HEAVENS DECLARE, PART 27
SAGITTARIUS-THE ARCHER [Cont’d]
BY: J. PRESTON EBY
KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
“Studies in end-time Revelation”
THE THREE WORLDS AND THE THREE HEAVENS
THE WORLD THAT NOW IS
THE WORLD TO COME
The second of the Decans (minor constellations) in the house of Sagittarius is ARA-THE ALTAR. It is illustrated as an altar, placed significantly in the up-side down position. It is one of the southernmost constellations in the heavens, and the regions below this were considered from ancient times as the lower regions, the underworld, the regions of darkness, referred to as “outer darkness. Ara is seen as an altar or burning pyre, up-side down, pouring fire into the dark and hidden abyss. The Greeks used the word Ara in the sense of a curse or the effect of a curse–ruin and destruction. The spiritual symbolism here bespeaks of the consuming fires of judgment which devour the mighty enemies of Sagittarius. So the constellation of Ara reminds us that the conquering Sagittarius (Christ) goes on in His battle beyond the wielding of the sword to the complete destruction by judgmental fire of all that opposes Him from the kingdom of darkness. Scripturally, it is expressed by the apostle Paul in these graphic words: “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with age-lasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power; when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe in that day” (II Thes. 1:7-10). Peter also speaks of a day when the world will be purged by fire. We know what it is for saints to experience Christ as a refiner’s fire consuming the hay, wood and stubble out of our lives. Let us now meditate upon what it means for the world to be purged by fire.
THE THREE WORLDS AND THE THREE HEAVENS
There are important time divisions in the plan of God which the scriptures refer to as “worlds” or “ages. The word “world” does not generally refer to this physical planet with its mountains, oceans, rivers, trees, etc. The word is often translated from the Greek word KOSMOS which means “an order, system, or arrangement of things. The present order, system, or arrangement of things upon this earth involves all the institutions, organizations, laws, traditions, customs etc. which have been developed to either control or give motivation to the lives and actions of men and nations. This includes all governmental systems, educational institutions, religious organizations, economic orders, traditions, customs and every other thing that gives form and substance to our present social order. All of these, together with the time period during which mankind functions within their frame work, constitute a biblical “world.”
In Peter’s second epistle, chapter three, we are told of three such “worlds.“ “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (II Pet. 3:3-13).
If we truly desire to understand the marvelous things which relate to the day of the Lord, we must look at them from the standpoint of God and not from the human (carnal) standpoint. That is, we will be forced to take a spiritual viewpoint instead of the natural. Bible teachers of prophetic subjects have in the vast majority of cases taught from the natural, literal interpretation, and that is the reason there is so much misunderstanding concerning prophetic subjects today. With this in mind, let us reverently go back and take a closer look at the significant words of the apostle Peter. “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby THE WORLD THAT THEN WAS, being overflowed with water, perished.” Now let us read this from the New English Bible: “In taking this view they lose sight of the fact that there were heavens and earth long ago, created by God’s word out of water and with water: and by water THAT FIRST WORLD WAS DESTROYED, the water of the deluge. And THE PRESENT HEAVENS AND EARTH, again by God’s word, have been kept in store for burning.” That first world, then, existed from the time of the creation unto the flood. Thus, the entire period of time from Adam to the great Deluge is called “a world” — the world that then was.
What kind of world was that ancient world? The Bible says of it: “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all they chose. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that He had made man upon the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth. And the earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt, for ALL FLESH HAD CORRUPTED HIS WAY UPON THE EARTH. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Gen. 6:1-13). Peter writes of that world, “Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (II Pet. 3:6). Does the fact that the world of that day “perished” and was “destroyed” mean that we are not living on the same earth that saw the flood in Noah’s day? Does it mean that this planet was obliterated so that it no longer existed! Does it mean that Noah was “raptured” off to some distant planet or to some far-off heaven somewhere while God created a new earth for him to live on? Of course not! Then what “world” or “earth” was destroyed by the flood? The scripture shows plainly that it was a world of people and a WAY OF LIFE–a KOSMOS– a social order, a world system and arrangement of things! So we see that the world that was destroyed in Noah’s day was not this physical earth of mountains, valleys, rocks, rivers, trees and oceans, for of that earth the scripture is emphatic that “one generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but THE EARTH ABIDETH FOREVER” (Eccl. 1:4). And again, “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He FORMED IT TO BE INHABITED” (Isa. 45:18). It is clear that while God did not destroy the planet, He did bring an era of unbridled wickedness and utter depravity to a screeching halt and total end, thus destroying, not only fleshly men, but a WHOLE WAY OF LIFE including all the institutions, organizations, governmental systems, economic orders, religions, traditions, customs etc. that were characteristic of that corrupt civilization.
