Time or Eternity? ™

A distinction between The end of the World and The end of the Age.

In The end of the AGE, The Last Days, The Second Advent on March 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm

The end of the world, which synchronizes with the last judgment, is doubtless a long ways off. If the writer’s conception of the teaching of the prophets is correct, a whole Millennium of peace and blessing on the earth shall intervene before it takes place. On the other hand, the end of the present age or dispensation may be very near.  The Scofield Reference Bible defines age or “dispensation” as “a period of time during which man is tested in respect to obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God,” and states that seven such dispensations are distinguished in Scripture.  The present age or dispensation closes with the Second Coming of Christ.  This event, as we understand it, takes place in two stages, or which may be represented by two scenes of a single act. In the first, our Lord comes for His Church, which is His mystical body (Ephesians I. 22, 23), and which is translated to meet Him in the air (1 Thess. IV. 16-18). In the second, He descends out of the air into the earth, or to quote the precise words of Scripture, “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” (2 Thess. I. 7, 8). The culmination of wickedness at the end of this age, it is predicted, will be marked by an outburst of demonism or spiritism just as at the culmination of the ante-diluvian age. To such predictions the attention of the reader has been called from time to time and they approach a climax as we enter on the study of the Apocalypse.  Prior to entering on that study however, it is important* to be persuaded that, as Pember puts it, the great aim of* Satan in all the ages has not been the spread of absolute skepticism, but the subjugation of the world to demoniacal power. His empire, in other’words, can not be completely organized till men are as obedient to demons as the latter are to the rebel principalities and powers, and these last again to their great prince. “And so the denizens of darkness are not merely stirring up an aimless revolt against God; but would fain annex the whole of our world to their orderly dominions.” Philip Mauro, in “The World and Its God,” puts it in another way, when he says that Satan’s plan is not the destruction or injury of the race, but its well-being rather, that is, its well-being to be achieved by the best possible results attainable apart from God. He is doing his best, in other words, not to drag men down, but to lift them up, but according to his own standards and ideals, and for the advancement of his own interests as opposed to God. Such being true, it may appear strange to read of some things for which evil spirits are scheduled in the history of mankind at the close of this age, and in which Satan himself is to be engaged when he learns that his time is short. But the reason is that his time is short, and because he is tasting the bitterness of defeat. It is because also of his malignity and his lack of scruple in subjugating the victims of his will. Nor are we to forget the plan and purpose of our righteous God, in using, or permitting the use, of these wicked beings in retribution upon those who being reprobate, have “trodden under foot the Son of God and done despite unto the Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10: 29).  Approaching the book of Revelation, we have in the ninth chapter, beginning at the 13th verse, an account of the sounding of the sixth trumpet when the four angels are loosed “which are bound at the great river Euphrates.” These angels had been “prepared for the hour, and day, and month and year that they should kill the third part of man,” which seems to mean that they had been reserved for a particularly appointed moment. In other words, following Bullinger in The Apocalypse, or The Day of the Lord, these periods do not imply the duration of the judgments; but point to the time when they shall take place. There is but one article and one preposition between the four times named, which unites them, whereas had they been repeated it would have separated them and made a period of thirteen months. The very hour, of the very day, of the very month, of the very year is thus appointed by the Judge.  Why they were bound at the river Euphrates we do not know, except that there may be some connection between the abyss whence they arise and wicked old Babylon, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth (Rev. XVII. 5). Satan began his earlier activities in the earth in that region, and there may be a reason for bringing them to a climax in the same locality. (Compare Jeremiah XLVI. 4-10 R.V.)

