And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. —Matthew 14:28, 29
Very early in that morning, Jesus’ disciples were in their little boat on the sea of Galilee. A strong, contrary wind whipped boisterous waves against them. There was almost something personal about this adverse gale.
A Joyous Multitude
It had been a remarkable day. Thousands had come to hear Jesus. The disciples felt honored to be associated with the wonderful Teacher. The crowds hung on his gracious words. His doctrines and manner of teaching were delightful. There was a thrilling challenge in his message that searched the depths of their hearts.
Every hearer had some notion of the kingdom hope and the part Israel was to play in it. Most were natural, even carnal, concepts, appealing to human pride; were they not the people of God? But Jesus’ kingdom was beautiful—the Lord’s hallowed presence enthroned in every heart.
Blessing Now, Blessing Later
The throng was hungry for His teachings. They forgot their hunger for food. But the disciples became aware of practicalities. They noticed the descending sun, and became uneasy. They interrupted Jesus, whispering that he should dismiss his audience.
Then followed an experience that would make their minds tingle on every future recollection. They became instruments in an amazing demonstration of power: one lad’s supper fed the multitude. What a climax to the day! They witnessed a portrayal of that blessed time when all human needs would be divinely satisfied and they would again be the instruments used of the Lord to convey blessings to mankind. They were learning to live with the power of God.
This is essential to the preparation of the future ministers of the kingdom. Each was a vessel of divine grace, a channel of divine love, an instrument through which the Lord would exhibit the glory of his power to give life abundant to whosoever will.
A Need for Quiet
Finally, the crowds dispersed, and Jesus was left alone with his disciples—but not before another wonderful moment occurred. The people were so elated by the experience that groups gathered, rallying the support of all. The disciples realized that the hopeful congregation wanted to proclaim Jesus their king!
Knowing the people’s intent, Jesus motioned to his disciples, climbing higher up the mountain trail to be alone with God. He longed for that future day when men would respond to divine love in a way more enduring than the fervor of that crowd.
Their Stormy Challenge
He told the apostles to proceed to Bethsaida, leaving him alone with his Father in prayer. The disciples in the midst of the sea, and Jesus on high with the Father, depicted the Gospel age night of weary toil for the Church.
It was hard for them. A hazardous storm had risen. They strained at the oars, their struggles seeming to avail nothing. Their Master’s presence seemed remote. For hours they toiled, the journey taking much longer than they had anticipated. They longed for the sight of dawn and the shoreline.
But Jesus knew. From his vantage point on high, he saw their plight. The watches of the night passed. In the fourth watch, they glimpsed a sight which frightened them. It was Jesus, but a Jesus they had yet to know. He was now demonstrating divine abilities.
Winds and waves threatened their ship;
yet there was Jesus,
walking on that troubled water as though it was solid rock.
Consider their fear: Here was a being with superhuman power—power above that of the storm. Even earth’s gravity was impotent beneath his feet.
Our Stormy Challenges
This parallels the mighty power of One whose presence is now recognized by saints on earth. Can we comprehend the vast resources of divine power now available to our returned Lord? He is exercising in this earth’s atmosphere, in the midst of the storms that bring fear into human hearts, the power of the victor over sin, the conqueror of every evil force released on earth.
We do not cry out in fear, but let us shout in worship and praise to our returned King, no longer bound by flesh but glorious in majesty.
“Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously on behalf of truth and meekness and righteousness” (Psalm 45:3, 4).
The disciples feared because they glimpsed a being with powers of another world. This recognition of spirit realm was awesome. Blessed are our eyes that see beyond human sight to celestial glory. In awe we see that One who today stands here amidst the earthly scene.
We Learn from Peter
We were not with him on Galilee. We cannot feel the might of battering waves, the force of gale, the surrounding darkness. But our proxy was there, Peter. How we love his earnest heart!
In Peter we see ourselves. His lessons were enjoyed by saints throughout the age. Yet now, the lessons are for us. When Jesus and the disciples were united in the boat, the storm abated, the wind dropped, the sea became a great calm. Soon they reached the other shore.
The time of troublewill not end, nor the testing of the saints, until the last is gathered to be with the Lord. That is the dispensational message. There is also a personal message for each saint, pertaining to their walk this side of the veil. It has special meaning for us, in this time of the Master’s presence in the very midst of earth’s troubled scenes.
Peter was reassured by the Master’s voice,
“Take courage. It is I!Do notbe afraid!”
What comfort we find in recognizing One who stands before us now endowed with wondrous powers. The earth hears and trembles; Zion hears and is glad. In the midst of so much disturbance, so many demonstrations of the powers of darkness, when all human existence on this earth is threatened, what comfort to our hearts to hear the voice of our Beloved saying,
“Be not afraid. It is I!”
Peter was stirred. He saw that Jesus’ powers could overcome all limitations of flesh. He glimpsed a higher realm. A blessed truth confronted him, and dear, impulsive Peter, wanted to taste that power divine.
The Lord created a scenario, teaching us what Peter sought to learn—how to walk on water.
When Jesus walked upon that sea, he was upheld by an invisible force superior to any power on earth. Here was faith in its fulness, faith-fulness that finds the rock on which to walk throughout life.
Peter asked, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
We should not presume, but meekly ask. The invitation comes from him, “Come. Follow me.”
Peter was not testing God. He was asking for the Master’s power to resist the downward force that gravitates the mind to earth. Peter wanted to experience the power of God.
It was an impulsive request. He had not learned that long-sighted vision which the Spirit would later endow. That Spirit recognizes that a heavenly purpose is working on a grand scale. It is our privilege to co-work with God toward that goal. And the Lord utilized Peter’s impulse to teach us lessons.
First we request the Lord’s help to follow him. He does not ask us to do the impossible. God makes ALL things possible.
We are called to walk in Jesus’ steps. How can we do that? He was holy; we are corrupt. Then Peter had to believe that if Jesus gave the word, Jesus had the power. Believe!
Step out of the rocking boat into the stormy sea.
The power is there. This means more than believing when comfortable, in good health. It means to put ALL our confidence and trust on Someone truly worthy—to accept him as our TOTAL means of support.
Jesus walked on water with no visible support. Our visible support refers to job, home, health, family, friends, position, income, material possessions. We cannot depend on them for our peace of mind.
Our Rocky Boats
Believing meant stepping out of the boat. Even a rocky boat is some means of support. Each human strength is like that rocky boat. Stepping out of the boat requires faith.
Are we then at the mercy of the waves? No, we are abandoning the things that can be shaken and placing our feet on solid rock. Matthew 14:30 records the situation: “When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord save me! And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
No one can see what supports the child of faith through tribulation and weakness. But the visible effect of faith can be seen—peace, confidence, joy, at times when the world would expect utter dejection and expect us to sink!
The window of the heart opens to heaven when this body of death is locked in its prison.
The attitude of prayerful praise is the visible evidence of the rock of faith. The confining of the body quickens the spirit of perception that enjoys glorious liberty as God’s sons.
Paul, too, stepped out of a boat and walked on water: “Bonds and afflictions wait for me, but none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto me.” We look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are unseen. No overcomer cowers in the boat. How frightening, when poor Peter found himself sinking!
Our failures teach us deep and permanent lessons.
All saints experience boisterous winds and waves, dark and threatening contradictions to our faith.
Every step of walking on water is a test of faith.
There is no retirement from the life of faith. As the years advance, we become like Enoch: this walk with the Lord becomes so absorbing to our mind that we do not see death, only the victorious Lord at the side of God’s throne, his voice ringing out, “Come!” This is the victory . . . your faith.”
At Golgotha, visible evidence indicated that Jesus had been abandoned. Yet that ultimate contradiction to his faith proved its very reality, faith FULL unto death. Faith is knowing our Father’s abiding faithfulness. We know he is there, he is for us, he knows every detail required to bring us to himself in the bond of perfect trust.
When Peter stepped out, he needed something more sure than the rocking ship made with human hands. He needed the most dependable power that exists. To reach for it, he needed faith that can let go, as surely as it can cling!
Reaching to Jesus
Matthew 14, Mark 6, and John 6, each add some precious detail. We read in Mark 6:48, that as the wonderful Master walked upon those waves, he seemed to be passing them by, proceeding towards the shore. It was this realization that spurred Peter on to request the Lord’s command to follow him.
Peter did not want the Lord to pass him by. He wanted to walk with Jesus. We do not want the Lord to pass us by. We cannot merely watch him from the uncertain safety of our storm-dashed ship.
We are not arm-chair saints.
Our faith is on trialNOW.
THIS is the hour to realize the power of total trust.
Why wait for that hour of tribulation when our ship may break on the rocks? The truth is staring at us today. Jesus defies that which is seen by natural sight. Contradictions are real. This body of humiliation contradicts the high aspirations of the new mind. It humiliates our pure desire for a holy life. Let our clay vessels manifest the miracle of God’s power.
Everyone, not just the Lord’s people, eventually lose the things on which human security depends—health, strength, partner, friends. All have a coded date-stamp beyond which corruption will set in. How vital to our peace that we learn to walk on water NOW, before that evil day.
Then shall we know the triumph of faith that conquers the fury of every storm. Then shall we say:
Let the chill mists gather round me. Let the lights of earth grow dim. Leave me Jesus, only Jesus. I am Satisfied with him.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, ESV).
Ah! my heart is heavy laden,
Weary and oppressed.
