Col. 1:20, 21; Eph. 1:9, 10; Rev. 20:5-15; Rev. 21:1;
What a blessed thing it is, beloved friends, to know that Christ died for the ungodly! though it is only when the soul has apprehended that fact for its own salvation, that it is in a condition to learn the glories and unfathomable depths of that finished work. Scripture, however, not only gives us general statements, but special statements concerning the sacrificial work of Christ. For instance; we read in the eleventh chapter of John that it was expedient that one man should die for the people, that the whole nation perish not; and "that Jesus should die for that nation, and not for that nation only, but that He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad." I refer to this to show that Christ is spoken of as dying for the nation. When the apostle is speaking of the Church of God in the epistle to the Ephesians, he says, "Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it." And when the thought is presented to us of creation being delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God, we cannot but think of Jesus in humiliation wearing a crown of thorns, — which were set in the earth as a mark of God's curse, thus showing us that it is through Him alone creation will be brought into its promised blessing. And when, further, we consider the fact that the whole world will yet be filled with blessing, so that every creature shall be blessing and praising God, and "the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea," we have the key to it all in the cross of Christ; for He is presented to us in Scripture as the Saviour of the world. It is when the world is full of blessing that the text will have its evident application — "The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world."
We shall find, on looking at the Scriptures carefully, that an immense deal of the Old Testament yet remains to be fulfilled. If we only think of the first prophecy in the Bible, where God told Satan that he should bruise the heel of the woman's Seed, and that the Seed would bruise his head, it is clear that it has not had its full accomplishment. But it must be fulfilled. The Seed of the woman shall yet bruise the serpent's head. Some may imagine that this has been done by the work of Christ on the cross. But it is not so; for the apostle in writing to the saints at Rome says, "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." It was then a prospective thing, and so it is still. We are also told that "your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour." Perhaps the second prophecy of Scripture was that of Enoch, which we find recorded in Jude: "Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly." This has yet to be fulfilled. The third prophecy in Scripture perhaps, in point of date, was uttered by Job in the well-known passage of the nineteenth chapter — "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth." This, I need not say, has also to be fulfilled. The next prophetic statements we would notice in the ancient Scriptures are the promises to Abraham. In the twelfth chapter of Genesis we read, "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed;" and in the eighteenth chapter, "All the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him." These promises have yet to be accomplished. God is not blessing nations, as such, by the gospel through the seed of Abraham now. He is blessing people by calling them out of the nations; He is taking "out of the Gentiles a people for His name;" so that when the Lord comes, those who are His will be caught up to meet Him in the air, and the nations, as such, will be left untouched. But in the reign of Christ, which we are now about to consider, we shall see that the nations will own Him, for He will be the Governor among the nations. Zechariah tells us, "many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people." Then those of "all the families of the earth" who will not own Jerusalem as the metropolis of blessing in the earth will receive a special judgment.
The Lord Jesus Christ is coming forth to fulfil the word of God concerning these things. Whether it be the Seed of the woman according to Moses, or to come with ten thousand of His saints according to Enoch, or the Redeemer to stand upon the earth according to Job, or as Abraham's seed, to be the Dispenser of blessing to all nations, Jesus is coming to fulfil all. You will find, in reading the Scriptures carefully, that judgment is always put before us as preceding the period of blessing coming upon the earth. There is no question that "the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea." There is not a doubt that the last Psalm will be fulfilled — "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord." The fifth of Revelation must have its accomplishment, that every creature in heaven and on the earth, and under the earth, shall yet be blessing and praising Him that sits on the throne, and the Lamb. But that to which I want particularly to call attention is, that this period of blessedness is always presented to us in Scripture as preceded by terrible judgments. If we think of the ten kingdoms which are in connection with the Roman earth, we know that judgment will usher in the blessing. We read in the second chapter of Daniel, 34th and 35th verses: "Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." Thus we see the whole earth filled with blessing through the terrible judgment of "the stone cut out without hands," which is evidently Christ.
