“The Night Is Far Spent”

“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” —Romans 13:12

THE year just ended has seen a continuation, if not, indeed, an intensification of the problems that have been tormenting the nations of the world since the early years of this century.

Almost two thousand years ago our Lord Jesus, a foremost prophet of Jehovah God, described the time through which the world is presently passing as one in which there would come upon the earth “distress of nations, with perplexity [Greek, no way out]; the sea and the waves roaring; [with] men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” These conditions, Jesus said, would mark the end of this age, and the passing away of this present evil world.—Luke 21:25,26; Matt. 24:3,21

The Apostle Peter, another of God’s anointed prophets, similarly described, in symbolic but easily understood language, the present state in the outworking of God’s loving plans and purposes for mankind’s ultimate blessing. He said, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the [ecclesiastical] heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the [evil social arrangements of] earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”—II Pet. 3:10

Surely it must be obvious to all reasonable men and women that the world is even now experiencing this foretold “time of trouble, such as was not since there was a nation”; surely it is clear to all that the world’s leaders are sorely perplexed, as one after another attempted solution to the world’s myriad problems fails; surely the hearts of the people of all nations are distressed, as they view the gathering clouds that forebode the ultimate disintegration of Satan’s empire, preparatory to the establishment in the earth of Christ’s righteous millennial kingdom for the blessing of all the resurrected world of mankind.

Wherever one looks in this troubled world, the elements of destruction are visibly smoldering, even as Peter foretold. Those God-given principles and virtues by which, alone, men can live together in peace and harmony in this rapidly shrinking world—honesty, compassion, truth, unselfishness, love for one’s neighbor as for himself—are daily less valued, less honored, less lived by, less the rule of conduct of mankind, high and low. As the problems of the world increase, and impinge adversely on the lives of the nations and their peoples, selfishness, in the guise of self-preservation, becomes the primary consideration of men and nations the world over.

The Prophet Daniel also foretold the coming of this time of trouble upon the world, and placed it chronologically in “the time of the end,” or the end of the Gospel Age, thus agreeing on this point with our Lord Jesus. (Dan. 12:1,4) Daniel further stated, significantly, that this period of time would be accompanied by an increase of knowledge. Inasmuch as the last one hundred years of man’s existence on this planet have been distinguished by an extraordinary increase in knowledge along every line, we thus have confirmation of the fact that the world is, truly, already in the foretold time of trouble.

Indeed, the astonishing increase of knowledge during this period has been an important factor in intensifying the trouble. As knowledge and education became more widespread, multitudes who had formerly accepted lowly and even unjust stations in life became aware of their condition, uniting in some areas to form unions or cartels in order to enforce their demands for a fairer share of earth’s bounties. Others began to throw off the shackles of superstition imposed on them by the ecclesiastical princes of this world. Still others, notably in South America and Africa, took up arms to free themselves of their exploiting colonial masters. Vast numbers of people in China, Russia, and even in Central America this very day, have engaged in bloody revolution in the hope of bettering their lot. All too often they discover, however, that their new masters are no better than the old.

This foretold upheaval in the end of the age by millions of people all over the world, as they desperately attempt to rise above poverty and hunger, is what Jesus described in symbolic language as “the sea and the waves roaring.” (Luke 21:25) The Prophet Isaiah wrote of this time: “Ah, the thunder of many peoples, they thunder like the thundering of the sea! Ah, the roar of nations, they roar like the roaring of mighty waters! The nations roar like the roaring of many waters, but he [God] will rebuke them, and they will flee far away, chased like chaff on the mountains before the wind and whirling dust before the storm [the consummation of the time of trouble]. At evening time [the end time of this present age], behold, terror! Before morning [the dawn of Christ’s millennial kingdom], they are no more!”—Isa. 17:12-14 RSV

Many who are alive today have witnessed the overwhelming of despotic regimes in czarist Russia and in China by the ruthless power of the symbolic waves. The roaring seas of oppressed human beings have destroyed selfish colonialism in much of Africa and in India. The rising thunder of the people, like the roaring of mighty waters, can even now be heard in South Africa, where millions are still striving to escape from virtual bondage by the few. The troubled seas of eastern Europe and southern Russia, where fearful multitudes are being held in harsh and humiliating subjection, could burst forth at any time into a violent storm. The agitation of the waters of discontent was most recently heard in Poland, where the people courageously challenged the totalitarian rule of their masters, and demanded concessions that could hopefully lead to a greater measure of political and economic freedom.