Come to me, saith One, and coming,
Be at rest.
Hath he marks to lead me to him,
If he be my guide?
In his feet and hands are wound-prints,
And his side.
Is there diadem, as monarch,
That his brow adorns?
Yes, a crown in very surety,
But of thorns!
If I find him, if I follow,
What’s my portion here?
Many a sorrow, many a conflict,
Many a tear.
If I still hold closely to him,
What have I at last?
Sorrow vanquished, labor ended,
If I ask him to receive me,
Will he say me nay?
Not till earth and not till heaven
Br. Charles Taze Russell—the founder of the Bible Students movement, who is the compiler of“Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” which was published in Allegheny, Pa., U.S.A. in 1890. This Bible Students’ devotional contained a total of 151 poems and 333 hymns.
Later on, the hymns from this book formed a basis for the hymnal titled “Hymns of Dawn” which was published by the Dawn Bible Students Association in East Rutherford, New Jersey (USA) and the 1999 edition contains a total of 361 hymns.
Here is an overview of the written content from the video “After Armageddon, God’s Kingdom” which can be viewed at the link provided at the end of this post.
In recent times Television and Radio news commentators, have filled our consciousness almost daily with catastrophic events happening throughout the world. Who can forget the tragic collapse of the twin towers on November 9th, 2001, when thousands of innocent people lost their lives because of a hand full of terrorists. Earthquakes are increasing at an alarming rate all around the world, which in turn, often produce the heart wrenching scenes of Tsunamis, wiping away entire cities with tens of thousands of lives lost in Indonesia, and the more recent one in Japan. The world is plagued with terrorist attacks. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan being fought not against conventional armies, but suicidal terrorists. Throughout the Middle East we see people uprising in revolt against their nations leaders. The masses in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran and many other countries, are held down in poverty and oppression of rights. As a result, they demanded the removal of all their corrupt leaders, and governments. Other countries are worried that terrorists or radical governments might acquire a nuclear weapon to destroy their enemies resulting in a nuclear holocaust.
Armageddon In The News
These catastrophic events and increasing threats are resulting in the Medias News anchors using the term Armageddon ever more frequently. People are wondering if all this trouble is an indicator that we are approaching Armageddon mentioned in the book of Revelation?
In Revelation 16:13-20 (ESV) we read:
“(13) And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon [Political power under the influence of Satan], and out of the mouth of the beast [Papacy – the Roman Catholic Church], and out of the mouth of the false prophet [the Church of England and their Protestant allies]. (14) For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (15) Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. (16) And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon [Strongs 717 – “the hill or city of Megiddo”]. (17) And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. (18) And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. (19) And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. (20) And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”
The destruction in Armageddon is highly symbolic picture language. By many, the word Armageddon has come to be misunderstood as a final great cataclysmic event that will destroy by fire the heavens and our literal planet earth, together with all remaining unbelievers. Let us explain in relation to the words of 2 Peter 3:10.
This scripture is using figurative symbolic language, and should not be taken literally.
The Heavens and The Earth
The heavens being destroyed couldn’t possibly be referring to the literal heaven of God’s abode or the billions upon billions of stars in the starry heavens above as in this NASA deep space shot, in which each speck of light is not a star, but a galaxy.
Nor could the destruction of the earth be referring to our literal planet earth on which we live, for notice God’s Word in Ecclesiastes 1:4.
This scripture is a plain easy to understand literal statement. The earth will abide forever!
How then, can 2 Peter 3:10 be understood which says the earth will be destroyed by fire?
Since the Bible was inspired by God, we realize it must be harmonious with itself. Hence, the heavens and earth that are to be destroyed can only be understood in a symbolic sense.
We are told in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that Satan is the god of this present evil world.
“In their case the god of this [evil] world [the Adversary] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Thus, the symbolic heavens and earth that will be burnt up with fire, refers to the destruction and removal of all the works of injustice and iniquity of Satan’s evil empire.
All these elements of Satan’s empire will be destroyed or removed inArmageddon.
The Apostle Peter furthermore, explains what will replace Satan’s empire.
God will replace the present evil order of society with a new righteousone. This new heavens and earth refers tothe kingdom of God that Jesus taught us to pray for.
We notice God’s kingdom for which we pray for, is going to be right here on earth.
Thus the new heavens isn’t referring to a new literal heaven, but to the new spiritual ruling power of “The Christ,”that will govern over a new earthly society. Not a new planet, but to a new holy righteous kingdom here on earth.
A Great Time of Trouble
A great time of trouble will remove this present evil order. Yet, let us take note what immediately follows after—a great time of blessingto mankindhere on planet earth! The kingdom of God!
Psalm 46 speaks of the time of trouble that will melt the earth at the end of the age. It begins with giving comfort to his faithful people as the trouble time approaches.
This is the same end time trouble referred to in Revelation and in 2 Peter chapter 3. The elements melt as he brings desolation or destruction to earths evil social structure. But now notice what immediately follows in the very next verse after the symbolic earth melts from the heat of trouble.
After the symbolic melting of earth, the earth is still here!
God makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth. It’s God’s kingdom time, the time God will be exalted among the nations.
And where are the nations? God says, “I will be exalted in the EARTH!”
Yes, the EARTH will abide forever.
The previous melting, was only symbolic of the destruction of Satan’s evil empire that will be removed, and replaced with God’s kingdom. Similarly we read about this in Zephaniah 3: 8,9.
Again, we read of the destruction of symbolic earth with the FIRE of God’s jealousy. But in the very next verse we read:
After the removal of the present evil order of society, the kingdom of blessings will immediately follow.
All mankind will be gradually raised from the tomb of death, and will be instructed with a pure language, that is a pure and true understanding of God’s word, his plans and His will for mankind to follow in order to go on to receive everlasting life.
Now we come to our theme text of Haggai 2:6-8 (KJV).
“(6) For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; (7) And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory,saith the Lord of hosts. (8) The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.
This is prophetic of the same shaking of Armageddon and the end time of trouble that will remove Satan’s empire—the present symbolic heavens and earth. But again, let us notice what immediately follows in the very next verse!
“‘(9) The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.’”
What a glorious precious promise!
After the trouble, the blessings of the kingdom of God on earth will come. A time when THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS WILL COME when they are raised from the tomb in God’s kingdom.
What is the desire of all nations, of all people?
→ peace → health → freedom from all fear and anxieties, → EVERLASTING LIFE!
The opportunity for all these and more is what God has promised for all mankind in God’s promised Kingdom on earth.
One might ask, then, if God intends “the desire of all nations” to pass, then:
WHY did God not do this from the very beginning of Creation?
WHY has God allowed man to suffer pain, sickness and death for thousands of years?
In order to find the answer to this universal question, may we suggest that for a few moments we try to imagine ourselves being God! That’s rather difficult but let us give it a try! Imagine having just finished creating the Angelic host and all the stars, galaxies and planets.
Let us try to envision our beginning to contemplate creating a new human race of intelligent beings. Our first thought might be that of creating him in such a way that it was impossible for him to ever do anything wrong, for in this way, humanity will live forever never having any pain or sickness.
But upon further thought, we may realize no, this would not be good because then humans would be mere robots, programmed to love God rather than truly desiring from their own hearts to love God.
We would want our children to love and obey us because they want to, not because they have to without any choice.
We would want them to have a mind of their own, to have freedom to make their own decisions.
As we consider various possibilities, we gradually develop a fantastic plan. A plan that:
is kind andloving!
provides for freedom of choice!
teaches our children to learn by experiencing right from wrong!
provides an opportunity to live forever in perfect happiness.
allows our children to love and serve us, not because they have to with no choice, but because they love us for what we are, and for what we provide for them.
This is the plan of God that he provided for his new human family. As we further consider that plan, we will see that it is the most loving, most just, most reasonable plan for mankind that you could ever imagine.
Adam and Eve in Eden
When God created Adam in the Garden of Eden, he gave him a simple test:
Obey and live, or disobey and die.
God knew Adam would fail his test, because of a lack of experience, but Godpermitted it as an act of love for man’s ultimate greatest eternal blessing.
Man was to learn from experience to discern right from wrong and also to experience the disastrous effects of disobedience so that…
after evil is eradicated, for eternity the lessons of the past will serve as a reminder of what JOYS REMAIN ETERNALLY for all who OBEY the Heavenly Father’s principles.
The Scriptures promise, that very soon every single one who has ever lived will gradually be raised from the sleep of death in God’s promised kingdom.
In 1 Corinthians 15:22 we read, “For asin Adamalldie, even so in Christshallall be made alive.”Notice ALLwill be made alive. This includes every man, woman and child that has ever lived on the face of the earth… Jew, Arab, Christian, Atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, good or bad… ALL are promised to be made alive in God’s kingdom!
Because the one perfect man Adam sinned, the death penalty came upon him and all of us as his children. But God’s love provided for another perfect man Christ Jesus, to give his life as a ransom to redeem father Adam. Thus, it was Jesus’ ransom merit that provided the legal basis for justice to be satisfied, and allow everyone that has ever lived to be resurrected from the dead.
The KEY to understand God’s ultimate plan for his human creation is to recognize that the scriptures teach that there are two salvations for mankind:
A heavenly salvation.
An earthly salvation.
Our Lord refers to this heavenly class as but a “little flock,” that is relatively few in number.
