CHRIST IN THE EARTH AGAIN
The Nature Of The Kingdom To Be Established By Him
at His Second Appearing
CHAPTER ONE: An Argument from the Past
"In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" -- (Dan. 2:44).
"In that day, I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and will close up the breaches thereof, and I will raise up his ruins and will build it as in the days of old" (Amos 9:11).
Nothing is written more plainly or more deeply in human affairs than the fact of Christ's appearance among men over  years ago. The record is written everywhere in a language that requires no learning to decipher.
CHAPTER TWO: The Afflicted World's Need
And nothing was asserted more plainly by Christ when upon the earth than the fact that "after a long time" (to use his own expression) he would "come again.: He has been away the long time he said he would be away. Many things combine to tell us that the "long time" is near its end, and that we may look for the happy event of his re-appearing at no very distant date.
The question we propose to consider is the effect that his re-appearing will produce among men; the state of things he will establish on the earth; and the position and relation he will sustain to the state of things so established.
There is great dimness and uncertainty in the popular mind on these topics. This dimness need not exist if the teaching of the Scriptures is accepted on the subject; and surely no one can refuse to accept the Scriptures who accepts Christ, who said he had come to fulfil them (Matt. 5:17; Luke 24:44).
His first appearing was the subject of prophecy; and his second appearing is the subject of prophecy. We know what his first appearing was like. We have it in our power to compare the facts of his first appearing with the language of the prophecy foretelling it, and this ought to enable us to rightly understand the language foretelling his second appearing.
We all know that the first appearing of Christ was as literal and personal as that of any man, and that his participation in the transactions of his life was as actual and practical as the deeds of any man's life. He was born an actual baby; grew up through all the stages of an actual boyhood; lived and walked and talked an actual man; died an actual death; received an actual burial; was the subject of an actual resurrection; and of an actual removal from the earth.
Now here are the prophecies referring to these things. First of all, HIS BIRTH:
"Unto us a child is born."
Second, the PLACE OF HIS BIRTH:
"A virgin shall conceive and bear a son."
"Thou Bethlehem . . . out of thee shall he come forth unto me."
Third, HIS RECEPTION at Israel's hands:
"When we shall see him, there is no beauty that we shall desire . . . We hid, as it were, our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not."
THE TREATMENT HE RECEIVED:
"He was oppressed and he was afflicted . . . despised and rejected of men."
HIS PERSONAL ATTITUDE:
"He shall not strive nor cry nor lift up his voice in the streets."
"He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth."
"He was taken from prison and from judgment."
THE INDIGNITIES of his execution:
"They parted my garments among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots."
"They pierced my hands and my feet;"
"He was cut off from the land of the living . . . He made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death."
"Thou shalt quicken me and bring me up again from the depths of the earth;"
"Thou wilt not suffer thine Holy one to see corruption."
"Ascended up on high; led captivity captive;"
"Sit on my right hand until," etc.;
"I will wait upon Yahweh, who hideth his face from the house of Jacob;"
"I shall be glorious in the eyes (presence) of Yahweh, and my God shall be my strength."
(Isa. 9:6; Isa. 7:14; Mich 5:2; Isa. 53:2-3; 53:7; 42:2-3; 53:7; 53:8; Psa. 22:18; 22:16; Isa. 53:8-9; Psa. 71:20; Psa. 16:10; 68:18; 110:1; Isa. 8:17; 49:5).
When, therefore, we read,
"He shall come;"
"He shall reign;"
"He shall execute judgment on the earth;"
"He shall sit on the throne of his father David;"
"He shall be one king to all Israel on the mountains of Israel;"
"He shall reign on Mount Zion;"
"The rod of his strength shall go forth from there;"
"He shall be a priest on his throne;"
"All peoples, nations, and languages shall serve him"
-- what can we reasonably conclude but that the life of his kingly glory upon earth will be as actual and literal and practical and visible as we know the life of his humiliation to have been?
