Our King Is Marching On

“I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” —Habakkuk 2:1-3

EVER since the first advent of our Lord Christ Jesus, his saints have been looking forward with fond desire to the time when he would come again. Did Jesus not promise them shortly before his death, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also”? (John 14:3) And have not his followers been earnestly praying, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”? His footstep followers have accepted his assurance that his kingdom would be established in due time. This assurance of Christ Jesus has been the bright hope in the earthly pilgrimage of his disciples, for the kingdom of God is indeed the crowning feature of God’s plan of salvation. All God’s holy prophets wrote concerning the kingdom of God.

The subject of the kingdom was ever uppermost in the mind of Jesus. In his teachings and parables, Jesus used every opportunity to make his disciples familiar with the kingdom. In due time the Lord gave the watchers signs that would reveal his second advent. We believe that this took place about 1874. More than one hundred years have gone by, and the world is in greater turmoil than ever before. Where, then, is the evidence of Christ’s presence?

Jesus promised that “when he cometh” he would enlighten his faithful followers concerning his presence. Let us read the words of Jesus in Luke 12:37: “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh [at his second presence: Diaglott, whom having come] shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.” Here we have the promise of Jesus that at his second presence he would serve “food”—“meat” in due season. This same promise is repeated by the glorified Christ Jesus through the words of the Apostle John in his message to the church of the Laodiceans: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”—Rev. 3:20

True to his promise, shortly after his second advent, the Lord served his faithful brethren with “meat in due season.” (Matt. 24:45) All the fundamental truths of his Word were unified into one complete and harmonious picture, disclosing before our eyes God’s glorious plan of salvation and our part in that plan. The fact that Jesus is present for the purpose of destroying the old order, prior to the setting up of the kingdom was also brought to light. And how simple and beautiful are these truths!

This meat in due season discloses God’s plan to restore mankind, the living and the dead, to perfection—the perfection that was in Adam before his fall. We learned that the man Christ Jesus gave his perfect human life as a ransom sacrifice for Adam’s transgression. As a result, Adam and all his descendants would receive an opportunity for everlasting life and happiness here on earth. We learned from the Scriptures that Jesus could not be resurrected as a man but was raised a glorified spirit being, invisible to human eyes. It was disclosed to us from the Scriptures that the faithful followers of Jesus would be made like him and have the privilege of reigning with him a thousand years. But to be the recipients of this blessing we must suffer with him, that is, lay down our lives with Jesus in sacrifice. Here indeed was meat in due season, light and truth served in harmony with the Lord’s promise. This, then, is a clear evidence of our Lord’s second presence.

Having established the time of his presence, many other scriptures fall in line. We believe that the sleeping saints have been raised. Since the prophecy in I Thessalonians 4, verses 14 and 15, relates to the Lord’s second presence, it follows that the sleeping saints must have been raised. We read the Apostle Paul’s words from the Revised Standard Version, “Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.” This is in harmony with the apostle’s words in I Corinthians 15:51,52, referring to the members of the church who are alive here on earth during our Lord’s second presence, “Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”

We believe that the harvest of the Gospel Age began with our Lord’s second presence. In Revelation 14:14,16 we read, “Behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man [the glorified Christ Jesus], having on his head a golden crown [divine authority to carry out the Father’s will], and in his hand a sharp sickle. … And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle … and the earth was reaped.” The truth is the sharp sickle. The glorified Christ Jesus is the Chief Reaper, the “Lord of the harvest.” The reapers are the Lord’s faithful followers. By declaring present truth—harvest truth—through the printed page, radio, television, and by word of mouth, these are engaged in the harvest work, the separation of “the wheat from the tares.”—Matt. 13:30

Have we been able to observe any results of this harvest work here on earth? Yes, we have. The Lord’s people have been pointing out not only God’s glorious character and his plan of salvation but also the fallen condition of nominal Christendom and its rejection by God. They have been saying to God’s people in Babylon, “Come out of her, my people,” (Rev. 18:4) and come into fellowship with God and his truth. The great drawing power in this work is the recognition that the Lord is present and that, in harmony with the Father’s will, he is destroying this old evil order of things preparatory to the setting up of his kingdom. The Lord’s people have been inviting others to fellowship with them and to meet with them in study groups. They have been urged to help proclaim the “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10) We have observed this great truth to be a powerful and ripening influence among the Lord’s people. And everywhere all over the earth we have seen little groups, ecclesias—the Lord’s people—meeting together to worship God. The harvest of the wheat, the gathering of the living saints, is indeed a great and glorious harvest. Seeing this harvest work in progress is proof of the Lord’s second presence, for Jesus is the Lord of the harvest.—Luke 10:2

Again we read in Revelation 14:18 of an angel having a sharp sickle being instructed to “thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.” The harvest of the vine of the earth pictures the destruction of the false Christian systems, and the evil nations, with their evil institutions.

