D. M. PANTON, B.A.
The Golden Age of earth - which was never nearer than it is at this moment since the fall of Adam - is the key to a lock the wards of which it exactly fits. Either because world-conditions are now so ripe as to compel a Divine Dictatorship or else annihilation, or else because Satan, whose wisdom lies in imitation of God, is awkwardly counterfeiting what is coming - never, to a watchful eye, was our Lord’s Reign on earth so inevitable as a climax to the present world crisis, or more perfect for capping modern conditions. The great world movements - disarmament, annihilated war, competent leadership, efficient government, a restored Palestine, leagues of nations - are crying aloud, by their very hopeless and constant miscarriage, for the Ideal Empire in which, as photographed millenniums before these movements began, they are all summed up and perfectly solved.
The supreme fact of the Kingdom, bulking huge on its thresholds as its absorbing vision, is the King; and the coming World Dictator is a man, for to man alone has God made the earth subject; and he is of Israel’s blood, for to Israel alone has been granted the throne of the nations. Immediately after Isaiah has depicted the forest of the nations as devastated by divine judgments, he says:- “And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit” (Isa. 11: 1). From the prostrate trunk of Jesse, out of its buried roots - the stump remaining above the ground when a tree is felled (J. A. Alexander, D.D.) - a Man ascends David’s universal Throne.
It is extraordinary what emphasis is now laid on the attributes and equipment of a perfect Dictator, an equipment which this Ruler is unique. “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.” The ‘Seven spirits of God’ which are before the Throne (Rev. 5: 6) - that is, the Holy Spirit in sevenfold manifestation and in immeasurable fulness, transient gifts, but in permanent attributes - upon Him. The Spirit as equipment for practical work is strikingly revealed in Bezaleel:- “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship to devise cunning works.” (Exod. 31: 3).
The sevenfold equipment is most wonderful. (1) Wisdom - special sagacity when called as a ruler to judge difficult, complex cases, the mastery of principles and abstract truth before concrete decisions are taken; (2) understanding - keen, quick discernment, to do the right thing, to say the right word; (3) counsel - the power to form wise plans, efficiency of administration, the mature sovereign and diplomat; (4) might - absolute mastery to enforce decisions when force is right; (5) knowledge - a limitless mastery of the facts; (6) the fear of the Lord - a perfect Vice-consul of Heaven; and (7) delight in the fear of the Lord - constant and joyous goodness. It is the wonderful Lord of Earth that is coming.
So we arrive at the practical administration. “And he shall not judge after the sight
of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.”
Statesmen and judges can do little more: they hear the evidence, they
watch the witnesses, and their consequent judgments are not
seldom correct; but it is the Godhead of the Spirit resting on Christ
which, knowing everything, adjudicates
unerringly. So “with
righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity” - therefore
inflicting punishment with exquisite justice – “for the meek of the earth.”
Class war is a wrong solution of a real problem: in the Lord’s Kingdom
every man gets his due and bears his due; and every class is met with
perfect compensating justice. For all is
backed by sinless force. “Force,” says the Nineteenth Century (July, 1934),
* The immense status of the inhabitants of the Kingdom - presumably rulers, though our Lord’s words do not so limit it - He has amazingly portrayed:- “Among them that are born of women there bath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matt 11: 11).
No more penetrating revelation could be given of what the Kingdom means than the passing of savagery from the animal world. In what our Lord Himself calls “the REGENERATION” – earth’s second birth – “when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory” (Matt. 19: 28), the wild beasts, one of God’s four sore judgments (Ezek. 14: 21) with which he will yet scourge the earth (Rev. 6: 8), are not exterminated, but changed; and so perfectly is it the Kingdom of Peace that the tiger and the snake shall “lie down” - no longer crouching to leap – with the kindly ox and the gentle sheep. “And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the basilisk’s den.” The Lord is the Last Adam ruling once again in an un-fallen creation. The most dangerous reptiles will submit to the ruling of a little child. The fearful difficulty at the heart of nature is gone for ever:-
Who trusted God was love indeed,
And love creation’s final law,
Tho’ nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek’d against his creed.
For Paul has crowded the whole philosophy of the world’s agony into one prophecy which the Kingdom alone can fulfil (Rom. 8: 20):- “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.”
One of the vast prophecies of the Bible - magnificent, incomprehensible, bewilderingly beautiful - now opens on our vision. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” All violence, injustice, assassination, cruelty will have passed from the world: throughout the whole earth, which is but a slope of the Mount of God, no one hurts or destroys. And the reason is given - the boundless knowledge of God. In all earlier ages, regenerating knowledge – “whom to know is eternal life” - was at most in lakes and inland seas: vast continents of ignorance, doubt, atheism blackened the earth: now the all-changing knowledge of God is a world - covering ocean - no land is heathen, no race infidel, no soul ignorant. With the transfer to industry or social need of the £1,000,000,000 now spent annually on armaments, together with the vast capital sums expended on the repression of crime; the re-absorption of the ability and power now invested in gigantic institutions of national offence and defence; the abolishing of all traffic and tariff barriers now holding up commerce; the elimination of the fearful incubus of disease and death, with their enormous cost - there begins to dawn on us some conception of the coming wealth and wonder of the world.
The vision closes with a view of all nations. “And it shall come to pass in that
day, that the root of Jesse, which standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto
him shall the nations seek; and his resting-place shall be glorious.” The unity of the race is at last
attained, and Jehovah Nissi – ‘the Lord my banner’- is the rallying ensign of all nations, the source and centre
of the world’s unity. And for the
restoring of Israel, miracle again intervenes: “and the Lord shall utterly
destroy” - that
is, dry up – “the tongue” - the gulf or bay in which it terminates – “of the
- the Arabian Gulf; “and shall
seven streams,” so made easily fordable for
crossing. Enormous is the pedestal of
the Millennial Jew. “In those
days, it shall come to pass that ten men, out of all the languages of the nations, shall take hold of the skirt of him
that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with
you” (Zech. 8: 10-23).
THE SECOND ADVENT
“If it were not for the heavenward look,” exclaims Dr. Alexander Maclaren, “how could we bear the sight of earth?” So far from the doctrine of the Lord’s return cutting the nerve of missionary effort, or paralyzing service, it will yet prove the sole solvent of despair. Dr. Duncan Main, of Hang-Chow, one of the sagest and ripest of missionaries, says:- “We do not know anything which so certainly sanctifies life to its highest service in the mission field as this great truth, steadfastly believed and maintained by God’s servants, while they are journeying through this heathen land, not toward darkness but the sun-rising. When through the cloudy mystics, moral mists and half-lights of earth the promise of the glorious appearing is discerned, it determines not only the direction of the journey but also its character. It settles the question of our real affinities. It corrects and brightens our outlook on the things seen. It forbids pessimism and long-faced Christianity. It smiles at fear and inspires an unquestioning and dauntless courage, and puts stiffening into the backbone. It reveals every difficulty to be but an opportunity of new discovery. It chases all gloom and care from the heart and all weariness from the feet. It keeps the first love alive, and fans the smoking flax into a flame. It puts a new song into willing lips and makes all life tuneful and joyful. It transforms every curse of mourning into a horn of anointing oil. It makes even the lame man leap as a hart, and replaces the tiredness of exhausted nature with buoyant energy.”