TEN SERMONS on the SECOND ADVENT
III. THE SECOND ADVENT PRE-MILLENIAL.
"The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea."- Is. xi. 9.
"As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be." - Matt. xxiv. 37.
It is a fundamental article of the Christian Faith, that Jesus who was conceived of a Virgin, born in Bethlehem, Suffered and died for the sins of His people, Rose again from the dead, and Ascended up into Heaven, shall in due time come again with power and great glory. Whatever views individuals may hold concerning this event, all creeds, and confessions of faith, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Western, and Oriental, bear their witness to it; and all the Churches of the world can unite in the words of the Te Deum, "We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge."
Again, all are agreed that the Scriptures reveal a time of universal blessedness as being in store for this world, and the world itself looks forward to "a good time coming." All are agreed that it will be characterized by a universal knowledge of Divine Truth; universal subjection to Divine rule; universal peace amongst all nations, and blessing for "all Israel." This happy period of the world is commonly spoken of by the word "Millenium" (two Latin words which together mean a thousand years), because five times in six verses (Rev. xx. 1-6), when St. John speaks of that age, he calls it "a thousand years."
Now while all Christians are agreed as to these two great facts, viz.:-
(1) That Christ is coming, and
(2) That this time of universal blessedness is also coming, yet all are not agreed as to the relation of these two events, the one to the other. The simple question is this, which of these two events will take place first.
The question is not whether Christ is coming: and it is not whether a millenium of peace is coming, but which of these events precedes the other. All other questions in connection with the Second Advent are subordinate to this, because if Christ is to come first, then there can be no hope of improvement in, or blessing for the world till Christ comes; and it is both foolish and vain to look and labour for it. And, if the Millenium is to come first, then it is equally vain to be constantly "looking for the blessed hope," and waiting and watching for Christ.
In the early ages of the Church, Christians looked for Christ to come first, and the word "Millenarian" was sufficient to describe them; but when some began to look for the Millenium to come first, it became necessary to make an addition to this word, and hence those who looked for Christ to come first were called pre-millenarians, and those who looked for the Millenium to come first, were called post-millenarians; but the Primitive Church knew nothing of these terms, for post-millenial views were unknown and unheard of.
The early Christians looked for Christ. They "waited for God's Son from Heaven." They looked for a person, and not for a Millenium without Him. It has been reserved for a later generation to place the Millenium before the Church, as its hope.
Now to make the point still more clear let me repeat that pre-millenialists look for Christ to come before the thousand years; post-millenialists believe that Christ will not come till the thousand years have ended. Pre-millenialists believe that the world will grow worse and worse; post-millenialists believe that it will grow better and better. Between these two views there is no room for compromise, there can be no concession. One must be right and the other must be wrong. And let me again remind you, that this is in no sense a question of reason. It is not a question of what may seem to accord with our ideas or desires; it is not what may accord with our views; not what may seem reasonable, or appear likely. It is entirely, and only, and wholly, a question of Revelation. Let us beware of speaking of what God is or is not likely to do. For it is written, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord" (Isa. lv. 8).
On the other hand, we cannot demand all difficulties shall be removed, all questions answered, or all doubts solved; while no objection can be, or should be entertained if it be founded on human reason. For man's word is worthless, when it is wholly a question of "What saith the Lord?" If God has said that the Millenium is to come first, then it will surely come. If God has said that the preaching of the Gospel is to convert the world, then no matter what the apparent difficulties may be, or what man may say about increase of population, insufficiency of means, etc., &c., the world will surely be so converted. There is no lack of power with God, and if he has said it, He will most assuredly do it.
But if on the other hand, God has said that the object of the Gospel is to take out from the nations a people for His name, then no more can be done; let man preach, and persuade, and toil, as he may. In either case, exactly what God has said, will be done; no more and no less.
What then does the word of God teach. Our subject as announced tells you our belief, that the Pre-millenial Advent of Christ is the truth of the Bible.
There are several ways of procedure by which this truth may be established, and many are the Scriptures which might be quoted. But as our time is limited it may accomplish a double object if we confine ourselves to those Scriptures which are usually referred to as supporting the post-millenial view.
Of course, the Scriptures may be perverted and wrested; they may be taken apart from their context; they may be "interpreted," so that when God says one thing, man may say he means another. All this can be done. The atheist may quote, "There is no God," and the Devil may quote, or misquote, so as to serve his purpose. The only way to arrive at the mind of God is to study and believe it "all," and take the text with the context. The Jews of old fell into error, yea the Disciples failed to understand the Scripture, simply because they did not believe "all Scripture." "O fools," said Jesus to His Disciples (Luke xxiv. 25-27) "and slow of heart to believe ALL that the Prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?" They were "slow to believe ALL." They did not want Christ to suffer, just as christians now do not want Him to reign on earth. Christians like to dwell on the "sufferings," and the Jews liked to dwell on the "glory." But both alike come under the Saviour's censure, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe ALL that the Prophets have spoken."
