Coming World Crises --Part 15

Coming World Crises
Part 15

James Gunn

These are the notes of lectures given to the Men’s Bible Class which meets every two weeks during the winter at Central Gospel Hall, 25 Charles St. E., Toronto, Canada.

“Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” As a light shining in a dark place, during these lectures prophecy illuminated areas which to the human mind seem quite obscure:

The Future of the Ecumenical Movement.
The Return and the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The Future of the Nations.
Europe in Prophecy.
Who is Anti-Christ?
Russia Invades Israel!
Will the Church Go Through the Tribulation?
The Millennial Reign of Christ.
Climax of the Ages.

The Armageddon

(continued from last issue)

The Final Victory

As the nations of the earth struggle the one against the other for the possession of Palestine and Jerusalem, something makes them aware of the fact that God is at war with them; they therefore forget their mutual differences and join forces in order to fight against the Son of Man. John says, “I saw Heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war … And the armies which were in Heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean … Out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God…

And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army … And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Rev. 19:11-20).

Thus ends “the times of the Gentiles,” and it ends exactly as Daniel had predicted in his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s colossus. Never again will Jerusalem be trodden down of the Gentiles.

The final outcome of this glorious victory is recorded by John, he says, “And I saw an angel come down from Heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled” (Rev. 20:1-3).

The Millennial Reign of Christ

The Millennium may be defined as a future period of 1000 years during which Christ shall reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. During this period sin will be suppressed, righteousness and equity will prevail, and wars will cease. During this same period, the curse imposed upon the earth because of the entrance of sin into the human family will be lifted; the deserts of sand and of ice will bloom as the rose, and the rapacious brutes will be tamed and domesticated.

The name Millennium which simply means one thousand is derived from Revelation 20:1-10 where “1000 years” is mentioned six times, and these “1000 years” are marked off by epochs at their beginning and at their close.

Conflicting Views

Inasmuch as there are conflicting views among Bible students relative to the Millennium, a brief survey of some of these might be appropriate here.

First: premillennialism: Premillennialism contends that there will be in the future 1000 years of peace, prosperity and justice, and that this will commence with the personal return of the. Lord Jesus in power and great glory. Those who adhere to this view may hold certain diverse opinions in regards to details and events; notwithstanding, all believe in the Millennium and the glorious reign of the Son of Man (Dan. 7:1314).

Second: postmillennialism: Those who hold the postmillennial conviction contend in like manner for the Millennium, but their ideas of its commencement and character are altogether different from those of the premillennialists. They contend that through the preaching of the gospel and its final acceptance, the Millennium will be brought about. They seem convinced that such will be the moral and social improvements among men through the gospel that peace and justice will eventually succeed, and man will inaugurate a glorious age of human unity and peace.

Few such idealists are now in evidence. Two world wars with all their horrors, along with the futility of the United Nation Organization, have disillusioned the majority.

Third: amillennialism: Amillennialism is a system of thought that rejects completely the idea of a future 1000 years of peace and justice under the reign of Christ as Son of Man. Those who subscribe to amillennialism do not believe in the future fulfilment of the 70th week of Daniel, nor do they believe in the Great Tribulation. Instead of interpreting the Word of God literally, they interpret it in an allegorical manner. They deny any future to Israel and spiritualize all the blessings predicted for that people and apply them to the Church.

Amillennialism teaches that there is now a spiritual millennium, and that Christ’s kingdom is now, that He is Sovereign only over His redeemed people.

The Basis of a Literal Millennium

The basis of a future Millennium rests upon a literal interpretation of the Word of God. The student of prophecy should remember, “The only safe and infallible rule for the interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself.” This requires the comparing of one Scripture with another.

A very important principle in the interpretation of prophecy is, prophecy that has been fulfilled provides the pattern by which unfulfilled prophecy should be interpreted. Dr. Charles Fienberg asserts, “The only way to know how God will fulfil prophecy in the future is to ascertain how He has done it in the past.”

The Lord Jesus claimed that many prophecies made concerning Himself were fulfilled in His coming into the world: “All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me” (Luke 24:44).

It is impossible to understand the prophetical element of the Old Testament apart from its literal fulfilment in Christ.

The Old Testament Scriptures do not use the term Millennium; nevertheless, they are full of millennial, that is kingdom, predictions.

