THE GOLDEN AGE (2)

 

ByD. M. PANTON, B.A.

 

The Golden age of the history of the world is a fulfilment of the dream of the first nations upon the earth: "And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech.  And they said, Let us build us a city, and a tower whose top may reach into heaven" (Gen. 11: 1).  It was a plan for a federated world which is once again gripping mankind under the title of Ďwar aimsí.  The nations are to be amalgamated, on some such model as the British Commonwealth or the United States of America; all commerce and industry are to be mutually adjusted; and a central metropolis will police the world. And both plans for a federated world, though separated by five thousand years, have one common foundation: - without God.

 

ALL NATIONS

 

Now we return to the federated world that God is about to create. The first thing done in creating the Golden Age, as recorded by God Himself, is something that has never before occurred in the history of the world, and it is something done by man, not by God.  "The mountain of the Lordís house shall be established in the top of the mountains, AND ALL NATIONS" - all the nations of the earth, mankind in the mass - "shall flow into it" (Isa. 2: 2).  We now watch the tide of faith ebbing fast all over the world: in the dawn of the Golden Age, there will be the exact reverse - an on-rushing tide, in all lands, flooding mankind towards God.  "And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the Mountain of the Lord." So Zechariah (8: 22): "Yea, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem: in those days it shall come to pass that ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, shall even 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."  Negroes from Africa, Chinese from the land of Sinim, Red Indians from Mexico, Europeans from Rome and Berlin and Paris and London: "all nations shall flow into it".*  The last act in this age is the mass-descent of all nations on Palestine, to learn of God, and it ends in the golden age of earthís history.

 

[* Our Lordís reign over Israel, though subordinate, is as literal and as complete. "In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth" - that which limpeth - "and I will gather her that is driven away" - that which was thrust out - "and her that I have afflicted; and I will make her that halted" - that limps - "and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion from henceforth even for ever" (Mic. 4: 6).  In the words of Dr. Pusey: "Israel had never been Ďa strong nationí, as a kingdom of this world.  At its best estate, under David, it had subdued the petty nations around it, who were confederated to destroy it.  It had never competed with the powers of this world, East or West, although God had at times marvellously saved it from being swallowed up by them.  Now it becomes Ďa strong nationí."]

 

THE RESOLVE

 

What moves this mass of humanity?  What is the dynamic purpose behind it?  "Let us go to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths."  In the golden age that is coming men will study Godís ways, and not manís; and they will study Godís ways, not as intellectual speculation, or an acquisition of science, but in order to obey; to learn from all conduct, all politics, all international relations on the divine pattern.   In the words of Spurgeon: "Observe the figure.  It does not say they shall come to it, but they shall flow into it.  (1) It implies, first, their number.  Now it is but the pouring out of water from a bucket; then it shall be as the rolling of the cataract from the hillside.  (2) It implies their spontaneity.  They are to come willingly to Christ; not to be driven, not to be pumped up, not to be forced to it, but to be brought up by the word of the Lord, to pay Him willing homage.  The grace of God shall be given so mightily to the sons of men that no acts of parliament, no state churches, no armies will be used to make a forced conversion."

 

DIVINE LAW

 

Now we see the enormous moral consequences of this world-migration to God.  "For out of Zion shall go forth THE LAW" - instruction; the word (torah) is without the article - "and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem".  It has been well put thus.  "This great event is the focus of all prophecy.  The Law of the Spirit, the instruction of God, (1) is a universal law, adapted to all men, in all circumstances, and in all times; for it is the announcing of eternal principles, accompanied with Divine power to enforce them.  (2) Hence its pre-eminence over all laws: it absorbs and expresses the truth of all other laws: all nations recognize it as something higher, deeper, more complete than anything they have ever known before. (3) It works obedience, for it works love, the real root of obedience, leading men to mutual respect, and to a care for each otherís good. When love is universal, discord of acts and words and purpose will cease" (W. R. Clarke, M.A.).

