The World To Come
"The world to come, whereof we speak." Hebrews
These words occur in connection with the apostles endeavour to impress his Jewish brethren with a sense of the greatness and glory of the Lord Jesus and of the salvation that is preached in His name. He begins the epistle by announcing the Saviour to them as the Son of God the appointed heir of all things the maker and upholder of the world the brightness of the Fathers glory and the express image of His person who has been exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high.
These were sublime statements, and needing to be well substantiated to be made acceptable. He, therefore, instituted various lines of argument, adapted to the Jewish mind and founded upon the Scriptures, which all held to be divinely inspired. And as the Jews regarded angels as the highest created orders, as standing next in the scale to the eternal Father himself, Pauls first effort was to prove from prophecy that Christ is superior to the angels. He introduces three points in which this super-angelic dignity is shown.
The first is that Christ is assigned a higher name than the angels. The second is that He is clothed with a sublimer honour than the angels. The third is that Christ is invested with a sublimer office than the angels they being only ministering spirits, while He is spoken of as a divine King, whose throne is forever and ever, and the sceptre of whose kingdom is a sceptre of righteousness.
The princely investiture and reign of the Messiah is thus distinctly deduced from the Old Testament, and used by the apostle as the most sublime demonstration of the Saviours personal dignity. This Messianic dominion he applies particularly to what is hereafter to grow out of the Gospel economy. He tells us that it is peculiarly "the world to come" over which the Messiahs reign is to be exercised. "For unto the angels has He not put into subjection the world to come, whereof we speak." So Paul is proceeding upon the implied assumption that it has been, by promise, put into subjection to Jesus Christ. He also shows that all those allusions to the Saviour as a King have their chief application and ultimate fulfilment in that "world to come."
The Millennial World To Come
The Messiahs reign and this world to come accordingly belong together and co-exist in the same period and locality. By determining, then, what is meant by this "world to come," we may form an idea of what is included in the Messianic kingdom. Or if we already know what the consummated Messianic reign is, and where it is to be, we have already decided what we are to understand by this "world to come."
There is no alternative left but to understand this world to come as the millennial world, or the world as it shall be when Christ shall have restored the throne of David and entered upon His glorious dominion as the sovereign of the nations and Lord of the whole earth. To this agrees exactly the original word, which means the habitable earth the domiciliated globe on which we dwell and not to some remote supernal region, as we sometimes imagine. The world to come, then, is nothing more nor less than this selfsame world of ours in its final or millennial condition.
This earth is not to be annihilated. God never obliterates His own creations. The dissolving fires, of which Peter speaks, are for "the perdition of ungodly men," and not for the utter depopulation and destruction of the whole world. They may consume cities, destroy armies, and affect some important meteorological and geological changes, but men and nations will survive them and still continue to live in the flesh.
The earth is to be renovated and restored from its present depression and dilapidation, and thus become "the new earth" of which the Bible speaks. It is to pass through a "regeneration" analogous to that through which a man must pass to see the kingdom of God. But there will be a continuity of its elements and existence, just as a regenerated man is constitutionally the same being that he was before his renewal. It will not be another earth, but the same earth under another condition of things.
It is now labouring under the curse; but then the curse will have been lifted off and all its wounds healed. At present, it is hardly habitable no one being able to live in it longer than a few brief years, but then men shall dwell in it forever without knowing what death is. It is now the home of rebellion, injustice, and guilt; it will then be the home of righteousness. It is now under the domination of Satan; it will then come under the blessed rule of the Prince of peace. Such, at any rate, is the hope set before us in the Word of God; and this I hold to be "the world to come" of which the text speaks.
It cannot be anything else. It cannot be what is commonly called heaven, for the word oikoumene cannot apply to heaven. It is everywhere else used exclusively with reference to our world. Neither can it be the present Gospel dispensation, as some have thought, for that began long before this epistle was written and could not, therefore, have been spoken of by Paul as yet "to come." We are consequently compelled to understand it to mean our own habitable world in its millennial glory.