It is to this earthly kingdom that ALL the remainder of mankind (the good and the bad) will be raised in the 1000-year Millennial kingdomof God. As each one will be raised from the dead in this kingdom, they will be guided and instructed in the laws of the kingdom. They will be given every opportunity to gradually change their ways to develop Christ -like qualities.
By that time, all mankind will have experienced the great contrast between disobedience (prison) and obedience (joyful life). Thus, with experience being the best teacher, this vast contrast will enable most of mankind to pass their individual test and go on to live forever in perfect happiness.
A Foretaste of the Future
We can see that the plan God has adopted for his new human creation will result in most all of mankind loving and obeying their Creator for all eternity, not because they have to with no choice, but because they want to with all their being. It will be then that words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:10,11 shall be fulfilled.
With this brief summary of why God permitted evil for man’s ultimate good, let us note a few of the many Scriptures that describe the blessings of what the kingdom of God will be like.
In Isaiah 35:1-10 we are promised:
“The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose… Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped… Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue will shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert… and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”
“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calfand the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them”(Isaiah 11:6, NIV).
“They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain (Kingdom), for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea”(Isaiah 11:9).
“He will destroy in this mountain [kingdom,] the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken.It will be said on that day, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:7-9, RSV).
After the shaking trouble of Armageddon, truly “the desire of all nations shall come” in God’s glorious kingdom!
Signs of The Time of the End
Since Jesus died so long ago, one might wonder when will this resurrection take place and the kingdom of God be established? The disciples asked Jesus this very same question in the 24th chapter of Matthew:
Jesus proceeded to outline evidences that would enable those who were watching to recognize when this time would be.
Matthew 24:21,22—“For then shall be great tribulation,such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.”
But someone might say, there has always been trouble, and people often feel it is worse than ever before. What makes our present day trouble, a special sign? What makes it a special sign is the last phrase,
“And except those days should be shortened, there should be no flesh saved.”
Recall for a moment the devastation that took place in Hiroshima Japan on August 5th1945. The next day the United States dropped one Atomic Bomb over Hiroshima and the city was completely destroyed.
Over 200,000 people died and countless others were injured with radiation burns.
By today’s standards that bomb was relatively small. Its destructive power was the equivalent of exploding only 13,000 tons of TNT explosive.
On October 30, 1961 Russia exploded a test hydrogen bomb, that had the equivalent of 50 million tons of TNT—3,846 times greater explosive powerthan the one bomb on Hiroshima!
Today there are eight countries that have nuclear warheads: China, England, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States. There are currently about 31,000 nuclear warheads owned by these eight countries. The combined explosive yield of these weapons is approximately 5000 million tons of TNT. That’s 200,000 times the explosive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima!
We can see the fulfillment of Jesus’ sign of the end of the age when he said:
“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matthew 24:22).
Never before in the history of man would it have been possible to destroy all life on earth. Today there are enough nuclear warheads to destroy all flesh on earth many times over. But how thankful we are God has promised the trouble will be shortened. And when Satan’s present evil heavens and earth are removed, they will be replaced with the new righteous heavens and earth of God’s kingdom.
In the book of Daniel, God gave us additional signs to know where we are in the stream of time.
“And at that time shall Michael [Jesus] stand up, … and there shall bea time of trouble, such as never wassince there was a nation even to that same time” (Daniel 12:1-4, KJV).
Again a great time of trouble like never before, but note what will come after the trouble in the next verse… THE KINGDOM TIME!
“And at that time thy people shall be delivered, (2) Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake…” (Daniel 12:1,2).
The resurrection of the dead will begin!
Then in verse 4, God gives us two more signs to help us know when this time of trouble followed by the kingdom would be. It wasn’t going to be in Daniel’s day, but in “the time of the end.”
We have witnessed both of these signs. Think for a moment how fast knowledge is increasing. The accumulated knowledge of mankind since his first appearance on earth up to 1750 had doubled by 1900, a period of 150 years, redoubled again in just 50 years by 1950, redoubled again in 10 years to 1960, and again in 8 years to 1968.
The telephone, electric light, automobiles, sound recording, radio, television, jet airplanes, modern appliances, computers, space travel, trips to the moon, cell/mobile phones have been changing so rapidly we can’t keep up. And now with the internet—via a press of a button—information about any topic from around the globe can be accessed.
The “increase of knowledge” was one of the signs Daniel gave us of the nearness of the kingdom of God and it made possible the next sign Daniel gave us: “…many shall run to and fro!” (Daniel 12:4, KJV).
Are we not running to and fro today?
Think for a moment how just a little more than 100 years ago, man’s common transportation for thousands of years was a horse and buggy. Sir Isaac Newton was scorned by his peers when he predicted man would someday travel at speeds of 50 miles per hour. Little did he realize that man would fly across the ocean at 1300 mph and travel through space at 25,000 mph.
“Many shall run to and fro”—this is certainly our day! Another evidence that we are on the very brink of the establishment of God’s Kingdom!
The Fig Tree
Returning to Matthew 24, Jesus gave another very important sign that would indicate the time of his 2nd presence and the end of the age in Matthew 24:32-34.
“32 Now learn a parable ofthe fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
From many Scriptures throughout the Bible we realize the fig treealways represents the nation of Israel. Leaves sprouting on a tree is a sign that the tree has sprung to life after a dormant winter. Thus, what Jesus was actually telling us, is that when we see Israel come alive as a nation after being without a homeland for thousands of years, then we will know that God’s kingdom is right at the door.
Has Israel put forth leaves? Yes!
As we recall the past, we see how Israel as a people were dispersed among all nations, persecuted bitterly, having to live in Ghettos, hunted and exterminated as undesirables. Yet Israel’s hope was strong in God’s promises of a return to their homeland.
We recall the words uttered so often by Jewish people, “next year in Jerusalem.”
This hope was fulfilled in an historic miracle of our day, after thousands of years without a homeland.
By all military standards, Israel should not be in existence.
In war after war, outnumbered 100 to one, the tiny Israeli forces could not be overpowered.
And so it has continued to this day because God’s time clock has struck, for Israel to return to their land!
The Fig tree has blossomed!
Remember this was a sign Jesus gave to show the nearness of his kingdom. The Apostle Luke adds something in his account that makes our faith even stronger, writing the following words:
If the Fig Tree pictures Israel, “all the trees” would refer to other nations.
So Luke is telling us that together with Israel putting forth leaves (springing into life), many other nations would be putting forth leaves—sprouting into existence. And when we see this happen we would know the kingdom of God was near at hand. What does history tell us? It ties in exactly with Israel becoming a nation.
Up until 1945 the number of independent nations in the world remained relatively constant for centuries. A total of 70 were in existence in 1945. But since the ending of the 2nd World War in 1945 notice what’s happened! Today, there are 196 nations! More than 125 new independent nations have sprung into being which previously were held as colonies. Yes, Israel simultaneously with other nations has put forth leaves, sprouting into existence! We are the ones who have witnessed the fulfillment of this!
Let us recall what Luke and Matthew told us:
“When ye see these things come to pass, know ye the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand” (Luke 21:31).
“When ye shall see all these things know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily, I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34).
What a thrill to our hearts to realize this means we are on the very brink of the greatest event in all human history—the establishment of God’s Kingdom!
If this is so, then why all the continued trouble?
This is again in fulfillment of prophecy. For just as a contractor must remove an old structure from a building site, before he can build a new skyscraper, so with God. He must first remove Satan’s present corrupt systems of society, before they can be replaced with Jehovah’s kingdom of blessings.
Notice how this was portrayed in the book of Daniel. In Daniel 2:31-45 Daniel interprets a prophetic dream of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, that pictured the four Universal World Empires,and their removal. Here are three images to explain the image according to Bible prophecy:
The stone that struck the image—pictures how God’s kingdom will grow and fill the whole earth. This prophetic dream is in essence, another symbol of the removal of the present corrupt heavens and earth being replaced by the new heavens and earth of God’s kingdom, which will fill the earth with blessings.
Then in verse 44 of Daniel 2, we are given another prophetic corroboration of 1914 as the time when the stone of God’s power initially strike the image beginning the “time of trouble” which will be culminated in Armageddon.
We realize that the kings of Europe virtually passed away after the first World War of 1914.
Thus this Scripture is telling us, that when the kings still existed in 1914, it was God’s initial kingdom power that struck a blow which startedthe time of trouble.It started to break in pieces the monarchies and colonies of the kingdoms, and the breaking down process will continue until it ultimately removes all the kingdoms in Armageddon.
God’s plan is truly the most kind, the most loving, the most just, the most blessed and reasonable plan for mankind, that you could ever imagine.
We leave you with one of the most precious closing verses of the book of Revelation. Earlier we consider Revelations reference to Armageddon. But now notice how Revelation’s closing promises show us that Armageddon is not the end, but in reality it’s the prelude to the beginning of the new heavens and earth, the most glorious time period awaiting you and me and everyone that has ever lived—God’s Kingdom!
Truly, the desire of ALL nations will have come, and it will LAST FOREVER!
Br. George Tabac—The content for this post is based on Br. George Tabac’s script of his video titled “After Armageddon, God’s Kingdom” which can be viewed on the BibleTruth411 YouTube channel, at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzAnPWMXrW0
When down hearted and discouraged At the trend of life’s affairs, Seek,alone, the quiet places; Give yourself to earnest prayers.
There’s a hint for us, emphatic, In the way our Savior walked; In the open, solitary, Oh, how oft with God he talked.
