Jerusalem: Metropolis of the Coming Age
"At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord and all nations shall be gathered unto it . . . neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart" -- Jeremiah 3:17.
Christ's Coming: The World's Only Hope
World history provides ample evidence to reveal that "it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps aright" (Jer. 10:23). Every form of government has been tried, every system of philosophy and ideology tested, and yet failure has marked them all. Despite efforts for peace, earth's soil has been baptized repeatedly with the blood of the slain, as mighty armies have grappled in mortal conflict, spreading a trail of sorrow and suffering throughout the world.
Today the issue is even more terrifying. Mankind faces problems of urgency beyond his power to solve: the population explosion, the pollution of land, air and sea; the possibility of annihilation through nuclear warfare. Scientists warn that man's tenancy of the earth is limited to a few more decades unless means are evolved to solve these problems. But it is in vain: there does not exist the man, nor the combination of men, with sufficient wisdom to suggest a satisfactory solution, much less the power to apply it.
What are we to say to this? Is the earth destined for destruction? Is there no way by which mankind can find freedom from fear? Is God's glorious creation to be destroyed by nuclear holocaust?
The Bible alone provides an infallible answer to these questions. Its prophetic utterances enable believers to extract hope even in spite of present conditions, and discover a way that will lead to personal salvation.
Fundamental to its answer is the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to reign on earth. Constantly, throughout the Bible, reference is made to this wonderful event, often in clear, unmistakable language, such as the following:
"This same Jesus which is taken up from you (Apostles) into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
"Times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord, and He (God) shall send Jesus Christ . . . ." (Acts 3:19-20).
"Every eye shall see him" (Rev. 1:7).
Christ is coming to set up on earth a divine kingdom which shall absorb all other powers, and over which he will reign. Under his universal rule men will find that which they now vainly seek: complete freedom from fear and widespread peace and goodwill. The Bible predicts:
"He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he hath brought judgment in the earth and the isles shall wait for his law" (Isaiah 42:4).
"The God of heaven shall set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed; the kingdom shall not be given to others, but it shall break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms and it shall stand forever" (Daniel 2:44).
Under Christ's rule, conditions on earth will be drastically changed. War will be outlawed; sin will be restrained; vice will largely disappear, and men will acknowledge the majesty of the Creator and the benefits of His salvation as offered through His Son, with reverence and thanksgiving for His goodness and mercy.
Jerusalem The Capital
The Bible shows that Jerusalem, the ancient capital of David's kingdom, will become the Metropolis of Christ's reign on earth. Many Scriptures speak of this:
"The Lord shall reign in Mt. Zion, and in Jerusalem and before his ancients gloriously . . ." (Isaiah 24:23).
"At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all nations shall be gathered unto it . . ." (Jer. 3:17).
"He (Jesus) 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 (in Jerusalem); and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:32-33).
In that day, Jerusalem will be a transformed city. It will no longer be noted for superstition and violence as today (Isaiah 60:18), but will become known as "the city of truth" (Zechariah 8:3), the "joy of the whole earth" (Psalm 48:2). The decrees and laws of King Jesus will radiate out from this center to all mankind, solving all political, moral, social and religious problems. There will be one King, one Government, one Religion, so that humanity will be united as never before.
Christ alone possesses the wisdom and power to implement this purpose; and, thanks be to God, in due course his infallible hands will take control to the glory of his Father, and the wellbeing of humanity. He will establish a sort of divine UNO whose terms and conditions the nations will be compelled to observe.
A Center Of Universal Worship To Be Established
Jerusalem is destined to become a center of universal worship; a rallying point for all humanity. Christ will cause to be erected there, a glorious "house of prayer for all nations," that will unite all mankind in one common outlook and hope.
This formed part of the teaching of the Lord during his first advent. Several times during his ministry, he visited the Temple in Jerusalem. On one occasion, he found the outer court thronged by traders gathered together to make profit from the worshippers, thus destroying the very principle of divine service. Full of indignation at this desecration of so holy a place, he scathingly rebuked the people. The record states:
"Jesus went into the Temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the Temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the Temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, 'My house shall be called of all nations, the house of prayer?' but ye have made it a den of thieves" (Mark 11:15-17).