As the prophecies concerning the Messiahs eternal kingship are here referred to as having their fulfilment in the subjection of the millennial world to His dominion, we are furnished with another powerful argument of Scripture in favour of the doctrine of Christs personal reign as a great Prince in this world. Indeed, the Bible is so full of this subject, and its inspired writers are so constantly and enthusiastically alluding to it, that I am amazed to find so many pious and Bible-loving people entirely losing sight of it. Ever and anon the Scriptures return to it as the great and animating hope of the Church in all her adversities and depressions; and it does seem to me that we are depriving ourselves of much true Christian comfort by the manner in which we have been neglecting and thrusting aside that glorious doctrine.
My present object is to show, from the Scriptures and by just inferences from them, what sort of a world this "world to come" is. I hope to describe, as far as I can, what we are to look for when once this earth has been fully subjected to that divine King whose throne is forever and ever, and the sceptre of whose kingdom is a sceptre of righteousness.
A Highly Blessed World
That "the world to come" is a highly blessed world and a vast improvement upon the present scene of things will be inferred on all sides without argument. It could not be a subject of hope if it were not. The Saviour himself exhibited a model of it when in the Mount of Transfiguration. From this, perhaps, we may obtain as deep an insight of its glories as from any other portion of Scripture. That He designed that scene as a miniature model of what His future coming and kingdom is to be is obvious.
A week before it occurred, He told His disciples that "the Son of man shall come in the glory of the Father, with His angels or messengers with Him." He said that there were some standing there when He made the declaration whom "should not taste of death till they saw the Son of man coming in His kingdom." This coming in His kingdom, which some of the disciples were to live to see, is not the final advent, for the disciples are all dead, and the final advent is still future. Neither is it the destruction of Jerusalem; for but one of the apostles lived to see that catastrophe, and the Son of man did not then come in His kingdom. Yet some of the apostles were to have ocular demonstration of the Son of mans coming in His kingdom before tasting of death.
Search through apostolic history as we will, we shall find nothing but the transfiguration to which the Saviours words will apply. That, then, was in some sense the coming of the Son of man in His kingdom. It was not, indeed, the coming itself, but it was an earnest and picture of it. It was the coming of the Son of man in His kingdom, as the bread and wine in the Eucharist are Christs body and blood.
Peter says "the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" are not "cunningly-devised fables." He declares that he was certified of their reality by the testimony of his own senses. We were eye-witnesses, says he, "when we were with Him in the holy mount." We thus have clear inspired testimony that the scene of the transfiguration was a demonstrative exhibition of the coming of Jesus in His kingdom.
Hence, whatever we find in the descriptions of that scene, we may confidently expect to be realised in that "world to come whereof we speak." As Christ appeared in that glorious scene, so He will appear when He returns to this world. As He was then personally present as the Son of man, so He will be personally present in the millennial kingdom. And as He was there attended by different classes of persons, so will His glorious kingdom consist of similar classes. The first will be the risen and glorified saints, represented by Moses; the second will be the transformed saints, represented by Elijah, who was caught up without tasting of death. The third and most numerous class will those who shall live in the body, represented by Peter, James, and John, as they bowed before His mighty power and looked with transport and wonder on His ineffable glory.
Let us then endeavour to draw out before us some of the more striking features of "the world to come," and by contemplation of its attractiveness, endeavour to school our hearts into more ardent thirst to participate in its blissful scenes.
The Blessing Of Seeing God
I do not wish to depreciate in the least those gracious arrangements of heaven under which we now live. It is a blessed thing to have the Bible, and to attend properly on the means of grace, and to enjoy the renewing and comforting influences of the Holy Ghost. In giving to us these things, God has endowed us with mercies for which we never can be sufficiently thankful. But He authorises us to look for greater things than these. The present economy is only preparatory to something higher and more blessed:
"Were now but in creations vestibule,
And acting the mere prelude unto joy,
There is another and more exalted scene of things to follow after the present. If we are faithful to our Lord, there remains for us "a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness." And one of the most remarkable and sublime features of that "new earth" is that it is to have in it the personal, visible, and illustrious presence of the Son of God, its great King. It was the presence of Jesus in His glory that made Peter wish to stay in the mountain rather than return again into the cold and heartless world below. That glorious presence was more than all earth beside. We may thus gather some idea of the preciousness of that promise that "the pure in heart shall see God." The mere vision of Christ in His glory will be heaven to the soul that leans on Him as the Redeemer.
