THE END OF AN AGE
BY: LARRY HODGES
“The harvest is the end of the age and the reapers are the angels” —Matthew 13:39.
Messiah-consciousness, even among the unsaved, seems to be symptomatic of the end of an age. Never have I heard so much date-setting among God’s people as we are now hearing. I’m just waiting for someone to break out the white bed-sheets and invite us all to join him on some hillside to await his (or her) favorite date upon which Christ is sure to make His soon appearance. What makes it all so strangely confusing is that all of us know that we are truly living in a time when God will do a most marvelous thing; a time when Christ is due to make an appearing and when we expect Him to appear according to certain timetables we believe we have found in the scriptures.
Let me state very clearly, I am not making light of those who are fervently expecting and looking for the appearing of the Lord. I am, in fact, among them. I am merely acknowledging that it can get out of hand, and nearly always does during times like the one we are now living in. But, even though it does get out of hand, we are, nevertheless, to continue in faith and expectancy, looking for His appearing. It is at the door! The above comments are meant only as a cautionary voice to keep us within certain prescribed bounds of discretion.
We are not those who merely have choice seats at the riveting drama now acting out upon the world stage as one age passes away and another takes its place; as one glory fades and another even greater glory transcends it. We are they who have been chosen to participate according to our predestined roles in the grand finale of this age and also in the great genesis of a new age and order. This is true concerning world events, and it is true concerning the Ecclesia of God. Many things which were applicable in the past will no longer be applicable. What has been right and true and in order will now in many cases no longer have validity and will definitely be very much out of order.
As an age passes away, so does the order of that age. As an order passes, so does the glory of that order, and it is only the glory or anointing of an order which gives it strength and force. When that glory or anointing is no longer attendant to an order and its accompanying message, that order and message has no authority or effectiveness. Then, even more of the world’s ways and means must be brought into play to compensate for the lack of God’s hand and blessing, and so in a very short time, it comes to pass that “every table is full of vomit and filthiness so that there is no clean place.” No wonder there is already at this time a great standing apart from (falling away) that which in former times was a blessing to many.
Some are loathe to leave the stain-glassed cathedrals, the pews and pulpits, the hirelings and hierarchies, the Sunday morning meeting at 10:00 A.M., three songs, an offering and 30 minutes of freeze-dried, prepackaged pablum, and have therefore, in many cases, chosen these very things over the Lord Himself. They do so because they have been made drunk with the wine of the fornication of harlotries. Although espoused to the Lord, their hearts have gone after other lovers. Men who would never be caught dead in a real brothel think nothing of frequenting spiritual houses of ill-repute for the same reasons, though spiritual.
Before I continue further, let me make clear that I am not here referring to those who are still in need of keeping the feast of Pentecost; who still very much need to gather with others of like precious faith, or of those who come together in the Spirit. I am referring to those who remain in Babylon and refuse to leave it or its ways, customs, rituals, or ceremonies.
Lest you misunderstand who Babylon is, it is all the religious systems, groups, denominations and non-denominational denominations, including Charismatic, Pentecostal, and some home-meetings. It is that which bears the stamp and spirit of the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth! It is “things, men, movements, institutions, organizations, etc., which draw the multitudes after themselves and attach the crowds to themselves. It is the principle of Anti-Christ; that which definitely supplants, or intends to supplant Christ. It is an alternative to the whole Christ in man-made Christianity; an imitation life borne and carried on by its own momentum.” T. A. Sparks’ Tract, Christ Our Life.
Especially as this age and its order closes, we ministers need to see and understand that our present (Levitical) ministry is but a temporary John the Baptist ministry of preparing a people for the coming of the Lord. And when He comes, that ministry is over. Ministry is not an end, but a means to an end. If we have done our job as we ought, then there must come a time when we “shall teach no more every man his neighbor, saying, ‘Know the Lord:’ for they shall all know Him, from the least of them unto the greatest of them.'”
John was confronted by those who told him that Jesus was over beyond Jordan baptizing disciples so that all John’s disciples (members) were leaving him and going to Jesus. Hear his response, preachers, pastors and ministers of the gospel! “He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom: but the friend of the Bridegroom, which standeth and heareth Him, rejoices greatly because of the Bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled” —John 3:29. Whenever any under our watchcare have grown enough that they are able to go directly to the Lord and be strengthened on a daily basis, our joy ought to be fulfilled!
What he was saying was, “the bride is not mine.” I am not to take to myself that which belongs to Christ, but rather, those to whom I minister, I am to espouse as a chaste virgin to Christ. It is not seemly that ministers of the gospel should attempt by various means and measures to keep under their control those who have matured sufficiently that they no longer need to come together every Sunday morning to gain strength for the next week. They have matured enough that they are able to receive strength day by day directly from the Lord.