The incident is well known to most people, but the significance of the Lord's words is usually overlooked. The record states:
"He TAUGHT the people, saying unto them . . . 'My house SHALL BE CALLED OF ALL NATIONS the house of prayer'."
The Lord Jesus thus identified the Temple in Jerusalem as "his house," and taught that the time will come when "all nations" shall so revere it.
Obviously that time has not yet come.
On another occasion he predicted that the Temple would be destroyed, so that not one stone would be left upon another (Luke 21:6), and that Jerusalem would be "trodden down of the Gentiles UNTIL the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (v.24).
These prophecies thus require:
- The Temple destroyed; Jerusalem trodden down of the Gentiles;
- Jerusalem to shake off foreign domination; the Temple to be rebuilt as the center of universal worship.
The return of the Jews to Palestine, the rise of modern Israel, and the recent freeing of Jerusalem from foreign domination (for the first time in two thousand years), are signs indicating that the "times of the Gentiles" are almost at an end, and the time is at hand for the second advent of Christ, and the rebuilding of the "House of prayer for all nations" as promised.
Christ's words were a re-echo of those found in the prophecy of Isaiah:
"The sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord. to be His servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of My covenant; even them will I bring to My holy mountain (i.e. Jerusalem); and make them joyful in My House of Prayer; for Mine house shall be called a HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL PEOPLE" (Isa. 56:6-7).
In Christ's day, the Temple in Jerusalem was exclusively for Jewish worship, but this prophecy points to a time when God's Temple in Jerusalem shall constitute a center of divine worship for all nations.
A Changed World
That day, when the Lord Jesus walked the outer courts of the Temple, he was not only moved by indignation at the spiritual apathy of the people, but stirred by Isaiah's prophecy of the thrilling glory yet to be revealed in the earth. We need, likewise, to be stirred by a mental picture of that which Bible prophecy presents regarding the future.
Here are some events yet to take place:
- The Lord Jesus to return (Acts 1:11).
- He will raise from the dead and bestow immortality on those who have lived according to his precepts (Dan. 12:2; 1 Cor. 15:21-23; Rev. 11:18).
- He will destroy the military might of the nations (2 Thess. 1:7-9; Zech. 14:3-9; Isa. 2:4).
- He will redeem the land of Israel from violence (Isa. 60:18; Zech. 14:11).
- He will set up his power in Jerusalem (Isa. 24:23; Matt. 5:35).
- He will completely restore scattered Israel (Ezek. 37:21-23; 39:25; Rom. 11:27-28).
- He will proclaim his law from Jerusalem for the obedience of all nations (Micah 4:1-7).
- He will supervise the erection of a glorious Temple in Jerusalem for universal worship (Zech. 6:13; 8:21-22; Isa. 60:7, 10-11).
- Representatives of the nations will make constant pilgrimage to Jerusalem for worship (Zech. 14:16; Isa. 66:23).
We recommend that the reader open his Bible at the places quoted above, and seek to picture the conditions that will exist on earth when they are fulfilled. This will enable him to lift up his head in hope in spite of the evil conditions that prevail at present (see Luke 21:26-28).
Modern Israel: A Token Of Things To Come
Christ limited the period of Jewish dispersion by predicting that they would be scattered, and Jerusalem would be dominated by foreigners only "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). The current return of Jews to their ancient land, the modern revival of Israel, and the recent deliverance of Jerusalem from foreign domination are all in fulfillment of this prophecy.
Today, Israel occupies an increasingly important place in the discussions of the world's governments. And though it is now obvious that the Jews are in the land to stay, people little realize the full significance of what is there taking place. Israel is more than a Jewish foothold in the Middle East: it is a movement destined to have world-shaking consequences, and to drastically affect the way of life of all upon the earth.
The remarkable revival of Israel in spite of all the opposition that it has experienced, and the bitter obstacles that it has had to overcome, is the greatest miracle of modern times.
What does it all mean?
The Jewish people are descended from Abraham, whose life history is recorded in the first book of the Bible. The same book (Genesis -- meaning "Beginnings") explains the origin of the Jewish people, and records the wonderful promises that God made to their progenitor, Abraham, because of his wonderful faith. Those promises form the basis of all Bible teaching, including the Gospel itself. Paul taught: "God . . . preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed" (Galatians 3:8).