 

THE LAWGIVER

 

The next revelation is the Lawgiver Himself.  Hitler has said: "There will be no peace until one man has made himself ruler over all the earth"; and Lord Macaulay profoundly observed, - "The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it."  There is One Man only to whom such power can be entrusted.  "And he shall judge" - arbitrate - "between the nations, and shall reprove many peoples" - "strong nations afar off" (Mic. 4: 3).  All disputes between nations shall be decided by the application of international law, originated and applied by Christ Himself, instead of by the arbitrament of war; while nations no longer confront one another in the spirit of brute force, but in the spirit of the Kingdom of God - "which is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom. 14: 17).  Most remarkably, the great heathen philosopher, Plato, has summed it up: - "It is necessary that a Lawgiver be sent from Heaven to instruct us.  O how greatly do I desire to see that man and who he is!"  Now at last all nations have found Him.

 

PEACE

 

To-dayís facts emphasize the consequence of international law administered by our Lord as it perhaps has never yet been emphasized.  "And they shall beat their swords into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."  After the Franco-German War in 1870 many of the cannon-balls were made into church bells; but for how long? [During the Second World War church bells were confiscated for manufacturing munitions.]  All the vast study, world-wide, to produce even more powerful war planes, war bombs, war tanks, is abolished forever: "neither shall they LEARN WAR any more".  At His first Advent our Lord brought not peace but a sword (Matt. 10: 34), for the nations have confused the Gospel of peace for nineteen centuries; but at His Second Advent He brings not a sword but peace, for He has purged earthís wickedness in Armageddon and the Lake of Fire, and has now established the only League of Nations that can work and that can endure.

 

THE DAY OF TERROR

 

But Isaiah plants a black gulf between us and this radiant Kingdom. "For there shall be a day of the Lord of hosts upon all that is proud and mighty, when He ariseth to shake mightily the earth." Destruction is forefold on manís supreme works.  The navies of the world - the ships of Tarshish, or the British Fleet, is specially named (ver. 16) - will perish; the supreme works of art (ver. 16); the treasures of silver and gold (ver. 7); palaces, fortresses, idols: "the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day".  With a peculiar appeal to us to-day, the air-war of Jehovah - instead of incendiary bombs, lightnings, and instead of explosive bombs, hail-stones at least 56 pounds in weight (Rev. 16: 21)* will compel a resort to natureís air-raid shelters, with which we are already painfully familiar.  "And men shall go into the caves of the rocks, and into the holes of the earth, from before the terror of the Lord" (ver. 19).

 

[* A talent in Greece was about 56 pounds; a Jewish talent was 114 pounds troy.  Such stones, falling miles downward and in raging storms, would smash any building in the world.] 

 

CONSENTRATION ON GOD

 

Isaiah - perhaps the greatest of all the Prophets - sums up our consequent practical lesson: "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?"  We are to turn from man to God, from earth to heaven, from Antichrist to Christ.  Cease to trust in manís power - so limited and collapsible, failing the world in its extremist need: cease to trust in manís knowledge - his Ďfactsí are constantly proved to be not facts, and his theories go bankrupt: cease to trust in manís character - those we have most trusted can most fail us: cease to trust in manís example - his footsteps are always on slippery ice.  We must Ďceaseí even from the Church - the regenerate man - when he departs from the Word of God.  Seventeen years later Jehovah, through Micah, repeated this prophecy nearly word for word, to stamp it on the human mind and heart; yet so grave is the unwatchfulness for the King and His Kingdom that the chief commentators, without exception, change the perfectly simple and obvious language of a coming Kingdom into the triumphs of a Church converting the world.* Instead of the Church proclaiming the coming Kingdom as (what it is) the Prize of our Calling, the golden reward of the overcomer, any literal Kingdom at all is (by the Church as a whole) totally denied, or even derided.

 

ADVENT

 

So, therefore, we cease from man, and concentrate on God; and we join in the clarion-call of the poet Milton: "Come forth out of The royal chamber, O Prince of all the kings of the earth!  Put on the visible robes of Thy imperial majesty; take up that unlimited sceptre which The Almighty Father hath bequeathed Thee; for now the voice of Thy Bride calls Thee, and all creatures sigh to be renewed."

 

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*FOOTNOTE

 

"Of this I am satisfied, that the next coming of Christ will be a coming, not final judgment, but a coming to usher in the Millennium. I utterly despair of the universal prevalence of Christianity as the result of a missionary process.  I look for its conclusive establishment through a widening passage of desolations and judgments, with the demolition of our civil and ecclesiastical structures.  ĎOverturn, Overturn, Overturní, is the watchword of our coming Lord."

 

Thomas Chalmers, D.D.