TEN SERMONS on the SECOND ADVENT
VIII. THE SECOND ADVENT IN RELATION TO "THE GENTILE."
"And in the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven
set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be
left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these
kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone
was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the
iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made
known to the king what shall come to pass after (margin, "after this): and the
dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof is sure." - Dan. ii. 44-45.
One of our duties towards the word of God, is to "rightly divide" it, because it is the "Word of Truth." And because it is the "engrafted word" we are to receive it: because it is the "faithful word" we are to hold it fast: because it is the "Word of Life" we are to hold it forth. But because it is the "Word of Truth" we are to "rightly divide" it. It is one of the verities of that Word, that "what God hath joined together, let no man put asunder" (Matt. xix. 6), and so we may assert as truth, the corollary of this proposition, and say what God has put asunder, let no man join together: what God has separated and distinguished, let no man confound and confuse.
Now if God has put anything asunder, He has done so in I Cor. x. 32, where he has for ever distinguished "the Jew, the Gentile, and the Church of God." But man has not "rightly divided" the word of God, with reference to these three; he has joined them together with all perverseness and self-will, giving to the Church what God has said is for Israel; and to the world what God has said is for the Church. In the prophecies, man puts "the Church" for Israel when it is a question of blessing, while he carefully leaves all the curses for "the Jew." So in Practical Religion he confused the Church with the world so completely, that one cannot tell the difference between the worldly Church and the religious world; or see where the one begins and the other ends. But God has put these three things for ever asunder, and confuse them now as men may, they are and will be for ever separated, in God's eternal purpose, in His everlasting word, and in His unerring judgment.
Having considered the purpose of the Second Advent in relation to "the Church of God," and to "the Jew," let us now look at it in relation to the Gentile. Here again we must go back to the fountain head, and see in those prophetic titles of Christ, "The Son of Man," "The Second Man," and "the last Adam," the history of man's ruin, and the hope of the world's regeneration. We have already seen (Sermon vii.) that as "the Son of Abraham," Jesus is the heir of the Land; and that as "the Son of David," He is the heir of the Throne. So also, as "the Son of Man," Jesus is "the heir of the world" (Rom. iv. 13), and the "heir of all things" (Heb. i. 2, see also Gen. i. 28, and Ps. viii. 4-8). From the beginning God has shown that He has purposes of blessing for "the Gentile" as such, "when he divided to the nations, their inheritance, when He separated the Sons of Adam" (Deut. xxxii. 8), and when He announced the promise to Abraham, that in Him "all the nations of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen. xviii. 18).
All through the history of Israel there were pledges of this future blessing. Individuals were repeatedly brought in for blessing, yea even into the very line of the Messiah, as Rahab and Ruth. Naaman and many others received foretastes of that blessing. The Passover itself was always free to Gentiles under condition of circumcision (Ex. xii. 48-49). Many prophecies also point to the fact that Christ was to be "a light to lighten the Gentiles" as well as the glory of His people Israel. But "the Gentile" has failed as well as "the Jew." He has been tried in every condition and has failed in every position in which he was placed. When the elect nation failed to exercise power for the glory of God then power was committed unto the Gentiles. The period during which this power is committed unto them is called "the times of the Gentiles." "Times," in the plural, because of there being many nations as distinguished from the one nation of Israel.
Now as to the beginning, the course, and the issue of these "times," we are not left to human records or human reason. History does not transpire merely because the events have been predicted, but rather they are foretold because they were ordained to come to pass. Prophecy, as we have seen (Sermon ii.), did not originate in the prophet's own unfolding of the mind of God, but, God Himself in old time revealed His own will, through Holy men by His Spirit. Hence we are not left in ignorance, or to our own imaginations; but the word of God is so clear and so necessary, that history itself cannot be understood without a knowledge of the Prophecy.
