THE SUBJECTS IN THE COMING KINGDOM.
THE coming kingdom is then to be administered by Christ and His risen saints. But who are to be the subjects of the kingdom?
Of the eternal section of it we will speak later; but of the first millennial stage of it we reply, all the human race who outlive the pro-millennial judgments, and their descendants for a thousand years, that is to say for between thirty and forty generations; and especially the restored nation of Israel, which is to "blossom and bud and fill the face of the earth with fruit."
The pre-millennial judgments are apparently to be of limited extent, and confined chiefly to the "body" of the fourth beast; that is to say, to the sphere of papal Christendom. So we read in Daniel, "I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the (fourth or Roman) beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time." [#Dan 12:11, 12.]
Here it is distinctly stated that while the dominion is taken away from all the beasts alike, the body of the fourth alone is "destroyed and given to the burning flame." Very solemn and awful is the prediction conveyed by this symbol; for the body of the beast, as contrasted with its dominion, would seem to represent its territory and population, its armies and navies, its towns and cities, and its wealth. The future must unveil the meaning of this very terrible prophecy as to Papal Christendom. It should be compared with the statements in #2Thess 1:11, about the doom of apostate Christendom as a whole, as well as with the description of the last conflict with "the beast, and the false prophet, and the kings of the earth, and their armies," in #Rev 19., and with Judes description of the persons on whom the advent judgments will fall.
But whatever be the extent of these pre-millennial judgments, whether they fall on the leaders of apostasy, or on all involved in it, in either case it seems probable that the vast majority of the human race will be left on earth to be blessed by the reign of the Son of man and of the saints. Out of the worlds present population of twelve or fourteen hundred millions, probably less than two hnndred millions are involved in the apostasy of Rome; and even they are not all resident in the territory which forms the body of the fourth beast. After the destruction of the false Church, and the rapture of the true, there may therefore still remain many many millions of mankind to he saved and blessed under the new dispensation.
The millions of China and India; the numerous tribes of Central Asia, the Thibetans, the Mongols, and the Japanese, the Arabs, the Berbers, the Egyptians, and the Foulahs of North Africa; the hundred millions of the benighted Bantu races of Central Africa the great Zulu and Kafir nations of South Africa; the Indians of both the Americas, and the rest of the earths inhabitants,-all will apparently remain to share in the rich benedictions of the millennial reign of Christ.
The oppressed Christian races of Turkey envy the English-man his privileges of living under a comparatively good government, and well they may! The best earthly governments seek to defend their people from all external foes and domestic evil doers, and to secure for them all possible advantages. What will the government of Christ do for this long-oppressed world? His very first act is to deliver mankind from its greatest enemy by the binding of Satan, and who can conceive the further blessings which His righteous rule will secure to men Over all the spared nations of the millennial earth the beneficent sway of the kingly Christ will he established, to their infinite and unspeakable good. By far the greater part of them will never have heard of Him and His great salvation; for the conversion of the heathen is hardly begun as yet, and this age is now near its end.
The gospel has been preached during its course "in all the world, for a witness unto all nations," as our Lord predicted that it should be, adding, "and then shall the end come." Some have been gathered out of every nation and kindred and people and tongue, to form part of the Christian Church; but the converts from existing heathenism do not as yet number more than one million out of the thousand millions of idolaters. The blessed task of teaching the remainder to know the Lord is reserved for restored and converted Israel in the glad millennial days, when it will proceed at a wondrously different rate, and with wondrously different results, to the missionary work of this age; so that ere long "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."
For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with His chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many. . . . It shall come, that I will gather all nations end tongues; and they shall come, and see My glory. And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them (i.e. of Israel) unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard My fame, neither have seen My glory; and they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles. . . . And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the Lord" (#Isa 66:15-23).
To the missionaries of these last days of the Christian age it is given, in obedience to their Lords command, "to call out from among the heathen a people for His name," by the proclamation of the gospel of His grace, but when the Church is removed from earth, "THE GLORY of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together." When "Thy JUDGMENTS are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." "Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? for Thou only art holy for ALL NATIONS SHALL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE THEE; FOR THY JUDGMENTS ARE MADE MANIFEST." (#Rev 15:4.)
