Faith in the Last Days - J. Thomas

THE passage in which this idea is found is 1 Cor. 15. Paul affirmed that the resurrection of those "in Christ" ([1 Cor. 15:22- 24] would happen at his coming. In the next verse, he says, "Then cometh The End". [1 Cor. 15:22-24] He does not say how long after Christ's coming it would be to that end. Indeed, he did not know, for, "the times and seasons" [Dan 2:21; Acts 1:7; 1 Thess. 5:1] were reserved by the Father in His own power, until He revealed them to Jesus Christ, "who sent and revealed by his messenger to his servant John", [Rev. 1:1)\] This apostle, however, makes us acquainted with the truth that the end would be divided from Christ's coming in power and great glory by an interval of a thousand years, and that this long period will be occupied by the kingdom of Jehovah [Yahweh] and of His Anointed. Though Paul could not tell the duration of this, "the Economy of the Fulness of Times", as he styles it (Eph. 1:10), he records events by which the end of the economy might be known. These are, the conquest of all enemies; the final abolition of death; the delivering up of the kingdom to the Father by the Son; and the Son's own subjection to God. The passage is remarkable, and deserving of quotation in full: "As in Adam all (the saints) die, even so in Christ shall (they) all be made alive. But every one in the destined order: Christ an offering of firstfruits; next, they that are Christ's at his appearing: after that the end, when he shall have delivered over the kingdom to the God and Father: when he shall have vanquished every dominion, and every jurisdiction and power. For it is necessary that he reign until he (God) shall have put all the adversaries under his (the Son's) feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath subdued all things under his feet. But when he saith, that everything hath been put under, manifest it is, that He, having subdued the all things to him (the Son), is excepted. But when the all things shall be subdued to him (the Son) then the Son himself also shall be subordinated to Him (the Father) who has subjected the all things to him (the Son) in order that God may be the all things for all". [1 Cor. 15:22-28]

To see into this matter, it must be understood that before sin entered into the world by Adam, the economy was "very good": [Gen. 1:31] and God was "the all things for all" the living souls He had made. In this state of being there was no adversary, and no death, because there was no sin, and death being absent, there was no viceregal kingdom to make war upon hostile powers, for the purpose of subduing them, and substituting the power of God instead. All was peace and harmony between God and man upon earth.

But when sin entered into the world, and death by sin, a rebellion commenced against God which has never been put down effectually from that day to this. It has ever gathered strength, and is at the present crisis more defiant of His authority, than ever. But He has declared that things shall not alway continue thus; for He has sworn by His own life, saying, "As truly as I live all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord [Yahweh]" (Num.14: 21) : and therefore the Lord Jesus taught, his disciples to express their heart's desire, saying, "Thy kingdom come; and thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". [Matt. 6:10] When Jehovah's [Yahweh's] will shall thus absolutely be obeyed, "the end" [1 Cor. 15:24] will have arrived. The sin of the world will have been taken away; and every curse have ceased, There will then, consequently, be no more death: and once more a, state of being will obtain in which peace and harmony between God and men will exist, so that on receiving all things elaborated by the Son, He will again pronounce them "very good" . [Gen. 1:31]

This very good constitution of things terrestrial is thus in-` dicated by John. "And I saw a New Heaven and a New Earth; and there was no more sea. And I heard a great voice out of the heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son" (Rev. 21:1-7).

Here is a state upon earth evidently pertaining to "the end" indicated by Paul [1 Cor. 15:24], when death, the last enemy, is no more. God's tabernacle with men upon the earth is not pitched until death is destroyed. The destruction of death implies the previous suppression of sin in the world. Death's sting is sin, which causes death; [1 Cor. 15:55,56] but the sting being extracted from human nature, it dies no more. Every dweller upon the earth becomes an immortal son of God, who will be with them as He is now with His only and chief begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In this post-millennial "very good " [Gen. 1:31] state there will be no sinners; consequently, none separated from God, and requiring a mediator betwixt them. But in the economy of the previous thousand years, sin, sinners, and death, still exist; hence a very different constitution of things must obtain to the succeeding arrangement in which they find no place at all. The epoch between the Millennial Economy and its successor is marked by the delivering over the Millennial kingdom to God, and it will then, in the hands of Christ and his brethren, have accomplished the work assigned to it.

