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only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” 2 Tim. iv. 8.
The same apostle, in reproving the church at Corinth for going to law before the unjust, and not deciding their own matters, asks,“ Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world ?"- to judge being used in the sense of governing. He adds, “ Know ye not that we shall judge angels?" 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3. The apostle John, contemplating the honour reserved for believers, ascribes glory “ unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God, and his Father.” Rev. i. 5, 6. And it was the song of the heavenly choristers who bow before the Lamb, on His opening the sealed book of Prophecy, “ 'Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof, for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast made •us unto our God KINGS AND PRIESTS, and we shall reign on THE EARTH.” Rev. v. 9, 10. This high privilege is bestowed upon all who maintain their allegiance and fidelity: “ To him that overcometh,” says our blessed Lord, “ will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with
Father in His throne.” Rev. iii. 21. That this honour is conferred upon them to be really exercised, is evident: “ And he that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to pieces; even as I received of my Father.” Rev. ii. 26, 27. This serves to illustrate the character of the armies of heaven who follow the Saviour when He comes for the destruction of the Antichristian nations. They are said (Rev. xix. 14) to be “ clothed in fine linen, clean and white;" and this (in verse 8) is said to be “the righteousness of saints." And again, speaking of those kings who fight against the Lamb, it is stated " these shall make war with the Lamh, and the Lamb shall overcome them; for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faith. ful.” Rev. xvii. 14. To him that overcometh “ will I give power over the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron.” This is assigned by the Psalmist as matter
of especial praise to God; “ Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds; let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a sharp two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishment upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written; This honour is to all His saints. Praise ye the Lord.” Ps. cxlix. 5—9.
We cannot, in this state, form any adequate conception of the honour reserved for those “who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that age and the resurrection from amongst the dead," as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” 1 Cor. ii. 9. It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John iii. 2. But as the honour of being king's and priests, in whatever it may consist, is the privilege of the redeemed, when we find these applied by the apostle John to those who live and reign with Christ, we are surely entitled to believe, in accordance with the other Scriptures, that he refers to the literal resurrection of the just at the coming of the Lord.
PERIOD OF THE ERECTION OF CHRIST'S GLORIOUS
THE Scriptural nature of the doctrine of Christ's personal reign on earth will be still more clearly seen on examination of what is farther revealed concerning the time at which His Kingdom shall be established. The angelic messenger sent to announce to the blessed Virgin the conception of Jesus, declared, in unequivocal language, the erectionof His Kingdom and his possession of the throne of David; “And the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be Luke i. 31-33. Christ has not yet taken
possession of the throne of his father David, but as certainly as the predictions which announced his descent from him have been literally fulfilled, so surely may we rely on the fulfilment in due time of this and the numerous other prophecies of the future possession of his kingdom. In the day of his humiliation, Jesus avouched his title to al. legiance, although he came not then to obtain the crown. The throne of his father David yet remains unoccupied, and the house of Jacob still refuse him fealty. As King, however, he rode into Jerusalem, amid the hosannahs of his poorest subjects, although he then refused the exercise of regal power. He laid claim to the throne, but he entered not into immediate possession. Thus, in Pilate's hall of judgment, while he avowed himself King, he declared that His Kingdom “is not of this world”—that it is not “NOW from hence, (John xviii. 39,) leaving no room for doubt that at a future period it would be so. The time for establishing His visible kingdom had not yet arrived. “The times of the Gentiles” must first be fulfilled, during which His kingdom was to be only spiritual. But when their period of probation shall terminate, then shall He Return " in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory,” for the establishment of that kingdom of glory which shall be both spiritual and visible, and of which all the prophets have witnessed. Thus it is that the Saviour sometimes speaks of a kingdom already existing, and at other times of one yet to come.
By the parable, Luke xix. 12, He intimates that at bis ascension He should only go to receive the kingdom, thus directing the faith of his disciples to the time of his Return when he shall have “obtained the kingdom He went to receive.” He accordingly taught them to pray, “Thy kingdom come,” as of an event still future. It is not merely that the spiritual kingdom already established may be extended, and all nations be brought into it, but the erection of one which had not yet existed.--" Thy kingdom come" clearly implies its not having been hitherto erected, as to pray for the coming of what was already come would involve an inconsistency. And that this kingdom they are taught to desire is to be in this world, is evident from the succeeding clause of the sentence, “ Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." The answer to this our prayer, so
power of the
often repeated without due consideration of its full import, has not yet been received, nor will be till the Millennium.*
In the assembly at Jerusalem, when there had been much disputing about the necessity of circumcising believing Gentiles, Peter and Paul and Barnabas attested the
grace of God among them as well as among the Jews; and the apostle James proved that this Gentile dispensation was predicted by the prophets, as to precede the restoration of the kingdom to Israel: “ And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me; Simon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, AFTER THIS I will Return, and will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen down, and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up; that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord who doeth all these things.” Acts xv. 1317. Before the restoration of Israel, and the re-occupa
may be observed, that in one instance, no sooner had the Saviour directed the attention of the unbelieving Pharisees to the spiritual kingdom, than he turns to the disciples and addresses them on His coming in glory : “ And when he was demanded of the Pharisees when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them, and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation : Neither shall they say, Lo here! or Lo there ! for behold the kingdom of God is within you, [' among you,'—marg.] And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, see here! or see there! go not after them nor follow them, For as the lightning that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven, so shall also the Son of Man be in his Day." He adds, " But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.” Luke xvii. 20—25. This is the coming He afterwards announced, and the signs of which he foretold, (Mat. xxiv,) the very same language being here employed, as also in much of the remainder of the chapter. Consistency has therefore induced some commentators to place this also at the destruction of Jerusalem, although the Saviour here declares, that the day of which he is speaking, is one which the disciples should desire to see. They had, however, no desire to see the holy city,! (with which their most sacred feelings were associated,) laid in ashes, but they did earnestly “ desire to see” the Son of Man come in his glory to “ restore again the Kingdom to Israel."
tion of David's throne, which has so long been vacant, God has first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name ; after which He will return. As our Lord himself said to the Jews, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also must I bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd.” John x. 16. And after He shall have taken out of the Gentiles a people for His name, He “will return, and build again the tabernacle of David,” which was then fallen down, and which must continue so till the lines of the Gentiles be fulfilled. The delightful promise the apostle quotes (although not literally,) from the prophet Amos, by whom it is announced to be fulfilled in " that day,” the form of expression so often used by the Old Testament prophets in reference to the Millennium: “ In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches therof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old....and I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land, which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God." Amos ix. 11-15. Here, then, we find that the tabernacle of David is to be raised at the period of Israel's restoration; and the apostle James in. forms us that this will take place at our Lord's “Return;" thus, not only connecting the re-erection of the throne of David with the coming of Christ, but intimating the connection of both with the existence of the Kingdom during the Millennium, when “the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever.” 'Luke i. 32, 33.
The establishment of the Millennial kingdom, and the coming of the Son of Man at that period, are also declared in the prophecies of Daniel. The seventh chapter contains, as we have seen in speaking of the destruction of Antichrist, a prediction of four great empires which should exist from the beginning of the captivity till the Millennium. From three of these, viz. the Babylonish, the Persian, and the Grecian, the extensive dominion has long since passed