It is clear from the Scriptures that God has been trying to set up a "visible" Kingdom on this earth ever since the creation of man, to whom He gave dominion. Gen. 1 :26-28. But that dominion was lost by the "Fall," and Satan set himself up as the "Prince of this world." Matt. 4:8-10. johnl 4:30.
In the "Call" of Abraham God took the first step toward the setting up of a "visible" Kingdom on this earth, which assumed an outward form in, the "Jewish Commonwealth," under Moses, and during the administration of Moses, Joshua, the Elders that outlived Joshua, the Judges, David, Solomon, the kings of Israel and Judah down to the Babylonish Captivity, God reigned through these men under the form of a "Theocracy."
Under the Judgeship of Samuel there was a revolt against the "Theocracy," and Saul was chosen by the people as King. 1Sam. 8:6, 1Sam. 8:7. This was followed by God's selection of David. But the misrule of his successors, and the idolatry of the people, caused the cessation of the Theocratic reign in B.C. 606, and the "Times of the Gentiles" began.
1. The Kingdom at Hand.
But when 600 years of the "Times of the Gentiles" had run their course, God again made the attempt to set up His Kingdom on the earth, and the angel Gabriel announced to Mary the birth of the King. Luke 1:26-28.
Thirty years later the Kings forerunner, John the Baptist, announced that the Kingdom was "at hand," (Matt. 3:1, Matt. 3:2) ; and when the King manifested Himself to Israel He Himself made the same announcement, (Matt. 4:17-19), and later He sent out the"Twelve," (Matt. 10:7), and the "Seventy" to proclaim the same thing. Luke 10:1-3.
But the King was rejected and crucified, and the setting up of the Kingdom postponed, and the Kingdom took on its "Mystery Form" under the name of the "Kingdom of Heaven."
Here we must distinguish between the "Kingdom of God" and the "Kingdom of Heaven." The "Kingdom of God" is the "Reign of God" in the Universe over all His created creatures, and includes time and eternity, heaven and earth. It is spiritual and "cometh not with observation." Luke l 7:20, l 7:21. It is entered by the"New Birth," (John 3:5) ; and is not "meat" and "drink, " but "Righteousness and Peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Rom. 14:17.
The "Kingdom of Heaven" is a New Testament term, and is found, in Matthew's Gospel only, where
it is mentioned 32 times. Its character is described in the 12 "Kingdom of Heaven Parables" given
in Matt. 13:1-3; Matt. 18:23-25; Matt. 20:1-3; Matt. 22:1-3; Matt. 25:1-3. From these Parables we see that
the "Kingdom of Heaven" is limited as to its Time and its Sphere. Its Time is from the First to the Second Coming
of Christ, and its Sphere is over that part of the world that we call Christendom. In the "Kingdom of Heaven"
there is a mixture of good and evil, of "Wheat" and "Tares," of "Good Fish" and "Bad Fish," of "Wise Virgins"
and "Foolish Virgins.
THE POSTPONEMENT THEORY
There. are some who object to what they call the "Postponement Theory," and claim that the Kingdom which was "At Hand" was not an outward visible Kingdom, but a spiritual Kingdom, and that it was not withdrawn but is seen today in "New Born" believers. They base their claim on the fact that the earthly visible Kingdom of Christ could not be set up until after He had suffered and died on the Cross as the Saviour of men, and had risen from the dead, and ascended to the Father and received the Kingdom, and that therefore the offer of an outward visible and earthly Kingdom at that time was not a "bona fide" offer, and that John the Baptist and Jesus must have meant by the "Kingdom of Heaven" something else than an outward visible and earthly Kingdom. What are the facts? First that the Old Testament scriptures teach that there is to be an earthly and visible Kingdom over which the Son of Man is to rule (Dan. 7:13-14, Dan. 2:34-35, Dan. 2:44-45; Jer. 23:5; Zech. 14:9), and we know that at the time of Jesus' birth there was a widespread expectation of the coming of the Messiah, and that Simeon and Anna waited in the Temple for the "Consolation of Israel." Luke 2:25-27. We are also told that "Wise Men" came from the East to Jerusalem inquiring "Where is He that is born KING OF THE JEWS? " and when they had found Jesus they worshipped Him as KING. Matt. 2:1-3. There can be no question but what Jesus was born to be a KING. It was not until Jesus was 30 years old that John the Baptist appeared at the Jordan preaching-"Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is AT HAND." Matt. 3:2. And we are told that his mission was to "Prepare the Way of the Lord." Matt. 3:3. Isa. 40:3. Prepare the way of the Lord for what? Not for the "Cross" but the "Kingdom." john's message had no meaning to those who heard him and were looking for the setting up of the "Messianic Kingdom," if he did not mean by the "Kingdom of Heaven" an outward and visible earthly Kingdom. That John himself so believed is evident from the question he sent his disciples while in prison to ask Jesus-"Art Thou He that should come or do we look for another? " Matt. 11:3. The fact that Jesus answered John's question by a number of miracles of healing, which are the "Signs" of the Messianic Kingdom (Isa. 35:1-3), and were proofs of Christ's Messiahship, and told John's disciples to so report, is proof that both John and Jesus had in mind the earthly Messianic Kingdom when they proclaimed that the "Kingdom of heaven was AT HAND." It was the "Kingdom of Heaven," not because it was a Heavenly or Spiritual Kingdom, but because it was not received from men, but was given from Heaven by God the Father.
While it is true that John the Baptist pointed out to two of his own disciples Jesus as the "Lamb of God" ( ' John 1 29), this was after Jesus' return from the "Wilderness Temptation, and had been revealed to John at the Baptism of Jesus, and does not nullify or alter the character of his previous proclamation that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. We must not forget that as soon as Jesus was baptized He was "immediately" driven into the Wilderness to be tempted of the Devil (Matt. 4:1-3, Mark 1:11-13), and it was not until 40 days after His Baptism that John pointed out to his disciples Jesus as "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." The words "next day" (John 1:29) refer not to the day after Jesus' Baptism, but the next day after the Priests and Levites had inquired of John whether he was the Christ or Elias. John 1:19-21. In John 1:32-34, John the Baptist testifies that he knew not Jesus as the "Lamb of God" until His Baptism. Then he knew by the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove upon Christ that He was the "SON OF GOD." Therefore John the Baptist knew nothing about Christ's sacrificial work at the beginning of his ministry, and his proclamation that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand could have had no reference to a Spiritual Kingdom.
When Nathanael exclaimed-"Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the KING OF ISRAEL" (John 1:49), Jesus did not disclaim the title. When Jesus entered on His own ministry His message was the same as John the Baptist's-"Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is AT HAND." Matt. 4:17. The repentance called for was a "NATIONAL REPENTANCE." The Old Testament scriptures clearly teach that the Messianic Kingdom cannot be set up until Israel as a nation REPENTS. In Matt. 4:23 we read-"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the 'Gospel of The Kingdom'." While this was attended with "signs of bodily healing" we are nowhere told that the "Gospel of the Kingdom" had anything to do with the salvation of the soul, and as it is to be preached again after the Rapture of the Church, for a "witness" unto all nations, that the time has come for the setting up of the Kingdom (Matt. 24:14), the inference is that the "Gospel of the Kingdom" has nothing to do with "salvation," but is simply an announcement that the "Messianic Kingdom" is AT HAND.
When Jesus sent forth the Twelve Disciples He commanded them, saying, "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, and as ye go, preach, saying-'The kingdom of Heaven is AT HAND.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils (demons)." Matt. 10:5-7. Note again that the works they were to perform were "Kingdom SIGNS, " and had no reference to the salvation of the soul. They did not preach the "Gospel of Salvation." but the "Gospel of the Kingdom." And further the "Gospel of Salvation" is for the whole world, but the Disciples were forbidden to go to any but the "House of Israel, " thus showing that what they preached was exclusively for Israel. That the Disciples were expecting the setting up of a visible earthly Kingdom is evidenced by the request of James and John that they might sit, one on the right hand, and the other on the left hand of Jesus in His Kingdom. Mark 10:35-37. If there was to be no earthly Kingdom Jesus would have disabused their minds of that idea, but He confirmed it by saying that the place of honor was not for Him to give, but would be bestowed by His Father. Matt. 20:23.
