Time or Eternity? ™

Increase of Evil

In The Seven Last Plagues on April 12, 2012 at 8:00 am

Is the world growing better? Are there signs of the approach of a temporal millennium? Is the world being converted to Christ? The tidal wave of crime which is flooding our earth in ever-increasing volume may be taken as one answer to these questions. And not the least in the criminal list is the modern concentration of enormous wealth in the hands of a few “captains of finance.”

These vast fortunes are mainly wrung from the very life-blood of thousands who have gone down in the battle for gold and for bread. It is a crying iniquity of our day, an evil which so far baffles legislation and defies governmental control. But its evils are foretold in the following words of prophecy:—

Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments “The hire of your laborers crieth.”are moth- eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just ; and he doth not resist you.” James 5 :1-6. This condition will not diminish, but will increase as we near the end. That this condition is to immediately precede the second coming of Christ is conclusively shown by referring to the verses that follow. To the true church the apostle says, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient, . . . for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” “Behold, the Judge standeth before the door.” Vss. 7-9.

War, Not Peace.

Yet one of the last-day errors is the teaching that there will come a time of peace and righteousness, when wars will cease and Satan be bound, thus bringing in an era of universal prosperity and happiness upon the earth. Perhaps the strongest argument in favor of a- temporal millennium is built upon the texts found in Isa. 2:2-5 and Micah 4:1-3. Isaiah says that “many people” “in the last days” shall talk about the incoming of a universal peace as the result of the conversion of the world. The marginal reading of Isa. 2:16, calls such talk “pictures of desire,” and says that they shall “be brought low.” See vs. 12. The Following are given, side by side, the sayings of the people, and what Jehovah says:—

WHAT THE PEOPLE SAY.

“And MANY PEOPLE shall go and say, Come ye, 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 plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”  Isa. 2 :2-4. See also Micah 4 :1-3

WHAT JEHOVAH SAYS.

”Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about. . . .”Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3 :9-14)

The apostle Paul states that before “the day of the Lord” -the world will be crying, “Peace and safety.” But while this cry is still going up, “sudden destruction cometh upon them.” (1 Thess. 5:3) This is the New Testament statement of the conditions brought out in the parallel prophecies given above. Universal peace is a very desirable condition to long for, but we should not be deceived into believing that such a desire  is among the possibilities of this earth before the end of the thousand-year period, after the millennium.

Many look forward to The Hague tribunal as a promise of universal world peace. At the last conclave of representatives from the different nations at The Hague, M. Nelidoff, the representative of Russia and who was made the chairman of the conference, made a speech sounding the keynote on behalf of Russia, saying, among other things, that universal peace should be considered as “a star floating far above this mundane sphere, to be always striven for, but never attained.” And that “nations, like individuals, are human, and not the most perfect judicial system ever invented could put an end to strife and violence. When honor and vital interests are at stake, regardless of consequences, neither the former nor the latter will recognize any authority but personal judgment and personal feeling.” And while at The Hague the representatives of the governments of the world .are striving for methods that will peacefully settle all international difficulties, the home government of each nation is burdening the resources of its country with preparations for grim war. Thus the predictions of prophecy are being literally fulfilled before us.

Speaking of these times John says, “The nations were angry.” (Rev. 1 1 : 18) The nations are angry. They are jealous of one another, each fearing that the other will gain some advantage in power, trade, or an increase of territory; hence the mustering of armies and the manufacture of implements of warfare with a death-dealing capacity marvelous in accuracy and power. Never were nations arming themselves for war as at the present time.  Nations do not make such preparations for war without a purpose. A nation cannot go on always arming and never fighting. At some time the storm will burst in its fury, and all past wars will sink into insignificance before that conflict. In the last great struggle, the “mighty ones of God” (see Joel 3:11) will take part. Says another prophet: “The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee afar off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.” (Isa. 17 : 12, 13)

God’s People Sealed.

As illustrated in our Saviour’s parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt. 13:24-30), the righteous and the wicked will occupy the earth together until “the time of harvest,” at “the end of this world.” But when the last note of mercy has been sounded, and all have made their final decision, there will be a separation “between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not.” (Mal. 3:18) John writes, “And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” (Rev. 7:2,3) This same scene is described in Eze. 9:3,4, in the following words:— “And He called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side; and the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.” Probation ceases when God’s commandment-keeping people are sealed for the kingdom, and then the destiny for both the righteous and the wicked is sealed for time and for eternity. This settling of destinies is described by John in the last chapter of the Bible as follows:— “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Rev. 22 : 11, 12)

“The Seven Last Plagues.”

When probation ceases, the mercy of God is withdrawn from all upon whom has not been placed the seal of God. Then the sealing angel withdraws his hand from the four angels “to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea” (Rev. 7:2, 3), and the judgments of God are poured out upon the impenitent. This is spoken of as “the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture [of mercy] into the cup of His indignation.” (Rev. 14: 10) Daniel, in prophetic vision, says of this time, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great Prince which standeth for the children of Thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time Thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” (Dan. 12 :1) This “trouble” is to fall upon the heads of the wicked. From its horrors God’s people will be delivered. Of this time David says of the righteous, “Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” (Ps. 91 :8-10)

As probation ceases, the closely-following judgments of God upon the wicked are represented by seven angels who are commissioned to pour out “seven last plagues” upon the doomed heads of the wicked. See Rev. 15:6-8; 16:1. These plagues are very real. Their nature and order are as follows:— First, “a noisome and grievous sore.” By this is supposed to be a more virulent form of the bubonic plague, which is already invading many parts of the world. See Rev. 16:2. Second, the sea “became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul [creature having life] died in the sea.” Vs. 3. Third, the rivers and fountains of waters “became blood.” This is a repetition of one of the plagues of Egypt. Vs. 4-7. Fourth, to the sun was given “power … to scorch men with fire.” Vss. 8, 9. This refers not only to heat from the sun, but also to great conflagrations which result from it. Fifth, a plague of darkness (as in the plagues of Egypt), in which “they gnawed their tongues for pain.” Vs. 1o, 11. They are still suffering from the affliction of the first plague. Sixth, under this plague the conditions of nations are so shaped as to prepare the way for the great battle of Armageddon mentioned in this chapter. “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 east might be prepared.” And then follows an account of the deceptive works of Satan and his followers to bring the nations together to the battle of Armageddon. See Vs. 12-16.

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