"The times of the Gentiles," as we have already seen (Sermon v.) have no reference to "the Church of God," because the Church is itself taken out from the nations (Acts xv. 14). These "times" however, cannot but be of the deepest interest to us, seeing that in God's providence our lot is not only cast within their limits but near, very near to their end.(See the Appendix)
In the Prophecy of Daniel we have the great commanding predictions as to these "times," from their beginning to their end. Other prophecies speak of them and refer to them, and they all agree in teaching us that those "times" are marked by progression. They are marked by evolution, but it is downward and not upward; rather, it is a devolution! They are marked by progress, but it is progress in corruption: by development, but it is in inferiority.
In the prophecy of Daniel this outline is given us in two parts. One from the human standpoint in Daniel ii. where under the figure of a man in stately proportion, they are seen in their succession by a man of the Gentiles: the other from the divine standpoint in Daniel vii. and viii, where by a man of God, they are seen in their origin. The one therefore displays their outward appearance to the eye of a man of the world: the other reveals their moral character to the eye of the man of God. Nebuchadnezzar sees these nations and "times of the Gentiles" under the outward aspect of glittering gold, shining silver, brilliant brass, and irresistible iron. Daniel sees them as wild beasts ferocious in their nature, cruel in their career. Nebuchadnezzar sees them in a dream, as a stately man, in his palace. Daniel sees them in a vision of God, as wild beasts arising out of the waters. For - "man being in honour abideth not, he is like the beasts that perish" (Ps. xlix. 12). And man apart from God, has ever gone, and must ever go down, down! Even the saint without Christ can do nothing. But man apart from God can do "only evil continually." He goes down, as it is here shown, from gold to miry clay; and from the noble lion to the nondescript dragon! Yes, man has indeed a free-will, but it is ever exercised in opposition to God's will, it is "enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. viii. 7). Man has ever destroyed himself, and his help is found only in God (Hos. xiii. 9).
Now look at the IMAGE. Look first at its values. All tends downwards, first gold, then silver, brass, iron, and clay. Look at its weight, its specific gravity.
Gold is equivalent to 19.3
Silver - 10.51
Brass - 8.5
Iron - 7.6
Clay - 1.9
Down, down from 19.3 to 1.9. The image is top-heavy, and the first blow of the mighty stone upon the feet shall shatter its pottery, and bring it all down in pieces.
So it is with the BEASTS, which are all emblazoned on the banners, and stamped on the coins of the Gentile nations. But they are wild beasts, and they run rapidly down from the lion to the bear, from the bear to the leopard, and from the leopard to the hybrid monstrosity. All is on the descending scale, all is seen to be growing worse and worse. Those who look for the world to improve and progress till it developes into the Millenial kingdom, must account for this. We all agree that these things are figures, but they are figures of a reality, and that which is represented as an ever increasing descent, cannot possibly be the figure for a gradual ascent. At any rate it was not so interpreted to Daniel by the Holy Ghost. He said to Nebuchadnezzar, "Thou art this head of gold, and after thee shall arise another kingdom INFERIOR to thee" (Dan. ii. 38, 39).
Yet with all this manifest deterioration there is a seeming advance, in apparent greatness; but it is in reality only weakness. The first Empire, Babylon, is seen as one; the second, Medo-Persia, is seen as two; the third, Greece, becomes four (Macedonia, Thrace, Syria, and Egypt); and the fourth, Rome, becomes ten. So that there is less and less of that unity which is strength, and more and more of that division and separation which is weakness. And as the image thus declines in all that is great, noble and precious, so the beasts become more wild and ferocious. Government runs down, down! The first (Babylon), was an autocracy "whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive," &c. (Dan. v. 19). The second was a Parliament of Princes, and the Law of the Persian Kingdom was stronger than the Persian King (Dan. vi. 1, 14, &c.). The third (Greece), was a government of oligarchies; while in the fourth (Rome) we see the mingling of the princely iron with the communistic clay, until in our day we see more and more of the clay and less and less of the iron, till good government is the one great want of the age all over the world. Man has been tried and found wanting. He cannot govern himself as an individual, apart from God. How then can he do it nationally. No! the descent is from God to the Devil, from Christ to the Anti-christ.