For all troubles that infest the Pilgrim’s tortuous, earthly way, Holy Writ sets forth the antidote— Importunately pray.
I rejoice that God has told us Always, how to overcome; How the victory is realized, The finished fight is won.
We may often feel dejected, But we never need despair, If we seek, with Christ, the mountain, There to wrestle long in prayer.
Pray until the heavens’ open, And the earth recedes from view; Till in all our fiery trials, God’s grand purposes shine through.
THE PRAYERS OF THE NEW CREATION
PRAYER TO GOD, communion with Him, is a great privilege and an evidence of His favor. God does not grant us this privilege, however, in order that He might be informed of our desires, for since we are imperfect ourselves our desires cannot be perfect: “We know not what things to ask for as we ought;” and He does for us better than we know how to ask or think. Nor does God permit us to pray to Him that we may inform Him regarding matters here; for He knoweth the end from the beginning, as well as every intervening step. But He has instituted prayer for our benefit and comfort and instruction.
The object of prayer is to bring the heart and the mind of the child of God into contact with the heart of God, that he may be enabled thus most fully to realize the Fatherhood of God, His love and His deep interest in every item of our welfare; that in deep affliction we may unburden our hearts to God and thus have forcibly brought to our attention His love and care and wisdom—for our encouragement, not His; for ourstrengthening, not His, and for our joy.
This opportunity is not for us to instruct Jehovah how to arrange matters for the best, but to bring our hearts to realize Him as the Center of wisdom and power, that having unburdened our hearts, we may be prepared to listen for His answer and advice through His Word. And he whose knowledge of prayer is confined to the meager information he has imparted to God with “much speaking,” and who has never learned to listen for the answer to his prayer from the Word of God, has, as yet, measurably failed to appreciate the object of prayer.
Earnestness in God’s service will bring His children to Him frequently, to realize at His feet His sympathy with them in the difficulties, discouragements and trials of life, as well as to ask His guidance and overruling of every affair of life, and through His Word to hearken to His wisdom, which will enable them to serve Himacceptably.
The province of prayer is to ask for only such things as God has already declared Himself well pleased to grant. And while we may freely speak to Him as a Father, and tell Him how we understand His Word, and the confidence and trust we have in its ultimate fulfilment, yet we must not only avoid telling the Lord of our will and our plans, and what we would like, but we must avoid and put far from us any such spirit, and must recognize, and bring ourselves into full accord with His will and His plan for accomplishing it. If this thought were appreciated, it would cut short some of the “long prayers,” “much speaking,” and “vain repetitions” by which some endeavor to instruct the Lord in their wishes regarding every matter under heaven. It would send them speedily to the Word of God to search diligently the Plan of God that they might labor as well as pray in harmony with it.
While assuring us that the Father cares for us, and is well pleased to have us come to Him with sincere hearts, the Master informs us of the conditions upon which we may expect an answer. He says, “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”—John 15:7.
“ABIDE IN ME”
The conditions of the above statement, or promise, are two; the first is, abiding in Christ. But what is it to abide in Christ? Only those can abide in Christ who are in Christ, who have come into Him by faith, repentance andconsecration; and to abide in Him means that the faith will abide, the repentance for sin and the opposition to it will abide, and the consecration to the Lord and His service will abide, and it will be manifest that our will has been wholly consecrated—swallowed up in the will of Christ.
The other condition is also a weighty one: “If My Word abide in you.” Ah! how evident it is that our Lord meant to associate Himself and His Word, the Scriptures, in the minds, in the hearts, in the lives of all who are truly His! They must search the Scriptures to know the will of the Lord; to know what He has promised and what He has not promised; to know what they may ask and what they may not ask; and, ascertaining these, one fully consecrated—one controlled entirely by the will of God—will not want to be, to have, or to do anything except that which will be pleasing to the Lord in respect to himself.
When this position has been reached, the will of Christ governing him, the words of Christ abiding in him, we can readily see that whatever would be asked by one thus well informed with respect to the Divine promises and fully submissive to the Divine will would be things which the Father would be pleased to grant in answer to his requests.
These requests would probably be as simple as was the Master’s petition when He prayed, “Not My will, but Thine, be done!” (Luke 22:42.) In such a condition prayers are always answered; but in such a condition the prayers would be very modest. One’s prayers under such circumstances would be more a thanksgiving for blessings, an expression of confidence and trust, and the committal of his way unto the Lord, confidently realizing the promise that to him under such conditions, all things (even seeming disasters and troubles) shall work together for good. Hence, whatever came, such a one could realize his prayer answered. He could rejoice evermore because he is prepared to rejoice in tribulation as well as in prosperity, in the path of service. He has no will to oppose whatever God permits, knowing that it will work out good.
Such, amongst the Lord’s people, could not pray that their own will be done; for they have no will except God’s. Those who abide in Christ, and in whom His Word abides, can pray for their enemies and those who despitefully use them and persecute them, though they cannot pray God to open the blinded eyes of their enemies at once, nor in their way. Realizing from the indwelling Word of God’s promise that the blinded eyes shall all be opened to the Truth, they can abide His time. Going to God in prayer they may express their forgiveness of their persecutor, their interest in him, and their patient waiting for the day when “the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea”—ocean deep—and His will shall be done on earth even as it is done in heaven.—Isaiah 11:9.
ANSWERS OFTEN DELAYED
The answer to our prayer is not always granted immediately; but after we have made sure that our requests are in accord with the promises, those things which lie very close to our hearts become our continual prayer, associating in our minds with all of life’s duties and interests, the heart gravitating continually toward the thing we have desired of the Lord, and on suitable opportunities repeating to Him the request. This is the kind of prayer which the Lord commended, saying, “Men ought always to pray and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1.) The Lord’s people ought to continue asking for the right things with some degree of persistency, and should not grow weary, hopeless, faithless, faint in their hearts.
Doubtless there are many reasons why the Lord does not promptly grant all of our requests which are in accordance with His will, in harmony with His Word. We may not know all of these reasons; but some of them are apparent. Undoubtedly one reason for the Lord’s delay in answering us is often to test the strength and the depth of our desires for the good things that we request of Him.
For instance, He informs us that He is more willing to give His Holy Spirit to us who ask than are earthly parents to give good things to their children. Yet the giving of His Holy Spirit is a gradual process; and we are enabled to receive it only in proportion as we are emptied of the worldly or selfish spirit. It requires time to become thus emptied of self and prepared for the mind of Christ; in some it requires longer for this than in others; but all need emptying in order to receive the refilling.
He that seeketh findeth, but the more he seeketh the more he findeth; to him that knocketh it shall be opened, but his continual knocking and his increasing interest in the knocking means his increasing desire to enter, so that as the door of privilege, of opportunity, swings slowly open before him, his courage and his strength increase as he seeks to avail himself of the opening. Thus every way the blessing is greater than if the Lord were to answer the petitions hastily.
We are to think of our Heavenly Father as rich and benevolent, kind and generous, yet wise as well as loving. We are to suppose that He will have pleasure in giving us the desires of our hearts if those desires are in harmony with His plan, which He has already framed on such lines as to include not only our very highest and best interests, but the highest and best interests of all His creatures. Then, whatever comes, His well-informed children can have all the desires of their hearts, because their hearts are in full accord with the Lord; and they desire nothing of the Lord except the good things of His purpose and promise.
“DESIRE, UTTERED OR UNEXPRESSED”
When thus considered, not as a begging arrangement, nor as an occasion of instructing the Lord as to our wills, but as a season of union and communion of heart withthe Father, in which we may relieve our burdened or perplexed hearts and realize Divine sympathy, calling to mind Divine promises, reviewing Divine care, and expressing our confidence in God’s many promises, thus bringing those promises afresh and close to our hearts, as though God now audibly uttered them in our hearing—thus considered, how proper, yea, how necessary is prayer to the true child of God! He cannot live without it. To break off this communion would be like stripping a tree of its leaves; their removal would stunt and hinder its development.
But to suppose that Christian life depends solely upon prayer without earnest study of God’s Word, is like supposing that a tree could flourish from its leaves only, without roots and soil. Both are needful. As good soil and roots will produce leaves and fruitage, so, likewise, the promises of God’s Word absorbed by us will naturally lead to good works and to communion with God in prayer, without which the fruits of the Spirit would soon wither and disappear.
No wonder, then, that Jesus both by precept and by example said, “Watch and pray”(Matthew 26:41), uniting the conditions necessary to our development. Some prayand neglect to watch; others watch and neglect to pray. Both these errors are serious; and it is not possible for us to decide which is the more serious neglect, since either would work disastrous loss of the great “prize” for which we are running.
Nowhere is prayer defined as a duty, though its necessity is stated. The Father desireth such to worship Him as worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23); and it would be contrary to this principle to define prayer as a duty, and to stipulate a set time or place or a formal manner. The earnestness of the service and the peculiarity of the circumstance will regulate the frequency and the subject matter of prayer.
No form of prayer is furnished in the Scriptures. Even the Master, when asked by the disciples for instruction on the subject, gave them, not a form to repeat, but merely an idea or example of how to arrange their prayers to God. He did not say, Pray this prayer, but, “After this manner pray ye.” Our prayers, then, should be after this manner—not an assortment of extravagant demands, but the simple expression of the earnest heart: first, acknowledging and paying homage to God as our Father, the Almighty and Hallowed One; second, expressing our expectation and trust that His Kingdom is coming according to promise, and our eagerness for it, and for the time when His will shall be done on earth as in Heaven; third, our reliance upon Him for “daily bread,” which He has promised us; fourth, our acknowledgment that our ways are not perfect and of our reliance upon His favor (granted through Christ Jesus) for forgiveness; and our willingness to exercise forgiveness toward our debtors, toward those who trespass against us.
