Things to Come

A correspondent asks us to place in order the events that are to happen upon earth after the translation of the church to heaven. We here endeavour to do this.

The prophetic Scriptures divide the earth into three parts, namely: (1) the land of Israel; (2) the Roman world, throughout which the Christian faith has been promulgated; and (3) the nations that have remained heathen. Though all three come into view more or less in the Revelation, the first is dealt with mainly in the Old Testament and the Synoptic Gospels, while the judgments on the Roman world are given in the Revelation, though references are also made to it in the Book of Daniel. The Old Testament gives us the history of the Jew, and so naturally there is given the sufferings and final glory of that nation. In the New Testament the history of the gospel and the church are given, and here the blessed destiny of those who have received, and the doom of those who have rejected or perverted what God has given at so great a cost, is foretold.

The great event which forms the true hope of the church now on earth is the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to translate her to heaven. This must take place before the events which we here enumerate take place. When He comes personally to earth to reign for a thousand years His church will come forth with Him, and it must be with Him to come forth with Him.

First, then, the church is translated to heaven at the descent of the Lord to the air for her (1 Thess. 4:16-17), when all His saints will be changed into His likeness (1 Cor. 15:51-55; Phil. 3:21). At this time the Lord will present the church to Himself, a glorious church (Eph. 5:27); and each saint forming that church will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive His estimate of their whole lives.

This brings us to Revelation 4, where God appears as the eternal and self-existing One who has created all things for His own pleasure, and who is about to assert His rights which have been denied by men upon the earth, and to reconcile all things in heaven and on earth to Himself that He might find His pleasure in them. In Revelation 5 the Lord appears as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who, having been slain as the sacrificial Lamb, alone is worthy and able to bring this about for God. He takes the seven-sealed scroll of judgment from the hand of God to open the seals of it and to execute the judgments therein written.

Anarchy with the attendant suffering, misery, follows the opening of the seals, in, we judge, the professedly Christian lands, for they speak of the Lamb (v. 16), a title by which the Lord is only known where the gospel has been preached. This condition of things is not due to the direct judgment of God, but seems to be the outcome of the unrestrained development of the pretentious and promising schemes by men for their own betterment apart from God. Their wisdom turns out to be folly, and the way that seems right to them ends in death (Prov. 16:25). This condition of things opens the way for the rise of the Beast — the devil-inspired empire and its ruthless head.

The Fall of Great Powers is indicated under the Trumpets (Rev. 8) in the same sphere as that affected by the seals, but the awful calamities seem to spread to heathen lands in chapter 9, as indicated by the fact that idolatry comes into the catalogue of crimes in verse 29. We see in these visions a world that has refused God and His Christ at the mercy of men's passions and the malice of demons.

Palestine peopled with Jews. At this time the Jews will be fully established in Palestine under the protection of a maritime nation (Isa. 18).

Satan cast out of Heaven. The seat of Spiritual Authority that lies behind all great movements in the world is the heavens. Satan occupies this position now (Eph. 2:2; 6:12), though God is above all and only permits evil to go so far. But he is to be cast out of this place by Michael the archangel to make way for the church, which is the Lamb's bride, the holy Jerusalem, for it must eventually have that place for the blessing of the world (Rev. 21:9-27).

The Rise of the Beast. Being cast out of heaven Satan exercises all his power and ingenuity in the reconstruction of the Roman Empire. It comes up out of the anarchy of Revelation 6, and to its head, the Beast, Satan, the Dragon, gives his power, and his seat (Rev. 13), and his authority (v. 2). In this person Prussianism, with its godless, blasphemous, diabolical ruthlessness will be intensified, he will devour and break in pieces, and all those who dare to resist his political schemes — the residue — he will stamp beneath his feet (Dan. 7:7).

The intention of Satan in this, his masterpiece, is to hold the kingdoms of the world against the Lord and His Christ, and the ten kingdoms that form the Roman Empire will join in this, and give their power to the Beast in order to make war with the Lamb who is Lord of lords and King of kings (Rev. 17:12-14).