The world of old passed away and there was no memory left of it. The earth was now free of the iniquity and ungodliness which had cursed it before the flood. I have often wondered how it must have seemed to Noah and his family when they stepped out of the ark onto an earth cleansed of sin. To know that they were the only people on earth and that God was beginning a new age, a new dispensation and a new way of life through them. That the earth had been washed free from the perversion, violence and shame that had polluted it. They were to be the beginning of a new race of people to populate the earth. And yet, we must remember that the same old sinful nature was being loosed upon the earth again after the flood, for that nature was in Noah and all his family. It had not yet formed itself into a “world” — an institutionalized way of life. But in this new world God began a new method of dealing with mankind and would introduce Himself into the human race. Noah built an altar and then we read in Gen. 8:21, “And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in His heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every living thing as I have done.”
THE WORLD THAT NOW IS
Peter identifies the second world and the second heaven for us. “But the heavens and the earth, WHICH ARE NOW, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be… (II Pet. 3:7-12).
Peter here refers to THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH WHICH ARE NOW. And what kind of world is this second world-the one in which we live? This world began at the end of the flood and continues until “the day of the Lord,” at which time it too “passes away. Let us look at some of the characteristics of this present world. The apostle Paul writes, “Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD” (Gal. 1:4). The description of this present world declares it to be evil, and Paul asserts that we are being delivered or saved out of it through Jesus who gave Himself for us. One cannot read these words without a feeling of utmost wonder at the revelation that just as it was the ark that saved Noah from the world of his day, so it is Christ who saves us from this present evil world. Noah was saved from his world by a ship, whereas we are saved from our world by a glorious Person! To be delivered from this present evil world does not mean to be “raptured” off to some “beautiful isle of somewhere” any more than Noah was removed to another planet when he was “saved” from the world that then was. Of Noah’s blessed deliverance we read: “For Christ hath also once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were SAVED BY WATER” (II Pet. 3:18-20). Yes, precious friend of mine, Noah was saved by water-the very same water that destroyed the world! He was saved from a world, but the wonderful truth is that he had been “saved” from that “world” a long time before the waters of the flood arrived! For even as the scripture declares of Jesus, that He was “harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” so the Word also testifies of Noah that he was “a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” Noah was saved. From the world of his day. He was no part of it, though it was all around him. Noah was different. He danced to a different tune. He lived out his life by a different set of standards. He walked with God while all the rest of mankind wallowed in the filth of the lusts of their flesh. And now, in this our day, God has sent forth His Son Jesus to save us from THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD! Vast multitudes of men and women all about us walk through this life with their minds closed, their hearts centered in this old world. How men’s hearts and lives are tied to this world! The man who is living in this world is forever worrying about earthly things -how he can provide more in the bank for old age, how he can provide more to see and hear and taste and feel and smell–the pleasures of this world, how he can be sure he will never want for food, clothing or shelter. His concern is that the physical man, the earth-man, the man of this world will never be in need, never be unsatisfied or dissatisfied. He is always mindful of the comfort, entertainment, protection and provision of the natural man. However much we may elaborate on this point, we will not express it more aptly than did the apostle Paul when he declared, “For they that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh.” On the other hand, there is a small minority who spend their lives minding the things of the spirit. The welfare of the spiritual man, the new creature, the inward man, the heavenly man is uppermost in their thoughts, for they seek the mind of Christ. They, like Paul, “die daily” to this present evil world, counting it as a passing thing that is destined for destruction. The child of God stands out as the revelation of the divine power of Jesus Christ to come into the spirit of man, and change it and make it lovely and pure and wise and powerful like God Himself. To come into the mind of man, and take possession of all its faculties, infusing the mind of Christ until that man esteems the fashions and fantasies of this world as less than nothing, seeking always to be one with the Father. To come into the nature of man and transform it by the power of God until his thoughts and desires and actions are filled with wisdom and understanding, manifesting the life and glory of the world to come, the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. These, being after the spirit, mind the things of the spirit. These are putting on immortality and incorruption, for the Christ shall come into even our diseased and mortal bodies until the action of the Holy Spirit revolutionizes every cell of the blood as it is written, “I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the Lord dwelleth in Zion” (Joel 3:21). This, my beloved, is what it means to be SAVED FROM THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD!