The fact that after the miracle of the "Loaves and Fishes" the multitude was desirous to take Jesus by force and make Him a KING (John 6:15), reveals what they understood by the preaching of the Kingdom of Heaven being AT HAND. That Jesus prevented their doing so by escaping to a mountain is no evidence that He repudiated the idea of Kingship over a visible earthly Kingdom, but that to have received the Kingdom from them would have been wrong, for He is to receive the Kingdom from the FATHER, and not from men. Dan. 7:13-14. That Jesus did not deny His Kingship of an outward and visible earthly Kingdom is clear from the fact that He accepted the "Hosannahs"of the multitude when He rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday in fulfilment of the Messianic prophecy of Zech. 9:9. John 12:12-14. And it was as "KING OF THE JEWS" He was crucified. Matt. 27:37. When Pilate asked Jesus-"Art Thou the king of the JEWS? " He evaded the question, but admitted that He was a KING, and to that end had been born, but that His Kingdom was "not of this world, " that is, it would be given to Him by God the Father, and therefore would be from Heaven. John 18:33-35.
But some one may ask, "What would have happened if the Jews, as a nation, had repented, and accepted Jesus as King, would the earthly Messianic Kingdom have been set up? " Certainly, but not necessarily immediately, for certain Old Testament prophecies as to Jesus' death and resurrection had to be fulfilled, for He had to die for the redemption of the race, before He could assume His office as King. But this could and would have been fulfilled by the Roman Government seizing Jesus and crucifying Him as a usurper, and with Jesus' Resurrection and Ascension, Daniel's 69th week would have terminated, and the 70th week begun without a break, and at its close Jesus would have descended and set up His earthly Kingdom.
But you ask, "What about the Church? If it was God's Eternal Purpose to form the Church (Eph. 1:4), how could it have been formed if there was no break or gap between Daniel's 69th and 70th week, and how therefore could there have been a 'bona fide' offer of an earthly Kingdom to Israel? " The question is hypothetical and based on the supposition that something might have happened that God foresaw would not happen. God's foreknowledge that the Jewish nation would not at that time heed the announcement that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand and repent, does not militate against the sincerity of the announcement any more than the offer of spiritual salvation by a preacher of the Gospel to an audience of sinners who he has every reason to believe will refuse his offer, is not a sincere and "bona fide" offer.
God's Plan and Purpose in the Ages is based upon His FOREKNOWLEDGE. If God had not foreseen that the Jews would reject the King and therefore the Kingdom. He would have planned for the formation of the Church at some other time than this present Dispensation. As the Church was to be purchased by the precious blood of Christ (Acts 20:28, 1Pet. 1:18-20), it was necessary that Jesus should be rejected and crucified, and that by His own nation, for the Prophet Zechariah (Zech. 12:10) foretold that the Jews should look upon Him whom they had PIERCED. But God's foreknowledge did not require or compel the Jewish nation to reject Jesus, any more than Jesus' foreknowledge that Judas would betray Him compelled Judas to so do. The possibility of the Church being crowded out by the repentance of the Jewish nation did not enter into the "Plan of God," who foresaw the refusal of Israel to accept Jesus as King, and that Israel would not nationally repent until after the Church had been formed and taken out of the world.
In expounding the Scriptures we are not to take something that belongs to a "PAST" and a "FUTURE" Dispensation and put it in the "PRESENT" Dispensation. For instance, "THE KINGDOM." The "PAST" and "COMING" Dispensations have to do with "THE KINGDOM." but the "Present" has to do with the CHURCH. The "Kingdom" is an outward, visible and earthly "POLITICAL ORGANIZATION, " and is to be "set up" on the earth (Dan. 2:44) ; while the "Church" is an invisible and heavenly "SPIRITUAL ORGANISM" that is to be "caught out." 1Thes. 4:16-17. The "Kingdom" was prepared FROM the "Foundation of the World." Matt. 25:34.The "Church" was chosen in Him "BEFORE the Foundation of the World." Eph. 1:4. The "Church" then is not the "Kingdom."
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
A good illustration of the confusion that results when we take things that belong to a FUTURE Dispensation and put them in this PRESENT Dispensation is seen in the "Sermon on the Mount." It is found in Matt. 5:1-3:29. Matthew's Gospel is Jewish and must so be interpreted, though there are teachings in it that have eternal application and may be applied to any Dispensation, as "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled (Matt. 5:18) ; or "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matt. 6:21. But the instructions as to "fasting" (6:16-18) ; the "danger of the Council" (5:22) ; the "Judge," the "Officer," and the "Altar" (5:24-25), and the profession "I never knew you," and such like, have no application to the Christian, but only to those who are under the Law, and therefore must apply to another Dispensation than this.
The absurdity of the application is seen when we note that many professing Christians instead of "loving their enemies," do not even "love their brethren." Instead of agreeing with their "adversary quickly, " they are unwilling to agree with their "brethren slowly." Instead of not judging others it is the one thing to which they are most addicted. If any sue them and would take away their coat, instead of letting them have their cloak also, they let them have the law. Take the command "Give to him that asketh of thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away." Try that upon the average church member and see what you would get. How many if they were smitten on one cheek would turn the other?
Take the "Lord's Prayer," (Matt. 6:9-11), which is a part of the "Sermon on the Mount." It asks that-"The Kingdom" may come, not that the "Church" may increase and prosper. There is no petition for "Salvation from sin" in it. It asks that "God's will may be done in earth, as it is done in heaven." It is a prayer for those who shall be living in the "Tribulation Period" who in their persecutions will long for the return of the King, that the Kingdom may be set up, and God's will be done, as it will be done then, on earth as it is done in Heaven. At that time the "Beast" (Antichrist) will be in power and no one shall be able to "buy" or "sell" except he that hath the "Mark of the Beast," and this explains the petition-"Give us this day our DAILY BREAD, "for unless food is supplied miraculously they will perish. And it will be a time when they shall particularly need to be delivered, not from evil, but the EVIL ONE-Satan, who will tempt them to recant and worship the Beast.
The "Sermon on the Mount" was spoken by Christ before His rejection, and was the Constitution
of the then offered Kingdom; now that the Kingdom has been withdrawn it is not in force, but will be in the
Millennial Kingdom. So we see that we must discriminate between the Dispensations and not dislocate
THE DISCIPLES, QUESTION
After the Resurrection of Jesus the hope of a visible Kingdom was revived, and just before His Ascension the Disciples asked Him-
"Lord wilt Thou at this time restore the Kingdom of Israel? " His reply was- "It is not for you to know 'The Times' or 'The Seasons' which the Father hath put in His own power." Acts 1:6, Acts 1:7.
It is clear from this that the Disciples were looking for an Earthly and Visible Kingdom, and not a spiritual one. If Jesus came simply to set up a "Spiritual Kingdom" in this Dispensation, as many claim, then common honesty demanded that He at that solemn moment when He was about to leave His Disciples and go back to the Father, should have disabused His Disciples' minds of their false hope, and told them plainly that the Kingdom he came to set up was "spiritual" and not earthly. But He did no such thing. He confirmed their hope and told them that there was to be an "Earthly Kingdom," but the time and season for setting it up had not yet come.
In Luke 19:11, Luke 19:12, we read-
"Because He was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the Kingdom of God Should 'IMMEDIATELY' Appear; He spake this parable. A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a Kingdom, and to return."
From this we see that Jesus is the "Certain Nobleman" who has gone into a "Far Country" (Heaven), to receive the Kingdom and that, when He has received it, He will return.
There is nothing in the Scriptures to prove that Jesus is a King now. David was anointed King over. Israel long before King Saul died in anticipation of that event, but he did not become King, and take the throne, until after Saul's death. So while Jesus was born "King of the Jews," He does not become King until He actually takes the Throne. At present He is engaged in His High Priestly functions, and is seated on His Father's Throne and not on His own Throne.