“Israel—A Prince With God.” Reprints of the Original Watchtower & Herald of Christ’s Presence: R.2864. http://www.htdbv8.com/1901/r2864.htm Here is a passage from this Reprint article (R.2864):-
Israel—A Prince With God
Golden Text:—“Men ought always to pray and not to faint.”—Luke 18:1 .
FLEEING from his father’s home, Jacob traveled a distance of nearly five hundred miles to Chaldea, the original home of his grandfather Abraham, where his uncle Laban still lived. His esteem for the promise of God had made him a pilgrim and a stranger, a wanderer from home, just as Abraham’s faithfulness to the call had taken him from home in the opposite direction. While the blessings God had promised to Jacob were earthly and temporal, and in these respects differed from the promises which are made to spiritual Israelites, nevertheless, in order to prove Jacob’s worthiness of the blessings—in order to test his faith in God’s promises, he was permitted to pass through various trying experiences and disappointments. One of these was a love-affair with Rachel, his cousin, for whom he served his uncle in all fourteen years, seven before he got her as a wife, and seven years afterward; his uncle taking a dishonest advantage of him in the arrangement. Nevertheless, we see Jacob’s patience and persistency, and note with pleasure that he never for a moment seems to have doubted the promises of God that he should be blessed as the inheritor of the Abrahamic promise.
“Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord,” would seem to apply well to Jacob’s career. So energetic was he in Laban’s service, so successful in all that he undertook, so persevering, that his uncle soon considered his service indispensable, and was glad to make favorable terms with him to have him remain and take chief charge of his property. Shrewdly Jacob bargained for an interest in the increase of the flocks and herds, etc., as his salary, and practically became a partner. There was nothing dishonest in his making a bargain with Laban that all the brown sheep and streaked and speckled goats should be his; nor was there anything wrong in his scientifically increasing the proportionate numbers of these colored and speckled animals. Laban became aware, before long, that he had a very capable and shrewd son-in-law, and, moreover, that the Lord’s blessing was with him. He fain would have had him remain permanently in Chaldea, but Jacob’s mind was full of the Abrahamic promise and of the reiteration of that promise to himself in the vision at Bethel, and he desired to return to the land of promise. He surmised, however, not without good cause, that his uncle would use force to restrain him from leaving, or to take from him some of the cattle, etc., which were properly his under the contract, and hence he chose an opportunity for leaving when Laban was absent.
Laban was evidently a powerful sheik, having many servants, and indeed Jacob had become so by this time, as the narrative shows that he was able, shortly after, to give away as a present to his brother Esau, 220 goats, 220 sheep, 30 camels, 50 head of cattle and 20 asses. But when Laban pursued, with the full intention of bringing back Jacob, his family and servants and flocks and herds, God interfered, warning Laban in a dream, saying, “Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob from good to bad”—margin. In consequence of this dream, and Jacob’s subsequent fair statement of his side of the case, showing clearly that he had not wronged Laban, but that Laban had repeatedly dealt hardly with him, he was let go on his way in peace.
If we draw a lesson from these incidents respecting ourselves, as heirs of the promises of God, spiritual Israelites, it would be that while our hearts are full of rejoicing in God’s promises we should not expect these to come to us wholly without our effort to secure them. If God has promised us spiritual blessings, we should put forth the effort to attain these, just as Jacob had put forth his efforts to attain the temporal blessings promised him. If adversity seems to go with us, and we meet with disappointments and more or less fraudulent conspiracy to take away from us our spiritual blessings, as Jacob met with disappointment which seemed for the time to interfere with his temporal blessings, we, like him, should patiently wait for the Lord,and trust and hope and labor on, knowing that the Lord will bring out the promised results in the end;knowing that he is on our part, and greater than all they that be against us.
We noticed in previous lessons the peaceabledisposition of Abraham, and also of Isaac, and now we note that Jacob not only left home and abandoned his share in the father’s house, and family property belonging to the birthright he had purchased, rather than quarrel with his brother, but that similarly in dealing with his uncle he refused to quarrel; he submitted himself; he trusted to the Lord to bring out the results rather than to his own strength for a conflict, either mental or physical. The Lord apparently would have the spiritual Israelites learn this lesson: “Seek peace and pursue it;” “Patiently wait for the Lord, and he will bring it to pass.” It is not of God’s arrangement that the spiritual Israelites shouldcontend with carnal weapons; but rather that they should submit themselves to the powers that be, learning the lessons which accompany such submission; and have developed in them the faith, the trust,the hope in God, necessary to a maintenance of their relationship to him, and growth in his grace.
As Jacob and his caravan approached Palestine his confidence in God, and his reliance upon the Lord’s promise to bless him, did not hinder him from taking a wise, generous, reasonable course for the conciliation of his brother. He did not stand upon his rights, and say: I purchased the inheritance, and was obliged to flee from it, and now I am differently situated, and will seek my first opportunity to take from Esau the cattle and substance which he received of my father’s estate which are rightfully mine, and should there be any quarrel in the matter, let him look to his own side, for right is on my side and I may exert as much force as is necessary to obtain it. Quite to the contrary of this, Jacob said to himself: I care nothing for the earthly inheritance, I abandoned that all when I left home, and I do not intend to lay any claim to it, now or ever. I merely got what Esau did not appreciate, and now, if he can come to realize that I am not after the property, it will assuage his wrath, his malice, his envy. On the contrary, I will be generous to him; I will send him a valuable present, thus showing him that so far from wishing to take from him earthly goods I am disposed to give him more. Moreover, I will send such a message by my servants as will show him that I treat him as my superior—my lord, and that I rank myself as his inferior. He shall see that I am neither wishing to take the honors of his birthright nor its earthly emoluments, though all of these were purchased—I resign freely all of these temporal good things and honors, that I may have the Lord’s favor, as represented in the original covenant with grandfather Abraham. He carried out his program successfully, and Esau became his friend. The lesson for spiritual Israelites along this line is,—We should not be sticklers for full justice and the last penny in earthly matters. Rather we may use the earthly mammon generously to make and keep the peace, and to forward our spiritual interests. Our readiness to do this will measure or gauge our appreciation of the spiritual interests, in comparison to which earthly blessings, “Mammon” should be esteemed as loss and dross.
A MODEL PRAYER.
Jacob’s prayerat the time he was anticipating a meeting with Esau is recorded in this lesson, and may be considered one of the best examples of prayer to be found in God’s Word. It is so full ofconfidence and trust in God. It recounts the original promise to Abraham, its renewal to Isaac, and its second repetition to Jacob at Bethel, and the Lord’s promise there given him, that he would bring him again to his home country. It shows the humilityof Jacob’s mind, which cried out, “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which thou hast shown unto thy servant; for with my staff [only] I passed over this Jordan [when fleeing from home], and now I am become two bands [great companies].” He tells the Lord of his fear of Esau, yet shows that his fear is offset by his confidence in the Almighty. It was at this time, and doubtless in answer to this prayer, that the angel of the Lord appeared to Jacob, and so full of faith in the power of God, and in the promise of God was Jacob that he laid physical hold upon the angel, declaring that he would never let go until he got a blessing.
Here, the lesson proper, relating to Jacob’s struggle with the angel, comes in. The angel appeared as a man, as was frequently the case in olden times; Jacob had recognized him, nevertheless, and laying hold of him urged that he as God’s representative, sent to meet him, should give him a blessing. We cannot suppose for a moment that the angel was not powerful enough to release himself from the grasp of Jacob, and hence that the wrestling and struggle between them kept up until the morning light, the angel vainly pleading, “Let me go,” and Jacob as persistently holding on and declaring, “I will not let thee go unless thou bless me.” We must suppose, on the contrary, that the Lord was well pleased to bless Jacob, and had sent the angel for this very purpose; and that the circumstances were intended as an opportunity to draw out Jacob’s longing desires in this respect; to demonstrate to himself how much he really desired the Lord’s favor, the Lord’s blessing. And when the desired result had been obtained—when Jacob had evidenced the intensity of his desire for harmony with God and such blessing as God alone could give—then the blessing came—Jacob’s victory. Not that Jacob prevailed to get from God, through his angel, something the Lord was not pleased to grant; but that he prevailed to obtain the coveted blessing by manifesting thezeal, the energy,thepatience, and thefaith which God was pleased to see and reward.
The lesson of the spiritual Israelite in this circumstance is in harmony with our Lord’s words, “Men ought continuously to pray and not to faint.”God wishes us to be persistent, and our persistence measures and indicates the depth of our desires.
If the blessing in answer to our prayer does not come in the moment of asking we are to continue “instant in prayer,”—patiently waiting for the Lord’s due time, faithfully trusting him that he is willing to give the blessing which he promised, even though he may for a time withhold it with a view to our becoming the more earnest in seeking it.