There is no thirst in man more craving than the desire to behold God. All the images in heathen temples, and all the idolatries of the world, are but expressions of this perpetual sigh of humanity. Moses himself coveted most of all things to see Him who was accomplishing such wonders by His hand. And very few, if any, can pray without first forming to the mind some image of God. We are creatures of sense. Abstract spirit is a cold and uninviting conception. All our deepest impressions and all our ideas are received by means of the outward senses. And there is no glory of God of which we can conceive that can possibly be so satisfying and transporting as that of beholding Him, and for ourselves seeing His glory.
All Christs sublime teachings did not so impress and rejoice the hearts of Peter, James, and John as that one short vision of the Saviour as He was transfigured before them. Not all the sublime experiences of Moses so satisfied him as when God gave him some visible manifestation of His glory. When John sums up the highest prospects of believers, he makes their fullest satisfaction and rapture depend on seeing Jesus as He is. And Peter, when he came to his strongest reason for holding Christianity to be a reality, referred to what he had witnessed on the holy mount. It was a glad thing to see Jesus, even in His humiliation.
We sometimes wish that we had lived in those days, that we might have looked upon His face and heard the tones of His voice. If we could refer to but one slight glimpse of Him, we would treasure it as a blissful thing. We would ever recur to it with pleasure. If there were now a spot on earth where we could see Him even as He then was, millions would spare no expense or pains to gain a look upon Him, and multitudes would throng to the place crying, "We would see Jesus!"
If it would be a high and lawful gratification to see Christ as He once lived on earth, how sublime would be the portion of seeing Him in the glory of His kingdom! Would it not afford a certainty to our faith, and rapture to our hearts, worth living for? Look at the case of the queen of Sheba when she came to see the glory of Solomon the type of the greater than Solomon. She had "heard of his fame concerning the name of the Lord," as we have heard of Christ and His glory; but there was an air of romance about it that made her doubtful, just as many even Christian people are with respect to revelation. There was something wanting to complete her enjoyment. She needed yet to see the reality of which she had heard. To secure this, a journey of months through exposure and dangers she deemed of small account.
"And when she had seen all Solomons wisdom, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the standing of his ministers, and their apparel, and his ascent by which he went up to the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her." She fainted for very ecstasy. Now she could say that it was a true report that she had heard, and that the half had not been told her. Never could she have forgotten that visit. Never could that vision of Solomons glory have passed from her delighted memory. Never did it cease from being a sunny spot in her recollection to which to recur as the happiest event of her life.
And if the sight of the glory of the mere human type of the Messiah was thus transporting and overpowering, what a joy would it be for the Christian to see the blessed Jesus himself in the glory of His ineffable kingdom! If to see Solomons grandeur was an event worth living for, who shall estimate the heavenly rapture of beholding the Saviour on His high throne of glory, clothed with light as with a garment, crowned with all the sublime beneficence of heaven, thousands ministering unto Him, ten thousand thousands standing before Him, and multitudes of celestial spirits ever shouting to His praise, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!" Would it not be a high privilege to see all this? Would it not fill out the believers joy and establish him in the certainties and raptures of his faith, as nothing else can? Would it not set his whole nature in a glow with heavenly inspiration and consecrate him as a new apostle just from the third heaven? Would it not impart a richer pleasure and a more satisfying joy than the gifts of Pentecost?
From this we may then infer something of the bliss of the millennial times when Christ shall be upon earth, arrayed in all the glory of His kingdom! Then we shall see Him as He is. The glorified saints shall be ever near Him, in the closest communion with Him, for He is their brother as well as their Redeemer and King. And those who live in the flesh shall not be excluded from near visions of His glory and rapturous approaches to His person and presence. The ransomed nations shall continually send up their streams of worshippers to Jerusalem, where they shall "see the King in His beauty" and receive communications and be made glad in His favours. Then with overflowing hearts shall men say, "It was a true report which we heard; our eyes now have seen; and, behold, the half was not told us!"
Doubt and unbelief will then be no more. Harassing fears will then be cast out. Christs existence, triumphs, and unspeakable glories will then be visibly demonstrated, and the world shall be lifted out of the grave of its darkness and misgivings into the glorious light and liberty of the sons of God. For if Gods presence in the transfiguration converted the rugged mount into all that Peter could desire of heaven, His sublime and gracious presence in His kingdom cannot make this world less than a paradise of God.
The Role Of The Church Of The Firstborn
A second great feature of the "new earth" or "world to come" is the exaltation, presence, and ministrations of the Church of the firstborn. Paul tells us that when Christ comes the holy dead shall be raised and the pious living changed, and both these classes together enter into their high and peculiar estate. These will the Saviour bring with Him, and have associated with Him in the princedom and sublimities of His glorious empire.
They shall then have spiritual and glorified bodies, like the glorious body of their Lord. They will not return to the earthy life that they once lived in the flesh, but they shall live a life like that which Jesus lives. They shall be in the closest union with Christ, for they constitute His Bride and are to "be ever with the Lord." His delight shall be in them, and their delight shall be in Him. They will share in His glories and be partakers of His throne.
They are to "reign with Christ." They are to judge angels and judge the world. The twelve apostles are to have twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Having overcome and kept the Saviours sayings to the end, they shall have power over the nations. He that has been faithful over five talents shall have dominion over five cities; and he that has been faithful over ten talents shall have dominion over ten cities every man according as his work has been.
And so "the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the saints of the Most High" (Daniel 7:27). They are to sit on thrones, and judgment shall be given them, and they shall be priests of God, even of Christ, and shall reign with Him the thousand years. They are to wear crowns of righteousness, which God the righteous Judge shall give unto them at that day.
Having exercised meekness, they shall inherit the earth. By the righteousness of faith made "heirs of the world," they shall enter upon their inheritance. Jesus is the heir of all things, and the saints are joint-heirs with Him. Having suffered with Him, they shall be glorified with Him. They shall have a city of habitation becoming their high nature "a firmly-founded city, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10). They are to eat and drink with Christ at His table, in His kingdom. "They shall see His face, and His name shall be in their foreheads, and they shall reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 22:4-5). They shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, but shall be as the angels of God.
"Oh, what untried forms of happy being, what cycles of revolving bliss await the just! Conception cannot reach it, nor experience present materials for the picture of its similitude; and though thus figured out with the choicest emblems, they do no more represent it than the name of Shepherd describes the watchful guardianship of Christ, or the name of Father the unspeakable love of God."
"It does not yet appear what we shall be." What shall be the precise nature of the authority, priesthood, heirship, and glory of the saints cannot now be told. But this "we know, that when He (the Saviour) shall appear, we shall be like Him, and shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). A world of wonders is in every word of this promise. But how great shall be the believers happiness, what his peculiar circumstances, how large his possessions, and what the exact nature and dignity of his employments, tongue cannot tell nor heart conceive.
We cannot understand the souls faculties now, and they shall be greater hereafter. Sublime are the Christians relations now, and they shall be more sublime then. Wonderful are the offices and mission of good men now, and they shall be a thousand times more wonderful then. A thoroughly converted and enlightened man, even while in the corrupt flesh, is a noble object to behold. Even the angels are not ashamed to become ministering spirits to him. What then shall be his glory when he shall come to occupy his throne with the adorable Jesus in the dignity of eternal empire?
That the glorified saints will, to some extent, mingle with those who live in the body and at times unveil their radiance to them, I think there is reason to believe. Their offices would seem to imply it. If they are to govern, direct, and minister to those in the flesh, it is natural to suppose that they will also be visible, at least occasionally. Angels, in the performance and similar offices, have been manifested to living men; and why should it not be so with Christs servants, in the wonderful administrations of His glorious kingdom? The earth will then be much nearer to heaven than ever it was before, and the intercourse between them will doubtless be much more free and intimate.