Great is the vine of the earth, but it is not Jehovah’s planting. Its fruitage, represented in its worldly wisdom, its wealth, its political power and social standing, the Lord will utterly destroy. Indeed, much of its power has already been destroyed. In Daniel 2:44 we read this prophecy: “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”

What a remarkable prophecy! We have seen the beginning of the fulfillment of this prophecy in our lifetime. With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, we have witnessed the downfall of the rulers who once claimed they were ruling by divine right. The ruling houses of the Hohenzollerns, the Hapsburgs, the Romanoffs, the kings, the kaisers, the czars, where are they? Yes, the kings have had their day. The fragments of these nations, these Gentile powers, are being ground to powder in preparation for the establishment of the kingdom of Christ. The precept of the divine right of kings is gone.

New powerful governments and leaders have risen and fallen by the wayside. Communist and socialist ideologies have taken over the old established forms of governments, but the problems of mankind remain unsolved. With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the Gentile Times came to a close. It seems we are fast nearing the end of the harvesting of the wheat. The clusters of the vine of the earth are fully ripe, and the reaping, or gathering, of the vine has been under way since 1914. We are living in “the day of the Lord’s [Jehovah’s] wrath,” “the day of the Lord’s vengeance.

Why must the establishment of Christ’s kingdom be preceded by “a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation”? God always chooses the wisest way to accomplish his purpose. In Isaiah 42:14 we read the words of Jehovah, “I have long time holden my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself.” In his love, as well as in his wisdom, the Lord permitted the reign of evil, suffering, and death.

He permitted conditions which were absolutely opposed to his principles of truth and righteousness and love. For a long time he restrained his anger against wickedness. He refrained from executing his vengeance. Again in Isaiah 42:14 he says, “Now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once.” In his righteous indignation he will go forth and accomplish his purpose. And who carries out the destruction of this old evil order? None other than “the Arm of Jehovah,” our Lord Jesus. Jesus himself said in Matthew 26:64, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven [during troublous times].”

The overthrowing of the present evil order will be felt in every corner of the earth. The present arrangements of civil, religious, social, political, and educational orders which exist in their various forms will not be a part of the new order. To bring such changes about, to do away with the old order, causes revolutionary disturbances. It will require a period of time. These changes are opposed by the civil and religious leaders, who constantly seek by every means to prevent the collapse of the present civilization. But no power is able to hold back the disintegration of the old order. All the various forms of government find themselves in deep trouble—even the heathen nations of Africa and Asia, who have thrown off the powers which ruled over them and exploited them. They have formed their own governments; yet poverty, misery, and oppression remain the lot of the people in all those nations. Mankind is not aware of the forces which are at work bringing about the destruction of all their worldly-wise schemes. They form unions, such as labor unions; they associate together as nations and form the United Nations; they make treaties; they form alliances; they overthrow governments; they make wars; they build more destructive machines of war. But nothing stops the disintegrating forces which are at work. Only the faithful students of God’s Word are aware that these disturbing influences are due to the second presence of our Lord.

Our minds go to the 2nd chapter of the Book of Psalms: “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed. … He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” We are observing the foretold distress of nations, “the sea and the waves roaring,” people, multitudes, nations, tongues, striving for what they believe is their right—liberty, security, and happiness—throwing off all moral restraint, giving way to angry passion. We have seen mountains [kingdoms] carried into the midst of the sea, the earth reeling to and fro like a drunkard, men’s hearts failing them for fear; and while they cry, “Peace, peace,” they realize there is no peace. So great will the trouble become that without some intervening power to cut it short the entire race would eventually be exterminated.

But God has prepared the intervening power—Christ and his church. The Christ will intervene at the proper time and bring order and peace out of earth’s confusion. “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake [but by the elect] those days shall be shortened.” (Matt. 24:22) May we ever keep in mind that although we are living in the time of Christ’s second presence, the millennial reign of Christ has not yet begun. The New Covenant arrangement is not yet in operation; the highway of holiness is not yet open; restitution blessings of life are not yet available. They can begin only after all the saints have passed beyond the veil.