Although Jacob was a natural man, not a “new creature in Christ Jesus,” nevertheless his prayer is a model one, in that he did not specify even the earthly things which had been promised him. All he asked was a blessing, in whatever manner the Lord might be pleased to give it. Alas, how many spiritual Israelites seem to have a much less keen appreciation of proprieties in such matters than had Jacob! Many ask and receive not because they ask amiss, for things to be consumed upon their earthly desires—wealth or fame or temporal good things. (James. 4:3.) How many forget that the Lord has already promised to take care of the temporal necessitiesof his spirit-begotten children, and to do for them better than they would know how to ask or to think. How few seem to remember that as new creatures our conditions and desires should be specially for the things that pertainto the new creature, and that it is this class of blessing the Lord invites us to ask for and to wrestle to obtain, assuring us that as earthly parents are pleased to give good gifts to their children, so our Heavenly Father is pleased to give the holy spirit to those who ask him. (Luke 11:13.)
If the Lord’s consecrated people could all be brought to the point where the chief aim in life, the burden of all their prayers, would be that they might have a larger measure ofthe spirit of the Lord, the spirit of holiness, the spirit of the truth, the spirit of Christ, the spirit of a sound mind, what a blessing it would mean!
If, then, they should wrestle with the Lord until the breaking of the day their hold upon him would be sure to bring the desired blessing. The Lord has revealed himself to his people for the very purpose of giving them this blessing; nevertheless, he withholds it until they learn to appreciate and earnestly desire it.
Jacob got the blessing and with it a change of name. He was thenceforth called Israel,which signifies “Mighty with God.” This new name would thenceforth be continually a source of encouragement to him, an incentive to fresh zeal and trust in the one whose blessing he had secured. All of Jacob’s posterity adopted this name. They were all known as children of Israel, or Israelites; for God acknowledged the name as applicable to all of the nation. Similarly, in antitype, we have Christ Jesus our Lord, the true, the antitypical Israel, the one who, through faith and obedience to the Father, has prevailed, has overcome the world and the flesh and the Adversary, and has received the divine blessing as the result of his struggle. He has been highly exalted and is declared now to be prince or ruler of the kings of the earth. He has sat down with the Father in his throne.—Revelation 1:5.
Nor does the analogy end here; for, as Jacob had twelve sons, so our Lord Jesus had twelve apostles; and these, and all who come into Christ through their ministry of the gospel, are accepted as the true, the spiritual, Israel. The same name belongs to all of these that belongs to the Head. As with fleshly Israel there were some who were “Israelites indeed,” and others who were not, but of the synagogue of Satan, in the spiritual Israel there are nominal and real Israelites; and only the latter will ultimately obtain the blessing and be joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord. And the name, “Victor,” or “Mighty with God,” will be a name which will apply to everyone of the Lord’s faithful ones in the same manner that it applied to Jesus himself. Each one will be required to manifest his loyalty to the Lord, his faith, his trust, and only those who love the Lord and the promise he has made that they will hold on to his promise, and will not let him go without a blessing—only such will receive the great blessing, only such will be able to overcome the world, the flesh and the Adversary. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith”—in God and in his promises.
Have you ever watched a bird sleeping on its perch and never falling off? How does it manage to do this?
The secret is the tendons of the bird’s legs. They are so constructed that when the leg is bent at the knee, the claws contract and grip like a steel trap. The claws refuse to let go until the knees are unbent again. The bended knee gives the bird the ability to hold on to his perch so tightly.
From sleeping birds we can learn the secret of holding things which are most precious to us—honesty, purity, thoughtfulness, honor, character. That secret is the knee bentin prayer, seeking to get a firmer grip on those values which make life worth living. When we hold firmly to God in prayer, we can rest assured he will hold tightly to us.
“Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore.”—Psalm 105:4
In Genesis 1:1‑5 (KJV) we are first introduced to the “light” of the sun.
“(1) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (2) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (3) And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (4) And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. (5) And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.“
“Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3) evidently refers to the light of the sun, which was sufficient for general illumination, but not sufficient to break through the mists to become an identifiable object in the heavens, until the fourth day when it was “appointed” (as the word there can mean), together with the moon and stars (Genesis 1:16). Genesis 1:11 shows that there were already plants and trees on day three, which required sunlight to grow. The sun was in place and burning before the earth was suitable for life.
The Length of Each Day of Creation
The days of creation recorded in Genesis chapters 1and 2 were epoch days of creative activity, of undefined length.
The word “day” customarily describes a normal day of 24 hours, but very often has a broader usage for any defined period of whatever length. For example, Genesis 2:4 says “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” Here “day” is a period that includes all of the seven days reported earlier.
In Hebrews 3:8, Paul refers to the “provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness” — which refers to a period of years, not a single day.
When we speak of Jesus’ day, we mean a period of history long ago, not a single day.
The work involved in these “days” of creation required lengthy periods of time for the natural processes to reach maturity, or completion.
Zechariah 14:7-9 provides another example, this time from prophecy, of the greater use of the term “day.”
“(7) It shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time [at the close of the Millennial day that spans 1000 years] it shall be light. (8) And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. (9) And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.”
The metaphorical use of the word “day” is usually apparent from the context.
The Third Day
In John 2:19-22 we read about Jesus being raised on the literal thirdday:
“(19) Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. (20) Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? (21) But he spake of the temple of his body. (22) When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.”
However, if we take the above passage to refer to the metaphorical body of Christ, that is, the body of believers in Jesus, then it is apparent that any application of the three days would be on a larger time frame. In this case the saints are raised on the third millenniumfrom the time of Christ.
In Hosea 6:1-3 (KJV) we read about this “third day.”
“(1) Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. (2)After two dayswill he revive us:in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. (3) Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”
In both of these cases — John chapter two and Hosea chapter six — the three days involved are evidently millennial days 4, 5, and 6 as counted from Adam. On the sixth millennium, which includes our day, Israel has been under process of restoration. Jesus’ first advent was in the fourth Millennial day, counting from Adam. Here are those “days” —
(1) 3958 B.C. to 2958 B.C. (2) 2958 B.C. to 1958 B.C. (3) 1958 B.C. to 958 B.C. (4) 958 B.C. to 43 A.D. (5) 43 A.D. to 1043 A.D. (6) 1043 A.D. to 2043 A.D.
The words of Hosea 6:1-3 is thus about natural Israel (not about Spiritual Israel — the Bride of Christ) because in verse one, we read that God has “smitten” them. God has not smitten the Church. But Israel was “smitten” following their rejection of Christ. God did smite Israel during the Roman wars that closed the Jewish Age. They were cast off in 33 A.D., in day “four” from Adam. After the close of day four, and the close of day five, thus “after two days,” they began to be restored in 1878 and forward, on day “six” from Adam.
Hence Israel is now being restored — presently as a nation, and later, in the Kingdom, to individual life after they recognize Jesus as their Redeemer.
Three Dispensations in the Divine Plan
There are three large periods of time in the Divine Plan. Sometimes these are termed “Dispensations,” because the administration of these three periods varied. Sometimes they are called three “worlds,” drawing from these three scriptures —
World that Was — 2 Peter 3:6 — Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water [the Flood], perished.
Present Evil World — Galatians 1:4 — “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.”
World to Come— Hebrews 2:5 — “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.”
Epoch 1 – The World That Was
This epoch lasted from the time of Adam and Eve until the flood. In this period some of the angels were allowed to exercise influence in a way that was later restrained. It was not subdivided into ages because God’s method of dealing with men did not vary from Adam’s fall to the flood. God had given man his law, the law of conscience written into his nature. However, after he sinned God left him measurably to his own downward course, that man might learn through experience the wisdom of God in requiring obedience. The disastrous effects of sin were manifested showing that the tendency of sin is downward to greater degradation and misery, showing the necessity of Jehovah’s interposition, if the recovery of “that which was lost” — man’s first estate — would ever be accomplished.
Epoch 2 – The Present Evil World
The second great epoch (Galatians 1:4, 2 Peter 3:7) spans from the flood to the establishment of the kingdom of God. It is under the limited control of Satan, the usurper, “the prince of this world,” who has no interest in Christ’ followers except to oppose, tempt, annoy, and buffet them (John 14:30, 2 Corinthians 12:7, Malachi 3:15).
In this present evil world, or epoch, whoever will live godly shall suffer persecution, while the wicked flourish like a green bay tree (2 Timothy 3:12, Psalm 37:35).
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world,”and until the era or “world to come” does come, Christ’s kingdom will not control the earth. For this we are taught to hope and pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth.” Satan is the “ruler of the darkness of this world,”and therefore “darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people.”Satan now rules and works in the hearts of the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2, 6:12).
The current epoch is divided into three “ages.”
(a) The Patriarchal Age.God’s dealings and favors were with various patriarchs, such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. At Jacob’s death his descendants were called “the twelve tribes of Israel.” They were together recognized of God as his “peculiar people,” and through typical sacrifices they were typically “a holy nation,” separated from other nations for a particular purpose, and therefore to enjoy certain special favors.
(b) The Jewish Age (or the Law dispensation). God specially blessed the nation of Israel during this age from Jacob’s death until Christ’s death, as evidenced in the following:
Giving the Israelites His law,
Making a special covenant with them,
Giving them the Tabernacle, whose shekinah glory in the Most Holy represented Jehovah’s presence with them as their Leader and King,
Sending them prophets,
Sending them His Son, Jesus, who performed his miracles and taught in their midst. Jesus ministered to the Israelites, and instructed his disciples the same during the time that he was with them. “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”(Matthew 10:5,6). Jesus explained, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel”(Matthew 15:24).