We are absolutely shut up to such a view by the terms that expressly affirm the visibility of the affairs that will appertain to his glory. Thus:
- "Every eye shall SEE him:" (Rev. 1:7).
- "The kings shall shut their mouths at him, for that which had not been told them shall they SEE" (Isa. 52:15).
- "Thine eyes shall SEE the King in his beauty" (Isa. 33:17).
- "Ye shall not see me henceforth UNTIL the time come" (Luke 13:35).
- "They shall LOOK UPON me whom they have pierced (Zech. 12:10).
- "Ye shall SEE Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom" (Luke 13:28).
- "All that SEE them shall acknowledge that they (the comforted of the Lord) are the seed which the Lord hath blessed" (Isa. 61:9).
- "He shall reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem before his ancients gloriously" (Isa. 24:23).
- "He shall judge among many people" (Mic. 4:3).
- "When ye see this, your heart shall rejoice" (Isa. 66:14).
- "Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not" (Mal. 3:18).
- "Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye (that serve God not) shall be hungry. Behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty. Behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed. Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit" (Isa. 65:13).
Christ was "despised and rejected" in no concealed sense. He was "bruised" and "put to grief" in a very open, visible, and practical manner; is his glory to be less real? less open? less apparent? Will his honour be less actual than his shame? Will he occupy the throne in a less real and manifest sense than he hung on the cross in the presence of jeering multitudes? Will not "every eye" see his glory as actually as the eyes that saw his humiliation and his blood? Christ has promised that his brethren shall receive glory and honour: of what does "glory and honour" consist but in the deference and renown which rulers receive at the hands of those who are subject to them? He promises that "they shall laugh" (Luke 6:21); that "they shall be filled" (Ibid); that "they shall inherit the earth" (Matt. 5:5); that "they shall be confessed" (Matt. 10:32); that "they shall be comforted" (Matt. 5:4); and that "their enemies shall come and bow down at the soles of their feet" (Rev. 3:9); that "they shall have power over the nations" (Rev. 2:26). How are these promises to be fulfilled except by the saints "reigning with" Christ, possessing the earth with him, and exercising the authority with him God has given him over all peoples, nations, and languages? Jesus has prospectively enthroned the twelve apostles there over the tribes (Luke 22:29, 30; Matt. 19:28); He has, in advance, placed Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob there as conspicuous, visible figures among all the prophets (Luke 13:28; Matt 8:11). The Lord, by Isaiah, has planted his acceptable servants of all past ages there (Isa. 66:13, 14; 25:6-9; 26:1, 2, 19), saying --
"Ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem;" "In this mountain . . . he shall swallow death in victory."
To see this conclusion in all the fulness of the force that belongs to it, it is necessary to realise the work that belongs to the Second Advent of Christ. In its briefest form, it is this: to fill the earth with God's glory and remedy all the evils to which man is subject. How entirely those evils are the result of the withdrawal of God's open countenance and direction of man (consequent on human insubordination) is not discerned till after much experience and reflection, and then the discernment comes with terrible power. When men multiplied upon the earth and grew into communities, the evil involved in this withdrawal became apparent. Instead of Divine power restraining and regulating, there was nothing to restrain human rapacity but human force, and force fighting force resulted in the earth becoming "filled with violence." War in endless succession ensued and has continued to the present day. In the intervals, there is "law and order," but it is such law as man pleases to devise and such order as comes of mere repression. The result is seen in the extreme affliction of mankind.
CHAPTER THREE: The Remedy at Christ's Return
Peace and liberty -- much vaunted terms -- are much of a mockery under the prevailing conditions. The arrangements enforced by human law are not only such as do not ensure blessedness, but they produce evil in endless variety. They give the land to a few, and limit the rights of the many to the receiving of wage equivalent for what they actually do when they can get it to do, and to starve when they cannot. While an open door for endless competition puts it into the power of energetic and ingenious exploiters to still further impoverish the result of labour when it can be got by reducing its productiveness to the individual. The poverty thus induced compels incessant labour for mere subsistence, which in its turn degrades and brutalizes the labourers who have no strength left for mental culture, and whose offspring necessarily inherit the same evil in an exaggerated form.