Israel, too, will be in the deepest trouble and sorrow, as we shall see by-and-by, many of whom will be cut off, before the remnant are brought into their expected blessing through Messiah's coming and deliverance. Look also at Christendom — that which outwardly confesses the name of Christ; the tares are bound in bundles, and cast out of the kingdom, with all iniquity, in order that the promised blessing in the earth may be given. And you will remember, when we were lately considering the fact of the Lord coming out of heaven with all His saints, according to the 19th chapter of Revelation, we saw that His first act will be terrible judgment; He will take the beast and the false prophet, and cast them alive into the lake of fire; and then slay the kings and people, calling on all the birds of the air to feed upon the carcasses of these allies of this master-piece of Satan's iniquity. The Lord having thus, by the brightness of His glorious coming, judged at once in the most summary manner this intolerable iniquity, He will go on to judge and rule until all enemies are put under His feet. As we read in the second of Thessalonians — "He shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel." Jude speaks of Him as "executing judgment on the ungodly;" and the prophet Malachi, in his last chapter, says, "The day cometh that shall burn as an oven; . . . 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." The sixty-third chapter of Isaiah opens with a picture of the Lord executing His righteous judgments upon living people on the earth: Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in His apparel, travelling in the greatness of His strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine-fat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come." Now observe here, that with the "vengeance" we have also "mighty to save," and "the year of my redeemed is come," — precisely the same as we saw in Malachi, that the Lord's judgment of the wicked will precede the blessing coming upon the earth. The forty-sixth Psalm evidently refers to the same point. It is the utterance of those who have made God their refuge and strength in a time of special trouble. They are sustained by trust in God. Therefore they will not fear, whatever judgments may come upon the earth. They have a secret spring of joy and blessing. They know that "there is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations He hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."
The blessing will be very great. Satan will be bound. The twentieth chapter of Revelation opens with it in the first and second verses: "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." We can easily imagine what an immense difference this will make on the moral condition of the world. The Lord too will be reigning not only restraining evil, but positively filling the earth with blessing.
We may notice two things in relation to the reign of Christ. First, the judgment of the Lord on His enemies; secondly, the people of Israel brought to know Jesus as their Redeemer, through whom blessing will be extended to the nations. We have already noticed the teaching of Scripture as to the binding of Satan, and the judgment of the living wicked, and may advert to it again by-and-by. We will now, however, look a little at the bright side of the picture.
When the Jews see Jesus, and not before, like Thomas, they will say, "My Lord, and my God." Israel will therefore be converted by sight. The sinner now is saved by faith. "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." It is when the Redeemer comes out of Sion that He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. When God works again in the hearts of the people of Israel, a nation will be born at once. The Scriptures will then be fulfilled — "Thy children shall be all taught of God," and "thy people also shall be all righteous." It will be the "regeneration" when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory, referred to in Matthew 19. Then will the 133rd Psalm be fulfilled: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard; and as the dew of Hermon." Israel will be made willing in the day of Christ's power, and will really be a Christian nation. Those who expect the Jews as a nation to be converted before the personal coming of the Lord will be disappointed. When He comes again in power and great glory, He will put His ancient people in the enjoyment of that which was promised to Abraham and his seed. Not one iota shall fail. Israel shall be established in their land in rich blessing under the true David, and under the anti-typical Solomon. Solomon began his reign by taking vengeance on his enemies, and then brought the people into a higher character of power and glory than they ever knew before; and so the Lord Jesus, a greater than Solomon, shall first, by His great power, put His enemies under His feet, and then arise as the Sun of righteousness, and shine in brightness, and healing, and blessing upon His ancient people.
In giving, beloved friends, a hasty sketch tonight of the millennial reign of Christ, I shall only be able to touch on a few important points. But sure am I that if a soul only apprehend one of these divine truths as revealed in the Scriptures, it will be like taking up a link of a long golden chain, which will guide him from link to link until he is taught more fully the mind of the Lord, and the value of His prophetic word. Remember, beloved friends, I am not speaking fanciful or imaginary things tonight; I am not seeking to amuse the intellect with either poetry or fiction; I am presenting to you the word of the living God. Many in this room have proved the comfort and blessedness of these truths for many years, and our earnest wish is to extend to our beloved fellow Christians the same comfort we have realized, as connected with a proper understanding of these gracious revelations of God in the Scriptures.
From the first chapter of Colossians I read two verses, in which it appears we are taught, first, that Christ has made peace by the blood of His cross, and secondly, that the results of that work on the cross have both a present and a future application. As to its present application, we know that the person who believes is already reconciled to God; but observe that in the 20th verse it is not persons that are spoken of, but things which are to be reconciled. And so in the first chapter of the Ephesians it does not say, "to gather together all believers in one," though, as regards the Church, that would be true; but what the apostle is glorying in here is that God, who has so blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ, has made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He has purposed in Himself, that He might gather together in one all things (mark, THINGS) in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in Him. When? "In the dispensation of the fulness of times;" that is, I apprehend, when the times for many things will have fully come. Nothing can be more simple. Everything was made by Christ, and for Christ, both Colossians and Hebrews tell us; and when He takes to Himself His great power and reigns, it will be manifest that every department of the kingdom will be blessed through Christ, and be headed up in Christ.
There are four points to which I would like, as briefly as I can, to call attention in relation to the blessings of the millennial reign of Christ. The first is the position of the Church, and those saints who will reign with Christ. The second the glory, peace, and pre-eminence that Israel as a nation will occupy during the reign. The third, the blessing of the Gentile nations. The fourth, the deliverance of creation.
With regard to the Church of God, I have already, as far as the limits of one address would allow, entered into her coming glory. Her place in the kingdom will be association with Christ Himself, sharing His glory, and still being in holy and happy subjection. When He has brought everything into subjection to Himself, He will deliver up the kingdom to His Father, and God shall be all in all. The place of the Church in the kingdom is not on earth, but in the heavens. "As is the heavenly," says the apostle, "such are they also that are heavenly." It requires very little spiritual perception to see that heavenly people are one thing, and earthly people another. We are told that "the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another:" both are spheres of glory, each having a department in the one kingdom Christ the centre, Christ the source, Christ the glory and blessing beaming through all. He reigns over the nation of Israel, we reign with Christ. We have a beautiful little picture of millennial glory in the history of Joseph, as recorded in the 41st chapter of Genesis. Joseph, while separated from his brethren, married a Gentile wife. When exalted from the suffering of deep humiliation into the place of glory, he was enabled to bring his brethren into the fatness of the land of Egypt, and all the Egyptians were called on to "bow the knee" when Joseph drove through the land. Here we have in Joseph, with his wife by his side, a picture of Christ and the Church; in Joseph's brethren we have the sons of Israel, who had sold him, reconciled to Him, and brought into blessing, as Israel will be by-and-by; and in the Egyptians we have a picture of the nations who will yet bow the knee to Jesus. They will own Christ as the giver of all their blessings, as the Egyptians acknowledged they were indebted to Joseph for all the blessings they then enjoyed.
With regard to Israel, it is almost difficult to know to what part of the old Scriptures to turn first (the references to their future glory being so numerous), to show the peculiar blessedness of their calling and expectation when they inhabit the land under the rule of the true David. But if we turn, in the first place, to the sixtieth chapter of Isaiah, we shall see there one allusion. "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. The multitudes of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall show forth the praises of the Lord. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory. Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows? Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because He hath glorified thee. And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee. Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious. The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations. Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings: and thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob. For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness. Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended." Now it is utterly impossible to apply this language to any other than the Jewish nation — in fact, as we have seen, the prophet Isaiah addresses himself directly to them. The first words in this book are, "The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem." And when we find other parts of Scripture predicting a time of wonderful blessing for this ancient people, we cannot be surprised that the verses to which I have drawn attention should speak of the high character of the blessing and glory which they will enjoy in their own land. The temple will evidently be built prior to this, because, you will remember, the abomination that the man of sin sets up is in the holy place.
The children of Israel will be brought back to their own land in unbelief. They will attend outwardly to the earthly religiousness which characterizes Israel.
The false Messiah, the man of sin, will introduce himself among them through the power of Satan. The people will be bewitched by him. After some time he will thrust aside the daily sacrifice, and set up an idol — the image that we were lately looking at in the thirteenth chapter of Revelation in the temple, and people will be compelled to fall down and worship "the man of sin." The Lord will come and find this condition of things. Independently of judging "the man of sin," He will bring the third part of His people through this scene of remarkable and unparalleled tribulation. He will cut off two-thirds in judgment, and bring the remaining third into their promised blessing in the land; then, as we find in the latter part of Ezekiel, the land will be afresh marked out, the temple be re-built according to the directions given there, though not on its former site, but at a considerable distance from Jerusalem. Living waters will go out from Jerusalem; they will know Christ to be their King, their true David; and they will realize all those wonderful glories on the earth — glories so marvellous that it seems the terrestrial will be a counterpart of the glories of the celestial, the characteristics of the one being earthly, the characteristics of the other being heavenly. Jesus will "reign before His ancients gloriously," and Isaiah 60 have its accomplishment, "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee," etc. But with all this wondrous blessing, the condition of things will not be perfect. There will be sin and curse, and consequently death. There will be old age and infirmity. The sixty-fifth chapter of Isaiah tells us that "the sinner an hundred years old shall be accursed;" and the prophet Zechariah tells us, in the eighth chapter, "There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age."
Moreover, the millennial reign of Christ, which is called in the Old Testament the day of the Lord, and called also in the New Testament by the apostle Peter, in his third chapter of the second epistle, "the day of the Lord," and "the day of God," will have its morning, its noon, and its evening, and will occupy a thousand years. The apostle, in the twentieth chapter of Revelation, says, "They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years;" and the apostle Peter seems to confirm this when he says, "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." It is evident that the blessings upon mankind will then be so great on the earth, that longevity will again be known; so that "there shall be no more thence an infant of days . .. . for the child shall die an hundred years old." It does not seem improbable that some may live through the whole of the thousand years.
The morning of this millennial age, as we have seen, will be ushered in with darkness, and sorrow, and wailing, with the putting of enemies under Christ's feet. "Every eye shall see Him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him." It will be a day that will burn as an oven. But the mid-day will be characterized by peace, and unity, and rest. Fertility and fruitfulness will be marvellously increased. According to the prophet Amos, "The ploughman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God." The prophet Micah also refers to this subject. He says in the fourth chapter and third verse, "He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it. . . . In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; and I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast off a strong nation: and the Lord shall reign over them from henceforth, even for ever." The natural sun, too, shall shine with sevenfold light. And no wonder; for if he hid himself, and thus cast such solemn gloom around the cross of the blessed Lord when making atonement for sin, so that "there was darkness over the whole land from the sixth to the ninth hour; when He comes in glory, no wonder, I say, that the sun should shine forth with sevenfold lustre at the exaltation of that blessed Saviour who was so humbled on the cross at Calvary. In the thirtieth chapter of Isaiah we find, "Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the Lord bindeth up the breach of His people, and healeth the stroke of their wound." But more than that, the temple, according to Ezekiel, being rebuilt, certain of the feasts (not all of them, for obvious reasons,) will be again celebrated by the people of Israel. Sacrifices, too, will be offered according to the fifty-first Psalm, and the feast of tabernacles will be especially kept, as we learn from the fourteenth chapter of Zechariah. If we turn for a few moments to this chapter in Zechariah we shall find many interesting points on this subject plainly revealed. In the first place, as to the actual coming, the personal, visible corning of Christ to the earth, we are told in the fourth verse that "He shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives." How is it possible for any one, who wishes to prove that the Lord is not coming personally to stand upon the earth again, to explain this text? of what other interpretation does it admit? More than this, there will be a very great earthquake, and this mount Olivet will cleave asunder. Now mark, it is mount Olivet, not mount Zion. We read, "they that trust in the Lord shall be [not as mount Olivet, but] as mount Zion." Why? because mount Zion abideth for ever, but mount Olivet will cleave asunder, and there will be "a very great valley." Moreover, we are told in the sixth verse, "It shall come to pass in that day that the light shall not be clear nor dark; but it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light," that is, the natural light of the sun, to which I was referring just now, will be vastly augmented. "And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them towards the former sea, and half of them towards the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one." Thus blessing will be dispensed from Jerusalem to all the nations of the earth. "Living waters shall go out." Or, as we read in Isaiah 2, "It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord front Jerusalem." Jerusalem will then be the metropolis of spiritual blessing in the earth. And we find also the prophet Zechariah telling us in the twenty-third verse of the eighth chapter, that "ten men shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you." Besides this, we are told in the fourteenth chapter that judgment will be executed on such of the nations as do not thus own Jerusalem.
In the sixteenth verse we have reference to the feast of tabernacles, and are told that the people will go up to Jerusalem from year to year, to keep the feast and worship the King the Lord of hosts. This will be a time of blessing, and of holiness too; for "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts." (Zech. 8:20, 21.) It will be a time of indescribable rejoicing; but, as before noticed, it will not be without rule and judgment. "And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain." (ch. 14:17.) So that if a nation refuse to go up to Jerusalem to pay homage to the Lord of glory, the King over all the earth, rain will be withheld from that country. But we know that Egypt is not watered by rain from heaven, therefore there is to be a special judgment on that people. "And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles." It would be no punishment to Egypt to have no rain, because the land there is watered by the overflowing of the Nile; therefore there will be this special judgment on that people, if they do not go up to keep the feast of tabernacles. We see too that the enemies, according to God's promise, will be completely removed out of the land. What Israel failed to do Jesus will accomplish. "And in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts." The Lord Himself will be there filling the whole of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel with blessing, which will also be dispensed by Israel to all the nations of the earth. The people of Israel will then have their proper place as head of all the nations of the earth, not as they now are under God's displeasure, humiliation, and judgment.
With regard to the creation, we are told in the eighth chapter of Romans that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." There is not an animal upon the earth that is exempt from pain; but we are told in the twenty-first verse that there is to be a different state of things — "Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty [or liberty of the glory] of the children of God." This is to my mind the key to the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, and other portions which speak of the wonderful blessings of creation that will be connected with the reign of Christ. We are told in Isaiah, that when the King reigns in righteousness, "the wolf also shall dwell with the Lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the failing together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." This will have a literal accomplishment; so that not only the Church of God, and Israel, and the nations, but creation also will be brought into marvellous blessing. The Lord will be King over all the earth. And not only will He bring every thing into subjection to Himself, and put all enemies under His feet, but the whole earth will be filled with blessing. All the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. All nations will call Him blessed. Well might the psalmist exclaim in anticipation of that day, "Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord: for He cometh, for He cometh to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth." The same time is described also in the eighth Psalm: "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!" Well may Israel sing then, "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all my diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; who satisfied thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's." The 98th Psalm also refers to millennial times. "O sing unto the Lord a new song; for He hath done marvellous things: His right hand, and His holy arm, hath gotten Him the victory. The Lord hath made known His salvation: His righteousness hath He openly shewed in the sight of the heathen (Gentiles). He hath remembered His mercy and His truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise." In the book of Revelation, too, we find reference to the same period. In the latter part of the fifth chapter we read, "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." Then, according to the epistles of Colossians and Ephesians, all things, whether things in heaven or things on earth, will be reconciled unto Himself. Then all things will be gathered together in one in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in Him. So much for the mid-day glory of the millennial reign of Christ. Now for a word as to the shades of evening, the closing part of the thousand years.
At the end, Satan, who has been bound, will be let loose for a little season. The result will be, that after men have experienced the untold blessings of the millennial age, they will again yield to Satan's temptation, and readily fall in with his suggestions. Such is man! Myriads of them will enlist under the banner of the great deceiver, according to the twentieth of Revelation, and encompass the camp of the beloved saints at Jerusalem. You will notice that there will be saints then on the earth. The result of Satan's deception will be, that the Lord, after His reign of a thousand years over the earth, will call down fire from heaven in consuming judgment on those who have been thus led astray, "the number of whom is as the sand of the sea." And more than this: He will then take Satan, and cast him into the lake of fire, where he is to be tormented day and night for ever and ever. In this way the first prophecy of Scripture will have its fulfilment. Satan will be bruised for ever under the feet of the Lord Jesus, and, blessed be His name, under our feet too.
There is one thing more, which closes the reign of Christ; it is the judgment of the wicked dead. Every one, from the first person who died in his sins, will then be judged; the dead must then hear the voice of the Son of God, and come forth. So particular is the instruction, that they are called "the dead, small and great." If they should be at the bottom of the sea, they must come up; wherever they are, in the grasp of death and hell (or hades), they must be delivered up. If they have fallen, and perished in some secret place, without a human eye to see them in the article of death; if they have fallen into a ravine, or perished in the desert, or their burial-place never have been known to man, it matters not; death and hades (the place of departed spirits) must give them up at the command of Jesus. These dead — meaning all unsaved people, dead in trespasses and sins will be brought up at the resurrection of judgment; they will be judged, each person, small and great, according to their works. They will stand before God. The books will be opened. One book — the book of remembrance, I doubt not — is to show the judged ones at a glance their own history: "I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes." Another book will be there, which, I believe, is the Bible. Jesus said, "The word that I speak unto you shall judge you in that day." There will be a third book — the Book of Life — to show them that their names are not written therein, to convict them that they never received Christ for eternal life; for there could not be written in the Book of Life the names of any who are without Christ. Christ is "the life," and those who are in Christ have their names written in that book. These three witnesses the book of remembrance, the Bible, and the Lamb's Book of Life — will silence for ever those who stand before that throne; and with deepest anguish and remorse will they hear the Lord's "Depart," and be cast away for ever from His presence; for "whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire." Then death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed. The last act in the reign of Christ will be to cast death and hades into the lake of fire. They will no more be wanted. The last enemy is thus destroyed; the victory of Christ is now complete.
On the commencement of the session of the great white throne, we are told, as you will remember, that the heaven and the earth flee away. The awful conflagration mentioned by the apostle Peter will both burn up the earth and all man's works in it. No footprint of sinful man shall remain to mar the new condition of things that will follow. No flesh shall glory in His presence is and ever will be a divine axiom. Heaven and earth in their present state will then literally pass away, but will be followed by a fulfilment of the first verse of the 21st chapter of Revelation. "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." This verse introduces us to the eternal state.
The end of things as they now are shows us that God has done everything according to divine righteousness. The salvation of the sinner has been by grace through righteousness, God having accomplished redemption by righteously dealing with Christ, the sinner's Substitute, on the cross. Having then righteously condemned sin in the flesh, it became a righteous thing for God to raise Him up from the dead and give Him glory, and also to raise us up together with Him. Thus "grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." And in condemning the sinner to eternal burning for his sins, it also is an act of divine righteousness, and is final, and must be for ever. No finite being will ever be able to drink up all the cup of God's infinite hatred to sin. No suffering of the creature could ever satisfy the demands of divine righteousness. The Son of God did that, and He alone could. The judgment of the wicked being according to righteousness, it must be for ever. They must drink the cup of God's unmixed wrath and indignation. They will therefore be in outer darkness, far from God's holy presence, and be tormented for ever and ever.