In still another way the increase of knowledge—this time, scientific and technological knowledge—has been responsible, unwittingly, for some of the problems plaguing the world today. In this end of the age truly astonishing advances have been made in the development and production of countless chemicals, synthetics, plastics, vaccines, medicines, fertilizers, herbicides, and other products. These in many ways have improved the health, happiness, and standard of living for millions of people.

Unfortunately, however, it has also developed that in many cases the production of these so-called boons to mankind has come at the cost of dangerously polluting the air, water, and earth, which together constitute man’s only place of abode. The same increase of knowledge that has identified the approaching end of this age is also responsible for the creation of the Frankenstein of nuclear physics, which in turn has produced nuclear power plants turning out waste materials with half-lives of thousands of years, defying the ‘ingenuity of man to dispose of it safely.

This increase of knowledge has also supplied the nations of the world with weapons of such appalling, devastating power that, if unleashed in a nuclear war, they could wipe mankind and his boasted civilization from the face of the earth. The mere contemplation of the possibility of such a disaster daily and hourly haunts the lives of sober-minded individuals the world over, and especially those in the seats of power. And even as the number of nations possessing such weapons increases, man seems utterly powerless to come to grips with the awesome problem.

This problem was the subject of a recent television discussion by a group of well-informed journalists and experts on nuclear weaponry. Their conclusions inspired little hope that man will find an answer to the dilemma he has brought upon himself through his own advance in scientific knowledge in this end of the age; and the dread of what might or could occur that filled their minds was all too apparent in their tone and deportment.

In the meantime, the population explosion goes on apace, as additional millions of helpless men, women and children are added to those already hungering and starving, and nations find no workable answer to the problem. Hijacking, terrorism, and crime of every description flourish virtually unchecked in many parts of the world. Cheating, stealing, and immorality are becoming so commonplace as to lose their power to offend and alarm. Drug addiction and alcoholism have even found their way into the pre-teenage classroom.

The resulting fear and insecurity becoming ever more general among the people is manifested in the growth by leaps and bounds of the installation of burglar and fire alarms, outside spotlights, multiple locks for residence doors, bars for windows, and the growing number of vigilante groups patrolling the streets. Clearly, men’s hearts are filled with fear, “and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.”

In the world of today—that is, in the social, religious, economic and political elements that comprise the world of today—few look to Jehovah God as the sole and ruling power in their lives. Few regard him as their loving, all-wise and all-powerful Creator. And fewer still in this world endeavor to be guided by his precepts of truth and righteousness, and love for one’s neighbor. True, there are some here and there who are trying, sincerely but mistakenly, to bring Christ’s kingdom to this world. But Jesus said plainly, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36) And the Apostle Paul explained that Jesus “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world,” of which world he declared that Satan is the prince, or ruler.—Gal. 1:4; II Cor. 4:4

It is the disintegration of this evil world, or social arrangement, that is now occurring, and which will culminate in its final destruction. It is not the planet Earth that will pass away, for we have the immutable promise of Jehovah God himself that “the earth abideth forever.” The planet Earth was made for man’s everlasting abode. “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.” (Eccles. 1:4; Isa. 45:18) It is the selfish, unrighteous, unjust arrangement of earth’s society, civil and ecclesiastical, wherein sin, suffering, hunger, sickness and death prevail that is forever to be destroyed, and Christ’s glorious millennial kingdom of truth, love, and everlasting life established in its place for the blessing of all who have ever lived on this earth, both living and dead.

The Apostle Peter calls our attention to three separate “worlds” which were ordained of God, each composed of a “heavens” and “earth,” and each of which is related to the development of God’s plans and purposes for the ultimate blessing of his human creation. Because evil had become so general in that first world, or arrangement, God ended it with a flood. (Gen. 6:1-22) Speaking of this cataclysmic event in human history, Peter says, “By the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” But whereas the “world” that then was perished, let it be noted that the planet Earth remained.—II Pet. 3:5,6

Peter then speaks of this present world, or arrangement in which we are now living: “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire … [until] the day of judgment and … [destruction] of ungodly men.” This is the sinful, selfish world that is even now in process of disintegration.—II Pet. 3:7,10,12