This national favor ended with their rejection and crucifixion of Jesus, as shown by Jesus’ words five days before his crucifixion, “Your house is left unto you desolate”(Matthew 23:38).
(c) The Gospel Age.From Jesus’ death, the good tidings of justification have been heralded for nearly 2000 years not only to the Jewish people, but to all nations; for Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man. During this Gospel age there is a class called to special favor, to whom special promises are made. Namely, to those who by faith accept Christ Jesus as their Redeemer and Lord and follow in his footsteps.
The aim of this age is not to convert nations, but to call out a “little flock” as Jesus foretold (Luke 12:32), to whom it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the Kingdom in an age to follow this.
The thousand years of Christ’s reign is the first age in the “world to come” (Revelation 20:4). During the Millennial age, there will be a restoration of all things lost by the fall of Adam (Acts 3:19‑21). Then, all tears, sorrow, pain, and death resulting from the fall of Adam in Eden shall have been wiped away (Revelation 21:4). Following this 1000 year Millennium, there will be “a little season”of final testing time for the world of mankind (Revelation 20:3,7-10).
Revelation 11:15 says that when the seventhangel sounds his trumpet, “the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord [Jehovah] and His Christ [Jesus].”Thereafter our Lord Jesus exercises his power to remove present powers, and establish his Millennial Kingdom in order to bless the world in righteousness.
There are seventrumpet periods in Revelation. The seventh of these commenced in 1874 with the return of Christ and his subsequentparousia, or presence. Acts 3:21 connects this to the beginning of the “times of restoration.”There the process of restoring Israel commenced.
At the end of the Millennium will come the close of the seventh millennial“day,” introducing day number eight. At this time there will be “alittle season” for the testing of mankind. Those found unfaithful and rebellious, disobedient to God and His principles, will not continue further. Thus the world is cleansed, purged, “circumcised” as it were, on the eighth day — evidently represented by circumcision of old being on the eighth day (Genesis 17:12).
Revelation 11:18, part of the description of the seventh trumpet, refer to the raising of the sleeping saints. “The time … that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets [Jesus’ New Testament spokesmen, compare Ephesians 3:5], and to the saints [holy ones of the Gospel Age].” The Millennium will be introduced subsequent, at the close of 6000 years, which we anticipate about a generation future, with the year 2043.
When that kingdom is established, all of the Bride class will have been gathered to glory, ready to serve as priests and kings with Christ to uplift the world (Revelation 20:6). Gradually all will be raised to life again, and have an opportunity to gain life everlasting.
Revelation 11:18,19 shows that the transition period into the Kingdom involves a general time of trouble. Evidently this commenced in 1914 with World War I. Jesus said, “No man can enter into a strong man’s house and spoil [plunder] his goods, except he will first bind the strong man, and then he will spoil his house”(Mark 3:22‑27). Jesus has entered the house of the strong man, Satan, and is in process of disrupting his affairs, incident to removing the influence of Satan altogether.
Satan is the “strong man” of the Present Evil World. The disruption of his “house,”and the binding of that strong usurper, is the necessary predicate for the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. Satan will remain bound for “a thousand years,” allowing the world to grow and learn without the adversary’s deceptions.
“2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.”
The blotting out of evil will be gradual, requiring all of the first thousand years. Evil will not rule then. It will not prosper; it will no longer be the wicked that will flourish; but “the righteous shall flourish”(Psalm 72:7). Then the“obedient shall eat the good of the land”(Isaiah 1:19), and “the evil doer shall be cut off” (Psalm 37:9).
Heavens and Earth – Not Literally Destroyed
This earth is the basis of all these “worlds” and dispensations. Though ages pass and dispensations change, still the earth continues — “The earth abideth forever“ (Ecclesiastes 1:4).
In 2 Peter 3:12, Peter refers to the dissolution of the present heavens and earth. “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.”Here “the heavens” symbolize the higher or spiritual controlling powers, and “earth”(verse 10) symbolizes human government and social arrangements.
The first heavens and earth, or social arrangement, ended at the flood, “being overflowed with water” (2 Peter 3:6). “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7). The order and arrangement of things then existing ended at the flood. But the physical heavens (sky and atmosphere), and the physical earth, did not pass away.
Likewise, the present social structure, political and ecclesiastical, will pass away in deference to the Kingdom of Christ. The beginning of this work occurs in the “Day of the Lord”which “shall burn as an oven” (Malachi 4:1). But the complete integration of mankind into the new arrangement, the “new heavens” and “new earth”(2 Peter 3:13) will require time, as the work of the Kingdom proceeds.
Society will become reorganized in harmony with earth’s new Prince, Christ Jesus. Righteousness, peace, and love will rule among men when present arrangements give place to the new and better kingdom, based on justice and equity. The more we examine God’s plan of the Ages, the more we will find in it perfect harmony, beauty and order.
“Each age has its part to accomplish, necessary to the complete development of God’s plan as a whole. The plan is a progressive one, gradually unfolding from age to age, upward and onward to the grand consummation of the original design of the Divine Architect, “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will”(Ephesians 1:11). Not one of these great periods is an hour too long or too short for the accomplishment of its object. God is a wise economist of both time and means, though his resources are infinite; and no power, however malicious, for a moment retards or thwarts his purposes. All things, evil as well as good, under divine supervision and overruling, are working together for the accomplishment of his will” (Br. Charles T. Russell, The Divine Plan of the Ages, page 74).
Would you be my disciples? Consider again: Can you follow my footsteps through trial and pain? Can you throw away pleasure, and glory, and fame, And live but to honor my cause and my name?
Can you turn from the glitter of fashion and mirth, And dwell like a pilgrim and stranger on the earth. Despising earth’s riches, and living to bless? Can you follow the feet of the shelterless?
Can you ask from your heart the forgiveness of men? Can you list to reproaches, nor answer again? Can you pray that repentance to life may be theirs Who have watched for your falling, who have set for you snares?
When you hear I am come, then can you arise, The joy of your heart springing up in your eyes? Can you come out to meet me whatever the cost be, Though you come on the waves of a storm-crested sea?
When I call, can you turn and in gladness “come out” From the home of your childhood, the friends of your heart? With naught but my promise on which to rely, Afar from their love — can ye lie down and die?
Yes! We’ll take up the cross and in faith follow you And bear your reproach, your disciples to be. Blest Savior, for courage to you we will fly; Of grace you has promised abundant supply.
This poem is from “Poems of Dawn.”
Hebrews 12:1-12 (KJV)
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
A test of patient cheerful endurance In faith currently still remains,
For the last feet members of the Church, That will prove great gains. These do experience ridicule And rejection both from those near and far,
As the Gospel message they proclaim, Even on their guitar.
Having no fleshly interests, Just a desire to heed God’s will,
Their consciences are in tune with God’s voice, As in their Father’s presence they remain still.
As they adhere to the Divine Words of Jehovah, Leaning on Jesus as their rock,
They watch and pray and help others understand Divine Scriptures, Like shepherds of a flock.
With heart and minds that desire To know what is best,
What is purest and most righteous, To be perfect like Christ—this is their quest.
Sacrificing every earthly and fleshly interest Is a pleasure to do,
For it means a share in the sin offering through grace, A privilege for only but a few. When soon all 144,000 Bride members Are beyond the Vail,
They shall begin their roles as the heavenly judges and kings— WHY? Because they did not fail!
These win the prize of the High Calling, Which was the longing of their hearts. What mattered to these dear Ones most, Was to please God, and of Him and His dear Son Jesus, to boast!
When Armageddon comes, The faithful few will have been taken from earth; They will have completed their race Having proven their worth. Belonging to Jesus— They shall forever with him remain, Bringing greatest pleasure to the Heavenly Father— Like the Lamb of God that had once been slain. So dear brethren in Christ Jesus who are our crown and joy:
Let’s continue to put away behind us, What would cloud the narrow way ahead, Not even for a split second look back at the wrong, Only disciplining the mind to keep focused on what Jesus has said.
Feasting on God’s Words in the Bible Every moment we can in this life that remains, God promises to reward justly, For all good done, withgreat gains.
GOD’s Spirit will be poured out in various ways for the blessing of mankind during the Millennial Kingdom. He will cause the knowledge of his glory to fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9) His power will also operate to restore the dead to life, for the promise is that there“shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.”—Acts 24:15.
In a promise of a NEW Covenant which the LORD GOD YAHWEH will make, first with the house of Israel, and then with the whole world, the statement is made that the LORD will write his law in the hearts of the people. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) This, too, will result from the operation of his holy Spirit in the lives of those who obey the laws of Christ’s kingdom.
During Christ’s Mediatorial Reign and kingdom, Satan and his evil system of corrupt angels will be bound for 1000 years (Revelation 20:2), thus his spirit will not be influencing people to do wrong.
Instead, every condition of the new social order will be favorable to the doing of GOD’s righteous will. Unconditional righteous love will take the place of selfishness as a motivating power in all human activity. The people will learn that the greatest and only enduring joy comes from doing good to others rather than from selfishly seeking always to take care of one’s own interests first.
Thus the whole outlook of the human race gradually will be changed as a result of the outpouring of GOD’s spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28). How glad we should be that the power of GOD is thus to be manifested for solving the problems of a distressed and dying race! When the blessings accruing from this outpouring of the holy spirit will be recognized as coming from the great and true GOD of the universe, the Creator of heaven and earth, the people will be glad to give glory to Him, for they will then know that He is truly a GOD of perfect love, justice, wisdom and power.