How many of the Lord’s precious people in ignorance do err, always equating salvation with heaven and hell. Religion has indoctrinated its servants into the idea that God’s great and eternal purposes are basically of geographical or territorial consideration. Religion teaches that we are saved from one “place”–hell, to go to another “place”–heaven. And of course neither of these places are on this earth, so therefore the only purpose for our being on this earth at all is to make preparation to get out of here and go someplace else! Too long preachers have tried to scare people into heaven by painting lurid and horrible pictures of hell, rather than preaching Jesus Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God, who is made unto all that believe wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. I know of nothing that will so thoroughly awaken the fathomless depths of wisdom and understanding than the blessed knowledge of the sacred mystery that Christ saves men right now FROM THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD. And while you, dear reader, may be one of those waiting to be “evacuated” off this earth to spend eternity in some far-off heaven somewhere, Peter expresses the true desire of all sons of God who groan for the deliverance of the creation and the coming of the Kingdom of God, saying. “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found in Him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (II Pet. 3:13-14). It is an incontrovertible fact that the average Christian today is not looking for the same thing Peter was looking for– new heavens and a new earth. Did Jesus teach us to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, and take us home to heaven,” or did He teach us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven?” To be delivered from this present evil world doesn’t mean to be taken anywhere. It means to be transformed, it means to be in a different condition, or state of being, than the world. It means to be holy instead of vile, spiritual instead of carnal, heavenly minded instead of earthly minded, peaceful instead of agitated, full of wisdom and understanding instead of ignorant and foolish, full of faith instead of fear and frustration, living instead of dying. As our Lord implored, “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (Jn. 17:15-17). This was Noah’s condition, his state of being, in his corrupt world. He was perfect with God. And now, in the end of this world, it is our turn to be perfect in our generation, to walk with God, and be completely delivered out of this present evil world into the life and power and glory of the Kingdom of God–the new age, the new condition, the new state of being–the new world order, the world to come!
It is very essential that those who study the word of God should always keep in mind that “world” means an order, system, or arrangement of things. This involves a way of life, social structure, culture, philosophies, political ideologies, religion, economics — all products of the carnal mind of man. It is difficult for many of the Lord’s people to understand this one simple truth: “THE WHOLE WORLD LIETH IN WICKEDNESS” (I Jn. 5:19). The entire passage is even more enlightening. “And we know that we are of God, and THE W-H-O-L-E W-O-R-L-D LIETH IN WICKEDNESS.” The Amplified Bible correctly translates the latter part of the verse: “The whole world around us is under the power of the wicked one.” This whole world system not only made its bed in wickedness, but it lies in and is under the control of THE WICKED ONE– the satanic spirit incarnate in the Adam man. How few truly comprehend the vital significance of this! How many precious saints are yet deceived into believing that there is at least something of God in the politics of this world, in the educational programs of this world, in the economic system of this world, in the fashions, laws, philosophies, and culture of this present world system. This is especially true of believers in the United States and in the other so-called “Christian nations” of the West. Somehow it does not sink in that these institutions are, one and all, without any exceptions whatsoever, PRODUCTS OF THE CARNAL MINDS OF NATURAL MEN! I do not hesitate to tell you that the vast majority of the men and women who fill the smoke-filled rooms where the ideas are hatched and the decisions made concerning all of these affairs are indeed carnal men, sold under sin, dominated by the spirit that controls this evil age. We have wanted to believe that our present political system, democracy, or republicanism, is somehow an expression of the Kingdom of God because it was given to us by noble and religious men. We have reasoned that our educational system was at one time a godly institution because it espoused higher moral standards, practiced corporal punishment, and had prayers in the classroom. We have imagined that Capitalism is somehow a God-ordained economic system because it brings material blessing to so many people. So we have men busy trying to preserve and perpetuate a passing order, a carnal institution