Suddenly there appear upon the scene armies of horsemen, 200,000,000, from which it may be inferred that they are not human beings but spirits, for spirits are legion. In Isaiah XXXI. we have a warning that the horses of Egypt in which Israel would trust were “flesh and not spirit,” which leads to the supposition that there may be horses that are spirit and not flesh. More than this concerning them one is unable to say, but “when God thus describes them nothing ought to be easier than to believe what He says.” The Revelation goes on to say that by these three plagues, “fire, smoke and brimstone” was the third part of men killed, but that the rest of the men who were not killed, “repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, nor idols  which can neither see, nor hear nor walk.  It is the final and full development of what is called Spiritism which is here referred to, continues Bullinger, and which calls for the plague of the Sixth Trumpet. “Sorceries of which men did not repent,” are the dealings of men with spirit agencies. No wonder that God has so solemnly warned us against them, and no wonder that such awful judgments are to be visited upon them.  It is anticipating somewhat, but it may be well to mention at this point that sorcerers shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, and they shall never walk in the streets of the golden city. (Rev. XXI. 8; XXII. 15.) The twelfth chapter of Revelation furnishes our next illustration, which tells us at verse 7 that “there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels.” There is more than one place spoken of as heaven in Scripture. Perhaps as on earth there are many countries and states, so, some think, heaven may have its different spheres; and in one of these mighty spiritual forces are here revealed as set in battle array.  Michael, described elsewhere as “one of the chief princes” and “the archangel,” is also said to be the prince which standeth for the Jewish people, Israel among the nations (Dan. X. 13, 21; XII. 1; Jude 9). In this action he takes the initiative against the dragon, another name for Satan, whose dominion covers all the powers and governments of the world.  The time has now come in the Divine counsels for the great historical event of the ages, and Satan, who hitherto has had some kind of access to the heavens (Job I. and II.), is about to be cast out, and “the kingdoms of the world become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation XL 15). But when Satan is thus cast down to the earth, his angels are cast down with him, and they soon cause men to feel the meaning of the awful utterance that follows in the prophetic warning, “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Then not merely the demons, but the great angels of darkness, the principalities, the powers, and the spiritual rulers of the world maddened by the thought that they have lost their fair realms forever, and that the Lord is at hand to complete their destruction, will in their rage break through every restraint, and recklessly gratify their own evil desires. A single illustration further will suffice, and we find it in the prediction of the battle of Armageddon in chapter XVI. beginning at verse 12.  “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates, and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the cast might be prepared.” This gathering of the kings of the east is in order to the great battle in which the heavenly and the Satanic and earthly forces are about to be engaged, an infernal crusade against the Lord and His Anointed (Psalm II). At the sounding of the sixth trumpet we saw a vast supernatural army let loose to slay a third part of men; but here a vast human army is gathered together, the whole of which, as the context shows, will be destroyed by God.  East and West are to be reckoned from the standpoint of the prophecy and not that of the reader, which standpoint is Palestine and Jerusalem. “And I saw,” says the revelator, “three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon (Satan), and out of the mouth of the beast (Antichrist), and out of the mouth of the false prophet.” (“For the further description and identity of the false prophet, see chapter XIII. 11-18.)  “For they are the spirits of demons, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” (Compare 1 Kings XXII. 19-38; Joel III. 9-17.)  “And they gather them together to a place in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon (or Har-Magadon).” The name means a Mount of Megiddo, an eminence which rises up out of the plain Esdraelon in northern Palestine, a natural battlefield, where many a contest was fought in the history of Israel; a chosen place of encampment in every contest, from Nebuchadnezzar to the recent march of Allenby into Syria. Slaughter and lamentation are associated with Megiddo (Zachariah XII. li). In Isaiah X. 28, which describes the invasion of Palestine by the Antichrist, the Septuagint version reads “Megiddo.” Having gathered the hosts of the enemy thither, the sixth vial ends, but the description of the events to take place there will be found in connection with the pouring out of the 7th vial as found in Chapter XIX. 11-18.  We conclude with the interjectional clause in this vision, which comes in as a parenthesis. It is the voice of Christ Himself, who, while the demon spirits are gathering the kings and their armies for the last great crisis of the age, exclaims:  “Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”

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