Now let us look at a few Scriptures of the Prophets and "believe all."
I. Isa. xi. 9. "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." But note how this scene of blessedness is ushered in with judgment and Christ's coming, in verse 4, "With Righteousness shall he JUDGE the poor and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked" (i.e. at the coming of Christ, see 2 Thes. ii. 8).
II. Isa. ii. 2, 3. "And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord's House shall be established in the top of the mountains...and all nations shall flow unto it, 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, &c." Now note the context in which this prophecy occurs. The words immediately preceding, declare that it is "concerning Judah and Jerusalem," and the words that immediately follow tell us that this shall be when "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." Thus we learn that this time of universal peace is ushered in by judgment, and not by the increase of Gospel light.
III. Isa. xxv. 6, 7. "And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined; and He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations, etc." From the preceding context we learn (xxiv. 23) that "this mountain" is Mount Zion on which "the Lord of Hosts shall reign...before His ancients gloriously," and from the context immediately succeeding (verses 9, 10, 12) "It shall be said in that day, Lo this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited from Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation. For in this mountain shall the hand of the Lord rest, and Moab shall be trodden down under Him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill...and the fortress of the high fort of thy walls shall he bring down; lay low, and bring to the ground, even to the dust." So that the spreading of the feast (which is no feast of gospel fat things), and this removing of the vail of error, will not take place till Christ, the One "waited for," shall come.
IV. Is. xxxv. 1, 2, "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose...They shall see the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God." But notice how this time of blessing and fruitfulness is introduced in verse 4, "Say to them that are of a fearful heart be strong, behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; He will come and save you." "Then (not before) the eyes of the blind shall be opened," etc., and all the scenes of millenial glory be revealed.
V. Is. xl. 5, "And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." But read on, and note verse 10, "Behold the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him, behold His reward is with Him, and His work before Him."
VI. Is. lxvi. 10, "Rejoice ye with Jerusalem and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her...12, For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. 13, As one whom his mother comforteth so will I comfort you, etc. verse 14, And when ye see this your heart shall rejoice," etc. But now note the next verse (15) "For behold the Lord will come with fire and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury and His rebuke with flames of fire. 16, For by fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with all flesh; and the slain of the Lord shall be many." This does not look like gradual improvement and progress, resulting and ending in blessing and peace!
VII. Ps. ii. 8, is another verse which one hears constantly quoted on the platforms of missionary meetings, "Ask of Me and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession." But we never hear the next words of verse 9 quoted in connection with verse 8, yet there they stand, "Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel!" But if the heathen are to be given to Christ by the preaching of the gospel as the result of missionary effort, why are these converted nations to be broken and dashed in pieces in judgment. Even if it be said that the language is figurative, "a rod of iron" can surely be not figure of a message of peace; nor can a "dashing in pieces" be a figure of the Gospel of Grace!
VIII. Zech. xii. 10, "I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and of supplications." When? The verse before tells us "in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem," and the same verse (10) tells us that it shall be, when "they shall look upon me whom they have pierced." Not therefore by the spread of gospel light but by the seeing of the pierced-one coming in judgment.
IX Zech. xiv. 9 "And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day shall there be one Lord and His name one." What day? Verse 1 tells us "The day of the Lord," when (verse 3) "the Lord shall go forth and fight...and His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives." And so the succeeding context goes on to speak (verse 12) of "the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem," &c. This is what shall usher in that reign of peace.
Turn now to Dan. vii., and there you will find three verses often wrested from their context.
X Dan. vii. 14 "And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom that all people, nations and languages, should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His Kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." Is this universal dominion given to Christ in connection with the spread of the Gospel? No but at His coming. Look at the preceding verse "I saw in the night visions and behold one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven." THEN "there was given Him," (not peace and righteousness) "Dominion and glory... that all nations... should serve Him."
XI. Dan. vii. 22. "The time came that the saints possessed the kingdom." When did the time come? When "the ancient of days came"! And does He come at the conclusion of the millenium of peace? No! The previous verse says "I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them UNTIL the ancient of days came and (then, not till then) judgment was given to the saints of the most High and the time came that the saints possessed the Kingdom. It is clear therefore that Christ must come before there can be an end of war, and the Kingdom be possessed.