The evil is cumulative from generation to generation. The evils are slow in growth, and when they come, their origin is not quite apparent, and so human affairs settle into a frightful quagmire, from which no human power can extricate them. Socialism is a furtive and unavailing look in the direction of a remedy. Men require more means of living -- better food, better clothing, better houses. They require more leisure, so that the higher faculties may have opportunity of expansion by travel and otherwise. They require more instruction, and that of a correct sort. They require a complete education, and an education that should embrace the highest relations of man as well as the lowest. Man should be instructed not only in the arts that concern the relation of man to Nature, but in those that affect his relation to God and to his kind. He should be led and held in the channel of the highest truth, as well as truth of history or truth of science. The duty of veracity and love and honesty should be enforced as rigorously as the payment of rates. The crime of unchastity should be punished as severely as the crime of theft or forgery. The obligation to worship God should be upheld with as firm a hand as that which now exacts respect and reverence for authority in the courts.
The work of Christ at his second advent is to secure these conditions as the rule of human life upon the earth, with a view to the removal of death itself at last. The object is to bring back mankind to the service and friendship of God, in which alone His true well-being can be found. This can only be done by an open and visible manifestation of power. How is the present system to be removed without force? And if the force were human force, it would be powerless to establish a system that would either be good or lasting. The work of abolishing the present evil order requires divine force; and the language promising the change admits of no other: "The God of heaven shall set up a Kingdom, which . . . shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms" (Dan. 2:44). "Thou (the Messiah) shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel" (Psa. 2:9). "I will execute vengeance in anger and fury among the nations, such as they have not heard" (Micah 5:15). "I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations" (Hag. 2:22).
And if it require the open visible interposition of divine force to remove the present system, what but that force could build the new system -- "the new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness?" Who could devise and establish the new institutions needful to secure the blessing of man, and the glory of God, but God Himself? Mortal erring man could not do it: he has had his day: a poor day it has been at its very best, even when man has been acting as an instrument under divine direction, as in Israel's history past. It is now the Spirit of God that is to enter upon the arena, as saith God, "Not by (human) might, nor by power, but by my Spirit." And the form of its instrumentality is revealed, as well as the nature of its work. "My King" (Psa. 2:6), "the Son" (Ibid. 12), "My Servant, whom I uphold, Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth, I have put My Spirit upon him: HE SHALL BRING FORTH JUDGMENT TO THE NATIONS" (Isa. 42:1). To whom God says: "I HAVE PUT MY WORDS IN THY MOUTH: I HAVE COVERED THEE IN THE SHADOW OF MY HAND, that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art My people" (Isa. 51:16).
The work of establishing the new order of things is the work of Christ, and, therefore, of those who belong to him, for he shares his work with them. "The isles shall wait for his law" (Isa. 42:4). "The law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem," for there shall be his throne as will be proved. None but the immortal, unerring Son of God could promulgate such a law. Mortal erring man is not in the process or the service, except in so far as he may be subordinately employed as servants are employed in a great house, to deliver messages, to fetch and carry and perform; for, of course, it is never to be lost sight of that the mortal population of the earth, after subjugation and purification, is the basis of the whole operation.
CHAPTER FOUR: The Kingdom that is Coming
And how could such a law be promulgated and administered successfully among a mortal population except in the hands of divine instruments? A mortal judge can only judge "by the sight of the eye and the hearing of the ear." Therefore mistakes are inevitable in such hands in the application of the best law that could be framed: the evidence upon which such a judge must depend may always be false, and he himself may be dim of discernment. It is necessary that a law that is to bless all mankind should be administered by those who cannot err and cannot be deceived. That this is to be so is testified: "He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears, but with righteousness shall he judge the poor," etc. (Isa. 11:3). If this is the case with "the Branch" from Jesse's roots, on whom "the Spirit of the Lord shall rest, and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord," will it not be so with his brethren who are to "reign with him?" It is so testified: "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" (1 Cor. 6:2). "Now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known" (1 Cor. 13:12).