From the call of Abraham onwards the goodness of God has been continually widening the sphere of its operation in this ruined earth. It embraced, first, a single human family, the family of Abraham; then it extended to all the tribes of Israel, and subsequently to the Jewish nation; then it reached out to the Gentiles, and formed a Church of men and women, chosen out of every nation and kindred and people and tongue. In millennial days it is to embrace the wide world. " In Thee, and in Thy seed, shall all nations of the earth be blessed." First and highest among the nations of the millennial earth is to rank restored and converted Israel, "to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is God over all, blessed for ever: [#Rom 9:4, 5.]
Israel, to whom it is now said, " Ye are not My people," but to whom it shall then be said, "Ye are the children of the living God": Israel, who has now stumbled over the incarnation of Christ as over a stumbling-stone, and who, seeking righteousness by the works of the law, has failed to obtain it, but of whom a remnant shall yet be converted and saved: Israel, whose fall has been the riches of the world, but whose recovery shall be to it as life from the dead: Israel, so long like a branch broken off from the olive tree of promise, but who, when they cast away their unbelief, shall be grafted in again as natural branches to their own olive tree: Israel, to whom blindness in part has happened, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, when "all Israel shall be saved" Israel, who is still beloved for the fathers sakes, is destined yet to stand first among the nations of the earth.
Christ, when He assumes the throne of His father David, "shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of His kingdom there shalt be no end." Of Him who is the Saviour of the world Zacharias says:
"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel ; for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David as He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, end from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which He sware to our father Abraham, that He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life."
The Old Testament is full of the glorious future which lies before that nation of Israel on their repentance and conversion at the coming of Christ. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance, and He who has long been "a Light to lighten the Gentiles" is then to become also "the glory of His people Israel." The detailed descriptions of millennial bliss which abound in the prophets, were given to the Jews as predictions of the kingdom of their Messiah. Isaiah alone has twenty- five distinct prophecies of Israels glorious future under Messiah the Prince.
Ezekiel is full of the return of the glory of God to Jerusalem and to the temple; and from Daniel and Zechariah also we learn much of their millennial blessedness, as well as of that of the Gentile nations of those days.
From Isaiah we learn that in the last days the mountain of the Lords house is to be established in the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills, that all nations are to flow unto it.
"Many people shall say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths : for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning- hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
That this prophecy applies to millennial days, and not to the present dispensation, is clear, because of the latter our Lord says, that during its whole course "nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom"; adding as to the Jews, "they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations"; and as to their temple, that not one stone of it shall be left upon another: and as to Jerusalem, that it shall be "trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled."
In #Isa 11 and #Isa 12 we have a prophecy of the time when the Rod out of the stem of Jesse, and the Branch out of his roots, shall arise, the Spirit of the Lord resting upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. He is to judge the poor with righteousness, and to reprove with equity for the meek of the earth; to smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips to slay the wicked. Righteousness is to be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins; and the condition of the earth is described in that familiar and most poetic passage commencing, "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb," and closing with the statement, "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
This is clearly the millennium, and it follows the second restoration of Israel: "In that day the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to restore the remnant of His people" from all lands. He shall "assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." Ephraim and Judah are to be reconciled and form one nation again; and as regards the Gentile nations, it is added that this Root of Jesse shall stand "for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek, and His rest shall be glorious." The twenty-fourth and the following chapters of Isaiah are similarly full of Israels millennial experiences. The prophecy commences with a description of the judgments of God on Israel and on the earth, leading up to the climax of the binding of Satan; and then immediately following we find the striking prediction of the glorious reign of Christ. "Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously." "In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast, .
. . and destroy the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth. In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks." Then follows Israels song of praise, in which, recalling their pant experiences, they say, "O Lord our God, other lords beside Thee have had dominion over us.
They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: Thou hast visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish. Thou hast increased the nation, O Lord, Thou hast increased the nation: Thou art glorified: Thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth. Lord, in trouble have they visited Thee, they poured out a prayer when Thy chastening was upon them. . . In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty unto the residue of His people."
The thirty-second chapter of Isaiah is another of the magnificent millennial prophecies of the book. "Behold, a King shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Then follows a description of the present judgments of Israel, and a statement that they shall last "until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places."
And again: "Thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever he removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; He will save us. . . . And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick; the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity."
The blessing brought to the remainder of the earth by the restoration of Israel in further enlarged upon in the thirty-fifth chapter. "The wilderness and the solitary place shall he glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; He will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there; and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
In the fifty-first chapter of this book again is another touching and beautiful picture of Divine grace and Jewish restoration.
Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. I, even I, am He that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy Maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of time oppressor? The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail. But I am the Lord thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared. The Lord of hosts is His name. And I have put My words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of Mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art My people. . . . Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of My fury; thou shalt no more drink it again: but I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street to them that went over. Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem : loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion. For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for nought ; and ye shall be redeemed without money."
But of all the glorious pictures of millennial blessedness contained in the Bible, none exceeds in fulness and distinctness the long prophecy commencing in the sixtieth chapter:
"Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." lt follows immediately an account of the pro-millennial judgments of Christ, when He clothes Himself in garments of vengeance, and recompenses His enemies according to their deeds; when the nations learn in consequence to fear His name from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy having come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord lifts up a standard against him, and the Redeemer comes to Zion and turns away ungodliness from Jacob. Then we read:
The Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. . . . The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
"Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations. . . . Thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob. .
. . And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your ploughmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the priests of the Lord: men shall call you the ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.
And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed. . . . And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory; and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. .
. . And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called Sought out, A city not forsaken."
"The introduction of this happy state is marked in the prophecy by two main events. First, the travailing of Zion, from which she is suddenly delivered, when a nation is brought forth in a day, and the long sorrows of Jerusalem are to be followed by full and lasting joy; secondly, the coming of the Lord, to plead within all flesh by fire and sword, when the slain of the Lord shall be many, and He will gather all nations and tongues, and they shall come and see His glory. It is plain how exactly this agrees within the description in Rev. xix. 11-21, where the Son of God is said to appear with fiery judgment, and the host of rebels from all nations are slain by the sword which proceeds out of His mouth. The prophecy sets before us three main events, as if they were all simultaneous: a glorious advent of the Lord for judgment; the restoration amid the glory of Israel; and the introduction of the new heavens and new earth, in which Jerusalem shall be a rejoicing, and her people a joy."- Outlines of Unfulfilled Prophecy," p. 250.
Time would fail us to quote all the similar passages in Jeremiah and the later prophets, describing the blessedness of the Jewish people in the land of Canaan, the metropolitan glory of the city of Jerusalem, and the blessed portion of the Gentile nations, under the righteous sceptre of the Son of David. As regards Israel, it is expressly declared that all this blessedness is to be theirs, not for the few generations of the millennium only, but for ever; no words can be stronger than those used to describe the perpetuity of Israels glory.
"For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, amid joy in My people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled His days: for the child shall die a hundred years old; but the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat; for as the days of a tree are the days of My people, and Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpents meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, saith the Lord."
No candid student, after a careful study of these passages, and the numerous similar ones that might be quoted from Isaiah, can question the political restoration, the spiritual conversion, and the exceeding blessedness of the seed of Abraham in the coming kingdom of Christ. Jeremiah gives precisely the same view. Gentile "strangers shall no more serve themselves of Israel." Those that spoil them shall be spoiled; the Jewish people themselves will be obedient; "they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king." They shall be greatly multiplied: "I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will glorify them, and they shall not be small." They shall be "satisfied with the goodness of the Lord." They shalt come and sing on the height of Zion, and not sorrow any more at all. They shall "come again from the land of the enemy"; and the assurances given of the certainty and perpetuity of all these blessings seem expressly intended to combat the Gentile unbelief, now so prevalent, as to the possibility of such Jewish restoration..
"Thus saith the Lord: "If ye can break My covenant of the day, and My covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also My covenant be broken with David My servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, My ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David My servant, and the Levites that minister unto Me. Moreover the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the Lord hath chosen, He hath cast them off? thus they have despised My people, that they should be no more a nation before them. Thus saith the Lord: If My covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David My servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them."
Ezekiel confirms the testimony, and dwells on the spiritual change which will take place in Israel.;
"I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen.
Thus saith the Lord God: In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all them that passed by. And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited. Then the heathen that are heft round about you shall know that I the Lord build the ruined places and plant that that was desolate: I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it."
And again in the following chapter.
"Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, O My people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put My Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord. . . . Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be My people, and I will be their God. And David My servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob My servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their childrens children for ever and My servant David shall be their prince for ever.
Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them : yea, I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore."