When reading the gospels, I have often marveled at the utter blindness of the ancient Pharisees and religious leaders of that day. But as we continue toward the close of this age, their predicament becomes much more understandable. Jesus came at a time very much like the time we are now living in; the close of one age and the onset of another. Nothing that Israel’s religious leaders had been steeped in for 2,000 years (since God’s covenant with Abraham) had equipped them for the radical changes which were occurring at the end of that age.
It is no accident that Christ, after the flesh, in His personal body, came at the end of that age, and that Christ, after the spirit, in His many members, comes at the end of this age. They were no more ready or capable of hearing and obeying the teachings of Jesus than many today are capable of accepting the truth and light, which attends such a radical transition as we now find ourselves involved in.
Even though Jesus completely replaced the covenant of that Abrahamic age (for lack of a better description) with another and better covenant in His blood; even though He so thoroughly satisfied the Father by the sacrifice of Himself and brought an end to the daily sacrifice which had so long been a part of the Hebrew religion; even though He so completely established a new and living way, that both temple and people were brought to nothing and scattered to the four corners of the earth, still, even after all that, to this day we still see stubborn and unyielding remains of a dead and rotting religion, which has absolutely nothing to offer God or mankind, being slavishly preserved and observed.
A lack of relevance to what God is speaking and doing has never been enough to quell religion or to stop religious men in their tracks. It continues in its own momentum and in the raw strength of blind determination and stupid superstition. It will be this way, at least for a time, in the next age.
As we are all aware, this next age begins the 7,000th year/day, which marks, in one sense, the Sabbath rest and that day in which there shall be a reaping of that whereon no labor was bestowed. Only the Holy Spirit shall work in this day. That is a new order, is it not? The old order was God and... The new order is God only. Not only is this age to begin with the 7,000th year from Adam, but it is also the third day from the last Adam, Christ. It is the third day of the New Creation, and there are many things which the scriptures say to give us direction and hope. “After two days (2,000 years) will He revive us: in the third day we shall live in His sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.“ – Hosea 6:2&3
“Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected” – Luke 13:32. These are the words by Christ Himself, but it is spoken of the whole Christ, that is, of Himself come to fullness in His many-membered body. Third day importance comes to its climax in the realization that it was on the third day that Resurrection Life through the Last Adam was introduced to mankind as that which was to displace and transcend the life inherited by all mankind from the first Adam. We are just beginning to see some of the first slight glimpses of the purposes of God as they are to be realized through a people in the ages to come.
This is the purpose of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Jubilee, which will occur during the feast. It will produce an entirely new race of humans with which to replenish the earth. We have been absolutely amazed at the fact that this greatest of all messages that has yet issued forth from the throne of God is attended by the smallest numbers of people. Yet, we realize that this is as it should be.
The Outer Court has a multitude of people and a very great deal of activity, which takes place there; therefore it possesses a larger area. The Holy Place is visited only by those of the priesthood who have been to the laver for cleansing in order to enter, so the numbers there begin to grow smaller. But when one comes to the Holy of Holies, the numbers shrink dramatically, and one cannot declare a message of this caliber in the Outer Court. Each message is to be declared in its season and “everything upon its day.”
The message which attended Passover in the Outer Court was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thine house.” Perhaps you think this message to be altogether too simple and fundamental for one filled with the Spirit of God. Beloved, it was this very message, as simple as it is, which delivered such a deadly wound to one of the heads of the seven-headed dragon in Martin Luther’s day, from which it has only lately begun to recover somewhat. It is a message especially provided for the Outer Court and custom designed for those like you and I were when we first heard its glorious emancipating tones and were set free from the servile bondage of our Egypt. That was a glorious day, was it not?
The message, which attended Pentecost in the Holy Place, was, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since you believed?” While most today who have received the wonderful, precious Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues have done so almost without breaking stride, there was a time when such an experience would have been equivalent to the most calamitous and scandalous things that could befall a Christian. There was a time when such an experience made one an outcast from his brethren, closed doors of ministry and branded one a rank heretic. It has always been thus with new truth.
Today the very ones who were its persecutors some years back are now receiving it and in some cases act as if they themselves were the first ever to receive the experience. William James: from “On Pragmatic Grounds” said, “First, you know, a new theory is attacked as absurd; then it is admitted to be true, but obvious and insignificant; finally, it is seen to be so important that it’s adversaries claim that they themselves discovered it.”
