After Man's Day

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 9
In a previous paper, in which we tried to show how “the Burden of Dumah” (Isa. 21:11, 1211The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? 12The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come. (Isaiah 21:11‑12)) could apply to the present time as well as to the immediate future, we saw the terrible end of man's day, as described in 2 Thess. 1; 2 This scripture gives us rather the moral side of it, viz., the setting up of man as God, chiefly as a result of false doctrine, of the substitution of man's gospel of lies for God's gospel of truth, of man's gospel of perdition for God's gospel of salvation. But there is another aspect of the close of man's day, which is violence, marked by wars more appalling yet than what we are now passing through; wars between nations such as are predicted in Matt. 24 and Rev. 6; and lastly—an alliance of the whole world, brought about by the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet defying the Lord God Almighty Himself (Rev. 16:12-1612And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. 13And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. 15Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. 16And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. (Revelation 16:12‑16)). In the next chapter we see how this battle, the like of which has never been seen, ends (17:13, 14). This end coincides with 2 Thess. 1:7, 87And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (2 Thessalonians 1:7‑8), and 2: 8. It is the end of man's day and the beginning of the day of the Lord, or day of the Son of man. Between the two there is no interval.
Thus we see that the day of the Lord, as it is designated in the Epistles, or the day of the Son of man, as the Lord Himself speaks of it in the Gospels, begins with stern judgments. It ends in like manner (Rev. 20:7-107And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:7‑10)). Beginning and ending are marked by the same character, viz., the putting down of man's rebellion, first when the Lord takes the kingdom, and finally when He delivers it to God, even the Father, that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:24-2824Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:24‑28)).
The Lord's reign is the great theme of the prophets, and it was the great expectation of the disciples at the Lord's first coming. They looked for it before and after His death, saw nothing apart or beyond. If the kingdom was not established there and then, and the throne set up for the Son of David (for this the Lord was to them), their hope was a blank. Such at least was their way of reckoning. Well, the kingdom was not established then, and a more immediate hope was set before them and us, not earthly but heavenly.
This hope, however, does not abolish that of Israel. It is apart from it, above it, and, in accomplishment, preceding it. Israel's hope is in abeyance, because, as a nation, “they sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” In consequence of their refusal of Him, they have fallen under Hosea's fearful sentence, “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim” (3:4). This has been their condition for nearly two thousand years— “many days” indeed. But it will not last forever. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” He has made promises to Abraham in behalf of his posterity, and He keeps to them spite of all Israel's present unwillingness and stiff-neckedness. Hence, Hosea adds “Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek Jehovah their God, and David their king, and shall fear Jehovah and his goodness in the latter days.” They were unwilling in the day of the Lord Jesus' grace, when He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” They were too proud to understand such divine condescension. But they shall be willing in the day of His power, after they have passed through the burning fiery furnace. And when He takes His seat on David's throne, and Israel is gathered under His scepter, then will all the nations of the earth cluster around the restored people and share in its blessing.
After the Lord has subdued and swept away His enemies, He will establish a reign of peace, the duration of which is stated to be a thousand years (Rev. 20:66Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)). It will be earth's sabbath, after six thousand years of groans and travail. Real, lasting peace must be by the Prince of peace. Jerusalem, so long trodden under foot, will be then the metropolis of the world, the city of the great King, the joy of the whole earth. The land of Palestine, now a wilderness, will be then like the garden of Eden, as it is written, “The desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all 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. And the heathen, that are left round about you, shall know that I Jehovah build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate. I Jehovah have spoken it, and will do it” (Ezek. 36:34-3634And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. 35And 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. 36Then the heathen that are left 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. (Ezekiel 36:34‑36)).
So again, the magnificent pictures in Isa. 11; 35; 65, etc. Nor is the blessing for Israel only, for we read in Zech. 2:10-1210Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord. 11And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee. 12And the Lord shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again. (Zechariah 2:10‑12), “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith Jehovah. And many nations shall be joined to Jehovah in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me unto thee: And Jehovah shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.” What a contrast with the present day, so full of sorrow and turmoil! Oh, that fallen men would own their unfitness to bring about happiness where their sin has brought disaster and ruin! Our blessed Lord alone can and will do that, not for a transient moment only, but according to the abiding efficacy of His redemption work. For upon this work all rests—the divine counsels and the reconciliation of all things unto Himself, whether they be things in earth; or things in heaven.
