Times of Restitution of all things!
This “Millennial Age” is to be an age of restoration and reconstruction. The earth will be restored to its pristine beauty and fertility, and man to that original perfection and harmony with God which was enjoyed by the first human beings at the time of Eden. The object of this Kingdom of God upon earth is the conversion of all men to Christ and the establishment of everlasting righteousness. That purpose includes the resurrection of all the dead, their re-creation in new human bodies and restoration to conscious existence upon earth, in order that they as well as the living nations may share in this wonderful opportunity which God purposes to give the human race. The missionary and educational work of that Age will therefore be on a colossal scale, exceeding by far anything that has ever before been known. It would not be possible of accomplishment were it not for the fact that it will be carried on by the power of God and that all opposing and hindering influences will have been removed.
That latter fact is perhaps difficult to understand. Most people realise today that there are many powerful institutions, firmly entrenched, whose interests lie in the direction either of suppressing or actively opposing the moral uplift of the human race. By what power are these forces going to be restrained?
The same breakdown of human government that marks the ending of this present Age and indicates the imminence of the Millennial Age will be responsible also for the failure of all evil and quasi-evil institutions. Jesus declared that this present Age will end in a great Time of Trouble such as “has not been since the beginning of the world…no, nor ever shall be.” (Matt 24. 21 NKJV.) It is in this great time of trouble that all unrighteous human power and authority, whether political, ecclesiastical, financial or social, will be swept away and the evil content of present human society be dissolved. It is upon the remains of that ruined world system that Christ will commence building the edifice of His Kingdom. The outward evidence of that re-building, apparent to men who have eyes to see even before Christ Himself is manifested as having taken His power, will be the constitution in the one-time “Holy Land” of an earthly missionary nation supremely confident in the imminent revelation of the purposes of God, and ready to play its part in the evangelisation of the world. Three thousand years ago the Hebrew prophets spoke of this time, when the people of Israel, purified and truly converted to God by reason of the fiery experiences through which they as a nation have passed, would stand forth to be the servants of all the world in the things of God. It was out of Israel and Jerusalem that the saving power of God first came to the world in the person and message of Jesus Christ; it will be out of Israel and Jerusalem that the saving message will come again, and this time the world, sick at last of its own failure, will give heed.
To claim that the vigorous young nation at present building the political fabric of the State of Israel is in any sense this new missionary nation which the Lord is going to use, would be a travesty of the truth. The power that set up a new political entity in Palestine under President Chaim Weizmann and Prime Minister Ben-Gurion is one of the “kingdoms of this world” like its Gentile neighbours. But, unknowingly to themselves and to their neighbours, those busy workers are preparing the way for the converted and devoted people that will, at a later date, be manifest in that land and proclaim the law of the Lord. Vernon Bartlett, the celebrated commentator on world affairs, wrote this in 1950 “It has been my good fortune during the past thirty years to move a good deal around the world. Israel stands out from all the other countries I have ever visited as the one with the happiest people. A miracle has happened to the Jew”. “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes”. (Psa. 118. 23.)
These signs: the obviously imminent breakdown and collapse of world civilisation, the patent fact that without outside intervention the human race will shortly destroy itself from the face of the earth, the visible preparation now going on in God’s “Holy Land” for its ultimate use as the seat of Divine government in the earth, all this to those who will soberly consider its implication, constitutes sure and definite evidence that the long-promised Kingdom of God upon earth is about to be inaugurated. Jesus promised that those living—and watching—when the time became due would be aware of the fact. We, viewing these events in the light of Jesus’ words, the foresight of the Hebrew prophets, and above all things, on the basis of God’s immutable purpose, must accept the fact that now in our own generation we stand upon the threshold of stupendous world-changing events. Whether the actual transfer of power from the “kingdoms of this world” to the “kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ” (Rev. 11. 15) comes during this present generation, or the next, or is delayed even to the one after that, it is plain that the disintegrating process which marks the end of this world is well advanced, and that the Divine summons to give heed to the laws of the new Kingdom may be anticipated at any time.
It is hardly to be expected that the old order will give way without a struggle. Satan will go down fighting. There are apocalyptic passages in the Bible telling in the picturesque symbolism of the kings of the earth and the wild beasts of the earth gathered together to make war against a warrior named “Faithful and True”, who appears from heaven riding on a white horse. The issue of the conflict is never in doubt. The evil powers of earth are defeated and destroyed, and the heavenly Rider stands victorious. Whatever of opposition may be whipped up to the incoming Kingdom of Christ when the signs of its approach are much more outwardly manifest than at present, the onward progress of the Divine programme will not be delayed. God’s fulfilling purpose, rolling irresistibly on to completion, will sweep all opposition from its path.
The world, then, disheartened and despairing, its whole system of life lies in ruins about it, will behold the amazing spectacle of a virile and vigorous nation appearing as it were from nowhere, in possession of the Holy Land and acknowledging leaders who will quickly become known as men of superlative qualities and truly marvellous governmental powers. Whether the world in general does or does not accept the claim made for these, that they are noteworthy men of God of past ages, raised from the dead to initiate the work of the new Kingdom, there will be no disputing the fact that they will have to obey. The moral power exerted by these men will be of such an order that humanity, in general, will have no choice but to give heed. And the fact that earth’s new rulers will be incorruptible, just, and merciful, possessing keen insight and shrewd wisdom, and that their administration will immediately begin to restore much-needed order to an anarchistic world, should without doubt quickly range many of earth’s peace-loving citizens on their side.
It is difficult for men and women who have only known an order of society where right-doing is largely a matter of refraining from evil for fear of punishment at the instance of the law, to understand the nature of this new rule that will hold sway over the earth. In this our day the number of citizens who conform to laws made for the general good because they understand and sympathise with those laws is relative-ly small. The majority either make no attempt to understand the law or they deliberately seek to evade its penalties. The law, on its own part, is not altogether effective, for it is not always able to detect and apprehend the law-breakers; hence some are able to break the law with impunity. In the next Age, on the contrary, the psychological effect of the new principles of rulership will be to create a new respect for the law—which will be Divine Law; the laws of Nature, the laws binding upon man, and the laws of God, will be one and harmonious, working altogether—and the inherent good in man will rise more easily to the top and find a much more congenial atmosphere in which to flourish than is the case today. The tendency will be towards doing good instead of doing evil; in fact, in almost every respect in the field of human conduct, the next Age will be the reverse of this. So far as the deliberate evil-doers are concerned—for it is not suggested that all men become converts to the new way of life at once—the administration of the new rulers, backed as it is by spiritual forces of which the world’s present princes know nothing, will apprehend the evildoer, not only before he has been able to profit by his evil-doing, but before he has been able to harm his intended victim. A ruling power that can detect crime, while as yet it is nothing more than a determination in the criminal’s mind, will not only fulfil the prophet’s declaration that in that Age “nothing shall hurt nor destroy”, but will also be able to convince even the most hardened of wrong-doers that “crime does not pay”.
This then is the general background of the Millennial Kingdom, a state of society in which righteousness will flourish, evil will be shown up for the hateful thing that it is, and there is complete freedom from fear because the rulers of earth will be able adequately to protect citizens who are law-abiding against those who are not. This is not the final state of the Kingdom; it would be a poor consummation of God’s purpose if the world attained to a level no higher than that of a kind of benevolent concentration camp where the inmates do right because they can neither escape nor are allowed to do anything that is not right. God intends that ultimately all men shall do that which is right, and take their place in His final creation, voluntarily and of free and assenting will; but that high ideal can be attained only by a series of steps.