But how glad we are that Peter, along with all God’s holy prophets, tells us of a coming new world, “a new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (vs. 13), which will be established immediately following the removal of this present evil world! This is the long heralded, long prayed for millennial kingdom of Christ, “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”—Acts 3:21

We believe the fulfillment of the many glorious, God-given promises to set up Christ’s kingdom and bless the family of mankind with life and happiness is near. We believe this because of the singularity and the all embracing character of the troubles presently afflicting the world—troubles that are growing in complexity and intensity, and with which feeble man, with all his vaunted wisdom, appears unable to cope. We believe it is truly that time of trouble “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be,” that Jesus said would identify “the end of the world,” or age, for those who are watching. (Matt. 24:3,21,42) Further, we believe Christ’s kingdom is near because Jesus said of this time of trouble: “When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. … When ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.”—Luke 21:28,31

But why the seeming delay in setting up this glorious kingdom? It is now almost two thousand years since Jesus died on Calvary’s cross, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) What intervenes?

The Scriptures show that Jesus is to be the King of kings and Lord of lords in that coming kingdom. But they also reveal that, associated with Jesus in the righteous rulership of that kingdom, will be his faithful followers of this Gospel Age. Our Lord said so, the Apostle Paul said so, and the Revelator confirmed it.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration [in the kingdom] 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.”—Matt. 19:28

The Lord God long ago made a promise to faithful Abraham that in his “seed” all the families of the earth would be blessed. (Gen. 22:16-18) In his letter to the Galatians the Apostle Paul points out that Jesus is the Seed through whom all the promised blessings shall come. “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made,” Paul wrote. “He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.” But the apostle did not stop there; he says that all who faithfully follow in the sacrificial footsteps of Jesus even unto death are counted in as members of that seed, and heirs of the promise to bless all the families of the earth.—Gal. 3:16,27,29

The Revelator recorded one of the most cherished and remarkable promises in the entire Bible, as spoken by Jesus himself. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. 3:21) John amplified this statement later on, when he wrote, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: … they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him [in Christ’s kingdom] a thousand years.”—Rev. 20:6

It is this phase of God’s grand plan for man’s salvation and blessing with life everlasting that is not yet finished. The full number of those who shall be joint-heirs with Christ in the rulership of that coming kingdom of righteousness is not yet complete.

It is now almost two thousand years since Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” (Luke 9:23,24) This simple statement by Jesus is an invitation to those who love the Lord with all their hearts, minds, and souls to share with him in his heavenly glory, to gain immortal life, to reign with him in his kingdom, and to have the unspeakable privilege and joy of resurrecting and blessing all the families of the earth.

It is also an invitation to lay one’s life down in sacrifice. To take up one’s cross daily means daily, completely, and wholeheartedly to serve the Lord, even unto death. For nigh onto two thousand years the call has been sounding. Few have heeded it, and fewer still are found faithful, for it is a way of self-denial. It was Jesus himself who said that “strait [difficult] is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto [immortal] life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:14) From the time of the Early Church the calling, testing, and proving of those who shall be counted worthy of that high reward has been going on. When the full number of those who shall compose the bride of Christ shall have made their calling and election sure, the marriage of the Lamb shall take place; the final cataclysmic phase of the time of trouble will follow; and Christ’s kingdom will be established in the earth for the resurrecting and blessing of the world of mankind. We believe world events are now telling us that time is near at hand, even at the doors.

But the door to the high calling is not yet closed! The call is still sounding out. The invitation to seek after glory, honor, and immortality is yet echoing around the world. There is still work to be done in the Lord’s vineyard, even as the eleventh hour approaches. Do we feel unworthy to strive for this great prize?

Jesus said, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37) For all who truly love the Lord their God, who humbly trust in Jesus as their Savior and Redeemer, and who love righteousness and truth, there is yet time to present oneself a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable through Christ unto God, and to walk in the steps of Jesus.—Rom. 12:1,2

When the full number of those who shall be the bride of Christ is complete, the marriage of the Lamb shall take place, and Christ’s millennial kingdom shall be established for the blessing of all the resurrected families of the earth. (Rev. 14:1-3; 19:6,7; 20:6) But the time is short! “The night [of sin and death] is far spent, the day [of kingdom blessings] is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”—Rom. 13:12

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |