Overland Monthly / OV383 - Golden Age at Hand
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OV383 Golden Age at Hand By C. T. Russell Pastor New York, Washington and Cleveland Temples and the Brooklyn and London Tabernacles
"And He that sat upon the Throne said, Behold, I make all things new.’"—# Re 21:5.
BIBLE chronology shows that in 1875 we entered upon a great Sabbath of one thousand years. Six great Days, each a thousand years long, were behind us, and the final one thousand years there began. This great Week of seven thousand years will witness, neither the end of God’s dealings with humanity nor the destruction of the world, but the completion of the creation of our race. By that time the earth will be a world-wide Paradise; the human family, brought to perfection, will have filled the earth, according to the original Divine Program, and propagation will have ceased.
Originally man was in God’s likeness and "very good." The sex division was merely for the propagation of the race, and not designed to be permanent.—#Ge 1:28; #Lu 20:35,36.
It was never more the Divine purpose that man should contend with sickness, sorrow, pain, weakness and death itself than that the angels should be thus afflicted. The same God that created the angels, and gave them happiness and perfection, created men and properly endowed him at the beginning. The present difference between the perfection of the angels and the decrepitude of humanity—mental, moral and physical—is explained by the Bible alone. It tells that Adam was originally perfect and pleasing to God, and that his rejection by God and his subjection to death and all its concomitants are the results of his disobedience in Eden.—#Ro 5:12.
The Turning Point—Divine Mercy.
There was no turning point so far as the Divine Purpose was concerned. The Bible assures us that God purposed human redemption from sin and death from the very beginning. But the first manifestation of that Purpose was the turning-point so far as human observation discerned. That turning-point was the birth of Jesus, who was born into the world, not sinful and imperfect like Adam’s race, but especially born "holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners," that He might become the Redeemer of men and thus make possible their recovery from imperfect, dying conditions. His birth of the Virgin stands related, therefore, to the great Divine Plan respecting His death, which really began at Jordan, when He consecrated Himself to death, and was baptized by John, and which was completed when on Calvary He cried, "It is finished!"
The next step in the Divine Program was Jesus’ resurrection. Put to death in flesh, He was quickened in spirit, still more glorious than before He was made flesh. (#Php 2:9-11.) The next step in the program was the anointing of the most holy of His followers to be fellow-members of the same glorious company under His Headship.
This took place at Pentecost, and the work there begun has continued for more than eighteen centuries. As our Lord there anointed the most holy of the Jews and continued to anoint all who would be members of the Body of Christ, so in due time He began to anoint the most holy amongst the Gentiles—those who would become members of the same Body, which is His Church.
The Divine Purpose is that the risen Christ, the Second Adam, shall have a Bride class, the second Eve—a Divinely foreordained number. These eighteen centuries have been used of the Lord for the selection, or election, of
OV384 this Church to be His joint-heirs in His Kingdom; and as soon as this elect number shall have been demonstrated, their loyalty proved, etc., this Age will end and the New Age be fully inaugurated. Many Bible students agree with me that we are very near the time when the Church will be completed, and by the glorious change of the First Resurrection be made like the Lord—spirit beings, "partakers of the Divine nature." (#1Jo 3:2; #2Pe 1:4.) This will usher in the next step of the Divine Program—the Messianic Kingdom, with Christ and His Church-Bride associated with Him in the power and great glory necessary for the ruling, judging and uplifting of all the families of the earth.
If the Divine Program has consumed so much time in getting ready for the blessing of the world, what a great blessing must be designed! This is fully attested by both the Old and New Testaments. They speak of the New Dispensation now dawning as Times of Restitution, Times of Refreshing. (#Ac 3:19.) They tell us that the earth will yield her increase; and this we see already beginning, as abundantly testified. They tell us that the knowledge of the glory of God will fill the whole world, breaking the shackles of ignorance and superstition. This we see abundantly witnessed on every hand.
Earth’s Coming Glory.
The next step in the Divine Program which is about to begin will require, the Bible says, a thousand years, and will accomplish all that God has declared. The earth will be brought to perfection. Even now we see evidences of this in the wonderful fruits and flowers of our day, far superior to those of the past in general, since Eden’s bloom and beauty were lost.
The point I am emphasizing is that Millennial blessings are not coming to the world by a process of evolution, but as a result of God’s lifting the veil from our eyes and permitting us to see what to do and how to do it. The same operation of Divine providence is manifested in all the great inventions of our day. These were not gradually evolved during the past six thousand years, but have practically sprung into existence before our eyes—very many of them during the past 40 years; all of them, I might say, within the one hundred and sixteen years from 1799, a period known in the Bible as the Day of God’s preparation. (#Na 2:3.) During this period God has been preparing the world for the Millennium.
Our great inventors acknowledge that their work is not so much the result of personal effort, but rather a kind of inspiration. Their eyes of understanding opened, and things kept secret since the foundation of the world stood plainly before them, and were readily put into practical form. It is the same respecting the progress in Bible study and in the understanding of the Divine Plan of the Ages. It came, not by plodding study, but rather as an illumination of the mind by the Holy Spirit; for God’s due time had come when those of honest mind should know the Truth.
It is difficult for us to imagine that such wonderful conditions as have become common in our day—such wonderful knowledge of the Bible as is now possible to God’s Elect, and such wonderful fruits, flowers, etc.—should be only the beginning of God’s blessings. Yet it must be so; it must be that we are merely on the verge of still greater things—physical and mental blessings for all mankind.
Doctrines of Demons Interfere .
We now see clearly that the horrible doctrines of the Dark Ages so beclouded our mental vision and so stagnated thought as to handicap the world in respect to every matter of progress and intelligence. Our creeds of the Dark Ages deceived us into thinking of the Almighty as a cunning, powerful Being who had planned our injury before the foundation of the world, who purposed to torture eternally more than ninety-nine per cent of the billions He had created. Under these mental delusions, the Bible came back
OV385 to God’s people after it had been explained by the creeds for twelve hundred years.
When our fathers began to study the Bible afresh, their minds were so impregnated with what the Bible styles "doctrines of demons," that they were looking for devilish things and made them out of Scriptural statements which had no such significance.
Our Unscriptural Expectations.
Christians have long realized that God does not purpose to leave the world forever in a sin and death condition. But they have looked for Divine victory in the wrong direction, because they have accepted the theories of the Dark Ages formulated when the Bible was not in the hands of the people. The theory was that God wished the church to establish the Millennium by converting the world from sin to righteousness.
An endeavor has been made to follow that theory. Inquisitions and persecutions were invoked to force the people into church membership. How successful it was is witnessed by conditions in Europe at the present time.
Great Britain claims 95 per cent Christians, Germany the same, Russia about the same, while Italy claims that all her people are Christians. In this fashion they have been attempting to convert the world—by calling people Christians who were not Christians at all, and by including their names on church records. By these methods they have counted up a total of 400 million Christians, as against a total of 1600 millions of earth’s population. Thus the world is not half Christian, even of the nominal sort; and instead of the heathen coming rapidly to Christianity, we find that they doubled during the last century.
Let us glance at the character of those thus forcibly brought under the name Christian by making them Christians as infants. We perceive that many of these are in jails, penitentiaries and insane asylums; and while we believe that in every nation and denomination there are some true saints of God, members therefore of the true Church of God, nevertheless, taken as a whole, can we not see that what Jesus said of some in His day must be applicable in what to-day is styled Christendom—"Ye are of your father the Devil; for his works ye do?"
We ask ourselves, Are the people of Europe doing the works of God or of the devil?
The Apostle tells us that "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His;" that the fruits of Christ’s Spirit are meekness, gentleness, patience, brotherly kindness, love; that anger, malice, hatred, envy, strife, are works of the flesh and of the Devil.
"By their fruits we shall know them," said the Master. Surely, we ought to know that some huge mistake has been made when the peoples of Europe have been styled Christendom—Christ’s Kingdom—and why they are enrolled as Christians.