Blessings Which Shall Flow to All in God’s Grand Plan of the Ages!
“But truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” Numbers 14:21
The earth shall become like a Garden of Eden. Isaiah 51:3
Isaiah 35 (KJV)
“35 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.
3 Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
7 And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
9 No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
After Armageddon – God’s Kingdom
The video below discusses GOD’s GLORIOUS KINGDOM to soon begin as we “watch and pray” (Matthew 26:41) the unfoldings of the world through the eyes of faith, studying the Word of GOD in the Bible, and looking at the nation of Israel and the events unfolding there that reveal much of what prophecies in books such as Revelation, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel etc. explain :-
We thank the following for friends for their contributions to this post:
“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).
What was the promise to which Peter refers?
Immediately, our minds might leap to the closing of Revelation:
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” Revelation 21:1
The restless masses, pictured by the sea (Isaiah 57:20), will no longer find any place by the close of the little season.
These words from Revelation beautifully harmonize and amplify on the new heavens and the new earth. However, the book of Revelation could not have been what Peter had in mind, because Revelation was not yet given to the Apostle John while Peter was alive.
ISAIAH 65, THE NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH
We find this promise not once, but twice in the closing chapters of Isaiah:
“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” (Isaiah 65:17)
“For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.” (Isaiah 66:22)
To understand the context we need to start with Isaiah 65:8:
“Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all.”
“Wine”is a picture of joyful doctrine. In this case, the cluster has not even been cut from the vine, let alone subjected to the careful process that will transform it into wine. Take firm hold of that picture—the Lord sees the blessing in the cluster still on the vine. All of the hopes for a new heaven and new earth begin with the promise to Abraham long before the promise can become a reality.
“In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.” (Genesis 22:17)
Isaiah’s allusion to a new heavens and a new earth corresponds to “the stars of heaven” and “the sands of the seashore.”
In Isaiah 65:8 there is a command not to destroy the grape cluster, picturing the joyful hopes of Israel. This threat of destruction may correspond to the troubles that befell Israel during the “Times of the Gentiles.”
At that time the typical monarchy through the line of David ceased, and the typical Jubilee system could no longer be observed. These ominous experiences could have marked the end of Israel’s hopes. And yet the experience with Gentile dominion did not extinguish Jewish religious hopes, represented in the grape clusters. “For my servants’ [Israel’s] sakes that I may not destroy them all [i.e. the clusters].” Israel’s hopes remained alive throughout the bitter experiences of the Diaspora.
Isaiah 65:9, “And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judahan inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.”
There were 70 weeks determined upon the people that would bring them to Messiah, the seed of promise. The specific reference to an “inheritor”is important.
This word “inheritor” is H3423 yaw-rash. It suggests someone who has driven out the previous occupants and now possesses something. This a picture of our Lord taking possession of this world.
“Out of Judah” must surely be a reference to the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5), who is our Lord. Additionally, there is a “mine elect” class, the church, as contrasted with “servants,” natural Israel. So now we are in the transition period between the Jewish age and the Gospel Age with the first advent of Jesus. Because of the reference to “servants” in verse 8, this promise must include natural Israel and the Ancient Worthies who shall dwell in these mountains—note the plural. These are the servants who will dwell in the earthly kingdom, the mountains of this world. The elect, who came into the covenant with Messiah, share in the inheritance. This is reminiscent of our Lord’s words when he said, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5).
WARNING OF JUDGMENT
The Lord promises a blessing. Isaiah 65:10, “Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me.”
However, in Isaiah 65:11-15, there comes a warning of judgment. This is a reference to the condition of the Jewish people after their time of favor has ended. The servants are those who have been transferred from the house of servants to the house of sons. They are the Jews of the first Advent who came into Christ. This concludes with the promise that the Lord would call his servants by another name. And so it was that they left the house of Moses and entered the house of Christ. During the mishneh, the 1845 years of disfavor for the Jewish polity, have the Lord’s servants been called by the names of “Israel” and “Judah?” No, they have not. As promised they have been called by other names; “Christians” (Acts 11:26), “the little flock,” “the church of the firstborn,” “the bride of Christ.”
“Curse” (H7631), or “something sworn,” seems such an inappropriate word and yet the text is rendered “curse” in both the Soncino and the Jewish Publication Society translations: “And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto Mine elect: ‘So may the Lord GOD slay thee;’ but He shall call His servants by another name.”
We have been called unto Peace, we have not been called to utter oaths, particularly strong oaths such as; “So may the Lord GOD slay thee.”
However, the reference here is not to those who are yet waiting for Messiah hampered by “blindness in part,” but to those in verse 11 “who have prepared a table for the troop.”
This phrase is difficult to understand because it refers to those who forsook the Lord and trusted to the fortune of the stars in their cultic worship of the Babylonian deity of good fortune called “Gad.”In verse 11 of our text the name “Gad” is translated “troop” and the
reference to Babylonian worship was not clear to the King James translators.
So for this unhappy class, their faith rested in other gods who would give them good fortune and serve as their defense. “Troop” does indeed deserve this severe judgment. It is the LORD who delivers the sentence.
THE GOD OF AMEN
Now the favor returns.
“So that he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes.” (Isaiah 65:16)
ALL mankind will come into these promises made to father Abraham and be blessed indeed. It would appear that this verse especially applies to Gentiles, for they are not using the name “Jehovah” which has special promise for natural Israel.
In the entire Bible, this phrase, “the God of Truth”is only used here. Some commentaries suggest that leaving it untranslated might give us a better sense, “the God of Amen.”Strong’s defines “amen” as “sure; abstractly faithfulness; adverbially truly.” These definitions convey the sense that He is a God whose promises will surely come to pass, a God who is faithful.
We finally reach the text that the Apostle Peter quotes. “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.” (Isaiah 65:17-18)
This is a special promise of restoration for natural Israel, the seed of Abraham after the flesh.
“And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.” (Isaiah 65:19-20)
We are assured that in the New Heavens and the New Earth, we will not see children perishing in infancy, nor even a sinner perishing who has not had an extended and fair trial to reform and set his feet on the “Highway to Holiness” spoken of in Isaiah 35, “And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isaiah 35:10)
HIGHWAY NOT A NARROW WAY
Because God cares, He did not abandon the world of mankind in a hopeless condition. He did not allow death to be the final condition of suffering man. He provided a “ransom,” the basis of the only true hope for a world in despair. “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction.” (Hosea 13:14)
But there is an apparent contradiction respecting the Highway of Holiness in Isaiah 35, for how can someone “return” who was never originally “in” Zion?
Isaiah 35:10 cannot be referring to the church of the firstborn, for they are not on this Highway of Holiness although they are intimately associated with it. This is a Highway, it is not a Narrow way. This Highway is for the “weak” (Isaiah 35:3), it is for the “feeble” (Isaiah 35:5), and it is even for the “foolish” (Isaiah 35:8). In spite of all these failings the travelers will not remain “unclean.” Isaiah 35 must refer to a consecration to righteousness for mankind in the kingdom.
We would like to think that the pouring out of the holy Spirit on all flesh would eliminate these problems of weakness, enfeeblement, and foolishness, but in reality that is not the case. How can we say this? It is because the New Creation has the first-fruits of the spirit even now and they have to work with all these problems.
The use of the word “return”becomes clearer when we recognize that sin and alienation from God are an unnatural state. Harmony and At-one-ment with God is the natural state. It is the state that our first parents enjoyed in Eden. This return from the lost and perishing condition is to Zion, the holy city where our Heavenly Father eagerly awaits.The travelers come with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads. It is this portion that God has elected to give to the human race, and what a glorious portion!
CREATION TO BE DELIVERED
Our Lord’s shed blood, spilled upon the earth, bought all the lower creation as well as the church and the World of Mankind. In the following passage from Romans, we will consistently use “creation” for the Greek ktisis (G2937).
“The earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption,to wit, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:19-23)
We call to mind that the earth was “made to be inhabited.”The Edenic paradise shall be restored—surely this is part of the “return” mentioned by Isaiah. The Strong’s definition includes the thought of “returning to the starting point.” So, mankind will return to where our race first began — human perfection in a paradise home.“The desert shall blossom as the rose;” and both the plant and animal creation will be restored to their proper balance; nature with all its pleasing variety will call to man from every direction to seek and know the glory and power and love of God; and mind and heart will rejoice in Him.
Though Isaiah 35 promises the New Earth a Highway, walking on this road will still take effort.There will be cheer and encouragement along the route from the New Heavens, for the church has shared mankind’s sorrow.As the goal, Zion, is reached, there will singing and shouts of praise. The Hebrew word for “songs” (H7440) actually suggests that the voices will be a little shrill with a joy that naturally spills over into song. They will have “everlasting joy upon their heads.”
Not only does this suggest joy in the heart but this is a different sort of joy.
This joy is built upon a foundation of UNDERSTANDING.It is a joy that blends with song and with GRATITUDE to God for all His leadings.
PROMISES TO THE NEW EARTH
In this “new earth” Isaiah 65:21-25 promises thatresurrected mankind will not only enjoy the soul-satisfying labor of their hands, but a restored fellowship with God.
“It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD. For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.”
It will take an eternity to know our Heavenly Father, but the unassailable principle which the Bible enunciates with clear and definite voice is that life goes on; life is endless.