And this moral descent is not affected by an apparent ascending of civilisation. Crime may be less revolting and more refined. Sin may be less gross and more polite. Robbery may become less violent but more subtle: instead of being done on the highway it may be done securely in the office, and in the way of business. But the refined sinner and the vulgar sinner are equally far from the Kingdom of God. The flesh is bad. It is the same evil and corrupt nature in the saint as in the sinner, and the more you get of it the worse it is. Did you ever notice the opening words of the sixth chapter of the History of the Church? Gen. vi., which tells of the corruption which ended in the flood, begins "And it came to pass when men began to multiply on the face of the earth," &c., (Prov. xxix. 16); and Acts vi. begins "And in those days when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring," &c. God says, "that which is born of the flesh, is flesh" (John iii. 6), and however refined, and cultured, and trained "the flesh" may be, it can never be changed into, or become "Spirit."
Even with men as individuals there has been deterioration. In the early ages of the world, men were largely given to study the heavens, and they loved to trace their descent from the Gods. But in our days they study the earth, and are content to trace their evolution from the mud! And so it will be to the end. Down, down, till "the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled," filled to the full, and then, evil will come to a head. All the evil will then culminate in one man who is called the Anti-christ. The Scriptures reveal him by many names; but every quality, every attribute, every character, every name and act and sign, marks him as an individual. He is called "the King of fierce countenance" (Dan. viii. 23); "the little horn" (Dan. vii. 8, &c.): "the Prince that shall come" (Dan. ix. 26), etc. There are three great prophecies concerning him, given through Daniel, (Dan. vii. 7-11, viii. 19-26, xi. and xii.): St. Paul (2 Thess. ii. 3-10); and St. John (Rev. xiii., xvii. and xix. &c.).
The early Christians were not ignorant of these things. Their teachers (unlike the teachers of our day) were not dumb concerning them. "Remember ye not (says St. Paul) that while I was with you, I told you these things" (2 Thess. ii. 5). The Scriptures are indeed numerous which speak of this awful but important subject. We cannot even refer to them all: but note this instructive parallel or rather contrast between Christ and Anti-christ as given us in the words of inspiration:-
"Cometh from above" (John iii. 31)
"I am come in my Father's name" (John v. 43)
"Humbled Himself and became obedient unto death" (Phil. ii. 8).
"Came down... to do... the will of Him that sent me" (John vi. 38)
"I have glorified Thee on the earth" (John xvii. 4).
"The good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep" (John x. 11)
"God hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name" (Phil. ii. 9)
"Shall reign for ever and ever" (Rev. xi. 15)
"The Son of God" and "Heir of all things" (Heb. i. 2)
"Ascendeth out of the bottomless pit" (Rev. xi. 7)
"Shall come in his own name" (John v. 43)
"Exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped" (2 Thess. ii. 4).
"Shall do according to His will" (Dan. xi. 36).
"Opened him mouth in blasphemy against God" (Rev. xiii. 6).
"Woe to the idle shepherd that leaveth the flock" (Zec. xi. 17).
"Whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming" (2 Thess. ii. 8).
"They shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end" (Dan. vii. 26)
"The Son of Perdition" (2 Thess. ii. 3).
The time of his manifestation is the same in all three of
the great prophecies concerning him:- In Dan. viii. 23, it is "when
transgressors are come to the full." In 2 Thess. ii., it is, when the apostacy
is at its height. In Rev. xiii., it is, when men shall have renounced God, and
shall "worship the beast." In Daniel's prophecy the vision concerning
Anti-christ is fulfilled at "the time of the end" (Dan. xi. 40, &c.). In
St. Paul's in "the day of the Lord" (2 Thess. ii. 2, R.V.). In St. John's at
the day of "the wrath of Almighty God" (Rev. xix. 18).
Then, further the doom of the Antichrist is identical in all three of these prophecies. In Daniel vii. 13, 11, he is destroyed by "one like the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven." In 2 Thess. ii. 8 "the Lord shall consume (him) with the spirit of His mouth and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming." In Rev. xix. 20, he is "cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." Thus shall end the Antichrist, and with him shall end "the times of the Gentiles." The Antichrist is the last supreme head of Gentile apostacy, and the whole ends with him. Nebuchadnezzar's image is all "broken to pieces together" (Dan. ii. 35). And Daniel's Beasts are all united in one nameless ten-headed monster in Rev. xiii. 1, 2. It is upon the toes of the image that the Stone falls, and it is upon this God-defying beast that the Judgment sits. And with him, all Gentile kings, powers, dominions, governments, and ministries end for ever! For it happens "in the days of these kings" (Dan. ii 44) over which the beast rules that this end shall come, at the close of this fourth great wild-beast-world-power.