It must be evident to ordinary reflection, where there is any experience of the working of things among men, that the accomplishment of these things requires that the agency accomplishing them should be a visible, practically working agency: for herein lies its power, that it should be visible, proximate, and effective. God's justice and judgment exist as really now as they ever will: but because they are not brought to bear -- because men for a time are allowed to do as they please, subject to each other's coercions only, the wickedness of man is great upon the earth. But let man be daily in the presence of a power brought to bear upon him through living agents, that avenges injustice and punishes the guilty with swift and unerring stroke, it is easy to realise that a great change must soon be brought about.
It is not only in matters of judgment but in matters of education that the presence of such a visible, living agency is required. A thousand doubts and contradictions arise among men in the present state of things as to questions most vitally affecting their ways. There is no one to settle them. "One man's opinion is as good as another's," as the saying is. It is not quite true, but the principle is acted on. And so the human race staggers along in confusion. But let there be leaders whose word is law, and all this will be at an end, and human life will flow in peaceful harmony.
This is promised. Immortal kings and priests reigning upon the earth supply the need exactly. But if they did not show themselves and did not interfere, their existence would be of no use. They might as well be on the moon. But they will show themselves, and will interfere, and that most effectually. For this is promised to Israel, in whose benefits all nations will share. "I will give you pastors according to my own heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding" (Jer. 3:15). "THINE EYES SHALL SEE THY TEACHERS; and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, 'This is the way; walk ye in it' " (Isa. 30:20, 21). Who these teachers are, the apostolic writings reveal: the twelve apostles over the twelve tribes: all the prophets and all the saints in the kingdom, kings and priests unto God.
The recompense of the saints in glory consists in part of the honour and supreme satisfaction of having the power to bless placed in their hands, and in having their part openly recognised. This is their "reward." The idea of reward may be foreign to some sublime philosophies; but it is an ingredient in the economy of salvation, and it is in harmony with the constitution of human nature. Even supposing it could be successfully maintained that "virtue is its own reward," there could be no objection to the addition of other rewards. The men do not live who would refuse them at the hand of divine munificence, however strong they might prate under the influence of half-sighted views. "My reward is with me," says Jesus, "to give to every one of you according as your work shall be." That this, "according to," means "in the degree of," is shown by the other statement, that "he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully, and he that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly." The nature of the Kingdom of God admits of these degrees, "Have thou authority over ten cities:" "have thou authority over five cities." This is the fulfilment of the more general promise. "To him that overcometh will I grant that he sit with me on my throne . . . to him will I give power over the nations;" also that other promise: "the trial of your faith (shall be) found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Christ."
Sentimental literature has obscured these robust and glorious truths. The Kingdom will be a reality. Salvation is not a dream or a state of idle sensuous bliss. It is an affair of strong immortal men possessing the earth and ruling mankind. The head of them is Christ. In the carrying out of this affair, there must be details, and one of them is the revelation by Ezekiel: that Christ, the prince, has an estate of his own, of immense extent, embracing thousands of square miles in the best of the land, when it is "like Eden, like the garden of the Lord," and that in this royal domain -- in the very presence and under the wing of the Holiness and majesty of the whole earth, it shall be his happiness, when he chooses, to confer the happiness and high honour of a special residence and possession upon such as enjoy his special approbation. When such are his sons (that is, his immortal brethren), the inheritance is for ever. When they are mortal servants, it is a revocable gift, and reverts to the fee simple in the year of jubilee.
It may seem a "gross" conception to modern spiritualisms, but it is scriptural, and it is reasonable and beautiful, and is such an arrangement as none of the most refined and sublimated spirituals of our day despise in actual life. If a well-appointed mansion, in rural seclusion, is a desirable attainment in these mortal days, why should it be a thing despised when righteousness reigns, and when there is immortal strength in the possessors to enjoy the gift without drawback? Whatever sentimental objection there may be, it is a matter of divine promise that the friends of God shall inherit the earth and reign therein with Christ; and Ezekiel's vision is a glimpse of what this means in practical fact. The thing seen is nothing but beautiful and altogether lovely.