Included in the promises made to Abraham was one that relates to the people of Israel, for the patriarch was told: "I will make of thee a great nation" (Genesis 12:2). Israel has never been a great nation in the true sense of the word, but the time will come when it will become so; and for that reason the nation has been preserved to this present time.
The history of the Bible reveals that the people of Israel failed both spiritually and politically. When Jesus Christ appeared among them proclaiming himself as king, they crucified him, in consequence of which their nation was overthrown, and they were scattered into all the world.
Yet as a people they were preserved, and as a nation they are today being restored. Why does God permit that, seeing they proved disobedient to His will? The answer is: Because of the promise made to Abraham.
In predicting the latter-day restoration of Israel, God declared:
"I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for Mine holy name's sake which ye have profaned among the nations whither ye went . . . For I will gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land" (Ezekiel 36:22-24).
God declared that He would do this "for His holy name's sake."
A person who faithfully keeps promise is known as a man of his word: his name is a guarantee of his integrity.
It is so with God. People would say that He would be justified in refusing to help the Jewish people, for they have so consistently turned their backs on Him, even to the extent of crucifying His Son. The fact that He does not, shows that every confidence can be placed in whatever He has unconditionally promised, and is a token of His faithfulness, mercy, and integrity.
Paul not only taught that the Gospel was preached to Abraham (Gal. 3:8), but also stated that it constitutes "the power of God unto salvation to all who believe it" (Romans 1:16).
Hence, if we would be saved, we must learn something of the grand promises of God to Abraham. These are outlined in his biography contained in Genesis chapters 12 to 22. This part of the Scripture reveals:
- Abraham left idolatry in Ur of the Chaldees in compliance with the command of God, and dwelt in the Land of Promise as a pilgrim, in hope of a future reward.
- Great and precious promises made to him including:
- A NATIONAL PROMISE: he will become a great nation (Gen. 12:2).
- A PERSONAL PROMISE: he will personally become of great repute (Gen. 12:2).
- A COMMUNAL PROMISE: those who identify themselves with his hope will receive a blessing (Gen. 12:3).
- AN INTERNATIONAL PROMISE: all nations ultimately will be blessed in him (Gen. 12:3).
- A specific promise that he and his seed (believers to whom will be granted immortality - Gal. 3:26-28) will inherit the earth as an everlasting possession by a resurrection from the dead (Gen. 13:15; Acts 7:5; Acts 26:7-8; Romans 4:13; Matt. 5:5).
- His name was changed to Abraham, meaning "a father of many nations" (Gen. 17:5). The nations will yet acknowledge relationship to Abraham when they are incorporated as mortal subject races in the Kingdom to be set up on earth by Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:8; Luke 13:28).
- He was promised a descendent (Jesus Christ) in whom all nations would be blessed (Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16). Jesus Christ came to "confirm the promises made unto the fathers" (Romans 15:8).
- These promises were renewed to Abraham's son, Isaac, and to his grandson, Jacob. They form the basis of "the hope of Israel" upon which early Christianity was founded (Acts 28:20).
- Jacob's name was changed to Israel, meaning "A prince with God," and from Israel came twelve sons, each of whom developed into a tribe, collectively called "the twelve tribes of Israel." The promises were repeated to them. Modern Jewry comprises the descendants of these sons of Israel.
- The children of Israel were made slaves in Egypt, were redeemed by Divine power under Moses, to ultimately occupy part of the land promised Abraham. Because of disobedience, God permitted their overthrow by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans Saracens and Turks. In 1917, Britain occupied Jerusalem, and proclaimed the Balfour Declaration inviting Jews to return to the land. This was later confirmed by the League of Nations, and a mandate granted Britain for the purpose of establishing a national home for the Jews. In 1948, by decree of UNO, the State of Israel came into being. In 1967, Jerusalem was occupied by the Jews.
These facts of Bible teaching and of history show that God has never altered, or cancelled, the promises made to Abraham, and proclaimed through the prophets.