In Rev. xvii. 8, it is described as the beast which "was, and is not, and shall be present" (R.V. margin). In John's day it was at its height, and all the world lay beneath its power: "IT WAS." The Imperial Rome sank beneath the flood of the Goths and Vandals; but though it survives in the Titles, Dignities, Laws, Banners and Coins of the fragments into which it is broken; yet in its one outward Imperial form "IT IS NOT." But "IT SHALL BE PRESENT" again. For as John looked, he saw that "the deadly wound was healed and all the world wondered after the beast" (Rev. xiii. 3, 12). At its head arises the Satanic man, energized from hell (2 Thess. ii. 9-11; Rev. xiii. 2, 13-15). The Scriptures describe him as a gross flatterer, a great statesman, a skilful general, but a vile hypocrite. He will pose as the friend of man; he will be a Nero, a Napoleon, and a Pope all in one, and the world will be the subjects of a "strong delusion" and wonder after him. But his doom is certain. The Son of Man will come forth with "the armies of heaven;" and He will give the Beast to the burning flame. The great Stone shall grind the kingdoms of this world to powder. For that Stone, and that mountain is Christ. As from the mountain all the gold and silver, and brass, and iron are obtained. So from Christ all power is derived,* and to Christ all power reverts. All power and government in the earth is only delegated; as its first recipient, Nebuchadnezzar, was so solemnly taught of God. And when the great Stone comes forth, it will be the power of the Almighty manifested to make all the kingdoms of the world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.
* Matt. xxviii. 18; Prov. viii. 15; Ps. lxii. 11
And now "the times of the Gentiles" are hastening to their end. The world is rushing on to its doom; its Tubal-cains are working out the engines of destruction for the coming war, while its Jubals are lulling it with deceitful strains, to keep it from Christ, and blind its eyes to the coming Antichrist. But its sentence has been passed, and its execution is at hand.
Like Jericho of old it is "straitly shut up." The men of war look down from the battlements and reproach and revile those who sound the "foolish" ram's horns of the Gospel. But meanwhile there is a people in it, though not of it; a generation who have heard of the God of Israel and of His Joshua (Jesus); who have welcomed His messengers and gladly received their message of peace. And there is one house in it which is safe; one house which will stand, when the cities of the nations fall. That house is built of "living stones," sprinkled with the blood, and protected by the scarlet cord, the token of safety from judgment to come.
Dear brethren are you within this house? Are you safely sheltered by Christ's sure sign and token? Is this your refuge? Soon, soon, will "the armies of heaven" be here and you will either be in their ranks, or left for the judgment which they will execute. And now "because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." But, "as it was in the days of Lot, they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be when the Son of Man is revealed" (Luke xvii. 28-30). Yes! "as it was" The tradesmen will be in his trade, the labourer in his toil, the sinner with his sins, all saying "peace, peace," when, suddenly, the Lord shall come, "in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Oh! to be in that "house" protected by the scarlet thread - the precious blood - and not left to perish with them that believe not. For the same God that shook that city to the ground, and saved that "house," has said "Yet once more I shake, not the earth only, but also Heaven... that the thing which cannot be shaken may remain" (Heb. xii. 26, 27). No flood could come on the earth till Enoch was taken, and Noah was safe in the Ark. No fire could descend on Sodom till Lot be come out: No destruction could come to Jericho till those to be saved were within that house.
Dear Brethren, may we be thus taken up as Enoch was, and taken out as Lot was, and taken in as was that household, alike freed from all condemnation, alike washed in His most precious blood, alike crowned with honour and glory, and "presented faultless before the throne of His glory, with exceeding joy."
Home | Links | Writings | Biography