Christian truth now flashes like forked lightnings in the blackest thunder-clouds; and no truth is more terrible, a truth urgently needed to be known, than the battle of coming miracle just below the horizon. For under identical circumstances God acts identically; every dispensation, man-ruined, closes in miracle; and the final crisis, which we are rapidly approaching, will be a death-grapple of rival miraculous powers: a truth which, it is safe to say, is almost totally unknown to the Church of God.




The battle opens with the presence on earth, for this express purpose, of the two great protagonists of the universe; and they first pass each other in the air. "There is one that restraineth now" - the sole personal curb on lawlessness is the Holy Ghost* - "until he be taken out of the way" ** (2 Thess. 2: 7): simultaneously, Satan is "cast down to the earth, and his angels with him" (Rev. 12: 9). Therefore the Spiritís restraint in grace being removed, all Hellís miraculous powers burst upward. "In the last days grievous times shall come. For like as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses [that is, miraculously: Exod. 7: 11], SO DO THESE also withstand the truth. But they shall proceed no further: for their shall be evident unto all men, as theirs also came to be" (2 Tim. 3: 1, 8) - that is, by the counter-working of mightier miracle. If the false Christs work Ďgreatí miracles, and yet are conquered by greater, miraculous gifts must return with a fulness and a power never known before.


[* It is a contradiction to teach on the one hand, that the Restrainer of 2 Thess. 2. is the Holy Spirit, Who will be "taken out of the way"; and then, on the other hand, to teach that the miraculous powers (to counter the power of Satan and his followers) will be given by the Holy Spirit during that same time?].

[** The Greek is, literally, "become out of the midst". That is, the Spiritís ascent is the exact reverse of His descent: He who is Ďin the midstí is suddenly absent; not Ďtakení, but self-removed.]




So, correspondingly, a fresh descent of the Holy Ghost to the earth is foretold. "And I saw in the midst of the throne a Lamb standing having seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, WHICH ARE SENT FORTH INTO ALL THE EARTH" (Rev. 5: 6). This sevenfold unction - an identity even more than an unction - Isaiah (11: 2) reveals:- "The Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him [the Messiah]; the spirit of (1) wisdom and (2) understanding, the spirit of (3) counsel and (4) might, the spirit of (5) knowledge and the (6) fear of the Lord, and shall make him of (7) quick understanding in the fear of the Lord." This second descent of the Holy Ghost not to the Church, or to Israel but He is "sent forth into all the earth". So it is foretold by Joel (3: 28):- "I will pour out my Spirit upon ALL FLESH"; and that this second outpouring is still in mercy and saving grace is proved by one purpose of the outpour named in the prophecy itself; for the words are added,- "And whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (ver. 32). "Godís Spirit is poured forth through the death and by the victory of the Lamb, upon all flesh and all creation" (Dean Alford).




Now the consequence of Satan's descent and unprecedented opportunity, an opportunity God-allowed, in working real and great miracles of evil we have not yet seen. "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, AND SHALL SHOW GREAT SIGNS AND WONDERS; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect"* (Matt. 24: 24). The deceit, our Lord says, will be overwhelming. And the Satanic power is supreme in the two leaders of Hell, the Antichrist and the False Prophet: for the Antichrist displays "all power and signs and wonders [wrought on behalf] of falsehood" (2 Thess. 2: 9); and the False Prophet "doeth great signs, that he should even make fire to come down out of heaven upon the earth in the sight of men" (Rev. 13: 13). These miracles are the foundation of the worship of Antichrist; for the False Prophet "deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by reason of the signs which it was given him to do".


[* The Authorized Version seems to make our Lord imply that such seduction was absolutely impossible. The translation ought to run, as in the Revised Version, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect, signifying the difficulty, not the impossibility, of drawing them away from the truth. - The Pulpit Commentary.]




But the descent of the Holy Spirit to earth produces a corresponding outburst of divine miracle. "I will pour forth my Spirit upon all flesh" - all, that is, without distinction, not all without exception: some of every class and race - "and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy" (Joel 2: 28). So our Lord quotes the promise - "I will send unto them prophets and apostles" (Luke 11: 49), and adds, -"some of them ye shall kill and crucify" (Matt. 23: 34); and since only Peter, so far as we know, was crucified among the original twelve, it appears that these are Apostles yet to arise. Crucifixion has occurred both in the Great War and in the Spanish civil war. But the divinely miraculous at the end centres mainly in two Prophets,* who "have the power to shut the heaven, that it rain not during the days of their prophecy; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, AND TO SMITE THE EARTH WITH EVERY PLAGUE, as often as they shall desire" (Rev. 11: 6). They also preserve their own lives by a miracle (ver. 5) perfectly unique in the history of mankind, without which they would not survive a day: lightning, from their own persons, kills anyone who even plots their assassination.