Israel's Full Restoration Yet To Come
Modern Israel comprises a tiny strip of territory along the Mediterranean seaboard with a population of about 3,000,000 people. Through incredible hardship and unremitting toil, a measure of fertility has been brought to the arid soil. Whilst this is in fulfillment of Bible prophecy, it is only a token of the full restoration of Israel predicted therein, the fulfillment of which awaits Christ's return. Such prophecies as the following will not occur until after that event:
"They (the Jews) shall look upon me (the Christ) whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn as one mourneth for his only son" (Zechariah 12:10).
"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" (Ezekiel 37:21-22).
"I will cause you (Israel) 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" (Ezekiel 36:27).
"As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah when I shall bring again their captivity: 'The Lord bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness"' (Jeremiah 31:23).
"As ye were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and of Israel; so I will save you, and ye shall be a blessing" (Zechariah 8:13).
"I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and WILL BUILD THEM AS AT THE FIRST" (Jer. 33:7).
"There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob, and so all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:26).
By "all Israel" is meant all the tribes. The nation shall be completely rebuilt "as at the first" (Amos 9:11). As it was then divided into twelve tribes, so it will be when restored to its former status under Christ. The regathered people will be separated into tribes, established in the land as outlined in the last chapter of Ezekiel's prophecy, and made subject to the resurrected and glorified Apostles. The Lord Jesus promised them:
"Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew19:28).
This will follow the pattern of Solomon who likewise had twelve princes under him to assist in the administration of his realm (1 Kings 4:7). Christ will reign as supreme monarch (Zechariah 14:9), whilst his glorified, immortal followers will co-operate with him as rulers throughout the earth (Rev. 5:9-10; Mal. 1:11).
The partial return of Jews to the land of their forefathers today, is a token that the time is at hand for Christ to return to fully restore the nation. This fulfils the expectations of Christadelphians for over 100 years. In 1848, in the book Elpis Israel, the author, John Thomas, an outstanding Christadelphian expositor of the Bible, wrote:
"There is, then, a partial and primary restoration of Jews before the manifestation of Christ, which is to serve as the nucleus, or basis, of future operations in the restoration of the rest of the tribes after he has appeared in the kingdom. The pre-adventual colonization of Palestine will be on purely political principles, and the Jewish colonists will return in unbelief of the Messiahship of Jesus, and of the truth as it is in him. They will emigrate thither as agriculturists and traders, in the hope of ultimately establishing their commonwealth, but more immediately of getting rich by commerce with India, and in cattle and goods by their industry at home under the efficient protection of the British power . . ."
Those who know the circumstances of the modern revival of Israel will realize how completely these words, based on Bible prophecy, have been vindicated.
The Earth Subject To Christ
Christ's return will synchronize with a period of extreme international trouble (Daniel 12:1). His first work will be to resurrect (John 5:28-29), judge (2 Cor. 5:10), and reward with immortality his true followers (Romans 2:6-7). Then by almighty power he will compel the nations to submit to his rule (Zechariah 14:1-5; Isa. 60:12), in many cases "rebuking strong nations afar off" (Isa. 2:4).
When Christ has thus triumphed over the present rulers of a spiritually dark and evil age, when every social, political and ecclesiastical institution has been suppressed, and man's power scattered to the winds, "glory to God in the highest, peace on earth and goodwill towards men" will be manifest on all sides. As Creator, all honor and glory is due and fitting to Him whose dominion is from everlasting to everlasting. Food, raiment, shelter, health, strength, every lungful of the life-giving air we breathe, yea, and life itself comes from Him. Praise and adoration of God, therefore, is the fundamental characteristic of all who would serve Christ even now. It will be the vital principle of the age when Christ rules in the earth, and it will be reflected particularly in the services to be conducted in the great Temple to be erected in Jerusalem under the supervision of Christ, that "house of prayer for all nations" to which he made reference when he visited the temple 1900 years ago. In Revelation 19:6, it is written:
"And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude . . . say Halleluyah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
It is part of a prophetic picture of rejoicing after the judgments of God have been made manifest in the earth (v.2). "Halleluyah" is compounded of two words signifying Praise and Yah, the latter being an abbreviated form of the name of God, even Yahweh. Such anthems of praise will ascend from the lips of innumerable immortal men and women who, in their time of weakness, have allied themselves to Christ by submitting to the requirements of worship.