What we have submitted in the foregoing chapters concerning the second appearing of Christ and the work to be done in connection with that event is immeasurably strengthened by a contemplation of the nature of the Kingdom of God as revealed in the Scripture prophets, and illustrated in the writings of the Apostles. The modern understanding of the phrase (the Kingdom of God) is but the merest shadow of the Scriptural idea. We have to go wider afield and take many things into view before we see the Bible conception of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of Israel was the Kingdom of God in a preliminary phase. It is so styled (2 Chron. 13 and 1 Chron 17:14), and because it was so in fact, for in every element of its constitution, it was a divine work by visible operation, from the rescue of the people from Egyptian bondage to the last message of inspiration. It was removed because of the insubordination of Israel in many generations. As it is written, "Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the off face of the earth, saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord" (Amos 9:8). God purposes the restoration of this overthrown kingdom. "I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof, and I will raise up his ruins and build it as in the days of old" (verse 11).
This kingdom of Israel restored is the Bible conception of the Kingdom of God. the question put by the apostles to Christ before his ascension is enough to show this: "Lord wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel" (Acts 1:6). If it needs confirmation, the confirmation is found in the promise of Christ to them. "When the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. 19:28), and in Paul's description of the gospel as "the hope of Israel," to which the twelve tribes looked forward (Acts 28:20; 26:7).
It shines especially in the covenant of the land to Abraham and his seed, which is the groundwork of the Kingdom of God. We must keep all our spiritual ideas fastened here as with hooks of steel. It is impossible for diligent and intelligent readers of the Scriptures to miss this as a first principle. The promise to Abraham as recorded in Genesis is without ambiguity: "To thee and to thy seed will I give this land" (Gen. 13:15). The constant, casual allusions, throughout the Scriptures, to the relations subsisting between Israel and God, lay hold of this land covenant as defining the essence of that relation in its briefest, pithiest form. "An everlasting covenant, saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance" (Psa. 105:10-11). The apostolic application of the matter connects it with the essential fabric of the one faith and hope for believers: "God gave it (the inheritance) to Abraham by promise" (Gal. 3:18); "a place which he should after receive for an inheritance . . . He sojourned in the land of promise as in a strange country" (Heb. 11:8,9). "To Abraham and his seed (which is Christ) were the promises made . . . And if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:16, 29).
Paul tells us that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob saw these promises afar off (Heb. 11:13) and that though strangers and pilgrims on the earth, they, nevertheless, sought a country -- the promised country -- a better country than the one Abraham had left by command, to which he had it in his power to return if he had been so minded -- the betterness consisting of this, that it was a "heavenly country" -- not heaven, but a country of heavenly character, a city or polity having foundations (which no Gentile country has -- Babylonish or British) whose builder and maker is God. The prophets abound with indications of the characteristics that will constitute the land of Canaan, a heavenly country in the day of the fulfilled promise -- a city having foundations, with God for its architect.
1. A supernal condition of the land physically. -- "They shall say, this land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden" (Eze. 36:35). "Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated so that no man went through, I will make thee an eternal excellency, the joy of many generations" (Isa. 60:15). "The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious" (Isa. 60:13).
2. The blessed state of the inhabitants. -- "The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick" (Isa. 33:24). "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing" (Isa 35:5-6). "The voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old . . . They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble" (Isa. 65:19, 20, 23).
3. The enlightened character of the population. -- "Thy people shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever" (Isa. 60:21). "They shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord" (Jer. 31:34). "They shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The Lord bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness" (Jer. 31:23).
4. The powerful influence for good it will exercise in all the earth. -- "The Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, 'Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit' " (Jer. 16:19). "The isles shall wait for His law" (Isa. 42:4). "The law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:3). "Many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of Hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even 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. 8:22-23).