Antichrist will also arise as the great coadjutor of the Beast. He will be an apostate Jew, regarding not the God of his fathers (Dan. 11:37) and will be the leader of the Jews in Jerusalem. The Dragon (Satan), the Beast, and the False Prophet (Antichrist) will form a trinity of evil (Rev. 16:13).

The last week of Daniel's seventy commences. The Prince of the same people, the Romans, who destroyed the temple and city of Jerusalem, i.e. the Beast, will make a covenant with the leaders of the Jews for one week, a week of years, or seven years; this is the last week of the seventy of Daniel's prophecy that still waits to be fulfilled (Dan. 9:20-27). This covenant is referred to in Isaiah 28:14-20 as being on the part of the leaders of the Jews a God-defying covenant. They will at this time believe that they are at last firmly established in their land, and that an era of peace has been inaugurated. They will say, "Peace, and there is no peace." They will build a wall of protection about themselves, and daub it with untempered mortar, but a storm wind will rend it, and great hailstones shall consume it in the wrath of God (Ezek. 13:10-15).

The Great Tribulation. In the midst of the week the Beast will manifest another Prussian characteristic, and treat his covenant with the Jews as "a scrap of paper," to be scorned and torn according to his imperious will. The great tribulation will then begin, which will spend its greatest fury upon the Jews (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:8), but which will also try all that dwell upon the earth (Rev. 3:10). During this period all will be compelled to receive the mark of the beast and worship him, or suffer boycott and death (Rev. 13:16-17). A remnant will be preserved of the power of God (Rev. 12:14, 16).

The Remnant and their Service. At this time there will appear the two witnesses for God at Jerusalem, in the power of Elias (Rev. 11), and the remnant which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 12:17). To these Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21:8-19, 25-33 will apply. The commission given to the apostles in Matthew 10 will be taken up again, and the sufferings and persecutions and martyrdoms there promised will be endured, and by this remnant a people will be prepared amongst the Jews to receive the Lord at His coming, and they "shall not" have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of Man be come" (v. 23). Others will go further afield and preach "this gospel of the kingdom" "in all the world for a witness to all nations" (Matt. 24:14).

Babylon the Great, the corrupt Church of Rome, overthrown. After the translation of the true church to heaven, the false profession in Christendom will all be merged into the Romish church, and this will become more powerful and greater than ever in the past, and as the scarlet woman, corrupt, blood-drunken and splendid, she will ride upon the Beast, the political and military power, but she is to be destroyed as described in Revelation 17 and 18.

The Great Apostasy. Then there will be no semblance of public religion in Christendom or in Jewry (for the Jewish sacrifice will be stopped by the law of the Beast), except the worship of the Beast himself, the exaltation of man above all that is called God. Then the great apostasy will have come to its head (2 Thess. 2:3-12), and the abomination of desolation will be set up in the Temple at Jerusalem, probably an image to the Beast (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15). At this sign those who are faithful to God amongst the Jews in Judea will flee to the mountains (Matt. 24:16).

Invasions of Palestine. Towards the end of the second half of Daniel's last week the King of the South (Egypt) will invade Palestine, in order to attack Antichrist (the wilful king) at Jerusalem. Simultaneously the King of the North will sweep down upon the land and attack the armies from the south and overthrow them and compel the whole force from the South to submit to his will and support his campaign against Jerusalem (Dan. 11:40-45). The King of the North is the Assyrian of Old Testament prophecy, the overflowing scourge.

The Gathering of the Kings for Armageddon.

Revelation 16:13-16 describes how the kings of the whole earth and of the world will be gathered into Palestine at this time, and Joel 3:9-11 foretells that war will be the supreme business of all nations. Various political reasons will doubtless move these kings to march upon the Holy Land, but the object of Satan, who will move behind the scenes so as to involve all in this crisis, is to fight against the Lamb and hold Jerusalem against Him. But God will turn all to His own glory. So that in reality God will gather them there (Zech. 14:2), and will stain the pride of all militarism and glory of men, and smash it for ever outside the city which He has chosen to place His name there. The kings of the East, probably four, with an almost countless host, will gather with others (Rev. 9:13-19; 16:12).

The Coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords. The sudden appearance of the Lord in this character has special reference to the Beast and false prophet and their armies, for the Beast will have assumed this place and title. These two devil-inspired leaders of men are cast into the lake of fire and their armies are destroyed by the word of the Lord (Rev. 19:11-21).

In Flaming Fire taking Vengeance. Simultaneously all who had not obeyed the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which they must have heard to be judged on this ground, whether with the armies of the Beast or not, will be destroyed at the glorious appearing of the Lord (2 Thess. 1:7-9).

His feet shall stand upon Mount Olivet. He shall appear for the salvation of the godly remnant of' Israel who look for Him (Heb. 9:28), and who have fled to the mountains according to His word (Matt. 24:16). In the same manner as, and from the same spot from whence He went up, He shall return (Acts 1:11; Zech. 1:4). And then the Lord will sit to judge the heathen round about (Zech. 14; Joel 3:12-16).

Israel delivered and the Kingdom established. Those of the Jewish nation who have been faithful to Him during the great tribulation now brought to an end by the coming of the Lord will have a special place in His Kingdom, but He will gather the ten tribes also from north, south, east and west (Matt. 24:31), and all Israel shall be saved (Rom. 11:26). The nation born again, and with the law, written in their hearts, shall live to God (Ezek. 37).

The Invasion of the land by Gog and Magog. This invasion of a mighty host from Russia and adjacent lands foretold in Ezekiel 38, 39, after the striking description of the restoration of Israel in chapter 37, appears to take place after Israel has accepted their Messiah, and when they "are at rest and dwell safely" (chap. 38:11). The destruction of these armies is described in chapter 39.

The Judgment of the living nations. The last section of mankind left alive on the earth to be judged of the Lord are those that have been farthest off from Him, morally and spiritually, and who have had the least knowledge of His will, the heathen nations. This judgment is described by the Lord in Matthew 25:31-46. It is not as the Messiah of Israel that He judges these nations, but as Son of man, who is set over all things, and it takes place when He sits upon the throne of His glory in that character. The test for all who stand before Him then and there will be how they have treated His brethren (v. 40), who had preached to the ends of the earth "this gospel of the kingdom," who had been the heralds of His kingdom.

Peace and Blessing will follow which shall be earth-wide, having its centre on earth in Jerusalem, but all the light and wisdom and blessing will come through the heavenly Jerusalem, which is the wife of the Lamb, His helpmeet in the place of administration that is given to Him. And Christ shall be the golden ladder by which the blessing of heaven shall come to earth, and the angels of God shall ascend and descend upon Him (John 1:51).

Principalities and Powers and Dominions, other than those connected with the earth will have to be subdued by Him and reconciled to God (Col. 1:20), for "He must reign, till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death … and when all things shall be subdued to Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject to Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all" (1 Cor. 15:25-28).

The close of the thousand years reveals the fact that millions who had been born during their peaceful course had not been born again, and that they will be in heart and character just what man has ever been since the fall, ready to rebel against God, which they do with great enthusiasm when Satan who had been chained up in the bottomless pit during the millennium is released for a little season (Rev. 20:7-9). The devil is then sent to his eternal doom, the lake of fire (v. 10).

The Great White Throne. This will be the last judgment, the judgment of the dead who have died in their sins, all who stand there have but one judgment; they are shut off from the God whose mercy they had refused and cast into the lake of fire, where the devil is whom they had served (Rev. 20:11-15).

The Eternal State. The earth and the heaven having fled away from the face of the Judge upon the throne, a new heaven and a new earth comes into being, and the "tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall 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. "And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said to me, Write: for these things are true and faithful. And He said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely" (Rev. 21:3-6).