Even this sunlit Age has its shadows. Sin will have been dethroned but not yet overthrown. God will have showered His abundant blessings upon men, removed the immoral systems that have oppressed them for so long, banished the spectre of fear, caused men to dwell in peace and security, taught them to control and utilise the earth so that it brings forth abundance for all, given them intellectual and spiritual instruction so that they can, if they will, make the utmost possible use of the life that is theirs. But with all this they will not necessarily have renounced sin, not necessarily have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, acknowledged that all they have and are is due to Him, and become reconciled to God through faith in Him. And none of the blessings they enjoy can continue if they remain thus unreconciled; nay, they will not even attain to the fullness of Millennial blessings unless their hearts have been made right with God. The law pronounced so long time ago “the wages of sin is death” stands as an immutable principle which can never be abrogated. The very basis upon which God’s universe is built demands that righteousness and only righteousness shall endure eternally. That which is evil, sinful, basically opposed to the Divine principles that govern continuing life, must, even although it endures uneasily for a time, eventually pass out of existence. No power in all creation can preserve it. It follows therefore that the man, whose heart is sinful, who deliberately sets himself against the forces that are making for righteousness in God’s new world, must himself suffer the fate that was expressed by the prophet Ezekiel half a millennium before the Christian era: “the soul who sins shall die”! (Ezek. 18. 4 NKJV).
A little thought will suffice to convince that the man who deliberately refuses to take his place as a citizen of the world, to discharge his due obligations and assume his share of the world’s work, fulfilling the Divine injunction to love his neighbour as himself, acknowledging his Creator and God as the One in whom he lives, and moves, and has his being (Acts 17. 28) can be a source of happiness neither to himself nor others. Such a man, exercising to the last the inalienable right of free will with which his Maker has endowed him, can resist God to the end, and turn resolutely away from every endeavour God makes for his conversion. We may be quite sure that not one such individual—if such there be—will be left to incur the logical sequel to his elected course until God has, as it were, exhausted every persuasive influence within His power to win the unrepentant one from the error of his way. But if God, at last, turns aside, it can only be because the case is hopeless; He will not coerce the will and condemn the unhappy man to an eternal life from which he cannot escape and the conditions of which he resents and cannot endure. God, Who holds in His hand the breath of every living thing (Job 12. 10) will—sadly, we may be sure—allow sin to bear its final fruitage in that man’s life, the exquisite mind and wonderful organism to falter and fail, and the shades of eternal sleep to close round him.
It is hard to think that, with all the incentive to righteousness characterising the Millennial Age, there will be many such. Time will prove, but that the Scripture states the principles upon which alone everlasting life may be attained there can be no question, and that eternal death must inevitably be the portion of all who, after full and fair opportunity, refuse to accept the Lord Jesus and conform to the Divine laws, the Scriptures are equally emphatic.
So, with the passing of the last of sinners, there comes the end of sin. Men will have been so fully tested and confirmed in their allegiance to God by their long experience, of sin in the first life and righteousness in the second, that there need be no fear that sin will raise its ugly head again. Satan, the arch-enemy of God and man, will trouble humanity no more. The last book of the Bible, in one of its parabolic utterances, speaks of a final attempt to deceive the nations at the end of the Millennial Age. It is an obscure little passage but it is clear upon one thing; that the sequel to the attempt is the destruction of the last traces of evil in the earth. From that time and forward all things, on earth as in Heaven, are “holy unto the Lord”. The prospect before men will be one of progressive and never-ending increase in knowledge and experience and intense joy in the continuance of everyday life under conditions of idyllic happiness.
So will the centuries pass, whilst the earth grows ever fairer and more beautiful and mankind attains to a better and more complete understanding of the message of Jesus Christ and the goodness of God. The days of evil will slip away into the background—never forgotten, an imperishable recollection of the terrible consequences of sin, but no longer having power to hurt and destroy. The song of the angels at Christ’s birth— “peace on earth, goodwill among men”—will be realised in fact at last. Human beings will look upon each other, fair of form, virile of body, magnificent examples of the creative power of God. Conscious of the eternity of supremely happy life that is before them, they will rise at every dawn to pursue with unflurried minds the occupations and pursuits to which they have set themselves. The world’s work will continue—men will till the soil and reap the fruits of their labours; they will foregather together for the study and practice of arts and sciences which will always have something new to reveal; they will travel the world and rejoice in the varied glories of Nature and live their lives in absolute peace and harmony with one another and with God.