The day of the Lord will end as it began, viz., in judgment. It seems strange to speak of judgment after a blissful reign of a thousand years, during which the presence of the Lord in glory ought to have captivated every human heart. Yet so it is. It would be a great mistake to take for granted that the whole race of men will be converted during the millennium. Some out of all nations will be, no doubt, and the whole of the Jewish people, according as it is written, “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, or every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah: for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more.” Or again, “As the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith Jehovah, so shall your seed and your name remain” (Jer. 31; Isa. 66). Yet the mass of the Gentiles will remain unregenerate, subdued in presence of the King's power and glory, but not born of God. Satan, who shall have been bound and cast into the bottomless pit, and all that time powerless to tempt them, will regain his hold upon them as soon as he is loosed from his prison. His power of seduction will be then greater than ever, if possible, and he will lead them to open rebellion just as he had done at the beginning of the day of the Lord. There will be this difference, however, that at the beginning he leads men against the Lord in person, and the Lord destroys them with the sharp sword that goeth out of His mouth, as we see in Rev. 19; whereas, at the end, He leads them against the camp of the saints round about, and the beloved city (Jerusalem), and then and there they are destroyed, not by the Lord in person, but by fire coming down from God out of heaven (Rev. 20). Thereby will all the ungodly be devoured, and their final destiny will be settled by the great white throne before which all the dead of all times are to appear, for the hearing of their condemnation.
Here “the dead” are those who have departed this world without saving faith, “the dead in Christ” having all been previously raised, raised before the reign of a thousand years, to be with the Lord (1 Thess. 4; Rev. 20). The very heavens and earth, as we know them, will pass away and be melted by fire, by reason of their having been polluted by the presence of Satan and his angelic hosts above, and of Satan and his human hosts on earth.
This is the end of the first creation. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death,” and the Lord Jesus then, as Son of man and in this quality ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead, will deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, “that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) may be all in all.”
Now begins, what is called in 2 Peter, “the day of God"1—a remarkable expression. A remarkable state of things too, as compared with God's previous ways. All is new here—new creation, new condition of man in it. For there are men in it, men created anew, saints preserved out of the cataclysm in which the old earth will disappear, and translated in a changed state into the new. There are no longer Jews and Gentiles here, as we know them in the present dispensation. They are one family, one people, the people of God, and God dwelling with them, their God. He did not dwell with Adam in the earthly paradise, but only visited him now and then. Nor did He make His abode with men when the Word was made flesh, for it is written that He tabernacled among us, which implies that He was only a sojourner. In the new creation, the permanent presence of God will be the abiding proof of His delight in men, and for men an abiding source of delight in God. How dear a creature man is to the heart of God. He made man to be happy. Man fell, lost himself through sin; but God, if obliged to punish him for righteousness' sake, would not give him up. It was to seek and save that which was lost that He sent His Son, become man for the purpose. In virtue of the wondrous work of redemption, the work of His Son, not only will heaven be peopled with men everlastingly blessed, but new heavens and a new earth will come out of the old, and in the new earth men in whom God will take His pleasure as they in Him. No tears will be shed there, no death to crush the heart, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any pain, for the former things are passed away! Well may the apostle exclaim, and all believers with him, “O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counselor? or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things: to Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
1. Does not “‘the day of God by reason of which,” etc. (R.V.), comprise, as another has said, “the entire course of divine intervention from the appearing of Christ in glory [which inaugurates the millennium] till the new heavens and earth”? Using another remarkable expression of the same apostle (2 Peter 3:1818But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18), ἡμέραν αἰωνος), we may indeed say, “Now begins what is called in 2 Peter the ‘day of eternity’” (R.V. marg.).—Ed. B.T.