Glorified or spiritual bodies are, perhaps, in their nature, invisible to our earthly senses. Christ, after His resurrection, was not visible except at certain times when He manifested Himself. The angels are invisible, and yet we have many instances in which they were revealed to the view of mortals. In that new world in which the glorified saints are to be enthroned and commissioned as the ministers of Christ the Great King, to execute His orders and administer His government over the nations, we may reasonably expect that they will often appear and converse with those who live in the flesh. That intercourse between them and those in the body will be as real, familiar, and blessed as that which Adam enjoyed with heavenly beings in Paradise.
But whatever may be the specific nature of the kingship and priesthood of the glorified saints, or in whatever way they may discharge their sublime ministrations, we may rest assured that their relation to the world will be for good and blessing. Christ will thus associate them with Him in His kingdom only the more gloriously to fulfil His grand designs of love and mercy.
He came into this world to seek and to save that which was lost. He came to reveal God to man and to lift up man into harmony with God. He came amidst the grovelling, the selfish, the earthly, to tell a tale of disinterested love at which selfishness might hang its head. He came amidst the guilty, the wretched, and the lost to reveal a design of mercy at which angels rejoice with exceeding joy, and before which the aching and burdened heart may throw off the load under which it labours. He suffered, died, rose again, now lives in heaven, and will soon return to earth all to cast out the evil which has come upon man and to bring this world back to the Paradise it once was.
This espousing to Himself of an elect, ransomed, and glorified Church can be for no other purpose than that which He has already manifested in His wonderful doing thus far. Much of the great plan of redemption yet remains unfulfilled. This Church of the firstborn is exalted to its high place, not only for its own glory and the Saviours praise, but as another great link in the chain of agencies and administrations by which the entire world is to be yet restored to the high sphere for which it was destined. These children of the resurrection are to constitute an elect and immortal college, connected with the Saviours own glorified humanity, that He may thus consummate His wonderful designs in the ultimate and entire repeal of the curse under which the earth groans, and in the recovery forever of the lost heritage of man.
Why does He call and constitute the Church as we now have it? Certainly not only that those who enter it may be justified and accepted. There is another object. It is that He may work in and through the Church, and carry light, civilisation, truth, and hope to the children of men. Christians are not done with this world when they die. When this elect Church shall have been completed, and its members come to be priests and kings with Christ in the glorious Messianic kingdom, the same general calling which they now fill will continue. These sublime princedoms of the eternal empire are a part of Gods great plan to let forth His love, wisdom, and blessing upon earths future generations. Blessed, blessed shall it then be for the world when once the saints shall be installed with their promised dominion and sit with Christ upon His throne.
The Removal Of All Powers Of Wickedness
Another characteristic of the millennial world will be the entire absence of all the confederations and powers of wickedness. When the Saviour comes, Antichrist in all its shapes will be destroyed. The wild beast and the false prophet, and all their supporters and adherents, are to be taken and cast into the bottomless abyss. The last renovating fires that are to be kindled in the day of the Lord shall carry all the confederates in usurpation and wrong to their merited perdition.
The dragon, that old serpent which is the devil, even Satan, shall then be seized and bound and confined to the pit, to deceive the nations no more till the thousand years be fulfilled. After a brief release, he will be consigned to eternal death. Instead of despotism and tyranny shall be justice and charity.
Those that now corrupt and destroy the earth will then have been destroyed. The filthy dreamers who despise government and speak evil of dignities will then have passed away. The raging waves of popular revolution, foaming out their own shame, shall have been still to rise no more. Those wandering stars in Church and State, by whom so much disturbance is now experienced will then have gone to the blackness of darkness appointed for them. Might shall not then trample any more upon right. The course of nature, now set on fire of hell, shall then be made to flow in all the smoothness and tranquility of heaven.
"The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire." False prophets and false teachers, with all their "damnable heresies," shall then have gone to their destruction. Nations shall cease their fierce works of war, and armies no more butcher each other upon the bloody field of battle. Violence will no more be heard in the land, nor wasting and destruction within its borders. Satan will be deprived of his power to stir up rankling passion, and the sway of oppression and iniquity will be ended. The greatest of the worlds burdens will thus be lifted off, and the millstone that has weighed it down so long will be loosed from its neck forever.
