Overland Monthly / OV191 - The Reign of the Messiah
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OV191 THE REIGN OF THE MESSIAH
BY C. T. RUSSELL Pastor of Brooklyn and London Tabernacles
"Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, as it is done in Heaven."—#Mt 6:10
MANILA, P.I.—Many of us have learned to appreciate a republican form of government as the very highest type of civil administration. I trust I am not one whit behind the most patriotic of my countrymen in my appreciation of the great government of the United States, which many of us believe is the noblest that has yet risen amongst men. Nevertheless, the Bible teaches that Messiah’s reign will be that of a Monarchy; not only so, it will be a very exclusive and aristocratic Monarchy. Additionally, it will be most autocratic—theocratic; the will of its subjects will not be consulted in the slightest particular.
The Fifth Universal Empire.
At first, in alarm, many are ready to say, Would not that be a most dangerous condition of things? Could any royal family, however noble and generous, be entrusted with such autocratic power without fear of its being misused for the enslavement of the people, for the aggrandizement of the rulers? Have we not learned this in the history of the past six thousand years? Do we not see the necessity for curtailing and controlling the powers of kings and governors? Are we not more and more brought to realize the necessity that the people shall rule, whether in Congress or in Parliament, in Doumas or in Chambers of Deputies?
Yes, yes, I heartily accede to all this; but when I shall describe the nature of the Kingdom that is to be established, and its personnel, all fears will assuredly flee, and all will rejoice exceedingly that the Divine arrangement is what it is in respect to the theocratic Kingdom shortly to be established and to take over the government of the world. Scripturally, it is described as the Fifth Universal Empire on earth. I remind you of the Divinely inspired dream of King Nebuchadnezzar as interpreted by the Prophet Daniel. It was of an image, majestic, grand. The head of the image was Nebuchadnezzar’s own kingdom at Babylon, the first to rule over the earth.
Next, represented in the breast and the arms of silver, came Medo-Persia, the second Universal Empire of earth, the conqueror of Babylon. Next, represented in the belly and thighs of the image, came Grecia, the third Universal Empire of earth, which conquered Medo-Persia. Next, represented in the legs of iron, came Rome, the Fourth Universal Empire, conqueror of Greece. There are to be no more till Messiah’s Kingdom: It will be the Fifth. Meantime, we have had two attempts at a fifth monarchy, both unsuccessful. One of these attempts was by Napoleon I, the other was that of the Papacy. During this time the present divisions, which resulted from the breaking up of the Roman Empire, are represented by the feet of the image, with their ten toes.
Smiting the Image’s Feet.
The prophecy declares (#Da 2:44) that in the days of these kings, represented by the toes of the image, the God of Heaven will set up a Kingdom, which shall subdue all kingdoms and which shall never be overcome. It shall "be given to the people, the saints, of the Most High God, and they shall take the Kingdom and possess it forever, even forever and ever." (#Da 7:18,27.) In the picture, God’s Kingdom is symbolically represented as a great Stone, hewn from the mountain without hands—supernaturally. It shall smite the image in its feet; and forthwith "the iron, the brass, the silver and the gold" shall become "like the chaff of a summer threshing floor," and the wind shall carry it away; but the
OV192 mountain shall increase until it shall "fill the whole earth." Thus, in a figure, or symbol, God pictures things now shortly to come to pass. I know not how much to expect from the war between Italy and Turkey, but Rome and Constantinople stand for, represent, the two legs of the image, for be it remembered that each in turn was the Roman capital. We are certainly justified in watching with considerable interest the present war and what it may be leading to in the way of involving all the ten kingdoms represented in this prophecy. But that is not the special point of interest in my subject; rather, I am discussing the character of Messiah’s Kingdom, which is to rule the world, overthrow sin and death, and uplift humanity from ignorance, superstition, sin, weakness and death. The declaration is that Messiah shall reign until He shall have put down all insubordination, and that the last enemy to be destroyed will be death. —#1Co 15:25,26.
This is the Kingdom for which the Master Himself taught His followers to pray. Nothing slight or insignificant will be the outcome of that glorious, Messianic reign of a thousand years. At its very beginning Satan will be bound, with all that this signifies—the repression of evil and darkness. For a thousand years the Sun of Righteousness shall pour forth the light of truth and grace upon our poor, fallen race, until the knowledge of God’s glory shall fill the whole earth, as the waters cover the great deep. (#Hab 2:14.)
Eventually, all wilful opponents of that Kingdom shall die the Second Death, from which there will be no redemption, no recovery. But, meantime, all the willing and obedient will be rising, not only from the tomb, but also out of all the weaknesses and frailties of the present time, up, up, up to the fulness of perfection of life, although they will not live again in this perfect sense until the thousand years shall be finished. With the close of that reign of righteousness, after it shall have accomplished its work of delivering the groaning creation from the bondage of corruption, sin and death, Messiah will abdicate the Throne, as it is written, "He shall deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father"..."that God may be all in all."—#1Co 15:24,28.
No More Sighing, Crying, Dying.
What a glorious triumph that will be, when "every creature in heaven and earth and under the earth shall be heard saying, ‘Praise, glory, honor, dominion and might be unto Him that sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb, forever.’"(# Re 5:13.) What a glorious condition will then obtain, when there shall be no more crying, no more sighing, no more dying, for all the former things of sin and death shall have passed away! Ah! He that sitteth upon the Throne said, "Behold, I make all things new!" Glad we are that our great Messiah is about to overthrow sin and evil, about to establish righteousness on a permanent and everlasting foundation, which will insure that to all eternity God’s will shall be done as perfectly on this earth as it is now done in Heaven! I ask you to consider candidly—Is there a kingdom in the world to-day that in your judgment fitly represents a Divine government amongst men? Is there a perfect government? Is there a single spot in all the earth where God’s will is done as it is done in Heaven? You are conversant with history. You know the bloody record which marks its pages. You know that so-called Christian Europe has been drenched with blood more than any other part of the world. You know that the cause of wrong has triumphed as often or oftener than the cause of right. You know that to-day these kingdoms of Europe, styled kingdoms of God, are threatening one another as they have done in the past. You know that great guns, great battleships, monster torpedoes, such as the world has never known before, are being prepared by these various
OV193 nations for use, either aggressively or defensively, against one another, while they all claim to be Christ’s kingdoms. Is this logical? Is this rational? Most assuredly not! We must go to the Bible for true information on this subject. It tells us that these kingdoms are not the kingdoms of God, but "kingdoms of this world." It tells us that Satan is the Prince of this world (#Joh 14:30; #Eph 2:2); that he is "the god of this world; that now "worketh in the hearts of the children of disobedience" —so much more numerous than the children of obedience, that he, through them, holds the world’s control. But with equal clearness the Bible declares the Divine Power and mastery over Satan, and that he and his reign of sin and death are permitted of God for a limited time and for a special purpose. The testimony tells us that when the due time shall come, Messiah will take His great power and reign.
Then Satan shall be bound, and all the forces of sin and darkness be restrained.
Then the Sun of Righteousness will arise with healing in its beams, to flood the earth with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.
The Election Hath Obtained It.
Come with me and take a cursory view of God’s great work thus far accomplished. For more than two thousand years God gave no clear intimation of what He intended to do for the fallen race. Then He made a statement to Abraham, so clear, so explicit, that St. Paul declares it was a statement of the Gospel in advance. God said to Abraham, I intend to bless the world—which could only mean, I intend to relieve them of the curse of death which came upon them through Adam’s sin. God added to Abraham, This blessing which I will bring to all the families of the earth will come through your posterity—"In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."—#Ge 12:3, 26:4.
God’s due time for bringing this blessing was still future; the blessing intended could not come until Messiah should come; but meantime God gave to the natural seed of Abraham, through Moses, the Law Covenant, which offered them eternal life and an inheritance in the Kingdom if they could keep the Law. Of course, they could not keep the Law, because it was the measure of a perfect man’s ability, and alas! like the remainder of the world, the Israelites were imperfect—sinners.
Nevertheless, the offer, and their attempt to keep the Law, brought them great uplift of heart, so that when Jesus came to them, a considerable number were ready to receive Him, did receive Him, and He received them. They became sons of God, through the begetting of the Holy Spirit, at Pentecost and afterwards. These were the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, begotten of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Himself being the Head, or First; the others were counted in as members of His Body. Israel had been hoping for a share in Messiah’s Kingdom, and St. Paul explains, "Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for, but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." The blinded Israelites are still cast aside, but not forever. The Divine blessing shall come to natural Israel just as soon as spiritual Israel shall be completed.—#Ro 11:25-34.
The Kingdom Suffereth Violence.
What did the "election" obtain? Of what did the faithful "Israelites indeed" become heirs by accepting Jesus and by the Pentecostal blessing? We answer that they became identified with Messiah’s Kingdom, and heirs or inheritors of the glorious promise made to Abraham, that in this Kingdom all the families of the earth should be blessed. But now note that there were not a sufficient number of Jews found worthy to complete the Kingdom class. The Kingdom, therefore,
OV194 could not be inaugurated then. God had foreseen this, and through the Prophet had promised that some would be gathered from the Gentiles to complete this Kingdom class. The entire work of this Gospel Age has been the calling of this "elect" class for the Kingdom. If we have rightly viewed the matter, the foreordained number will soon have been found, the election will be at an end, the accepted will be glorified as the Kingdom, and Messiah’s reign of righteousness will begin. But notice now the course of all belonging to the Kingdom class, throughout this Age.
They are not reigning with Christ, but suffering with Christ. And Jesus explained this; they are indeed of the Royal Family, because begotten of the Holy Spirit; they are indeed the Kingdom class, because they are affiliated with the great King; but they have not yet entered into their glory. They will do so only by the power of the First Resurrection. Thus it is written: "We must all be changed," because "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." Our Lord Himself was the Pattern, the Forerunner of all these. After His consecration and His begetting of the Holy Spirit, He was tested even unto death, even the death of the Cross, before He experienced His glorious resurrection change and ascended up and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High. Similarly, all of His followers, after consecration, must be tested, their loyalty must be proven, before they can share with Him in "His Resurrection." Partly for the testing of these, their development takes place in a time when Satan is the Prince of this world, and when his power is permitted to be exercised against them as it was exercised against their Lord. The message to these is: "The Kingdom suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." As our Lord suffered violence from the Prince of this world, so will His followers, for "The disciple is not above his Lord." His promise to His followers is, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."—#Re 2:10.
The World Knoweth Us Not.
So, then, we perceive that God’s Kingdom class, the followers of Jesus, have been suffering violence, just as did their Leader, for righteousness’ sake. That the persecutors had not known and done their evil work intentionally, St. Peter intimates when he says to the Jews: "I wot that in ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers, for if they had known they would not have crucified the Prince of Life." Hence, in due time their blindness shall be turned away, and "they shall look upon Him Whom they pierced and mourn" (#Zec 12:10), and God "will pour upon them the spirit of prayer and supplication," and forgive them and make the experience profitable to as many as shall prove willing. Meantime, for eighteen centuries, the Scriptures declare, "The world knoweth us not, even as it knew Him not." God’s saintly ones have not been generally the great, the influential, either in Church or State, just as Jesus and the Apostles were not in their day. Nevertheless, the Lord knoweth them that are His. Scattered here and there, during the past eighteen centuries, He has been dealing with them, preparing them, polishing them, fitting them as jewels. And He tells us that at our Lord’s second coming He will make up His jewels—they will constitute the Kingdom class, for "If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him." I am sure you will agree with me that those whom the Lord has been so carefully selecting, instructing and polishing in the School of Christ, who have been so effectively polished with the trials and disciplines of evil, will be the very class above all others to whom the glorious dominion of earth may well be entrusted without fear. Only those thoroughly loyal to God and to principle will be in that Kingdom class.