WHEN? WHAT? HOW?
C. C. OGILVY VAN LENNEP
Living, as we do, in the twentieth century after the Prophecies of our Lord concerning the events of the Ďend of the age,í we cannot but suppose that they are more likely to concern ourselves than any preceding generation. Indeed, all who closely study the Scriptures agree in thinking that the end must now be very near, and therefore that the revelations of it are becoming increasingly interesting; so much so that they are expected to prove of vital importance to most of those now alive; and to be a light and a guide to us all, collectively as well as individually, during a period that is certain to be of extreme difficulty and danger, spiritual and material. If those who think thus should turn out to be right, and if our present difficulties are, as some believe, the beginning of that period, it would be the height of folly persistently to ignore all our Lordís warnings, to scoff at the idea of them, and to refuse to be helped by the foreknowledge that He offers us.
Consequently the above three questions may very pertinently be asked by those to whom the subject is new. To reply explicitly is impossible; for, had it been possible, the answers would have been obvious enough to incur the risk of a breakdown of what appears to be fundamental in the Divine policy, namely, to allow to mankind complete freedom of action; in one word, freewill. Manís freewill would be nullified if he had before him, in advance, unmistakable and minute details of the results of any line of action that he intended to take. If those results displeased him, he naturally would change his plans to escape them; in other words, knowledge of the results would force him to alter his will, and thus to submit it to the superior Wisdom that had enabled him to foresee them fully. As it is, the results are shown, but they have to be sought out with faith and reverent care, so that only those are helped who have thereby submitted their own wills to that of the Divine Helper and Guide. As to others who have not done so, it has been proved many times in the past that God can so depict future events that even these others are forced to acknowledge that the fulfilment has proved that the foretelling had been exact, although the actions of such men had been totally unaffected by that foretelling. Especially does this apply to national action, for it must be remembered that prophecy is not of private interpretation. God foresaw what the nations would make of their freewill, but that does not mean that He preordained that they were to act as they have done; on the contrary, the Bible teems with His commands and His exhortations to us to be guided by Him. He foresaw, described beforehand, and arranged finally to overthrow the dire results of our failure to obey Him. But no word of His constrained any of us; no word forced us to change our minds, to alter our plans. This is an obvious fact: the miracle is that so much was foretold without doing so. The truth is that prophecy, for the most part, is recognisable to the world in general only after fulfilment.
For this reason it cannot but be impossible to answer the questions exactly; but there are plenty of guides to our understanding if only we have sufficient faith in the words of the Bible to devote a good deal of care and attention to the work of finding them. That means observing and applying correctly such indications as have been given, which are often hidden away in unexpected places. At any rate it means noting enough of them for the purpose; for it is almost beyond the capacity of any one man to apply all prophetic utterances.
As our Lord so frequently and so urgently exhorted us to do, we must all watch - watch the events of the world in the light of all the revelations of the end of the age; those of us who are left to go through the tribulation must be very alert to avoid having any part or lot with the beast and the false prophet; all of us should pray that each one of us should be accounted worthy to escape these things (Luke 21: 36). The idea conveyed by our Lordís words is that it is not easy to be accounted worthy to escape all the woes of the great tribulation; only those who pray for it, and who continually "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling", will be accounted worthy to escape the tribulation. But those who are, will be caught up before like the man-child (Phil. 3: 11).
We have a plain assurance that there is more than one rapture in the following:Rev. 20: 6, "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." It is evident that these, like the man-child, are to rule the nations.
Truly the study of Biblical subjects turns out to be sheer delight to those who fall into the way of it, and who do the work with loving reverence. No wonder that all who write in the same spirit about revelation, feel themselves constrained, almost to a man, earnestly to repeat as their ĎFinis,í as the colophon of their books, the last words of the last verse but one of the Book of Revelation :-EVEN SO COME, LORD JESUS ! *
[* The Measured Times of the Book of Revelation, - Marshall, Morgan and Scott.]