[* The two are believed to be Elijah and Enoch or Elijah and Moses.]




But one over-mastering Satanic miracle blackens the whole horizon. "And I saw one of his heads as though it had been smitten unto death; AND HIS DEATH-STROKE WAS HEALED: and the whole earth wondered" - in consequence - "after the beast" (Rev. 13: 3); "and all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, every one whose name hath not been written in the Lamb's book of life" (Rev. 13: 3, 8). It is impossible to conceive of a miracle more overwhelming, more convincing to the whole world, than the Antichristís assassination, followed by complete and public restoration: the passionate faith that follows is the foretold Ďenergy of delusioní a judicial nemesis from God, which involves the whole world in worship of the Roman Emperor.




But a divine miracle, surpassing even Antichristís resurrection together with his mastery - for since he is immortal, as risen from the dead, their lightnings fall upon him harmless - of the two greatest Prophets God has ever sent, whom he murders with his own hands, now bursts upon the world. While "they that dwell on the earth rejoice over" the two dead witness - a wonderful forecast of telegraphy and television: the whole world rejoices in what has occurred in Palestine only one to three days before - the two corpses on the streets of Jerusalem "stood upon their feet; and they went up into heaven in the cloud, AND THEIR ENEMIES BEHELD THEM". The drama is so incomparably divine, and so portentous for the murderers, that "great fear" - panic - "fell upon" the watchers; and when the ascension is followed instantly by an earthquake that rocks Jerusalem to its foundations, the survivors of the seven thousand killed "were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven." The miracle, attested by the watching multitudes, is not only greater than any Satan can do, but it overwhelmingly proves, openly to the whole world, on whose side are Heaven and God.




A dread pause - the forty-two months - now follows, so critical that it is named four times, a pause in which the world, having had proof on the grand scale that God is God, has a last opportunity to repent. On the contrary, so far from repenting, the damning mark of the Beastís worship is made universal. So deliberate a challenge to the Deity, backed even by lightnings from Heaven, forces the hand of Omnipotence and compels the final vindication of the Godhead. An Angel, "with a great chain in his hand" (Rev. 20: 1), binds and casts Satan into the Abyss; "and it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit" - all hell - "to pass out of the land [earth]" (Zech. 13: 2). So the personal challenger of Christ is reserved for the personal handling of the Omnipotent Lord. "The Lawless One, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought [paralyse] by the manifestation [the lightnings] of his presence" (2 Thess. 2: 8), is cast, with the False Prophet, into the Lake of Fire. And immediately the tremendous word follows the ascent of the Prophets (Rev. 11: 15):- "THE KINGDOM OF THE WORLD IS BECOME THE KINGDOM OF OUR LORD AND OF HIS CHRIST, AND HE SHALL REIGN FOR EVER AND EVER."





"The most menacing fact in the international situation is the complete lack of confidence that prevails all over the world. Neither between governments nor in the realms of business and finance do people trust each other. This really means the complete breakdown of morals. People do not seem to think it their duty or interest to keep their word. Violators of treaties, pacts, conventions, are defended on the ground that they are done in the interests of the State, and are therefore acts of Sovereignty. But no State sovereignty can justify the violation of moral law, for morals alone are sovereign. This breakdown of the moral law in international affairs I regard as the fundamental weakness, the cause of our disasters and of our failures to restore peace on earth and amity among men."

- Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler.


It is impossible for a lamp to be lit - to hold or to transmit light - without contact with fire, or with that which contains fire; we must catch fire, ignite; and to do so we must contain oil. The contact is asking; the oil is the Holy Spirit. "If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit TO THEM THAT ASK HIM" (Luke 11: 13).


To-day the world - and, we dread to say it, apparently the Church also - is growing callous to desperate iniquity. "THE MODERN SAVAGERY CAN ONLY BE EXPLAINED BY THE VIEW THAT MEN HAVE BEEN SEIZED BY A SPIRIT OF EVIL OF SUPERHUMAN NATURE."