The Kingdom of the Prince of Peace

Notes of an address

We may continue to pray "Thy kingdom come," earnestly and with importunity, for it were never more needed than now, and we have the sure and certain hope that the answer cannot long be delayed. But that prayer will not be answered, nor will that longed-for kingdom come by the spread of the gospel and the conversion of the world as is popularly supposed, for if that were to precede His coming then all the nations of the earth would be ready to meet the King when at last He should appear, and would receive Him with songs of gladness. But as we "seek out the book of the Lord, and read," we discover that the very opposite will be the case. "Behold, He comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: AND ALL KINDREDS OF THE EARTH SHALL WAIL BECAUSE OF HIM. Even so, Amen" (Rev. 1:7). Why should they wail instead of sing at the sight of Him? Because they will not be ready to meet Him, and will be filled with terror when they see Him. But why should this be? Because of the character of His coming. He will come to judge the nations. He will come as the Faithful and the True to judge and make war in righteousness (Rev. 19:11). 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 of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power" (2 Thess. 1:7-9). Solemn statements these, plainly indicating that the world, especially in those parts of it where the gospel is preached, will continue to refuse that gospel, and to ignore the claims of God until His fierce and righteous judgments burst upon it.

Then when those forces of evil that have been opposed to God and His Christ have been utterly broken in the "winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God" (Rev. 19:15), His kingdom shall come, and the restless fevers of the world shall be quieted, its deep groanings hushed, and its sore sickness healed by the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, and the golden era of peace for which the saints of God have sighed throughout the ages shall dawn at last for this troubled creation.

The Light of the Lord an Universal Disarmament

Exceedingly beautiful are those passages in the Word that describe this coming kingdom. The first that we will consider is found in Isaiah 2:1-5.

"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 from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; 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. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord."

All the efforts of men to bring about such a state of things as this have utterly failed, and the greatest achievements of science and education in which they have boasted with a presumptuous pride, and which they imagined would lift them at last into a millennium of human glory, are being pushed to their utmost limits to devise fresh and more frightful ways of destroying life, and the whole energy of all industry is being subordinated to war. Senates, universities, laboratories, factories and foundries united in one purpose, brain and brawn combined at last, not to uplift but to cast down, not to dry tears but to shed blood; and the roar of the furnace in the homelands and the shrieking of the shells over the stricken fields, where the warm blood of the world's manhood is flowing, are but the echoes of the laughter of demons over the blindness of men, who thought they were wise when they chose their own way and refused to walk in the light of the Lord.

But the day is surely coming when those upon the earth, who through the mercy of God shall have been delivered from the judgment that shall come upon it, shall say, "Come, and let us go to the house of the Lord, and He will teach us of His law," and if they learn of Him they will become like Him, and they will walk in His ways, and these are ways of pleasantness and peace. He is the Prince of Peace and He will stamp His character upon His kingdom and men shall learn war no more.

"Before Him on the mountains
Shall peace, the herald, go;
And righteousness in fountains
From hill to valley flow."

That age of peace shall be AN AGRICULTURAL AGE; men will go back to the land, and God's primal purpose for man upon the earth shall come into effect (Gen. 2:15), and forge and anvil shall no longer groan and toll the death of millions, but shall ring out their gladness in unison with the songs of the field and vineyard.

The prophecy of Micah (chap. 4:4) tells us further that "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 has spoken it."

Every man will have his own holding, whether large or small we do not know; but this at least is evident from the Passage, each will be contented with that which is given to him. I do not say that his heart will be satisfied with his earthly possession, for nothing here below can satisfy the heart. Alexander the Great conquered and possessed the world, and then wept like a disappointed baby because there was no more world to conquer. But if earthly possessions cannot satisfy the heart, God can, and when Christ reigns supreme He will not only fill the earth with peace but fill the hearts of men with satisfaction, for He will fill their hearts with the love of God. So we read for this present time "Godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Tim. 6:6). No godless man is contented no matter how vast his possessions, but when God becomes our exceeding great reward we at once become contented with our lot. So in that age shall men find their joy in God, whose loving-kindness will be plainly told in the sway of Christ the King.

"And none shall make them afraid," but "ye shall call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree" (Zech. 3:10). And the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.

They will sleep in peace at night when the day's glad work is done, and locks and bolts and bars and watch-dogs will be needed no more, for where all are contented none will want to steal. And none will keep what he possesses for himself alone, for each will love his neighbour as himself. All rivalry will have disappeared from the lives of men, except the rivalry of love, and the skilful agriculturist and vine dresser will not boast that the fruit of his labours are finer than his neighbours, but he will place all his skill at his neighbour's disposal until the yield from his land is as rich as his own. Happy state, resulting from the righteous and beneficent sway of the One whom men crowned with thorns and put upon a cross.

"The Spirit of the Lord" and the Great Change in Men

"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shalt dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the falling together; and a little child shall lead them" (Isa.11).

In Isaiah 2 all outward evidence of hostility between men is abandoned; here the passions that give rise to that hostility are subdued and quelled, for the wolf and the leopard and the young lion represent uncontrolled passions of men; these animals will no doubt cease to be beasts of prey, but a greater change, because moral instead of physical, will take place in men, and this we are taught by the figure used, a little child shall be the leader.

