-fearing background, they will still possess a depraved nature, and this evil nature will control them.

(b) This numerous population will be rebellious against God and at enmity with the people of God (Rev. 20:9). The foundation of this deep-seated rebellion may best be understood by noticing the millennial conditions under which they will have been born and raised.

They will not have the evil influence of Satan. During their lifetime, he will have been imprisoned in the abyss. This multitude will have remained for centuries untempted by diabolic evil.

All will have profited by the benign reign of the Lord Jesus. They will have experienced the direction of a God-given conscience, and will have had the Word of God.

Furthermore, they will have felt the sincere and loyal friendship of those who will then belong to the Lord and who will be serving Him with love and vigour (Isa. 56:3-8). The Lord says of His millennial people, “I will sow them among the people: and they shall remember Me in far countries; and they shall live with their children” (Zech 10:9).

(c) All, moreover, will have felt the restraint of righteousness. They will have seen demonstrations of the penalty of sin. Isaiah predicts, “The sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed” (Isa. 65:20). In the sinner being accursed, there might be a reference to Deuteronomy 21:22-23, “If a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God); that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”

The entire post-millennial multitude will have enjoyed the benefits of the Millennium and will also have experienced its restraints upon evil. Favourable as these conditions may appear, in the hearts and lives of tens of thousands, they will fail to produce any change of attitude toward God. After this prolonged probation of absolute righteousness, man’s depraved nature will not have improved. There are five crowns, seven cups, but only one cross spoken of in the Bible. The cross is central to the gospel. In one sense it cancels out all that went before; but in another, seemingly contrary sense, it is the great plus sign of life, the empirical affirmation. It is the catalyst that transforms dust to spirit, changes dark to light, breaks the rebel heart, the hater of God, and makes him a gentle servant of Christ.

There are two aspects of the cross, an earthly and a heavenly aspect. “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” No middle ground is revealed in the Scriptures. To attempt to take up a middle ground position simply proves light is not in us. We have not understood the finality of what Christ did on the cross. He made an end of pretence once for all. There is no compromise, no cheap grace, no way we can have the best of this world and the best of the one to come. We either take up his cross and follow him —daily — or we turn away like the rich young ruler, “very sorrowful.” For though Jesus loved him, yet he would not hold him.

The First Aspect of the Cross An Entrance to Heaven

“I am the door,” said Jesus. “By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” Thus we have access to heaven and acceptance with God. The judgment for sin has already been rendered. We enter heaven without a single stain upon our souls. Jesus Christ put an end to all the sacrifices for sin, which never paid for them anyhow, but simply covered them, and has presented us without condemnation before God. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, which in itself is a foretaste of heaven. It is the tree of life for us but the tree of death for Him, “who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree.”

The significant thing about the cross is that obedience to it always leads to death. “He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” If there had been any cure for the flesh, any conceivable manner in which the soul could have been preserved without the body dying, Christ would have provided it. But there was no way. The very basis of worship, the sinner’s peace, was through the blood of the cross, “reconciling all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Again, there is pointed out for us the twofold nature of God’s work in Christ, giving us an entrance to heaven, but providing a way on earth.

There is a four-fold guarantee, or assurance, that the work of the cross has been effective in our lives. First, we become citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20). Our loyalties change. Though we behave ourselves with respect in this world, like any decent visitor would in a foreign country, yet we maintain our ties with another land. We keep our contact there. We are more interested in what happens in heaven than we are in what happens in the land of our exile. There is an eager looking-forward to our return home.

Second, we have an anchor of the soul, a hope, that reaches right into the Most Holy Place, within the veil itself (Heb. 6:19). The forerunner himself, even Jesus, has left a blood trail leading right into the presence of God, through the outer court, beyond the curtain with the fine needlework, into the fragrant anteroom of God, through the Holy Place and the veil, to stand before the mercy seat, there offering himself to atone for us all. It is a guarantee that will stand as long as the word of God shall stand and as long as the word of His oath is valid.

Third, it is faith that justifies us, and we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). How could we enter heaven with the uncertainty of our sins weighing upon us? Even if we confessed them all as honestly as we could and had them covered, there might be one we had forgotten. What horror then to be turned back at the very threshold of heaven within sight of our goal and hope! What confidence could we have in this life? What joy would there be in it? It would be one long fearful torment of uncertainty and distress. But God has provided the evidences for our assurance and we embrace them by faith.