The Kingdom's mission is "to break in pieces and consume all kingdoms". [Dan. 2:44,35] and to "fill the whole earth" [Dan. 2:44,35] in ruling over all. It will be introduced into the world to put down the great rebellion against God, which is organized under the "dominions, jurisdictions, and powers", or governments of the nations. Of course, with the means to be employed, this is not an instantaneous affair. For its full and effectual accomplishment, God has allotted a thousand years [Rev. 20:3,4,5,6,7]. The work to be accomplished is stupendous, but not too great for the forces of the Kingdom. All these great kingdoms, empires, and republics, are to be conquered, and their millions of armed defenders cut up and dispersed. Beside the overthrow of these rebel hosts, knowledge, righteousness, and peace, have to follow in the train of victory. The religion and law of the conqueror will be gratefully accepted by the nations as they become freed from the tyrants who oppress and brutalize them. "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from hencefore and for ever." [Isa. 9:7] On that throne he will reign until "the end"; [1 Cor. 15:24[ for "his kingdom shall not be destroyed, and his dominion is unto the end ": [Dan. 2:44;7:14] for he must reign until God hath put all enemies under his feet.

When the nature and constitution of the kingdom are duly considered, it will be readily perceived that it cannot, in the fitness of things continue longer than the extinction of sin, and the entire abolition of its wages [Rom. 6:23], which is death and corruption. The kingdom of Christ and of God is a priestly institution; for so it is written, "the Branch shall build the Temple of Jehovah [Yahweh]; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and be a priest upon his throne". [Zech. 6:12,13] The reader, I suppose, need not be informed that this prophecy is of Jehovah's [Yahweh's] Anointed in his kingdom; and, therefore, of Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews [Matt. 2:2;27:11,29,37; Mark 15:2,9,12,18,26; Luke 23:3,37,38; John 18:33,39;19:3,19,21]. When "the Lord God shall give him the throne of his father David" [1 Cor. 15:24] that he may there and "reign over the House of Jacob unto the ages", [Luke 1:32,33] he will be God's High Priest for the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and the nations of his dominion. This is proved by Isaiah's testimony, which reveals that "all nations shall flow unto the Lord's house" which shall be called "a house of prayer for all people", the offerings of whose flocks and herds "shall come up with acceptance on mine altar", saith Jehovah [Yahweh], "and I will glorify the house of my glory". Then shall "many people go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to Jehovah's [Yahweh's] mountain, to the Temple of Jacob's God; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion (the city where David dwells) shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:2,3; 56: 7; 6:7). Who will then be the High Priest and Teacher of Jehovah's [Yahweh's] ways, in the house of Israel's God? -- the great light to enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel? There can be but one answer, and that is, "The Priest upon the throne" [Zech. 6:12,13], who "shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off", [Mic. 4:3] even Christ Jesus our Lord; who is now the High Priest of our confession, "made a High Priest after the order of Melchizedec for the Age", but even now "a High Priest over the house of God", "whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end" (Heb. 3:1,6; 5:6; 10:21). Thus, what he is now doing in the presence of God for "the Heirs of the Kingdom" [James 2:5] -- making reconciliation for his household -- is but the earnest of what he will do for the subjects of his dominion, when, with his reconciled ones, he shall occupy "the thrones of the house of David". [Psa. 122:5]

Now, "every High Priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins" (Heb. 5:1). It is clear from the testimony quoted that sin, sinners, death, and national sacrificial worship, will obtain in the world till "the end" [1 Cor. 15:24] of the thousand years beginning with the appearing of Christ in his glory. "Gifts and sacrifices", [1 Pet. 5:1; 8:3; 9:9] therefore, will all that time be necessary because of sin, and being necessary, there must be a high priest to offer them for men to God in the place appointed. Now, the nature of the kingdom being Melchizedecan, or royal and priestly, its covenant, or constitution, provides that its king shall unite the two offices in his own person. This applies also to all the joint inheritors with him in the same kingdom. Hence, they are all styled "kings and priests to God". [Rev. 1:6;5:10] The kingdom is therefore mediatorial. It stands, when established, sacerdotally between Jehovah [Yahweh] and all who are not office-bearers and dignitaries of the kingdom. So long as this monarchy exists with a priestly constitution, "the tabernacle of God" [Rev. 21:3] cannot "be with men", [Rev. 21:3] neither can "he dwell with them", nor can they be "his people". [Rev. 21:3] "With men"; [Rev. 21:3] that is, with the entire population of the earth. He is now with Christ Jesus, dwelling in him with His fulness; and during the thousand years [Rev. 20:2,3,4,5,6,7], He will be with Christ's brethren, the saints, dwelling in them as in their elder brother; but with the residue of men He will not so dwell until Christ has accomplished the work of "destroying that having the power of death, that is, the devil", [Heb. 2:14] and its works, or, in other words, until he shall have "taken away the sin of the world"; [John 1:29] destroyed all its dominions, jurisdictions and powers; and have extinguished death. When this is consummated there will be no obstacle preventing God's abode with men but the Melchizedec kingdom; which must, therefore, of necessity be taken out of the way, as no longer adapted to the state of things upon the earth.