It is an interesting fact that in Matthew's Gospel, in which the Lord Jesus is presented as the King, there is more about the little child than in any of the others, and we are told there, that to become as a little child is the sine qua non for entrance into His Kingdom (Matt. 18). Those who compose that Kingdom will be meek, lowly, gentle, unobtrusive and dependent. So used are we to kingdoms set up and maintained by violence and force that such a kingdom as this is almost unthinkable, and yet this will be the character of the kingdom in which Christ is supreme.

It is a worldly maxim that "the weak go to the wall," and unless a man has grit enough to stand up for his rights he must suffer, and the men who are great and applauded are they who unscrupulously force themselves into the front of the stage, men of ambition and will-power, who carry their designs into effect regardless of the consequences to others.

Who are they who occupy the greatest space in this world's histories? Not the followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, they have no place in them; nor yet the men who have laboured for the good of their fellows, their names are mostly forgotten; but the mighty conquerors, the men who have marched through seas of blood to the goal of their ambitions, and have founded dynasties upon the tears of widows and orphans. To the Napoleons of the world have men paid their greatest tributes and raised their most costly monuments.

It is not the little child that leads now, b1ut this is to be completely changed, for the coming Kingdom will take its character from the King, and He is meek and lowly in heart; He never strove for His rights, but was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and was dumb before His enemies as a sheep is dumb before her shearers. There never was such an exhibition of apparent weakness as that which was seen in the lowly Nazarene when men rose up against Him; and they despised Him for it, for He was not only rejected but despised of men. If He had defended Himself, or even made an effort to do so, they might have respected Him, for is not self-preservation the first law of nature? But He did not use His power, and the bitter taunt that they cast upon Him, as He hung in His last agony upon a malefactor's gibbet, was "Himself He cannot save." This was the jest of Jerusalem on that day.

Need I say to you, that that which they despised as weakness was the very might of God; that there and then omnipotent love, girded for the great conflict, grappled with the powers of darkness, overthrew the dominion of the devil, and gained a signal, overwhelming, and eternal victory.

"By weakness and defeat,

  He won the meed and crown,

Trod all our foes beneath our feet

  By being trodden down."

"The Glory of the Lord" and Abundant Fruitfulness

A third passage descriptive of this coming Kingdom is Isaiah 35.

"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing the glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."

The whole chapter is full of beauty, it tells us of the effect of the shining of the glory of the Lord upon the earth. The blind shall see, the deaf shall hear, the lame shall leap for gladness, and dumb lips shall sing the praise of the Lord, and sorrow and sighing, part of sin's sad brood, shall flee away, and the earth shall rejoice. No need then for vast irrigation schemes to make the earth a fruitful place, for fountains of water shall break forth in the most barren of places; the very desert shall become fragrant with roses, the howling wilderness shall rejoice, and everything that has breath shall sing the triumph of the great Deliverer. All this blessing for the earth and for men rests upon the one foundation — the redemptive work of Christ; and it will all be brought into realization by Him as the great and righteous Administrator. He was once the Lamb upon the cross, He will soon appear as the King upon the throne, and when He rules with equity for the meek of the earth His work upon the throne will be as perfect as that which He accomplished upon the cross.

Now a practical word as to these three Scriptures. There are three expressions prominent in them; they are (1) The Light of the Lord (Isa. 2), (2) The Spirit of the Lord (Isa. 11), (3) The Glory of the Lord (Isa. 35). We have seen the mighty results that these things will bring about in that Coming kingdom, but we are now in the kingdom of God's dear Son (Col. 1), and these things which are present in that kingdom now for us, should have their effect upon us now.

"The light of the Lord" for us is the gospel, it is the revelation of God in grace to us in Christ. That grace revealed to us in the risen Christ, who was delivered for our offences, has brought us into peace, for we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. And we know God as the God of peace, thence should we seek peace and pursue it. As to the nations we cannot escape the sorrow and strife in which they are involved though we may be in spirit apart from it. But we have been set in God's husbandry (1 Cor. 3.), which is His assembly, not there to use the sword and spear of sectarian strife, but the ploughshare and the pruning-hook as labourers together with God in His garden, and thus be contributing to the prosperity of those who are precious to Him.

When we believed the gospel we received the Holy Ghost, who forms within us "the spirit of the Lord," that we may manifest it to our fellow believers and before the world. It is only thus that we shall be known as His. Instead of the passions that once marked us — "hatred, malice, emulation, strife, envy," we shall bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, and manifest the meekness and gentleness of Christ. It will be our pleasure also to behold "the glory of the Lord," and as we do so we shall be transformed into His image (2 Cor. 3). Our hearts that were once a veritable Sahara for barrenness will become fruitful and fragrant to God, and out of our lives, once only evil, will break forth streams of refreshing, for did not the Lord Himself say of those who drink of Him, "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7).

If we are living in the power of these things we shall be of use to weary hearts in this sad and cruel world, and for the Lord's glory during the time of His absence. And it is by these things that we hold the fort for Him until He comes.

Thank God we know Him well who is coming, and we can raise our joyful voices together and say of Him: "TO HIM WHO LOVES US, AND HAS WASHED US FROM OUR SINS IN HIS BLOOD, AND MADE US A KINGDOM, PRIESTS TO HIS GOD AND FATHER: TO HIM BE THE GLORY AND THE MIGHT TO THE AGES OF THE AGES. AMEN" (Rev. 1:5-6, N.Tr.).