Fourth, there is a two-way acceptance. It is not solely left to us to sustain this confidence in an entrance to heaven. It has been verified by the son of God himself, for he has said, “Because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you.” That day dawned, that night passed, and the tomb was empty! He had risen! He was not there! He had risen from the dead! Then it was true, even as he said, in that day ye shall know. There were a few moments of doubt, a bewildered unbelief, a hesitation to lean upon so fragile a promise. But the assurance persisted and grew stronger. “I believe God, that it shall be, even as it was told me.” Then there burst upon the world such a clap of spiritual thunder, such a lightning burst of testimony, that the iron clad legions of Rome reeled and staggered. They were momentarily immobilized and stunned.

The Second Aspect of the Cross — an Exit from the World

The second aspect of the cross is that it is an exit from the world. If there is to be an entrance into heaven there must be an exit from the world. To enter the heavenlies there must be separation and severance. Jesus Christ is truly the door, but the same door that shuts me into himself also shuts me out from his enemies.

Make no mistake, the cross is an offense. It is not polished ebony wood, but a rough, splintery, crude instrument of torture and of death. It was never meant to please, neither the spectators, nor the victim. It was meant to impress and convince and terrorize evil doers. It was meant to inflict such punishment that the mere mention of the word would be like a cold sword to the throat. No man, no matter how desperate, no matter how wild and ignorant, would risk the penalty of the cross, not at any cost. It was an emblem of shame. Yet we see women without shame today wearing the golden image of a cross as though it were an adornment to their beauty, rather than as the Proverb says, “Like a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout.”

If we desire to enter that door, to enter the heavenlies, and to separate ourselves from the world, the path is obedience. As disciples we take up the cross daily and follow him. Discipleship is not a calling, it is not a gift, nor an alternative to disgust with the world, but it is the mark of one who has been born again. There is no use to argue that we can call Him Christ but we have not come to the place of calling Him Lord. The Scriptures make no such invidious distinctions. There are no pigmies in Christ. Can we have two masters? “For one is your master, even Christ.”

As there is a four-fold guarantee or assurance that we have entered heaven, so there is a four-fold guarantee that we have left the world. First, we become witnesses unto him, “both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” As we became citizens of heaven so we become witnesses on earth, by the power of the Holy Ghost. If we are ashamed of Christ on earth, He is ashamed of children that denied Him before others.

Second, while our hope is our position inside the veil of the Holy of Holies, our labour is with Him outside the camp (Heb. 13:13). There we go to meet Him, bearing His reproach. If there is anything that distinguishes the disciple it is that his service is underpaid with the world’s coin, whether it be gold and silver, or honor and rewards. If we serve the risen Lord, our pay is yet to come, heaped up, pressed down, shaken together, running over. Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. It is a city four-square. The value there of precious stones is measured in building blocks. For the value of things not seen on earth is here revealed in such splendor that these precious stones are not worthy to be compared to the glory before us.

Third, hostility of the world marks the separated man. “Know ye not the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” There is no middle ground. There is no middle marker, no high and low water mark. Do we honestly believe that Christ can be in us, and be in Christ, and that the world will treat us better than it did the Saviour? By what right? On what grounds? “Me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” As we testify of the world, that its works are evil, we, too, will be hated. But as he loved the world, so must we. “He that loveth not his brother whom he bath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” No, he can’t. It is not possible. Love reached its zenith when Christ died. “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.”

Fourth, as there is a two-way acceptance concerning heavenly things, so there is a two-way rejection concerning earthly things. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” It is the final, true, and acid test. Close scrutiny of our lives would reveal that some glory clings to our works. We cannot seem to divorce ourselves from this glory. We do not claim honor for ourselves, we say, but for Him. But He does not need a public defender. He is His own best advocate. Examine yourselves whether you be in the faith. Put that matter under discussion upon the cross. Don’t debate it, crucify it. Let it die before all the world.

These two aspects of the cross —the entrance to heaven and the exit from the world — are inseparable. There is no way to reconcile a difference except to deny the promise of the one and the power of the other. Conflicts in the Christian life arise from disobedience to the principle of separation — separation from the world, separated unto Christ.