Being identified with Christ in the subjugation of the nations (Psalm 149:4-9), they will co-operate with him in the education of people everywhere in the ways of God. Thus enlightened, mankind will seek to worship Yahweh in the Temple in Zion (Psalm 68:4, 29).
The Lord Jesus, glorious and immortal, will be the acknowledged head of all mankind. The once lowly Nazarene -- "born to be king" (Matt. 2:2) -- who walked the dusty roads of Palestine, scorned and mocked because he uncovered the evil of men's deeds -- will return to earth, as universal monarch, with supreme power to enforce his righteous rule (2 Thess. 1:7-10).
Thus will be fulfilled the prayer: "Thy kingdom come that thy will may be done in earth as it is in heaven."
Christ's universal rule will dispense with war, destroy the present crippling financial systems which blight the lives of millions, eliminate want and rivalry, and dispense justice and mercy towards all (Micah 4; Isa. 11). Children will be educated in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Deut. 6:7; Mal. 4:4). Juvenile delinquency will cease; every evil traffic, every degrading vice, will be suppressed.
The Temple In Jerusalem
Thus, by education in divine truths and precepts, the "knowledge of the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2:14). Christ and his immortalized followers, the aristocracy of the future age, will take power everywhere in the name of their God. Peace will overspread the scene, and mankind will be set free from political and religious oppression to worship God in joyful harmony, surrounded with plenty and delivered from disease.
Christ will reign as head of a theocracy: the Kingdom of God on earth. The basis of his rule will be the Temple in Jerusalem, which he will cause to be built, as the center of world worship. It shall become a rallying point for the nations, uniting them in one law, belief and ideal. International hatred will disappear, bitter religious controversy shall cease, men will unite in acknowledging God in truth.
The last chapters of Ezekiel's prophecy (chaps 40-48) describe this Temple in such detail as to permit the late Henry Sulley, an architect of Nottingham, England, to draw the ground plans and elevations of it. When the Hebrew measures are converted to English equivalents, there is presented a building of such magnitude and beauty as to exceed anything the world has ever seen.
It provides for a mile-square "house of prayer" set in the center of a 50 mile-square reservation in the center of the Land of Promise, called the "holy oblation," or "the portion" set aside for divine use. This will be entirely separated from the surrounding country for the purpose of worship. The Bible declares:
"It shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem (in the battle of Armageddon) shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 14:16).
The Jerusalem to which those worshippers will ascend, will be an entirely different city to that one of superstition and violence with which men are familiar today. It will be cleansed from all the impurities and rubbish of the centuries (Jer. 31:23-24) by a tremendous earthquake that will elevate Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, whilst leveling the surrounding country (Zech. 14:4, 10). Around this elevated mount will be erected the House of Prayer. First there will be built a circular range of buildings some 200 feet wide and 200 feet high, and some 24 miles in circumference. This imposing structure will be beautified by tall and massive pillars and facades of arabesque masonry upon which will creep the luxurious growth of vines. This circular range of buildings, beautiful in appearance, majestic and impressive in reflecting the Divine planning, will constitute the Temple proper.
Through this range of buildings, beyond which no mortal shall pass (see Psalm 24:3-6), there will appear the ascending hill of Zion. The summit of this mount will serve as a massive altar to receive the offerings from all over the world which will be presented on behalf of the worshippers (Ezek. 43:12-13; Isa. 60:7).
The mortal subjects of Christ's kingdom (as distinct from those who elect to follow Christ now, and who will then be made immortal), will be congregated in the areas set aside for their use, in the vast corner courts and outer square range of buildings which will enclose the circular Temple referred to above. From there they will be able to view the elevated altar. From time to time, the slopes of the holy hill shall be clothed with the glorified friends of Christ, who will assist him as a royal-priesthood to educate the nations in righteousness, and rule them with equity (Rev. 5:9-10). Their voices shall be raised in anthems of praise and thanksgiving to the Creator: their Father and their Strength. And over all there will be spread forth a divine glory, enclosing the holy mount as a tabernacle (Isa. 4:4-6).