II. The Kingdom in Mystery.
The King having been rejected it was impossible then to set up the Kingdom, so the Kingdom took on another aspect known as
The Kingdom in Mystery.
This "Mystery Form" of the Kingdom is described in the "Kingdom of Heaven Parables" found in Matthew's Gospel alone. If we want to know the character of this Period, which covers the time between the Ascension of Christ, and the Rapture of the Church, we must study these Parables. They are 12 in number.
After Jesus had spoken the Parable of "The Sower," the Disciples came to Him and said, "Why speakest Thou unto them in Parables? " He answered-"Because it is given unto you to know
Of the Kingdom of Heaven."
In verse 35 He gives as His reason for speaking to them in Parables, that it might be fulfilled as spoken by the prophet-
"I will open my mouth in Parables; I will utter things which have been kept SECRET from the foundation of the world."
The "Kingdom of Heaven Parables" therefore cannot describe the "Messianic" or "Millennial Kingdom," for it was no "secret" to the old Testament Prophets. Neither do they describe a "Spiritual Kingdom, " for the figures they use are all of an "earthly" nature. They must then describe the character of the Present Dispensation, in its earthly aspect, during the absence of The King.
Our Lord's Parables are not "Allegories." A vein of falsehood characterizes all allegories. Things are represented "fictitiously." The Parables of our Lord present things truthfully. He used Parables so that those who were not disposed to believe might not understand, and that the word of God might be fulfilled as spoken by the Prophet Isaiah. Isa. 6:9-11. Matt. 13:13-15. Also because "blindness in part"had fallen upon Israel, (Rom. 11:25), and a clear revelation would only discourage them or drive them further into unbelief.
Seven of the "Kingdom of Heaven" Parables are found in Matthew 13. All of the twelve, except the Parable of "The Sower," begin with "The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto."
1. The Sower.
The purpose of the "Parable of the Sower" seems to be, not so much to show the "character" of the "Kingdom of Heaven," that is, the "proportion" of those who hear the Gospel and fail to profit by it though that is clearly revealed, as it is to show the causes that hinder the growth of the Seed. The Parable mentions four classes of "Hearers."
(1) The "Wayside" Hearer.
Here the seed does not have a chance to "take root." The"Devil's Birds," (vs. 19), "Criticism, " "Doubt Unbelief," "Prejudice," "Preoccupation," etc., snatch up the seed before it can be worked into the soil.
(2) The "Stony Ground" Hearer.
Here the seed takes "root" but dies before it can grow up because of the "shallowness" of the soil. Emotional souls caught by some sudden fear of hell, or moved by some strong appeal, profess conversion, but not counting the cost they soon fall away. Jesus mentioned "two stones" that underlie the soil of the heart of the "Stony-Ground Hearer Tribulation" and "Persecution."
(3) The "Thorny-Ground" Hearer.
Here the seed takes "root," "grows up," but does not bear fruit. The soil of the heart of the "Thorny-Ground Hearer" contains the seeds or roots of "thorns" and these spring up, and outgrow, and overshadow the wheat, and absorb from the soil the nutriment needed by it. Matthew mentions two of these "thorns"' the "Cares of the World" and the "Deceitfulness of riches." Mark (4:19) mentions another, the "Lust of other things, " and Luke (8:14) a fourth, the "Pleasures of this life."
(4) The "Good-Ground" Hearer.
Here the seed takes "root," "grows up bears fruit," but the amount varies. Some brings forth a 100 fold, some 60, some only 30. Why is this? It was not the fault of the soil. That was equally good all over the field, even on the "Wayside," and in the "Stony" and parts. Why then? It was the lack of cultivation. If the soil had been properly cleared, tilled, and cultivated, and the proper atmospheric conditions prevailed, it would have brought forth a uniform crop of 100 fold.
This Parable teaches us that Christianity is a New Thing, that it s not like weeds that grow up spontaneously of themselves, but it must be sown and cultivated like wheat. The figure is a lowly agricultural one, that of a farmer sowing seed, and not of a King Setting Up a Kingdom. In other words this Dispensation is an "Agricultural One" the purpose of getting the "WHEAT OF THE CHURCH."
The apparent fruitlessness of the soil, only one-quarter bringing forth any fruit, and that in unequal proportions, seems to indicate the comparative failure of the Gospel in this Dispensation. Surely this rable does not teach that the World is to be converted in this Dispensation by the preaching of the Gospel.
2. The Wheat and Tares.
The Parable of the "Wheat and Tares" (Matt. 13:24-26), Christ Himself interprets (vs. 37-39), and this forbids any fanciful or unscriptural interpretation. He tells us that the "Man" who sowed the good seed is the "Son of Man" (vs. 37), that He sowed it in His "own field" (vs. 24), and that the "Field" is not the Church, but the "world." This at one stroke demolishes the argument of those who claim that the "Field" is the Church, and that the "Wheat" and the "Tares" represent "true" and "false" professors.
The Son-of Man, the "Sower," in the first Parable sowed the seed of "The Word." In this Parable He sows "Men" (the Children of the Kingdom). This is beautifully illustrated in the persecution that followed the martyrdom -of Stephen. Acts 8:1-3. It was the Son of Man Himself, through the agency of Saul of Tarsus, and not Satan, who scattered the Church broadcast throughout Judea and Samaria. This is where the Parable begins. This scattering has been going on down the centuries.
But the "Field" was not left to the "Wheat." The Devil came and sowed Tares." The "Tares," or "Darnel," so closely resembles Wheat that its true nature cannot be seen until it has matured. This sowing of the "Tares" was done, not while the Sower slept, for He never slumbers or sleeps, but while the "men" He left to look after the Field slept. Vs. 25. This sowing is still going on.
The "Tares" are called the "Children of the Wicked One." They are men of the character of those Jews to whom Jesus said-"Ye are of your father the Devil." John 8:44.
It is important to note that the Devil cannot "change" the "Wheat; " he can only sow "Tares; " but he can sow in such large quantities as to completely change the "aspect" of the whole field. When the servants saw what was done they said, "Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? " The master said "Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares ye root up also the wheat with them." This is no argument for "laxness" in Church Discipline. This Parable has no reference to the Church, as a church. Men and women in these days are trying to root out all manner of obnoxious evils, it is an idle dream. It does more harm than good. There is to be a Twofold Development of "Good" and "Evil" DOWN TO THE END OF THE AGE, the "Good" growing better and the "Evil" worse. The Parable teaches that as the time for the "Harvest" approaches the difference between the "Wheat" and the "Tares" will become more strikingly and clearly manifest.
How long is this conflict between "Good" and "Evil" to last? "Until the Harvest." Vs. 30. When is the Harvest. At the "End of This Age, " and the "reapers" are the Angels (vs. 39). As soon as the "Wheat of the Church Is Ripe" Jesus will come back.
Some are perplexed by the words-
"Gather ye together first the 'Tares,' and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the 'Wheat' into my barn" (vs. 30),
and claim that the Church is to remain on the earth until the "Tares" are burned, and that this necessitates the Church's going through the Tribulation.
The fact is that the "Tares" are gathered together in "bundles," not to burn them "before" the "Wheat" is harvested, but to have them "separated" and in readiness to burn "after" the "Wheat" has been garnered in the "Heavenly Barn." This gathering together of the "Tares" into bundles is going on now in the formation of false religious systems such as "Christian Science," "New Thought," "Millennial Dawnism...... Spiritualism, " "Mormonism," "Theosophy," etc. This Parable teaches that the "Wheat" and the "Tares" are inseparable until the End of This Dispensation, and therefore there can be no Millennium until Christ returns.
3. The Mustard Tree.
The Parable of the "Mustard Tree," and the one that follows it, the "Leaven," both begin with the phrase "The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto," and therefore their teaching should not contradict the teaching of the Parable of the "Wheat and Tares." The same is true of all the "Kingdom of Heaven" parables. Yet these two parables have both been used to teach the "expansion of the Church" until it shall be universal in its supremacy. We repeat again that the "Kingdom of Heaven" is not the Church, but Christendom. Yet for clearness sake we will let the "Mustard Tree" represent the "visible" Church, composed of all churches called Christian. Of these two Parables the "Mustard Tree" represents the "external" growth and condition of the visible Church and the "Leaven" the "internal" development.