which is steadily disintegrating before our very eyes, as God demonstrates for all to see the immutable and incontrovertible truth that even our cherished systems and institutions are OF THIS WORLD “which passeth away.” Some still entertain the hope that out of our present government will come the integrity and wisdom to solve the immense problems facing our increasingly weakening and depraved society and explosive world situation. Surely, think we, the Democrats, or the Republicans, or an Independent will come up with the answer! Certainly a Bush, or a Clinton, or a Perot is what this nation needs to lead us out of our political, economic and moral morass. If only we could elect more Conservatives, or more Liberals, or more Christians! How many Christians have swarmed to the polls like herded cattle to cast their vote for some candidate they were propagandized into believing was a Christian, or godly, or honest, or Conservative, or religious, or something else; only to awaken later to the unvarnished fact that in spite of all the shrewdly managed image-building and propaganda he was, in fact, just another politician like other politicians, a specimen of the system that spawned him, controlled by the spirit of the age of this world system, which, as truthfully as the word of God has taught us, “is under the power of the wicked one.”
There is a simple, but sure, test by which one may discern whether anything pertains to the Kingdom of God or is of “this world.” The truth is that all that belongs to the Kingdom of God originates in and proceeds forth from the SPIRIT OF GOD. Every thought, word, desire, action, activity, method, system, movement, or institution which originates in and springs from the life of the Spirit of God IS AN EXPRESSION OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD. Conversely, all that is of this world originates in and proceeds forth from the carnal mind which mind is under the dominion of the ruler of this world. The truth of this is powerfully set forth in Eph. 6:12. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Let us read this from the Amplified Bible: “For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood — contending only with physical opponents — but against the despotism, against the powers, against the master spirits who are the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.” The Phillips translation says, “For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil.” Thus, every thought, word, desire, action, activity, method, system, movement or institution which draws its genius from the natural mind is not from the Kingdom of God, but of this present world which passeth away with the lusts thereof.
Are we willing to permit everything around us, and all within us, to be judged by this test? All of our desires, hopes, ambitions, actions, teachings, prophecies, commitments, involvements? Let us apply this simple test to a few of the things in the world around us with which we are all acquainted. POLITICS — Is the political in the United States (or any other country) a reflection of the mind of the God, discovered by Spirit-led people waiting upon the Word of the Lord, or is it a product of the carnal minds of natural men and determined by debate, ideological agenda, public opinion, or the votes of the masses of un-spiritual citizens? BOARD MEETING — Is your Church (denomination) walking in the Spirit or after the flesh? When the board or ministry of your church (denomination) meets, do they seek the face of God and wait upon the Spirit of the Lord until He speaks and reveals His will, or do they discuss and argue their cases and then vote to see what 51% of them think ought to be done? ORGANIZATION — Was the organizational structure of your denomination or religious organization inspired by the Holy Spirit under the sovereign Headship of the Lord Jesus Christ! Does it function as a living expression of the mind and wisdom of Christ, or, was it designed by men energetic to organize God’s people to build a name and a kingdom, and is it, with its State Charter, unscriptural “board,” “board members,” “committees,” “president,” “vice president,” “Sunday School Superintendent,” etc. patterned after the order of worldly organizations and institutions? PASTORS — Were the elders, or pastors, of your church raised up and established in their ministries by the anointing of the Spirit, or were they “voted in” by the “sheep” in the same way officials are voted in an out of worldly corporations; or “placed” by some “board” or “committee” without the leadership of the Holy Spirit? MEETINGS — Are your meetings conducted under the Headship of Christ, through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, with each member of the body supplying toward the mutual edification of the whole body as moved by the Spirit! Does “every one” of you have a psalm, have a doctrine, have a tongue, have a revelation, have an interpretation” (I Cor. 14:26), or, do you all just sit back, facing the platform, as in a theater, and watch the “show” put on by the “pastor” and the “music director” from the stage?