XII. Dan. vii. 27. "And the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High." When? The verses immediately preceding (25, 6) tell us of a power that "shall speak great words against the most High and shall wear out the Saints of the most High... But the judgment shall sit and they shall take away his dominion to consume and to destroy it unto the end." Then follows the statement of verse 27.
It is in fact impossible to produce a Scripture which speaks of Millenial blessing, where the immediate context does not connect it with preceding judgment, or with the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. In every instance the bright picture of rest and glory for "the Jew, the Gentile and the Church of God," rests on the dark background of tribulation and judgment.
The New Testament is full of predictions of increasing and abounding evil; and side by side with these there are "exceeding great and precious promises" for the poor and afflicted the suffering and the sorrowful, the hated and persecuted; and this during the continuance of the present dispensation. There is no period between the present time and the coming of Christ in glory, in which the saints are viewed or contemplated as being free from conflict; no time when they shall cease to "mourn" for the absent Bridegroom (Matt. ix. 15); or be free from sorrow and tribulation" (John xvi. 22, 23); or have no need of "enduring to the end" (Matt. x. 22); or be other than "as sheep in the midst of wolves" (Matt. x. 16). No period when the wolves shall all become sheep, or the tares become wheat! And yet there is to come a blessed time when "there shall be no more curse." But that is essentially a Divine work requiring all the might of omnipotence. Not to any body of men, however holy or educated; not to any church however orthodox, is committed the miraculous work of eradicating the curse from creation, and sin from the heart. No! The church herself is fallible, erring, scattered, and divided, and needs herself to be brought to, and kept humbly at the feet of the Saviour.
But time will not permit us to go through all the Scriptures which refer to this subject. We can only remind you of certain great classes of passages:-
I. The class which speaks directly of the object of the Gospel "to take out of the nations a people for His name" (Acts xv. 14-17, Matt. xxiv. 14, John i. 17), etc.
II. The class that describes the suffering condition of the Church as "a little flock," and utterly precludes all idea of her increase and absorption of a converted world: Matt. v. 10, 11, 44; vii. 13-22; ix. 15; Luke xviii. 8, John xv. 18-21; xvi. 33; xvii. 14-16; Acts xiv. 22; xx. 29, 30; Rom. viii. 17-24; Phil. iii. 18-21; I Thess. v. 1-8; 2 Tim. ii. 12; Heb. x. 30-37; I Pet. iv. 12-18.
III. The class which speaks of the condition of the world, immediately before out Lord's return, comparing those days to the days before the flood. Matt. xxiv. 37-39; Luke xvii. 26-30; 2 Pet. iii. 3, 4; 2 Thess. ii. 3-12; I Tim. iv. 1-3; 2 Tim. iii. 1-13; 2 Tim. iv. 3, 4; 2 Pet. ii. and iii. 3; Jude 17, 18, etc.
IV. Another class which consists of warnings for the saints in view of increasing iniquity. "This know" (2 Tim. iii).
"I charge Thee" (2 Tim. iv. 1).
"The Spirit speaketh expressly" (I Tim. iv. 1).
"I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance" (2 Pet. iii. 1).
Dear brethren, the Scriptures everywhere speak of a coming conflict with ripened evil. It will be fierce but it will be decisive; and the victory will be not by human power or might but by the power of Him "who in His time He shall show who is the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings, and Lord of lords." And they who take heed to the sure word of Prophecy in their hearts will in that day cry out "Lo! this is our God, we have waited for Him."
The coming of Him for whom we wait will not be the sunset of the world's bright day, but the dawning of the Sun of Righteousness at the end of the world's dark night. It is now night in this "dark place," but the same Scripture which tells us it is night, tells us also that it is "far spent," and that it will grow darker and darker, until the end, and when the night is done, then the morning will come, the morning of millenial glory, that "morning without clouds."
There is first the gloom and then the glory; first the darkness, then the dawn; first the conflict, and then the conquest.
Dear brethren, that night is increasing, that gloom is thickening, that darkness is deepening. Oh, that this thought of the judgments which are impending, the great and terrible day of the Lord which is near, may make this a solemn truth, and a great power and reality with us: may make prayer more earnest, souls more precious, and Christ more dear to our hearts. Oh, that the Lord may use and own this testimony, by writing these things on our hearts; that some looking back from that glory might say of this service:-It was there - It was on that day - that my heart was touched, that my eyes were opened, that my soul was delivered "from darkness to light," and "from the power of Satan unto God."
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