Outside this circular range of buildings, will be a further structure, foursquare in design. It will consist of a double range of buildings, each 120 feet high, and 50 feet wide. Each of the four sides will be approximately one mile in length, and will thus completely enclose the inner, circular Temple. At each corner will rise tremendous towers, 360 feet square and 480 feet high. They will comprise the kitchens where food will be prepared to feed the worshippers who will assemble from all nations. It is estimated that the building will hold well over 1,000,000 worshippers at the one time.
The impact of participating in such a worship before such august company, will have a tremendous influence, assisting in uniting the world with Christ. Even now, the contemplation of the reality of his coming rule can draw us close to him. It can help us to visualise the future. The Kingdom of God will be literally established on earth; Christ will personally and visibly reign from Jerusalem; the physical changes effected by his administration will be gloriously apparent on every side; the erection of the Temple in Jerusalem will change the characters of mortal worshippers as they learn of God and the benefits of His way.
A New Meaning To Bible References
Many Bible verses shine with new light when we understand this theme:
ZECHARIAH 8:20-23: "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; it shall come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities, saying: 'Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts.' Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord . . ."
PSALM 22:25-31: "All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee. For the Kingdom is the Lord's; and He is the governor among the nations."
ISAIAH 2:3: "The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and exalted above the. hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And 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 many nations, and shall rebuke many people, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
This is the glorious future awaiting this earth when Christ reigns from Jerusalem, and the world is united in the worship of the Temple to be there set up.
God has not created the earth, and man upon it, to be destroyed by the war-mongerer, or that it might be rendered uninhabitable by the pollution of industry. The time is coming when "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14), when from Jerusalem, "a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment" (Isa. 32:1), and "all men shall know the Lord, the least unto the greatest" (Jer. 31:34). This King, the Lord Jesus, will return from heaven to "put down all rule, authority, and power," as wielded by flesh (1 Cor. 15:24), and assume his rightful place as supreme monarch "over all the earth" (Zech. 14:9).
What This Can Mean To You
The call of the Gospel is an invitation to accept the way of life in Christ now, so as to become his associates in the future. A royal-priesthood will co-operate to teach men the glorious truths of divine worship, and assist in governing the nations (Isa. 30:20-21). Eternal satisfaction as well as eternal life is held out to those who lay hold of that hope now. The possession of the Kingdom will give to all who inherit it, the answer to the deepest desire of the human heart, for God, alone, is able "to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph. 3:20).
What is required? This is revealed in the commission the Lord Jesus delivered into the hands of the Apostles as he sent them on their mission of preaching. He declared:
"Go into all the world and preach the Gospel; he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16).
A knowledge of the Gospel, followed by baptism into the name of the Lord, is essential to salvation. Paul taught that it is "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Rom. 1:16), and Jesus declared that "true worshippers worship the Father in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23).
Baptism, therefore, is a process that can end in life eternal. It is the outward token of an inward change that will provide the foundation for a change of nature, at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ; for his approved followers will then be clothed with immortality (2 Cor. 5:4; 1 Cor. 15:42-46).
Life eternal incorporates the possession of divine glory (Rom. 5:2), divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), and divine power (Rev. 2:26). The approved, at Christ's coming, will be changed from their present weak, mortal state to share with Christ that which is essentially divine. As Christ is now, so will they be whom he approves at his coming (1 John 3:2). They will form a glorious company of incorruptible beings, and are represented in Revelation 5:9-10 as surrounding the throne he will occupy, and singing:
"Thou wast slain, and has 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."
This will constitute the status and function of the approved in the Age to come: they will form part of a royal priesthood. And do not confuse the title "priest" with its use today. It has no relation to the clergy of today. The term "priest" in Scripture signifies a teacher of righteousness. "The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts" (Mal. 2:7). The approved made glorious and immortal, will not only "reign with Christ for a thousand years" (Rev. 20:6), but will be sent throughout the earth, to educate the mortal populations that survive the fire of Armageddon in principles of righteousness (Zech. 14:16-17), thus leading the world to God. They will be occupied, therefore, in a life of supreme usefulness on earth, and will be recognized as humanity's greatest benefactors. Thus will be fulfilled the glorious, prophetic angelic song heard 1900 years ago at the birth of the Lord: "Glory to God in the highest; peace on earth, and goodwill towards men."
We commend the way of Christ to the reader as the way of true wisdom and sanity, and one which will bring to him great peace now as well as eternal life in the age to come.
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