The "Mustard Plant" is a "garden herb," and is cultivated for its seed, used as a condiment. It grows wild, often to the height of seven or eight feet. To obtain the best results it should be cultivated in a garden. In the Parable we find the seed sown in a "Field," (the World), not in a garden, and it grows "wild" until it is no longer called an "herb" but a "tree." The seed does not produce, after its kind," an humble "herb," but becomes a vain-glorious Tree, a "Monstrosity, " in which the "Birds of the Air" Lodge. Who are these "birds? " They are the "fowls" of the Parable of the Sower, for the same word is used, and are therefore the agents of the "Wicked One," the Devil. Matt. 13:4, Matt. 13:19. It is clear then that the "birds" in this parable do not represent persons converted by the preaching of the Gospel, but the emissaries of Satan, and they do not lodge in the branches of the "Tree" so much for shelter as for worldly advantage, and they "befoul" it by their presence.
The "Mustard Tree" began with the 120 believers who received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and continued to enlarge until its branches spread all over the Roman world. But the "Birds of the Air," the Ananias and Sapphiras, the Simon Maguses, the Hymenaeus and Philetus and other emissaries of Satan, began to lodge in its branches and "befoul" its purity, and when in A. D. 324 the Emperor Constantine united Church and State, thousands, and tens of thousands, crowded into the Church as a matter of policy, interest and fashion, and crouched beneath its shadow, lodged in its branches, fattened on its fruit, and have continued to do so until this day.
According to this Parable the "Kingdom of Heaven" is a
Vast Worldly System,
rooted in the earth, bearing the name of Christ, possessed of wealth, standing, and power but sheltering the agents of the "Ruler of the Darkness of This Age." Such we know is the condition of the visible Church today. Where is the picture of "pure" Christianity spreading through the world until the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the deep, thus ushering in a Millennium, in this Parable? In fact, it teaches the contrary and is proof of Jesus' own declaration that when He shall come back He shall Not Find 'THE FAITH' on the Earth. Luke 18:8.
4. The Leaven.
The common interpretation of the Parable of the "Leaven" (Matt. 13:33), is, that the Woman" represents the Church, the "Leaven," the Gospel, and the "Three Measures of Meal," Humanity; and that the "Leaven of the Gospel" is to be so introduced by the Church into the
"Meal of Humanity" that the whole world will be converted to Christ. But the "Leaven" cannot mean the "Gospel," Leaven in the Scriptures is the
Symbol of Evil.
It is a species of corruption produced by fermentation, and tends to putrefaction, and will "corrupt" everything with which it comes in contact. The Children of Israel were commanded to put it out of their houses at the time of the "Passover" on penalty of "excommunication." Ex. 12:15. It must not come in contact with any sacrifice. Ex. 34:25; Lev. 2:11; Lev. 10:12. Three times Christ uses the word "Leaven" beside here in this Parable. He speaks of the "Leaven of the Pharisees," the "Leaven of the Sadducees" and the "Leaven of Herod." Matt. 16:6-8; Mark 8:15. He calls the "Leaven" of the Pharisees and Sadducees "false doctrine." The "False Doctrine" of the Pharisees was "Legalism," the "form of godliness without the power." The "False Doctrine" of the Sadducces was "Scepticism," the denial of the resurrection of the body, saying there was neither angel or spirit. The "False Doctrine" of Herod was "Materialism," a mixture of religion and worldliness.
Christ never used the word "Leaven" except in an "evil" sense. It is used in the same way by the Apostle Paul. Writing to the Corinthians he said-"Purge out therefore the 'old leaven' that ye may be a 'new lump."' 1Cor. 5:6-8. In the same passage he calls Leaven "malice and wickedness," as contrasted with "sincerity and truth." Writing to the Corinthians and Galatians about "evil practices," he warns them that "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." 1Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9.
There are but two exceptions to this universal rule. In Lev. 23:6-8 we read that the "Wave Sheaf" of "First Fruits" was to contain no Leaven because it represented Christ, the "First Fruits" of the, Resurrection, who was "without sin." But the new "Meat Offering," of "two wave loaves," offered 50 days later, at the Feast of Pentecost (Lev. 23:15-17), was to contain Leaven, because the Feast of Pentecost was typical of the bestowal of the Holy Spirit on the Disciples on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-3), and those who received it were not free from sin.
The other exception is in Amos 4:4, Amos 4:5, where the Lord is "rebuking transgression," and "sarcastically" refers to the use of Leaven as a "multiplying of transgression." We see then that even where the use of Leaven is commanded, or permitted, it is a symbol of evil. It is clear then that what is meant by "Leaven" in this Parable is false or corrupting doctrine.
If by "Leaven" is meant the Gospel we have a queer contradiction, for the Gospel does not work like leaven. Leaven when put in meal works by "itself," and if left "alone" will leaven the whole batch of dough. But this is not the way the Gospel works; if it were, every village, town, city and country where the Gospel has once been implanted, should by this time be so thoroughly "Leavened" as to be now completely Christian, but this we know is not true. The Gospel as far as converting the world is concerned is a failure.
We are not left in the dark as to the "character" of the Leaven. Paul writing to Timothy said-
"The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having 'itching ears; ' and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." 2Tim. 4:3, 2Tim. 4:4.
The Apostle Peter also sounds a warning.
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily (like hiding the Leaven in the meal) shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their 'Pernicious Ways, ' by reason of whom the 'Way of Truth' SHALL BE EVIL SPOKEN OF." 2Pet. 2:1, 2Pet. 2:2.
So much for the "Leaven." Now what is meant by the "three measures of meal? " Where do we get meal? Not from Tares. They would not yield fine wholesome flour. Meal comes from corn. Hence the "Meal" cannot represent the "unregenerate mass of humanity," but the pure seed of the Word of God. It is a striking coincidence that the professing Church is divided today into three great parts, the Roman Catholic, the Greek, and the Protestant churches, which may represent the "three measures" into the "Meal" of which has been placed the false and corrupting doctrines of "Baptismal Regeneration," "Prayers for the Dead," "Image Worship," the "Sacrifice of the Mass" and other false doctrines.
The "Woman" who hides the "Leaven" corresponds to the woman Jezebel of the Church of Thyatira (Rev. 2:20), and foreshadows the "System" (Papal) referred to in Rev. 17:5, as the "Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth." As further proof that the "Leaven" is "bad" and "corrupting" is the fact that the Woman "hides" it in the "Meal." If the Leaven is the Gospel there was no reason why she should hide it.
The purpose of these four Parables is to warn us of what to expect as the result of the preaching of the Gospel in this Age, so that we shall not be discouraged and disheartened by what we see to be the apparent failure of the Gospel. They teach that at no time during Christ's absence will there be a universal reception of the Gospel; that it will be opposed by the World, the Flesh and the Devil until the End of the Age, that the Church will grow unwatchful and fall asleep, that the Devil will take advantage of such unwatchfulness to put his own children into the professing Church to introduce corrupting doctrine, and that all this shall continue in an increasing measure until the Lord shall come with "fiery" judgments, for fire alone can arrest the work of leaven. This then is to be the outcome of all the "religionism" of the Age. Where is there a place in these Parables for a Millennium before Christ comes back?
5. The Hid Treasure.
The Parables of the "Hid Treasure," and the "Pearl" have been interpreted to mean that Christ is the "Hid Treasure" and also the "Pearl," and that we are to sell all, that is, give up everything for Him. But such an interpretation is contrary to the Gospel plan of salvation and breaks down in every particular.
The "Field" in this, Parable is the "World," the same as in the Parable of the "Wheat and Tares," and the sinner is not to "purchase" the "World" but to "give it up." Furthermore, the sinner has "nothing to sell," nor is Christ "for sale," nor is He "hidden in a field," nor having found Christ does the sinner "hide him again." Salvation is not something that can be "bought." it is a "free gift." Rom. 6:23. The sinner does not buy Christ, Christ buys him. 1Cor. 6:20. Salvation is "free," and is something to be "received" (John 1:12), and that "without money" and "without price." Isa. 55:1.