The Glory Of The Nation Of Israel
A fourth feature of the millennium, or new earth, will be the great exaltation, piety, and glory of the Hebrew nation, and of the world through them. This people is to be restored to Palestine; Jerusalem is to be rebuilt in more than its former glory. The throne of David is to be re-established, and the Prince Messiah is to be their King.
"For lo! The days come, says the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it. And they shall serve their God and DAVID THEIR KING, whom I will raise up unto them" (Jeremiah 30:3-9).
"They shall all of them be righteous and shall inherit the land forever." Their land that was desolate shall become like Eden, and even its desert like the garden of Jehovah. "In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And he that is left in Zion, and he that remains in Jerusalem, shall be called holy" (Isaiah 4:2-3).
God says of the house of Jacob, "The gentiles shall see your righteousness and all kings your glory. You shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You that make mention of the Lord, give Him no rest till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Say to the daughter of Zion, `Behold, your salvation comes. And they shall call them the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord" (Isaiah 62)
"Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her; for thus says the Lord, `Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream" (Isaiah 66:12)
"At that time they shall call Jerusalem THE THRONE OF THE LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem" (Jeremiah 3:17).
"I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them. And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing. And I will raise up for them a place of renown. Thus shall they know that I the Lord their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people" (Ezekiel 34:24,26,29,30).
"I will be as the dew unto Israel; he shall grow as the lily and cast forth his roots; his branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon" (Hosea 14:5-6).
"And many nations shall come and say, `Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God and Jacob. He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths. For the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3).
Jesus Himself shall descend among them and be their King. He shall fight for them in the day of battle and slay all their enemies. For "God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever" (Luke 1:32-33), and "before His ancients gloriously" (Isaiah 24:23).
These are glowing promises. Well may they cause the Jew to be hopeful amid all his long-continued spoliations. Well may he still sing, "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning! If I do not remember you, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!" And when these glad predictions shall be fulfilled, all the nations shall share in the sublime exaltation of Gods ancient people and their glorious King.
Then all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in Abrahams seed. "Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the earth with fruit" (Is. 27:6). "The remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, and as showers upon the grass" (Micah 5:7). "They shall be called the priests of the Lord, and men shall call them the ministers of our God" (Isaiah 61:6).
When Zion, the city of the Lord, shall arise and shine, the Gentiles shall come to its light, and kings to the brightness of its rising. When the New Jerusalem appears, "The nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it." In that day, Israels king, even "the Lord shall be King over all the earth." "All people, nations, and languages shall serve and obey Him." "The heathen shall be given to Him for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession." "Kings shall fall down before Him, and all nations shall serve Him." "He shall reign and prosper, and His rest shall be glorious."
"The world to come, whereof we speak," has been put into subjection unto Him. The kingdoms of this world are to be His kingdoms. Every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord. He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. Morally, spiritually, and politically, all people must be eventually subjugated unto Him. "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
All these are Gods own revelations. They are full of mystery, but full of hope. How they are to be fulfilled may be a subject of wonder, but that they will be fulfilled is as certain as the existence of God. It may not all be done at once. It will be an achievement of moral force, not of mere arbitrary coercion. It may require years upon years to accomplish all, but He who has promised knows how to perform what He has uttered.
The new, august, and momentous personal manifestations of Christ for which we are taught to look, the enlarged gifts of the Holy Ghost which are yet to be bestowed, the appointment of other, better equipped, and more efficient ministerial agencies, the probable revival of miracles, the shaking of the nations with the terrors of coming judgments, the increased power of the Bible derived from the fulfilment of its prophecies, and the removal of Satan and all his treacherous opposition, certainly will leave it no difficult task to make a speedy conquest of all the great nations to the glorious dominion of the Son of David who has come down from heaven to be their Lord and King forever.