The message, which attends Tabernacles in the Holy of Holies, is, “As in Adam all die, even so, in Christ shall all be made alive.” As in every previous unveiling of truth by the Spirit of God, this glorious truth has met with opposition and resistance. This, as always, accomplishes several things. It judges the hearts of men on both sides of the issue, and it more firmly establishes those who see it and embrace it at cost and go on with God.
This message of the final outcome of Infinite Grace has surprised me in several ways. First, I am really surprised to find the great numbers of believers who already believe this glorious message. I am surprised at the number of closet-reconciliationists who believe, but do not have the courage to say so. And I am surprised at the way otherwise intelligent men and women seem to lose all their powers of logic and rationality as soon as this subject is introduced.
Almost to a man, those who resist the truth of the ultimate restoration of all mankind say they believe in the absolute sovereignty of God, for they understand that He is not truly God without it. Yet, their contention that God cannot or will not save all men either takes from Him His sovereignty, and therewith His Godhead rights, or, admitting that He could but doesn’t, robs God of His justice. How some believe a sovereign God could say, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” and still not be able to save His own creation is just beyond my ability to comprehend.
I had a very dear and close friend (now in the Presence of the Lord) who was very much offended by a statement I made some time back which went something like: “Only those who truly see and believe the truth that God will ultimately save every last human who ever lived, will rule and reign as Overcomers with Him during His thousand-year reign.” As I think back on it, I believe I could have worded it better. He told me how he felt about it and remonstrated with me at some length over it. My answer was something along the lines as follows:
If those whom God brings to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ are to actually be His true and accurate representatives on earth, then there cannot be the slightest variance in will, in purpose, in heart-motive, in anything whatever. Their heart must be the expression of His. Their desire must be the expression of His. Their purposes must be the expression of His. Their mind and understanding must be the expression of His. It simply is not possible to be at variance with God in any way and accurately represent Him.
Dorothy Staat, who was with us at Spirit Lake, ID, said that the Lord had spoken these words to her: “If you would be a savior in the Savior, you must be willing that all men be saved.” She said she responded with this reply, “But Lord, I repented.” The Lord replied to her, “But not until I dealt with you, and then you could not do otherwise.” It is somewhat amusing that we seem to think that we somehow deserved to be saved, though we would not dare say it, whereas those we send to an eternal torment deserve only that.
How shall all the families of the earth be blessed (Gen. 18:18) if God shall not bring them all into Christ?
How shall God be All in all (I Cor. 15:28) if God shall not bring all into Christ?
How shall every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God (Phil. 2:10-11) if God shall not bring all into Christ?
How shall all things be made new (Rev. 21:4-5) if God shall not bring all into Christ?
Such a list goes on and on to fill page after page and still not be adequate testimony for some as to the goodness of God toward His creation. But the lack is not on God’s part. It is on the part of those whose hearts are yet too much like the prodigal’s elder brother when they should be like that of the father’s.
The true teaching of the restitution of all things does not teach that there is no torment. It teaches simply and correctly that the torment is not endless, and therefore without purpose. This glorious message of the everlasting (age-abiding) gospel has, in the wisdom of God, been closed up and sealed through the faulty translation of those precise words which would have otherwise made clear to all, the truth that God shall ultimately save as many in the Last Adam as fell in the first.
Without this piece of the divine puzzle of the mystery of Christ, large parts of the picture of God’s purposes and of His heart have been missing. Men with good intentions, but groundless and inaccurate views, have filled these vacancies with notions of their own and with those of Babylon, eternal torment being one of them. Now, at the end of the age, as God begins to reveal the very message which is to help usher in that glorious age and renovation of all things, the bastard lie of eternal torment seeks to usurp the rightful place of the genuine and lawful heir of the Truth.
What will you do? Will you attempt to sit it out until the message becomes accepted (as it will) and fashionable? If you do, you forfeit all you might have gained by joining yourself to this allotment of Christ while it is still not popular to do so. What ever you do, I can guarantee this much; only Overcomers will attach themselves with The Truth before it has been enthroned. Therefore, they shall reign with Him. I declare that only Overcomers will attach themselves to The Truth before it has been enthroned because The Truth must be viewed as something more than mere abstract doctrine. It must be viewed and understood as an allotment of Christ Himself.
Whoever held to Christ while resisting what He stands for? Whoever walked with Him in close fellowship while fighting His declared intentions? The Truth is a Person and as it comes together in our hearts and minds, it forms a portrait of what he is to us as well as what He is in us. It is certain that He shall never be more through us than He is in us. That is just as sure as it is certain that He shall never be more in us than He is to us. (For a further word on this subject, send for, The All-Encompassing Work of Christ.)
END OF AN AGE, THE [Larry Hodges] 1