As in the preceding Parables the "Field" is the World, and the "Man" is the Son of Man, or Christ. Christ is the "purchaser" of ' the "Field." But why should He purchase the "Field? " Does not the World belong to His Father? And if He found the "Treasure" in the :, Field" why should He "hide" it until He was able to purchase the 'Field? " Would it be considered honest to discover that, under the surface of a man's farm there were hidden treasures of coal, iron, oil or copper, and, without letting him know, try to secure the farm at a small cost, thus deceiving him until the property was secured? The answer is that a "usurper," the Devil, had taken possession of the "Field." The Hid Treasure was not in the field when he took possession. It was placed their afterward. It did not belong to the Devil, it belonged to God who had hid in it the "Field" from the Devil. Christ found it, and as the only way to get the "Treasure" was to buy the "Field," Christ hid it again, and then purchased the "Field." The price He paid was all He possessed. 2Cor. 8:9.
The Hid Treasure is Israel. God said to Israel at Sinai-
"Ye shall be a Peculiar Treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth (world) is mine." Ex. 19:5.
"For the Lord hath chosen ' Jacob for Himself and Israel for His Peculiar Treasure." Psa. 135:4.
The "Treasure" still remains "hid" in the "Field." Christ purchased the "Field" on the Cross, but He has not taken possession as yet, and will not until the time comes for the "Redemption of the PURCHASED POSSESSION." Eph. 1:14.
Until that time Israel must remain hid among the Nations. This is one of the "Mysteries" of the "Kingdom of Heaven."
"For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this 'Mystery, ' lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the Fulness of the Gentiles Be Come in." Rom. 11:25.
Israel must remain hid in the "Field"' until the "Fulness of the Gentiles" be come in. Then Christ will come back and claim His "Hid Treasure," and Israel will be resurrected from the "Graveyard of the Nations" where she is buried and restored to her own land.
6. The Pearl.
In the Parable of the "Pearl" the "Merchant Man" is Christ. The "Pearl" is the Church. In the Parable of the "Hid Treasure," the Treasure was not purchased but the Field. In this Parable it is the "Pearl" that is purchased. Once Christ comes into full possession of the "Pearl" it will never be on the market again. It will be His forever. We see from this Parable that the purpose of this Dispensation is not the conversion of the World, but the securing (formation) of the Church.
7. The Drag Net.
The Parable of the "Drag Net," like all the preceding, covers the present Dispensation. The "net" here mentioned is the "Gospel Net." The Parable is descriptive of the work the Disciples were to do when Jesus said unto them-"I will make you 'Fishers of Men."' While men in this "Gospel Age" are mostly caught one by one, yet in times of revival they are caught as in a net in large quantities. The Parable is descriptive of the method used in this Gospel Dispensation of gathering people into our churches by the "Drag-net of Solicitation."
The result is that there are "Good" and "Bad" fish in the net. But while fishermen can separate the "bad" fish from the "good," that is the eatable and marketable from those that are not, the officers of a church are not always omniscient enough to do this. The ending of this Parable corresponds with the ending of the Parable of the "Wheat and Tares." As there the separation does not come until the "Harvest," and the "Harvest" is the "End of the Age," and the separation will be made by the "Angel Reapers," so in this Parable the separation between the "Good" and "Bad" fish will not be until the "end of this Age," and angels will do the separating.
We should notice also that as the "Tares" were gathered together "first," but not burned until the "Wheat" had been garnered in the "Heavenly Barn," so here, the "Good" fish are separated from the "Bad" and the "Good" gathered into "vessels" (Heaven), before the "Bad" are cast away.
When a net is cast into the sea, even though the net is filled to the point of breaking, the great bulk of the fish in the sea remain uncaught, and where there is a separation of those caught, as in the Parable, comparatively few are saved. If this is true of this Gospel Dispensation, as the Parable seems to teach, then the world is not to be converted before the "Angel Fishermen" separate the "Righteous" and the "Wicked" at the coming of the Lord.
Of the five remaining "Kingdom of Heaven" Parables we have only space to speak briefly. The Parable of the "Unmerciful Servant" (Matt. 18:23-25), has to do with the "conduct" of the members of the "Kingdom of Heaven" towards each other during this Dispensation.
The Parable of the "Vineyard Laborers" (Matt. 20:1-3) does not teach that the "penny" that the laborers received for their labor represents "Salvation," for "Salvation" is a Gift, and cannot be "earned" as wages, or "merited" as a reward. Neither does the Parable teach, as some claim, that those who were hired early in the morning, and at the third, sixth, ninth and eleventh hours, represent the different ages at which sinners may come to Christ. Neither does the Parable teach that because each one received a "penny" that men shall be "equally" rewarded in the next world. What then does the Parable teach? The context shows (Matt. 19:27-29), that the Parable was spoken to rebuke the "hireling spirit" of Peter, and is to teach that men will be judged for the "motive" of their service, and not for the "amount." The Parable teaches that the "Hireling Spirit" will be a characteristic of the "Kingdom of Heaven," and therefore of this Dispensation, and that it will be revealed at the "Judgment of Reward" by the consumption of the "wood," "hay" and "stubble" works of all "Hireling Laborers." 1Cor. 3:9-11.
The Parable of the "Marriage Feast" (Matt. 22:1-3) must not be confounded with the Parable of the "Great Supper" recorded in Luke 14:16-18. That Parable was spoken in the house of a chief Pharisee in Perea, three months before Christ's death, and refers to the "Gospel Feast." This Parable was spoken in the Temple at Jerusalem on the morning of the Tuesday preceding His Crucifixion, and was spoken to the multitude. In the scope of its teaching and outlook this Parable of the "Marriage Feast" is the broadest of all the parables of Jesus. In its perspective it extends from the giving of the "Mosaic Law" to the "Marriage of the Lamb." The "certain king" is God, the "son" is Christ. Those first bidden were the Jewish Nation. Moses and the Prophets announced the "Feast." John the Baptist, the Twelve, and the Seventy, notified the Jewish Nation that it was about ready. When Jesus the "Lamb" was offered on Calvary the Feast was ready, and Peter, John and others were the "other servants" sent forth. This was the "second" call. Acts 3:19-21. But the Jewish Nation made "light of it." Then the "remnant" took Stephen, James and others, and "entreated them spitefully" and "slew them." This made the King angry and He sent His armies and "burned their city." This is a prophetic announcement of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in A. D. 70. Then Philip, Barnabas, Paul and others, were sent out into the Highways of the "Gentile World" to gather in those who were willing to accept the invitation to the "Marriage Feast." This is still going on. The Parable looks forward to the "Marriage of the Lamb," and reveals that there is to be a "separation" among the guests, and that all those who have not on a "Wedding Garment" will be excluded from the "Feast." The ending of the Parable synchronizes with the separation of the "Wise" and "Foolish" Virgins, and reveals the fact that many professing Christians will be found without a "Wedding Garment," and "speechless, " when they are called upon to face God.
The Parable of the "Ten Virgins" (Matt. 25:1-3), is a picture of what will happen to the professing Church when Christ comes to gather out His Saints. It teaches that we cannot distinguish the "True" from the "False" professors in the Church until the time for separation, comes, and that the possession of the Holy Spirit represented by the "oil" in the Parable) will be the supreme test. If possibly half the "Professing Church" is shut out from the "Wedding," and all of the great multitude outside the Church, who show by their lives that they are unsaved, where is the Conversion of the World in this Dispensation to be seen in this Parable?
The Parable of the "Talents" (Matt. 25:14-16) must not be confounded with the Parable of the "Pounds" in Luke 19:11-13. The "Man" is Christ. The "far country," Heaven. The "departure," Christ's Ascension. The "return," His Second Coming.
The Parable of the "Pounds" is Jewish and pictures what will happen when Christ, "having received the Kingdom," returns to the earth and rewards His Servants (the Jews), by giving them authority over different cities. The "One Pound" man loses his Pound and the right to rule, but is not "cast out." In this Parable of the "Talents" the "One Talent" man is "cast out." The theme of the Parable is "Christian Stewardship" and the fact that the "One Talent" man complains of the strict accountability required of him shows that the "One Talent" man is a mere professor, and his character is revealed by his commission of the "Napkin Sin." The time of the accounting synchronizes with that of the separation of the "Wheat" and "Tares," the "Good" and "Bad" Fish, and the "Wise" and "Foolish" Virgins, and reveals the fact that unfaithfulness in "Christian Stewardship" will be punished.
III. The Kingdom in Manifestation.
That there is to be a period of a 1000 years during which Satan shall be bound and Christ shall reign on this earth, is plainly stated in the New Testament. This period is mentioned 6 times in Rev. 20:1-3, and is generally called
"The Millennium, "
from the Latin words "Mille" (1000) and "Annum" (year). It is to be regretted, however, that the word "Millennium" ever supplanted the Biblical word "Kingdom," for it is this period that Christ taught His Disciples to pray for in the petition "Thy Kingdom Come."
Let us drop then for the present the word "Millennium" and look at the word "Kingdom." In the chapter on "The Gentiles" we saw that there were to be "Four World-wide Kingdoms" that were to succeed each other on the earth and that they were to be destroyed in turn by a Kingdom called the
As those "Four Kingdoms" were "literal" Kingdoms it follows that the "Stone Kingdom" must be a "literal" Kingdom, for it takes the peace of those Kingdoms and "fills the whole earth." This "Stone Kingdom" is the "Millennial Kingdom of Christ."
The time when this "Stone Kingdom" shall be set up is at the "Revelation of Christ," when He shall come with the "armies of Heaven" and destroy Antichrist (Rev. 19:11-13) and judge the Nations.
"When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the
'Throne of His Glory; '
and before Him shall be gathered all nations; and He shall separate them one from another as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats, and He shall set the Sheep (Sheep Nations) on His right hand, but the Goats (Goat Nations) on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom Prepared for You From the Foundation of the World." Matt. 25:31-33.
This Kingdom is an earthly, visible Kingdom, and is the "Millennial Kingdom" of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. The Form of Government.
It will be a "Theocracy." God will rule in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. "And the angel said unto Mary, thou shalt bring forth a son and shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the 'Son of the Highest,' and the Lord God shall give unto Him the Throne of His Father David; and He shall reign over the House of Jacob FOREVER, and of His Kingdom There Shall Be NO END." Luke 1:30-32.
There are 7 of God's "shalls" in this passage. Four of them have been fulfilled, for Mary did bring forth a "son," He was called "Jesus," He was "great," and was called the "Son of the Highest; " the other three must and will be fulfilled.
Daniel the Prophet describes the event.
"I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the 'Son of Man' came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the 'Ancient of Days' (God), and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him Dominion, and Glory and a KINGDOM that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him; His Dominion is an Everlasting Dominion, Which Shall Not Pass Away, and His KINGDOM that which Shall Not Be Destroyed." Dan. 7:13, Dan. 7:14.
Whether Christ shall sit in person on the Throne at Jerusalem, or whether He shall rule through another is not so clear. There are several passages of Scripture that seem to teach that King David will be raised and placed on the throne again, and that the Children of Israel will seek him, or it may mean that the new King shall be named David.
"Afterward shall the Children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David Their King; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the Latter Days." Hosea 3:5.
"They shall serve the Lord their God, and David Their King, whom I will Raise Up Unto Them." Jer. 30:9.
"And David, my servant, shall be King Over Them." Eze. 37:24.
"I Jehovah will be their God, and my servant David a Prince in Their Midst." Eze. 34:24.
"My servant David shall be their Prince Forever." Eze. 37:25.
As the "Lord of Hosts" shall reign in Mt. Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients "gloriously" (Isa. 24:23), the inference is that King David will reign simply as "Regent," and will be called "King" or "Prince" as circumstances may require. It is very clear from Ezekiel that the "Prince," whoever he may be, is not perfect, and has to offer sacrifices for himself. Eze. 45:22.
We have a hint of the manner of government in the Parable of the Pounds. That Parable was spoken to show what Jesus will do to His servants (the Jews) when He shall have "received the Kingdom and returned." The man whose Pound shall have gained "Ten Pounds" will be rewarded by being placed in authority over "ten cities." The man whose Pound shall have gained "Five Pounds" will have authority over "five cities." The man who failed to use his Pound is simply deprived of it and loses all opportunity of authority. Luke 19- 11-13.
The promise that Jesus made to His Disciples that
"In the Regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the Throne of His Glory, ye also shall sit upon Twelve Thrones, judging the Twelve Tribes of Israel." Matt. 19:28,
in all probability does not refer to the "Millennial Age," but to the .'Perfect Age," the "Age" that is to follow the renovation of the Earth by fire. The use of the word "regeneration" suggests this, as it refers to the time when the present earth is to be "re-created" and made "new." It has occurred to the writer that we have not as yet the proper perspective as to all the Old Testament prophecies, and that we are putting in the "Millennial Age" some things that belong to the "Perfect Age." The one just mentioned, for example.
Some object to the "visible reign" of King, David, or the Disciples on the earth during the Millennium because it involves the anomaly of intercourse between men in the flesh and those who are clad in resurrected and glorified bodies. But why should this be an objection? Did not Jesus appear "eleven" times "after His resurrection," during a period of "forty days," to His disciples Did He not "eat" and "drink" with them during that period? Did they not "walk" with Him to the Mount of Olives and see Him go up in that Same Resurrection Body? Did not angels appear in human form and "eat" and "drink" with men in Old Testament times? Gen. 18:1-3.
We must not forget that they who shall be accounted worthy to obtain "That Age, " and the "Resurrection From Among the Dead, " shall be "Angel Like" (Luke 20:35, Luke 20:36), and like the angels can mingle with earth's inhabitants, having visible bodily forms, can eat and drink, and there is probably more truth than poetry in the Prophet's utterance that in those days,
"They that wait upon the Lord (as messengers) shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles (Angels) ; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint." Isa. 40:31.
This can be said of only those who have been "Raised in Power." 1Cor. 15:42) 1Cor. 15:43.
2. The Seat of Government.
The Seat of Government will be at Jerusalem. Jerusalem is to be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the "Times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." Luke 21:24. Then it will be rebuilt. The Prophet Ezekiel gives us a detailed description of the restored Land and City in Eze. 48:1-3. See Chart of the Millennial Land.
The "Royal Grant" of land that God gave to Abraham and his descendants extended from the "River of Egypt" unto the "Great River," the river Euphrates. Gen. 15:18. Ezekiel fixes the Northern boundary at Hamath, about 100 miles north of Damascus (Eze. 48:1), and the Southern boundary at Kadesh, about 100 miles south of Jerusalem. Eze. 48:28. This "Royal Grant" was not conditional and was never revoked. It is 8 times as large as that formerly occupied by the Twelve Tribes.
This "Royal Grant" is to be divided among the restored Twelve Tribes in parallel horizontal
sections, beginning at Hamath on the North with a section for Dan, next comes Asher, then Naphtali, Manassah,
Ephraim, Reuben, Judah. Then comes the
"Holy Oblation, "
a square tract on the west of Jordan, 25, 000 reeds, or 50 miles on a side. A "Reed, " according to Eze. 40:5, is 6 cubits long, the cubit being an ordinary cubit 18 inches long plus a hand-breadth, 3 inches, making the "reed cubit" 21 inches. Six of such cubits make the "reed" 10 1/2 feet long. South of the "Holy Oblation" will be the Tribes of Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulon and Gad.
The "Holy Oblation" is divided into three horizontal sections. The Northern section is 25, 000 reeds long, from East to West, and 10, 000 reeds wide. It is called the "Levites' Portion." South of it is the "Priests' Portion" of equal size. South of the "Priests' Portion" is the section for the "City" with its suburbs and farming sections. This section is 25, 000 reeds long, from East to West, and 5000 reeds wide. Eze. 48:15-17.
In the centre of this section the City (Jerusalem) is located. This helps us to map out the whole of the "Holy Oblation," as the "New City-" is to be located on the site of the Old. The "New City, " however, is to be much larger than the Old. It is to be 9 miles square, and with its suburbs, 1/2 a mile on a side, 10 miles square. It will have a wall around it with 3 gates on each side like the New Jerusalem (Eze. 48:15-17, Eze. 48:30-32), these gates being named after the 12 sons of Jacob.
The "Temple," or "Sanctuary," will not be rebuilt in the "New City," but in the "midst" or middle of the "Holy Oblation." Eze. 48:10, Eze. 48:20, Eze. 48:21. This will locate it at or near Shiloh, where the Tabernacle rested after the Children of Israel conquered the Land, and where it remained until the Temple of Solomon was finished. A "Highway" shall lead from the "Sanctuary" to the "New City." Isa. 35:8. It will be a magnificent boulevard, 12 miles long, lined with beautiful shade trees.
The "New Temple" or "Sanctuary" will occupy a space of 500 reeds on a side, or nearly a mile- square. Eze. 42:15-17. The old Temple was not a mile in circuit.
The Prophet Zechariah tells us (Zech. 14:8), that in "That Day" (the Millennial Day)-
"Living Waters Shall Go Out From Jerusalem, " half of them toward the Former Sea (Red Sea) and half of them toward the Hinder Sea (Mediterranean) ; in summer and in winter shall it be."
But those "Living Waters" will not have their "source" in Jerusalem. The life-giving spring from which they flow will be located under the "Sanctuary." Ezekiel tells us how he saw in vision the "New Temple" or "Sanctuary" and how the Lord took him to the eastern door of the "House" or Sanctuary," where he saw the waters come forth from under the Threshold of the door, and flow past the "Altar of Burnt Offering" on the south side eastward until the stream was deep enough to swim in.
"Then said he unto me, These waters..... go down into the desert (by way of Jerusalem) and go into the sea (Dead Sea), which being brought forth into the sea, the waters (of the Dead Sea) shall be healed (lose their saltness).....And everything shall live whither the river cometh. And it shall come to pass that the fishers shall stand upon it (Dead Sea), from Engedi (on the west shore) even unto Eneglaim (on the east shore) ; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the Great Sea (Mediterranean) exceeding many. . . . And by the River upon the banks thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed; it shall bring forth new fruit according to its months, because the waters they issued out of the "Sanctuary; " and the "Fruit" thereof shall be for meat and the "Leaf" thereof for medicine." Eze. 47:8-10. Compare Rev. 22:1, Rev. 22:2.
The size of the "New City," the location of the "New Sanctuary" and the elevation of the Dead Sea- which is now 1200 feet below the level of the Mediterranean Sea, call for great physical changes in the land surface of Palestine. How are these changes to come about?
When Christ comes back it will be to the Mount of Olives from whence He went up. Acts 1:9-11. The Prophet Zechariah describes what will then happen.
"His (Christ's) feet shall stand in That Day (the day of His return) upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east and the Mount of Olives shall Cleave in the midst Thereof Toward the East and Toward the West, and There Shall Be a Very Great Valley; and Half of the Mountain Shall Remove Toward the North and Half of It Toward the South. . . .
"All the Land Shall Be Turned as a Plain From Geba to Rimmon South of Jerusalem; and it shall be LIFTED UP AND INHABITED." Zech. 14:4, Zech. 14:10, Zech. 14:11.
These great changes will probably be brought about by earthquakes or volcanic action.
"Behold, the Lord cometh forth out of His place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains shall be Molten Under Him, and the valleys shall be Cleft as Wax Before the Fire, and as the Waters That Are Poured Down a Steep Place." Micah 1:3, Micah 1:4.
These great physical changes will level the land surface of Palestine, and make room for the "New City," and raise the Dead Sea, so its waters can flow into both the Red and Mediterranean Seas. Ezekiel tells us that the name of Jerusalem in that day shall be "Jehovah Shamniah, " the Lord Is There. Eze. 48:35.
3. The Temple and Its Worship.
As we have seen the Temple or Sanctuary will be located in the centre of the "Holy Oblation." A full description of the Temple and its courts is given in Eze. 40:1-3:31. No such building as Ezekiel so minutely describes has ever yet been built, and so the prophecy cannot refer to either Zerubbabel's or Herod's Temple, and as there is to be no Temple in the New Jerusalem, it must be a description of the Temple that is to be on the earth during the Millennium. That it does not belong to the New Earth is also clear, for the land in which it is located is bounded by the Sea, and the waters that flow from it, flow "into the Sea," but in the New Earth there is "no more sea." Rev. 21:1. This is still further confirmed by the Prophet's mention of the "desert," the "River Jordan," the "Mediterranean Sea," and other localities that will not be found on the New Earth after its renovation by fire.
The "Aaronic Priesthood" will be re-established, and the sons of Zadok shall officiate and offer sacrifices. Eze. 44:15-17. The New Temple, however, will lack many things that were the features of the old Temple. There will be no "Ark of the Covenant," no "Pot of Manna," no "Aaron's Rod" to bud, no "Tables of the Law," no "Cherubim, no "Mercy Seat," no "Golden Candlestick," no "Shew Bread," no "Altar of Incense," no "Veil," no unapproachable "Holy of Holies" where the High Priest alone might enter, nor is there any "High Priest" to offer atonement for sin, or to make intercession for the people, unless a rather obscure passage in Zech. 6:12, 13 means that Christ (The Branch, Jer. 23:5, Jer. 23:6) shall be a "King-Priest," and perform the duties of High Priest conjointly with His Kingly office.
While the Levites as a class shall perform Temple service they shall be barred from Priestly duties for their past sins. Eze. 44:10-12. There shall be a daily "morning" sacrifice, but no evening sacrifice. Eze. 46:13-15. The offerings will be the "Burnt," the "Meal," the "Drink," the "Sin," the "Peace" (Eze. 45:17), and the "Trespass" offering. Eze. 42:13. Two Feasts are to be observed, "The Passover," but no Passover Lamb will be offered as Jesus fulfilled that Type (Eze. 45:21-23), and the "Feast of Tabernacles," Zech. 14:16, Zech. 14:19. This Feast is to be observed by all the nations under penalty of "Drought" or "Plague."
The "Feast of Pentecost" will be done away with on account of its fulfillment. The "Day of Pentecost," recorded in Acts 2:1-3, was only a partial fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2:28-30. No such wonders in the heavens and the earth as "blood," and "fire" and "Pillars of smoke" the "Sun turned to darkness, " and the "Moon into blood," occurred at Pentecost. But all those things will happen before "The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord."
The conversion of the Jewish Nation will be sealed with a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Whether this shall be universal, or only upon Israel is not clear. The original prophecy in Joel was given to Israel, and its partial fulfillment at Pentecost seems to have been limited to them. The knowledge of the Lord, however, will be world-wide, and "it shall come to pass that ten men of all languages and nations shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you." Zech. 8:22, Zech. 8:23. There will be one "universal religion' in that day. Alalachl 1:11. The "Shekinah Glory" that departed from the Temple at the time of the Babylonian Captivity (Eze. 10:18-20; Eze. 11:22, Eze. 11:23), will again take up its residence in the "New Temple." Ezek. 43. I-. 5.
4. The Character of the Millennium.
(1.) Satan Bound. Rev. 20:1-3.
That man may be "without excuse" God is going to subject him to a final test under the most favorable circumstances. Man has charged his fall and continuance in sin to Satan. "Take him away," he cries, "paralyze his power; cripple his malignant activity; bind and imprison him and deliver us from his dominating influence, and then you will see that man is radically good and virtuous and is simply the victim of an unfavorable environment."