First of the King: In these Old Testament predictions there are several remarkable titles attributed to our Lord Jesus relative to His reign over the millennial kingdom (a) “A Rod” (Isa. 11:1-10). This title is also translated in different forms in other versions than the King James Version; for example “a root,” “ a shoot” The last is probably the easiest understood; it indicates the racial means by which our Lord came into the world. “He is of the seed of David (Jesse’s illustrious son) according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3). (b) “A Branch” (Isa. 11:1; Jer. 23:5; Zech. 3:8; 6:12). While like the appellation “Shoot,” “the Branch” intimates origin in the root Jesse, but it goes far beyond this, for it suggests the eminence and fruitfulness, the prosperity of our Lord Jesus in connection with a restored Israel. (c) “My Servant.” This title is found frequently in the second part of the Prophecy of Isaiah (Isa. 42:1; 52:13; 53:11, etc.). It indicates the lowliness, meekness and obedience of the Lord to His Father God. This obedience resulted in His crucifixion. He could and did say, “Not My will, but Thine be done.” (d) “His Anointed” (Psa. 2:2). The Hebrew name Messiah and its Greek equivalent, Christ, suggest that our Lord Jesus is God’s Anointed Prophet, Priest and King. In Old Testament times those who entered into these offices were initiated into them by being anointed. (e) “An Ensign” (Isa. 11:10). This title of our Lord is akin to the composite title, Jehovah-Nissi (Ex. 17:16). The Lord is the standard to which His people rally, and He is the banner by which they acclaim victory. It was, so we are told, an ancient custom among the Hebrews to give to a defeated party a standard as a token of protection, and this was regarded as the surest pledge of fidelity. The application of this title to our Lord is not only in relationship to His own people but also to the Gentiles (Isa. 11:10). This is very significant. (f) “The Sun of Righteousness” (Mal. 4:2). Christ will yet heal the nation that has been trodden down of the Gentiles for many centuries. He will come on wings and bring health and prosperity to His chastized people. (g) Of course, there is the title “King” (Psa. 2:6; Zech. 9:9). This title signifies supreme power and authority. Zechariah’s prophecy concerning Christ the King was literally fulfilled in His first advent. On His return in power and great glory Christ will literally be King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16). (h) “The Son of Man” (Dan. 7:13). This title is more than just a distinction in contrast to the title the “Son of God.” It presents Christ as the Representative Man and designates Him as the “Last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45). The Lord applied this title to Himself more than 80 times in the four Gospels. It indicates Christ’s universal dominion. The first man, Adam, was God’s representative and to him was entrusted complete dominion over the earth, but he failed; he sinned. The Son of Man shall come and to Him, the Last Adam, there shall be given “dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and language, shall serve Him (Dan. 7:3-14). This is the logic of the Spirit of God in Hebrews 2:6-9.

Some of the predictions involving these titles of Christ had a partial fulfilment at His first advent, but they await His second advent for a full literal fulfilment.

Second, of the covenants: God has pledged Himself to keep literally His covenant with David His servant, with the nation of Israel. the descendants of Jacob, and with the religious life of that nation; He says, “If ye can break My covenant of the day, and My covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; Then may also My covenant be broken with David My servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, My ministers … If My covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of Heaven and earth; then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David My servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them” (Jer. 33:20-26). Furthermore, God also has pledged Himself to literally fulfil His promises to Abraham: “When God made promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself … God, willing more- abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath. That by two immuatable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation” (Heb. 6:1318).

There are four covenants made by God in regard to the people of Israel:

First, the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 12:1-3; 13:14-17): Three elements constitute this important covenant: (a) the promise of a homeland (Gen. 12:1). (b) the promise of a large progeny (Gen. 12:2). (c) the promise of being the source of universal blessing (Gen. 12:3).

Second, the Palestinian covenant (Gen. 12:7; 13:14; 15:18-21; 17:7-8): It has been said that the land once possessed by Israel was six times larger than what they now occupy, but the land God promised to Abraham, the territory involved in the Palestinian covenant, is more than eight times larger than any territory they ever possessed even in the days of David and Solomon. All this was promised by God to His ancient people through Abraham.

(To be continued)