Nothing can be clearer than the combined testimony of all these passages to the facts, first, that Christ is to reign here on earth over the house of Israel, reunited, restored to their own land, converted, cleansed from all their unrighteousness, and exalted to supreme position on the earth secondly, that during this state of things there will be Gentile nations who will learn through and from Israel the glory of the Lord, and be brought into subjection to Him, and into blessing under his dominion; thirdly, that at this time righteousness, peace, and universal prosperity will characterize the condition of the whole world; fourthly, that as regards Israel at any rate, this condition is never again to be disturbed, but to merge into an eternal enjoyment of the same privileges in the new earth; lastly, a study of the context of most of these passages will show that this condition of millennial glory follows an era of judgment and resurrection, identical in its features with those of the second advent era, described in the Apocalypse as preceding the reign of Christ.
One reason why so little detail is given of the millennial reign of Christ in the twentieth chapter of Revelation, or indeed in the New Testament generally, is, that its glories and blessings had been fully developed in the Old Testament. What was needed in the last prophecy therefore was not such details, but a clear indication of its chronological relation to the "times of the Gentiles," on the one hand, and to the eternal state, on the other. The revelation of the peculiar glory of the Gentile Church, as living and reigning with Christ at His coming, is moreover the main object of New Testament prophecy. It is pre-supposed that the particulars of the kingdom were already familiar; the peculiar privileges of the Gentile Church were therefore made the central subject of revelation in connexion with the millennium., "They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."
And not Israel only, but Israels old neighbours, Egypt and Assyria, are to be blessed under this reign of Christ. "In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land, when the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, "Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance."
Nor Egypt and Assyria alone, but along with them all the Gentile nations of the earth who have out-lived the pre-millennial judgments, will become the happy subjects of Messiahs kingdom; for it is written that "all peoples, nations and languages shall serve Him"; that "the kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts: yea, all kings shall fall down before Him all nations shall serve Him and men shall be blessed in Him : all nations shall call Him blessed."
We speak of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome as of universal monarchies, because to a large extent they conquered each in turn the known world of their day. But these broad statements about the millennial kingdom are made by the inspiring Spirit, to whom the entire globe is fully known; and they imply a dominion that is literally world-wide. The pre-millennial judgments will have removed from the scene all the leaders of active rebellion against God, all organized opposition to the truth and to righteousness, and left it clear for the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. But we must guard against any notion that these judgments will have depopulated the world, or even Christendom. In describing the British conquest of India we enumerate the different native princes overthrown, and time successive destruction of native governments and armies; but this by no means implies the destruction of the people, and the depopulation of the country. On the contrary, the British conquest brought to the masses of the Hindu people the blessings of peace and protection under a comparatively righteous government, and the improvement of their country and the development of its resources by the superior energy, wisdom, and wealth of England. This process may convey perhaps some idea of what the transition from the Roman to the millennial empire will be to the nations of the earth.
Pre-millennial judgments will extinguish all wild-beast governments as such, not all their subjects; it will put an end to Gentile monarchy, but not necessarily to Gentile nations it will put an end to antichrist and to his hosts, and to all that opposes and exalts itself against God; it will put an end to all Satanic organizations of evil, and there are solemn statements that look as if even the nations of apostate Roman Christendom were destined to destruction.
But whatever may be the extent and sweep of the premillennial judgments, it is clear that an empire more vast and universal by far than any that has ever yet existed on earth is immediately to ensue, for on the destruction of the image the stone becomes a great mountain, and fills the whole earth. Now the might and the glory of an empire depend not mainly on its geographical extent, but on the number of its subjects; the kingdom of the Son of man and of the saints is, even in its first, millennial stage, to exceed almost infinitely the empire of the Caesars at its widest extent; indeed, in examining a map of that empire in its palmiest days of dominion, who can fail to be struck with the comparatively small portion of the earth which it comprised? What vast regions lay outside the bounds of its sway! what multitudes of mankind never even knew of its existence! Christ shall reign, on the contrary, over a ransomed earth, and His kingdom shall be in the truest sense universal. "
The Lord shall be King over all the earth; there shall be one Lord, and His name one." No rival monarch shall claim the allegiance of men; there will be no "prince of this world," no self-styled vicegerent of Christ, no need for armed forces to defend one part of mankind against another, no barrier of any kind between nation and nation, no diversity of laws or of religious observance; one King, one Lord over all the families of the earth, blending into one harmonious whole all the varied descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japhet.
Oh what a bright and blessed world This groaning earths of ours shall be, When from his throne the Tempter hurled, Shall leave it all, O Lord, to Thee !"