Time or Eternity? ™

Posts Tagged ‘end of grace’

The end of this dispenation (The Age of Grace)

In The end of the AGE on April 13, 2012 at 8:00 am

God had been laying bare the future to Daniel. As page after page of startling events unrolled, Daniel’s heart was sobered and solemnized. He cries out to God (Dan. 12:8): “Oh my Lord, what shall be the end of these things” How fitting is this question for ourselves. Today the pages of the world’s history are swiftly unrolling. They are red with blood. Kingdoms are rising and falling in a night. Thrones are tottering. Armies are battling in earth, sea and sky. The sons of men are being slaughtered by millions. Civilization is shot through with the barbarism and savagery of by-gone ages. The foundations of human government and society are reeling under earthquake blows. “Men’s hearts are failing them for fear” of the things that are coming upon the earth.” And with Daniel they are crying out “What shall be the end of these things?” There is only one answer. There is only one man who knows what the end will be. That man is—the God-Man. Jesus Christ alone knows the future.

We must come to Him if we would know. So, like them of old, let us sit at His feet and listen to—Christ’s Story of the Age-End.  You remember the story. His disciples had been showing Him the great temple. They had pointed out to Him its lofty pinnacles, its rich adornments, its massive stones. And then the Lord turns to them and quietly says: “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Doubtless they were amazed, and perplexed. I can fancy them saying one to another, “Tomorrow we will go up to the Mount of Olives with Him. There we will sit at His feet and hold sweet communion. Let us ask Him then what He means by this strange remark.” So when they had come to the Mount and the Master was seated, they say, “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the age.”

The Double Question.

Note that they asked of Him a double question. There is a line of cleavage between the first clause and the second. First, “When shall these things be?” And by “these things” they meant the downfall of Jerusalem, and the overthrow of the temple of which He had just spoken, a disaster which was to take place in less than a half century from that time. Second, they asked Him, “What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the age?” a dual event which has not yet taken place, and which is separated from the first named catastrophe by almost two thousand years of time. Thus His answer covers events separated by a gap of many centuries simply because their question refers to both. The answer is thus not discordant in its time relations. It is in perfect harmony with the question asked. The same line of cleavage in the disciples’ interrogation appears therefore in Christ’s answer. It cuts that answer sharply in half between the fourteenth and fifteenth -verses of this chapter. The first fourteen verses have to do with the first clause of their inquiry, “When shall these things be?” The remainder of the chapter is His reply to the second clause, “What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the age?” Let us now note that He -answers the first half by giving the general signs of the present age, and the second half by naming the special signs of the end of the age.

6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must .come to pass, but the end is not yet.

7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Wars and rumors of wars: nation rising against nation: kingdom against kingdom: earthquakes: famines: pestilences: afflictions—what a marvelous picture is this of the age which has passed since Jesus Christ sat upon the Mount and told this wondrous story! If our Lord had been sitting as a historian now, sketching the centuries that have rolled past, instead of a prophet predicting events to come, He could not have more accurately shown forth the marks of all the age since He first came. We say the marks of the age, not the special signs of the end of the age. For it is the general characteristics of the whole age from His first coining to His coming again that He here gives before He sets forth the special signs which shall mark its end.

Do we not often make a mistake here? When empires rise and fall, when great nations are in commotion and conflict: when giant armies and steel-clad navies await each others’ deadly onset: when gaunt famine devastates whole nations, and wasting pestilence follows swiftly in its wake: when this old globe pulsates under the terrifying throb of mighty earthquakes—when these things come to pass men cry out, “The end of the world is at hand!” Yet of these things Jesus says distinctly that though they shall come “the end is not yet.” They are not the distinguishing marks of the end-time. They are rather the common marks of the whole time since Christ was on earth. Not a single century has fled since He walked the earth which has not been marked by all the characteristic events he mentions here. They are the ear-marks of the whole age, but in no sense the special signs of its end. There must be then some special sign which marks the end. It is some sign which the world has never before seen.

It must be so peculiar to the end that men shall at once know it when it appears as the startling, distinguishing mark that the age-end is now come. “What shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the age,” is their earnest and deeply interested question. So now He proceeds to answer this momentous question, an answer final, decisive, and vital to the whole question of unfulfilled New Testament prophecy.

‘When ye {v. 15) therefore shall see The Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, stand in the holy place {whoso readeth let him understand), then let them which be in Judea flee unto the mountains for then shall be Great Tribulation.”

And now we have come to the crucial point in Christ’s answer. Up from the heart of the chapter here starts God’s great finger-post which points with unerring accuracy to the end. Now Jesus Christ begins to deal with a personality of momentous and tragic importance as the supreme sign of the end-time. And He opens this last act in the great drama of the age-end by citing this strange and mysterious figure. Out from the prophecies of God over which centuries of time had already rolled He causes to emerge this strange figure upon which He puts His finger as one supreme, vital fact which foreshadows and determines the end. “When ye shall see THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION”that is the mysterious phrase with which He brings us face to face with the pivotal-point of the end. What does He mean? He cites it as though it were to them a familiar fact. He says it was “spoken of by Daniel the prophet.” Let us follow the clue He indicates.

The Anti-Christ.

If we turn to the last chapter of the prophecy named (Daniel 12: 11) we will note the interesting fact that centuries before Daniel had asked of the Lord the same question the disciples had just put to Christ: “0 my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?” And then God places His finger upon this same strange figure to which Christ has referred and says to Daniel that “From the time that the Abomination that maketh desolate is set up,” until the end shall be a certain period of somewhat over three and a half years. Thus when Daniel asks as to the end God points him to an ominous figure called Abomination of Desolation and tells Daniel that this portentous personage marks the end-time.’ When His apostles ask as to the end Jesus Christ puts His finger upon this very same mark and tells them that when they see “the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet” then the fierce crisis of all history is upon them. So, this mark suddenly revealed in the temple constitutes the crucial mark of the age-end so near at hand, yea, even then begun.

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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.”