It is my deep prayer that by these few examples we may see how easy it is to move out from under the power of the Kingdom of God and simply operate according to the carnal systems of this present world. It requires no spirituality at all to walk after the order of the world, but it takes a true commitment to the Holy Spirit to walk in the order of the Kingdom of God, which is the order of the Spirit. I pray that all who read these lines may be given wisdom to plainly see just how much of our so-called spiritual activities are not of the Spirit but OF THE WORLD. The beloved apostle John tells us plainly just what the world is. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world, if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, IS NOT OF THE FATHER, but is of the world” (I Jn. 2:15-17). The divine formula is simple — whatsoever is not of the Father I-S OF THE WORLD! It’s just that simple, my beloved. That one easy to understand principle is applicable to our individual lives, collectively to our nation, our government, our church systems, our meetings, our business, our ambitions, plans, hopes, dreams, aims. In everything WHATSOEVER IS NOT OF THE FATHER IS OF THE WORLD! This wonderful law of the Kingdom should greatly assist us in our walk to separate the hay, wood, and stubble from the gold, silver, and precious stones of the living temple of God.
Armed with this understanding we can grasp the full import of the message delivered by John. “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world around us is under the power of the wicked one.” This world is not for us. Its ways are not for us. Its methods are not for us. Its fashions are not for us. Its spirit is not for us. We are different. We are of God. We are called to higher things. We are led by the Spirit, the sons of God. God is saving us out of this world. Those apprehended to sonship are overcoming this world even as Jesus said, “I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). John wrote, “For whosoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (I Jn. 5:4). Peter admonishes, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Pet. 1:4). And finally, the apostle James warns against walking in the spirit of this world or being entangled therein: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God! whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God!“ (James 4:4). And, thank God! this world shall pass away. Not the earth that we live on, but the world. This whole present carnal system of things. And with it, all the chaos, sin, war, crime, poverty, pain, pride, deceit, death; yea, all the ways of man shall be brought to an end. We look for NEW HEAVENS and a NEW EARTH wherein dwelleth righteousness. And the time for this change is at hand. It is already happening in God’s elect, for we are children of THE DAY. Many think that we have come to time’s last hour with nothing ahead but fear, catastrophe and annihilation. True, we are living in the closing days of the age, God’s great clock of time is tolling out the dark hours. Six thousand years of man’s mis-rule has cursed the earth. And now we are living in the most momentous days since the dawn of history. It is the breaking of the day! We have arrived at the hour for the NEW WORLD ORDER to begin. Even now as we learn to rise up in God, to walk in HIS WAYS, to be LED BY HIS SPIRIT, to know HIS VOICE, to be CONFORMED TO HIS IMAGE, the nature, glory and authority of that NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH is being formed within us! There has been released from heaven in the last several years a great and wonderful expectancy. It is the expectancy that all heaven is about to break loose in the midst of the Lord’s people and on a worldwide basis. Do you identify with that expectancy? God is raising up voices throughout the length and breadth of the land to say, “The earth is about to see the glory of God in an unprecedented way.” A host of heavenly messengers has been released to every corner of the globe bearing the message: “And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isa. 40:5). Even as I write the world is in the greatest spiritual, political, and economic change since World War II. The consequences of the demise of Marxism and resulting realignment are not yet apparent, but one-third of the world will be directly affected. The decade has changed — the century and the millennium will soon change. History’s “odometer” will turn up to 7000 — the beginning of the seventh day since Adam sorrowfully departed from Eden‘s fair garden. The Father has opened the gates to a “new beginning” for mankind, and for us, who He has predestined to be the forerunners as the dawn of the Kingdom spreads its first rays of light across the horizon. In this new world the powers of sin and sorrow, of darkness and death will have no authority or dominion. The carnal mind of man will not rule nor will his flesh labor in this glorious Sabbath of God. In the new age, in the new world there is to be a housecleaning, every enemy shall be put under the feet of the sons of God, every work of satan destroyed from off the face of the earth, sorrow and sighing will flee away, and the whole human race will be delivered and lifted up to see life as God intended it for them. All of this work will not be accomplished in the twinkling of an eye, but it will come under the administration of the sons of God who shall rule and reign over the earth. I tell you this day that THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND!