God answers it shall be done. Satan shall be bound and imprisoned so that he can no longer deceive men, and lest man shall say that sinful habits are too deeply rooted to be soon eradicated the test shall last for a Thousand Years, and man shall have during that period of probation all the blessed influences of the Holy Spirit and the presence of Christ Himself.
Man has never known and therefore cannot conceive what this world would be like free from Satanic influence. It would certainly be a marvelously different world. There would be no one to stir up hate and passion, and engender strife and turmoil. True, man would still have an evil heart of unbelief to contend against, but it would be like a magazine of gunpowder without a spark to ignite it. That the evil heart of man has not been eradicated will be evident when at the close of the Millennium Satan is loosed and finds no difficulty in deceiving the nations. Rev. 20:-8.
During the Millennium the "Prince of the Powers of the Air" will be "dethroned" and the "Prince of Peace" "enthroned." When the "Great Red Dragon" (Satan) is cast out of the Heavenlies there will be cast out with him all the "Principalities and Powers" and "Age Rulers of Darkness" (Eph. 6:12), and the Heavens which now are "not clean" in His sight (job 15:15), will be "cleansed" of all Evil Powers.
There will be no universal peace until the Lord comes back. Then the nations will beat their swords into "plow-shares" and their spears into "pruning-hooks" (Micah 4:3, Micah 4:4), and shall be no longer impoverished by the enormous tax on their revenues for the support of armies and navies and the building of "Dreadnoughts." Then ships of war and armorclad vessels will rust and rot in the navy yards and guns and cannon will be recast into implements of agriculture. The great armies of earth will be disbanded, and in the pursuits of peace and the tilling of the soil, the depleted treasuries of the world will be replenished. There will be little if any political graft. Corporations and combines will not be run in restraint of trade, and there will be no entailed estates if the law of the "Year of jubilee" is re-established. Lev. 25:8-10. Num. 36:4.
(2) The Revival of the Land of Palestine.
The Land of Palestine when it was first occupied by the Children of Israel under Joshua, was a land of "milk" and "honey" and of "all manner of fruits," and its soil brought forth "abundantly," and this continued as long as the Children of Israel kept its Sabbaths. But God had warned them that if they did not obey Him and turned aside to worship other Gods He would shut up the heavens and the harvests would fail. Deut. 11:13-15. Palestine today has the same fertile soil it had in Joshua's time, but it lacks rain and irrigation. God has withheld the "early" and "latter" rain, but they are now becoming more frequent and copious. The "early" rain falls in October and November, and prepares the land for ploughing and sowing; the "latter" rain falls in April and May and insures a good crop.
In the Millennium the Land of Palestine will be restored to its former fertility. This will be aided not only by the rains, but by numerous rivers and streams that shall flow from the "New River" that ii shall have its source in the Sanctuary.
"It shall come to pass in That Day (Millennium) that the mountains shall drop new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the Rivers of Judah (where the New River will be) shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the House of the Lord, and shall water the Valley of Shittim, " the country about the Dead Sea. Joel 3:18.
The "mountains dropping new wine," and the "hills flowing with milk," are figures of speech declaring that the mountain sides will be covered with vineyards from which an abundance of wine shall be obtained, and that the pasture lands will be so productive that they will sustain vast herds of milk cattle.
The harvests will be so great and abundant that the ploughman will "overtake the reaper," and the treader of grapes him that "soweth seed." Amos 9:13.
"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose." Isa. 35:1.
"Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off." Isa. 55:13.
"Then shall the earth yield her increase." Psa. 67:6.
"And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God that hath dealt wondrously with you; and My People (the Jews) shall never be ashamed." Joel 2:24-26.
(3) There Will Be Changes in the Animal Kingdom.
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain (Jerusalem), for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." Isa. 11:6-8.
We cannot spiritualize these words. This was the character of these animals in Eden before the Fall, and in the Ark. The ferocity of the brute creation is the outcome of the "Fall of Man." While the context seems to imply that this change in the brute creation has reference to the "Millennial Earth," where it may be partially true, yet the fact that the Edenic condition of the earth is not to be restored until the appearance of the New Earth may postpone the fulfillment of this prophecy until then.
The Apostle Paul says-
"We know that the Whole Creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. . . Waiting for the adoption, to wit, the Redemption of Our Body." Rom. 8:23.
That is, until the human race is redeemed from the results of the "Fall, and fitted to occupy the New Earth, Creation must wait for its restoration to "Edenic conditions."
(4.) Human Life Will Be Prolonged.
"There shall be no more thence an infant of days, ..... for the child shall die a
hundred years old." Isa. 65:20.
That is, a person dying 100 years old shall be considered only a child. Therefore a man, to be called a man, must live for several hundred years.
"For as the days of a Tree (oak tree) are the days of my people." Isa. 65:22.
"Thus saith the Lord of Hosts: There shall yet Old Men and Old Women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand For Very Age." Zech. 8:4.
Patriarchal Years will be restored, and men shall live as long as they did before the Flood. This may be due to some climatic or atmospheric change, or to the healing or life-giving qualities of the water of the "New River" that shall flow from the "Sanctuary," and the leaves of the trees that line the banks of the River, which shall be for "Medicine." Eze. 47:12.
(5) There Will Be a Sevenfold Increase of Light.
"Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be -SEVENFOLD as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of His people, and healeth the stroke of their wound." Isa. 30:26.
The "atmosphere" of the Millennial Earth will be of such a character as to make moonlight nights as bright as day, and the days seven times as bright.
"The sun shall be no more thy light by day: neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee; but the Lord Shall Be Unto Thee An Everlasting Light, and Thy God Thy Glory." Isa. 60:19-20.
This may refer to that part of the Holy Land that shall be illuminated by the "Shekirah Glory, " where it will make no difference whether the sun shines or not. It will have its complete fulfillment when the nations of the New Earth shall walk in the Light of the New Jerusalem. Rev. 21:23-24.
Israel's Mission during the "Millennial Age" will be that of "blessing" to the Gentile nations. Of the nation of Israel, that has never as yet been a leading nation, God says-
"I will make thee the Head, and not the Tail." Deut. 28:13.
The nations today are a "Headless" body. There is no "Chief Nation" today. In that day Israel shall be the "Chief Nation," and the nation that will not serve her shall perish. Isa. 60:12.
But those nations will only be kept in subjection by the "Iron Rule" of Christ. This is brought out in the "Messianic Psalm," Psa. 2:6-8. It is very clear that during the "Millennial Age" the "will of God" will not be done on earth as it is done in heaven. The peace among the nations will be more superficial than real. It will only be feigned obedience, more the result of fear than of love. As the "afternoon" of that long "Millennial Day" draws to a close the shadows deepen. As soon as Satan is loosed from his prison in the "Bottomless Pit," he will find a vast multitude ready to believe his lie, and to serve and obey him. He will gather them from the "Four Quarters of the Earth" to battle. They will be in number as the "sand of the sea." Rev. 20:8-9. The revolt will be Worldwide, and will mean the Mobilizing of Vast Armies. Satan will conduct them across the "Breadth of the Earth" until they compass the "Camp of the Saints" (the Holy Land), and lay siege once more to the "Beloved City." This time the armies of heaven are not sent to destroy the rebels, but "Fire from Heaven" devours the rebellious host, and Satan, who deceives them, is cast into the "Lake of Fire" to be tormented day and night for the "Ages of Ages."
From this we see that the "Millennial Dispensation," like all the six Dispensations before it, will end in failure. God will have tested man in "Innocence," under "Conscience," under "Self-Government," under the "Headship of the Family," under "Law," under "Grace," and finally under the influence of the "Holy Spirit," free from Satanic influences, and under them all he will prove himself to be hopelessly, incurably and incorrigibly bad.
If after a 1000 years of the Presence of the King, and of universal peace and blessing,
man still persists in rebelling against his Maker, what will there be left for God to do? Humanly speaking, there
will seem to he nothing for God to do but destroy the human race. To send another Flood and wipe out mankind. But
this He cannot do. for He promised Noah that He would never again destroy the earth with a flood of waters. Gen.
9:11. But do something He must, so He is going to purge the earth with Fire. 2Pet. 3:7.