In Daniel 12:4 we find another scripture which points to the second presence of our Lord. “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Surely this prophecy has been fulfilled in a most remarkable way. What a picture this places before our minds—a scene swarming with men, women, and children, commuters riding or driving to work in the morning and returning to their homes in the evening, children going to and returning from school, people traveling between different cities or countries, crossing continents and oceans, using cars, planes, trains, boats—like so many ants running around an ant hill. “Knowledge shall be increased.” Education, the one great means of increasing knowledge, has become compulsory in many lands, and certainly its value is appreciated in all parts of the earth. Literature of every kind finds its way into the homes of the rich and the poor. Important events occurring in almost any part of the earth may be viewed many thousands of miles away on television screens while they are actually taking place, and they are reported in detail in newspapers of many languages within hours. Libraries and encyclopedias furnish instant information on practically every subject. Indeed, knowledge has increased in a most remarkable way. The store of knowledge has become so great that even computers are not completely able to handle it.

Another evidence of the Lord’s second presence is the return of Israel to Palestine. The Scriptures inform us that the length of time natural Israel would be cast off from favor would be a repetition or duplication of the period during which they enjoyed divine favor. Jeremiah states, “And first [before God’s favor will return] I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double.” (Jer. 16:18) Israel enjoyed divine favor for 1845 years, from the death of Jacob to the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord cast her off for a similar period of time. Adding 1845 years from the death of Jesus Christ in A.D. 33 would bring us to 1878. Then in 1878 we should see the first signs of the budding of the fig tree, the first signs of the return of God’s favor to Israel.

What happened in 1878? Did the first tender buds appear at that time on the fig tree? Exactly on time, the door to Palestine began to open to natural Israel. Lord Beaconsfield, a Jew, and prime minister of England, at the Berlin Congress of Nations changed the treaty of San Stephano between the Russians and the Turks so that Turkey, while exercising control over Palestine, must permit the Jews to settle there. All opportunity to return to their homeland had been closed to the Jews. But now the door was opening. The Jews would be permitted to return and settle in Palestine.

And so we are informed in Jeremiah 16:16: “Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. For mine eyes are upon all their ways.” First there were the fishers, the efforts of Zionist and associated organizations to induce the Jews to return to Palestine. However, they did not return in great numbers. Then the Lord sent hunters. The pressure exerted by the hunters proved effective. The Jews, having been driven to desperation by the hunters—by severe persecution—felt that to survive and to live, they must possess Palestine as their homeland and be permitted to settle there freely without restrictions. Finally, in November 1947, Palestine was partitioned between the Jews and the Arabs by the United Nations, and in May 1948 an independent Jewish state was proclaimed by the Jews.

The ingathering of natural Israel and the establishment of natural Israel are important steps toward the ultimate object of God’s plan of salvation. For, as God has used them as an example of a people under a curse, he will also use them as an example of a people being blessed. (Zech. 8:13, NEB) How good it is that by the grace of the Lord our eyes have been opened to the glorious time in which we are living—a really great and wonderful time, yet also a difficult time—the time of the second presence of our Lord! What an inspiration this important truth should be to us, urging us on to faithfully and joyfully serve the Lord, his truth, and the brethren, to live for him, so that, with his assisting grace, we may finish our course with joy. Even as an espoused bride longs for her future husband, so the prospective bride of Christ longs to be with her future Bridegroom.

In Revelation 19:7 we read, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” All the faithful followers of Jesus will then have been taken home. The body of Christ will then be complete. The 144,000 will then have been gathered together. The marriage of Christ Jesus, the Bridegroom, and his bride, the church, will then take place.

In the earthly marriage relationship, man and wife are spoken of as being “one flesh.” (Matt. 19:5) But in the case of the heavenly marriage these twain are of one spirit—God’s spirit. Christ Jesus, the Head, and the church, his body, are so closely knit together that never again, through all the ages of eternity, will they be separated. One mind, one will, one spirit will motivate them in all they do. To them is committed the responsibility of bringing into covenant relationship with God all who are willing of the entire human race. What a glorious mission this will be! The bride will take the Bridegroom’s name. She will partake of the divine nature and be associated forever with the Father and with the Son as members of the divine family, “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:7) The faithful overcomers shall be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.

What a joyful experience the marriage of the Lamb will be for the saints, and what rich blessings it will bring to mankind! And in the meantime, “Though it tarry [though it seem to tarry], wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”—Hab. 2:3

Dawn Bible Students Association
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