After righteous judgment has done its work, as we have seen, there will be "a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." Sin will then have for ever passed away, and righteousness will dwell. There will be no imperfection in these new places; no infirmity, nor curse, nor sorrow, nor death shall stain these hallowed regions. We are told in the fourth verse; "And God shall wipe away all tears froth 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." Satan will have been for ever cast into the pit of eternal misery with all his associates, man for ever blessed, God for ever glorified; all the former things will have for ever passed away, and God have made all things new. It is a remarkable fact, that in the new earth there will be no more sea. Now it seems as if the vast sheets of water rolling between the various kingdoms were often a means of keeping nations peaceable, which would not be so if they were more accessible to each other; to say nothing of the impossibility of animal life being sustained without sea, as we are at present constituted. In the eternal state God will find rest; all will be according to His mind. We are told that "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." The tabernacle of God I take to be the Church; we find her spoken of in the previous verse: "I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Observe, we do not get the Lamb spoken of here; for it is the eternal state, the kingdom has been delivered up unto the Father, and God is all in all. Neither have we "nations," which had their origin in Babel's pride, but it is "men" — "the tabernacle of God is with men." Thus "men" will enjoy the presence and blessing of God as far as creature capabilities will allow. Not only will every thing like sorrow and death be for ever expunged from the earth, but God will be continually giving forth fresh blessings. Hence the promise, "I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." Thus God will be constantly blessing, and satisfying the desires of His people. All there:
"Will, from the rivers of His grace,
Drink endless pleasures in."
But, side by side with this brightest, happiest picture of man in eternal blessing, we have also the misery of the unbeliever. This is again introduced here, as it appears to me, in order that there might be no room for a question as to the perpetuity of their condemnation. "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." Can any thing be more conclusive? Be assured, there is no coming out of that pit. It is impossible; for divine judgment and righteousness have put them there. There is no warrant in Scripture for purgatorial fire. Nor can we imagine that the blessed Lord would have repeated five times within the coin-pass of a few verses the conclusive statement, "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched," had He not intended to show the final and eternal doom that awaited the guilty and lost. Intelligent Jews doubtless understood to what He alluded. In
Israel's former days of impiety large fires were lighted in the valley of the son of Hinnom, through which they caused their children to pass as for instance in Manasseh's day. After this abomination was given up, the same pits, say in Josiah's day, were used for throwing offal and other impurities, and there worms might often be seen devouring food. But in our Lord's time it is easy to believe, that not only had the fires been extinguished, but the worms had disappeared. In the eternal scene, however, to which our Lord pointed, the fire would never be put out, nor the worm cease. It is a place "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." Alas! for the misery that awaits the unbeliever. Can any room be possibly left for a question as to their eternal condemnation? Did not our Lord say, "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath, of God ABIDETH [think of that word abideth] ON HIM"?
May God in His infinite mercy deal with any unsaved souls in this hall tonight! He still preaches peace through Jesus Christ. The arms of Jesus are wide open to welcome poor sinners. His gracious words are as fresh, as fervent, as attractive as ever — "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." If any sinner on the face of the earth, however deeply plunged in guilt, desires salvation, that blessed sinner-loving Jesus in glory is still able to save, and still delights in mercy. But when once He has risen up, and has shut to the door, many who are now deaf to His voice of mercy, and refuse His words of grace, will come knocking in bitterest anguish, and find it is too late
Again, my friends, you have heard tonight of the wrath of God, the judgment, and eternal misery that await the wicked. Some of you know that you are at this moment treading the broad way to everlasting destruction. Let me, then, once more beseech you to accept the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, believing God's unerring testimony to His finished work as having made a just atonement for all your sins. Then you will be able joyfully to sing,
"The cross, the cross! oh, that's my gain;
For there it was the Lamb was slain;
'Twas there my Lord was crucified,
'Twas there my Saviour for me died."
Then you will be able to serve Christ, and it will be your joy to wait for His return from heaven. Those who are occupied with Christ will not think it a hard thing to walk in separation from what dishonours Him. We must be abiding in Him, if we would live for Him; and the more His personal and moral glories occupy our hearts, the more shall we desire to see His face. He has assured us that He will come again, and come quickly, and that until He come His grace is sufficient for us. What other response then, beloved friends, to all this mercy becomes us? Can we, do we from our hearts say, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly"?