How sad was the mistake which occurred when the "doctrines of demons" were brought in! Now we see that the Bible tells a very different story. It tells that God’s time for saving the world from sin and death will be during the thousand years of Messiah’s Kingdom; and that then they shall have every good opportunity that Divine Wisdom, Love and Justice will arrange on their behalf.
The dead are not in Heaven nor in the Catholic Purgatory, nor in the still worse Protestant eternal torture. They are asleep, as the Bible declares. But for Jesus and His work they would be dead in the same sense that a brute is dead. Because Jesus died for sins, therefore there is to be a resurrection from the dead; and therefore the dead are spoken of as being asleep, unconscious, waiting for the Morning of Messiah’s Coming and for the glorious blessings of resurrection promised.
The Seventh Trumpet—The Last.
With our minds filled with the fears of the Dark Ages, we once thought of the "trump of God" as though it were a trumpet of the Devil, as though it implied horrible disaster to the human
OV386 family. But now, the eyes of our understanding opened to discern more clearly the Bible teachings, we are amazed to find that the trumpet of God is symbolical, like the preceding six; that it stands related to Messiah’s Kingdom and to the world’s release from the bondage of Sin and Death. Thank God for the Seventh Trumpet, the last trump, the trump of Love!
In the past this was pictured as the Jubilee. Under the Jewish law arrangement, God provided that every fiftieth year should be a Jubilee year, in which all debts should be cancelled and all bondages terminated. This was not only a beneficial arrangement for the Jews, but was a type of the future. It pictured the full forgiveness of sin and the full release of humanity from all the consequences of Adam’s disobedience.
At the opening of the year of Jubilee the fact was announced by the priests, who blew upon silver trumpets, proclaiming that the Jubilee had come, and that all might return to their former estate. The great Seventh Day, a thousand years long, the antitypical Jubilee Year, began in 1875, according to Scriptural chronology. It is the proper time for all the servants of God, members of the antitypical Priesthood, to blow the silver trumpet of Truth and to make known to the people the character of the bondage to Sin and Death, and to inform them that it is God’s will that they go free from these.
Such proclamations have been going forth from Bible students the world over during the past forty years. The matter has been opposed by many. As among the Israelites there was a nominal priesthood who opposed the Message of Jesus and the Apostles, so there is to-day a nominal priesthood who oppose the Message of Truth, the Message that Messiah is about to take His great power and reign.
All Things to be Made New.
Meantime, humanity has been increasingly anxious concerning its bondage, and has restlessly been seeking liberty—sometimes wisely, sometimes unwisely. Some employers and teachers have realized the impending change, and have governed and taught accordingly. Others, realizing the change, have invoked still further the powers of ignorance and superstition, with a view to continuing the present order of things, which God has declared shall give place to the New Christ is now taking to Himself His great power and is about to begin His Reign; and in our text He tells us that by that Reign He will make all things new.
Happy would it be for all classes if they would recognize that the great Clock in the Divine Plan has tolled out a change of dispensation; that the New Order is due to come in and the Old to go out. But because selfishness has hardened their hearts, the world is not ready for the Restitution blessings, and hence God, foreknowing this, has foretold the Time of Trouble which even now is at our door.
According to the Divine Word the present great European war is but the prelude to Armageddon, as Armageddon will be the prelude to Messiah’s Kingdom. According to the Bible the present war, without bringing special advantage to any nation, but bringing discontent to all, will prepare the world for the most wonderful revolution ever known, symbolically styled in the Bible "a great earthquake." (#Re 16:18.) Following this revolution will come the symbolical "fire" of the Bible, not a literal fire that will literally burn the earth, but the fire of Anarchy, which will consume our present civilization; and except those days should be shortened, no flesh would survive. (#Mt 24:22.)
But our Lord assured us that those days will be shortened—that the Elect will take the Kingdom and establish righteousness and peace on the firm foundation of Justice. Man’s extremity will become God’s opportunity, wisely provided before the foundation of the world.