The Removal Of The Curse Of Sin
But the new earth has yet another blessed characteristic. It is to present the glorious spectacle of the entire repeal of the curse of sin. It is true that the complete and entire repeal of the curse will not be consummated until the end of the thousand years, when all wickedness and the wicked shall finally be cast out from the earth forever. But, from the time Christ comes and takes dominion of the world with His glorified saints, everything will advance closer and closer until it reaches this final and transcendant consummation.
His coming is styled "the regeneration," "the day of the restitution of all thing," the time when God shall "make all things new," "the manifestation of the sons of God," for which the creation groans and waits, the day of redemption, when "the creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God."
Christ is the Redeemer and Lord of the whole creation, as well as of the human soul. When God made man, He said to him, "Have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth" (Genesis 1:26). This dominion Adam lost. The rebellion of the soul against God brought with it the rebellion of the flesh against the spirit, and of nature against the entire man. Discords, antipathies, and a thousand evils ensued.
Christ is the second Adam, and by subverting the empire of Satan He regains the dominion which Adam lost, and carries His redemption as far as the consequences of the Fall have reached. Otherwise, the entire breach is not healed, and salvation is imperfect. The whole earth under the Messiah must then ultimately become all that it was under Adam, and what it always would have been if Adam had never sinned. The curse that was put upon the ground for Adams sin, filling it with thorns and thistles, infusing sweat and pain into all our participations of its products must be taken off. The evils and confusion which sin has brought into the world must be driven out.
This is exactly what is promised under the reign of Christ and His saints. "The Spirit shall be poured from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted a forest. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness will be quietness and assurance forever" (Isaiah 32:15-17). "The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree. It shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off" (Isaiah 55:12-13).
"Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing. In the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a watered place, and the thirsty land springs of water. In the habitation of dragons there shall be grass, with reeds and rushes" (Isaiah 35:5-7).
"And the inhabitant shall not say, `I am sick." There shall be no more dying in infancy, or of men who have not filled out their days.
"They shall build houses and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpents meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain" (Isaiah 65:17-25).
"The waters of the Dead Sea shall be healed" (Ezekiel 47:8). Trees shall grow which shall "yield their fruit monthly, and the leaves thereof shall be for the healing of the nations" (Revelation 22:2). "They shall not hunger nor thirst, neither shall the heat nor sun smite them" (Revelation 7:16).
"AND THERE SHALL BE NO MORE CURSE." "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; AND THERE SHALL BE NO MORE DEATH." "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." He may linger through a brief and feeble existence in some of the outskirts of the millennial world, but he must be entirely destroyed. "Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." Earths redeemed and undying generations shall take up the song, "Oh death! Where is your sting? Oh grave! Where is your victory? Thanks be to God which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!"
The Consummation Of All Things
Such, then is the glorious consummation to which the works of Providence and grace are tending. Such is the finishing of the mystery that God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets. This battle-field of hell and heaven shall rise up out of all its desolations. The bliss of Paradise shall yet dwell in its valleys and the glory of God shine on all its hills. Though a lazar-house for so many ages, it shall be the home of righteousness and peace, and a temple of blessing and glory, whose vaulted dome shall echo forever with redemptions songs.
Things may look unpromising now, but everywhere heaven is pouring into it. Tyranny, war, distress, and wickedness may seem to be triumphant, but their end is near, and the Desire of nations approaches. Satan and his emissaries may struggle in their desperation, but they shall not be able to keep the world from the resurrection to which it is moving. The sore travail of the Saviours soul shall yet be seen in an everlasting equation between it and heaven.
Jesus Himself shall set up His throne in it, and brighten it with the glories of His ineffable personal presence. The holy ministries of the children of the resurrection shall cover it with a mantle of peace and light. Satan and all his works shall be rooted out of it forever. All its long-erring nations shall be reclaimed, and all its discordant elements recovered to harmony and rest. Over all this place of graves, the flowers of immortality shall bloom. Instead of the coffin shall be Elijahs chariot, and in place of the death-struggle shall be Enochs rapture, and from all Gods great universe shall break forth the song of joy and praise over a world that was lost but is found; over this blasted earth made new again and glorious forever.
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