The reader will see this at a glance when he is asked, What will be the use of priests to God for men, when, because of the effectual suppression of transgression, and the extinction of sin in the flesh, there are no gifts and sacrifices to offer, no errors and ignorance to atone for? Christ's and the saints' occupation will then be gone. It will then have expired according to the statute of limitation, which says, Thou art a priest for the age after the order of Melchizedec" (Psa. 110:4). The word le- olahm , in the Hebrew text, is rendered in Paul's citation of it eis ton aiona in the Greek; which I have translated "for the age", which is not only probably correct, but made certainly so by the scripture doctrine concerning priesthood.

The Son, then, will "deliver over the kingdom to the God and Father" [1 Cor. 15:24] of men, at the time all become His sons, because of the unsuitableness of its nature and covenant to the Ages succeeding the Millennial Age. The kingdom will not be destroyed, but only changed in its constitution, so as to adapt it to the improved and altered condition of the world. The kingdom in its Melchizedec or millennial organization is the heavens planted and the foundations of earth laid by the Lord, when "he proclaims to Zion, Thou art my people"; and saith "Thy God reigneth!" (Isa. 51:16; 52:7). John styles this organization in reference to that of the post-millennial ages, the former, or "first heaven and the first earth" [Rev. 21:1] -- that constitution of Israel predicted in the sixty-fifth of Isaiah. This heaven of the kingdom is destined to be changed, so that when "the End" [1 Cor. 15:24] comes it will have "passed away" [Rev. 21:4] as entirely as if it had been destroyed. This constitution of the kingdom will have perished, though Christ and the Saints remain in undiminished glory and beatitude. Hence, it is written in the hundred and second Psalm, and applied to Jesus in Heb. 1:10-12, "Thou, Lord, at the beginning ( kat' archas , at the beginning of Zion's earth and heavens) laidst the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands. They shall perish; but thou shalt stand: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed": then Jesus creates all things new: "But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. The children of thy servants (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) shall continue, and their seed (the saints) shall be established before thee". (Psa. 102:25 28)

Now, when the Lord Jesus has changed the whole system of things terrestrial and mundane by the Spirit of the Father, a new world will be the result, in which the constitution of society will be royal, but not priestly; Jesus and the Saints being the Jehovah [Yahweh] and the Elohim of the new order of things, as others were of the old, as appears from the Mosaic account of the Six Days. Jehovah [Yahweh], Jesus and his Elohim will have consummated the work begun by Jehovah [Yahweh] Elohim, seven thousand years before. But though "great", [Luke 1:32] Jesus is always "the Son of the Highest", [Luke 1:32] of whom he says, "My Father is greater than I". [John 14:28] He is Jehovah's [Yahweh's] servant to perform an appointed work, and to establish his Father's authority in all the earth. This done, the Father no longer veils His face in a representative, but appears as sovereign in His own kingdom; in which, however, His glorious Son is always pre eminent, and next, but not upon, the throne. The words of Pharaoh to Joseph will express the idea I wish to convey of the Son's subordination to the Father in the Ages, that God may be the all things for all. "There is none so discreet and wise as thou. Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou", [Gen. 41:39,40] The kingdom therefore, though changed, having its priestly elements removed, continues a kingdom still -- a sinless kingdom added to the universal dominion of "the Blessed and only Potentate, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power in all ages, Amen". [1 Tim. 6:15-16]

Such is the exposition of Paul's saying concerning the turning over of the kingdom to the Father, as it appears to me. The kingdom is without end, but not without change. In the thousand years (Rev. 20:2,3,4,5,6,7), it is "the kingdom of Christ and of God"; in the after ages, "the all things" are concentred in God, "for all" the dwellers upon the earth. Mediation exists no more, since all things are reconciled, and endless peace obtains.