THE END OF THE WORLD
A friend said to Mark Twain: “I am worried. The world is coming to an end.” “Don’t be worried,” replied the famous humorist, “we can get along without it.” Mark Twain may not have known it, but he spoke the truth. We can get along without it, because God has arranged to fashion a new world by fire. The apostle Peter wrote “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Pet. 3:10).
In keeping with the modern use of language we might speak of the three worlds of II Peter 3 as the world of yesterday, the world of today, and the world of tomorrow. Much of the misunderstanding and misinterpretation of God’s purpose for humanity has been occasioned by a failure to understand what a world really is. The biblical “end of the world” has been misconstrued to denote the burning up of the literal earth, and all things upon it. On account of this misunderstanding of what is meant by “the end of the world” many saints have feared its approach. Many Bible students have endeavored to project it far into the future and others have come to look upon it as a mere superstition of the Dark Ages, unworthy of being given any serious consideration. But when we realize that what the Bible speaks of as the end of this present world, means just what we now see taking place as the whole world political, economic and ecclesiastical system is weakening and preparing to collapse, then the whole subject takes on an important, yea, a vital meaning to all who are interested to know what the world of tomorrow, the third world, is to be like. I tell you by the word of the Lord that God is even now creating a mighty “vacuum” in the world that into this void may rush the power and wisdom and life of God through His manifested sons.
Let us look at the parable of Jesus about the wheat and the tares, in Mat. 13:39-41. Here Jesus is explaining the parable to His disciples, and says, “The enemy that sowed them (the tares) is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth His angels (messengers), and they shall gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity.” Evangelists have taken this statement about the end of the world and have painted some very lurid and frightening pictures of the holocaust which, they say, will destroy this earth. The END OF THE WORLD! The very thought strikes terror into many hearts. It sounds ominous indeed, and it will be for all the pride and haughtiness of men who now rule in wickedness over this earth. But when we see what a “world” really is, and consequently what the “end of the world” really is, we get a glorious picture of the beginning of a new age. It is not the earth that is ending, but an age, an order, a system of things, a condition, a state of being, a WAY OF LIFE. So you can stop looking for the sudden destruction of this planet, and begin looking for what really is about to happen–the closing, conclusion, consummation, and completion of this present evil age with its reign of unrighteousness, darkness, bondage and death, and the coming of a new age, a new world, a new order and system of things in which the sons of God will rule and bring the blessings of the Kingdom of God upon all the families of the earth.
Peter informs us of the time and the manner in which this world will end. He says, “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be…hasting unto the coming of the day of God wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” (II Pet. 3:10-12). The prophet Zephaniah speaks of the same judgment and the same fire, saying, “Wait ye upon Me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for My decision is to gather the nations, to draw together the kingdoms, to pour upon them My indignation, even all My fierce anger. For all the earth shall be DEVOURED with the FIRE OF MY ZEAL. Yea, then will I turn unto the people a pure language (the pure word, a living revelation uncontaminated by human tradition), that they may call upon the Lord, to serve Him with one consent” (Zeph. 3:8-9). What a day!
This “fire of God’s zeal” is a symbol–and a forcible one–representing the intensity of the judgmental dealings of God which shall involve the whole world system. That it is not a literal fire, as some suppose, is evident from the fact that the people remain after it, and are blessed! “For all the earth shall be devoured by the fire of My zeal. T-H-E-N WILL I TURN UNTO T-H-E P-E-O-P-L-E a pure language that they may call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent.” That the people who remain after this devouring fire are not the saints or the elect is evident from the fact that they are then turned to serve the Lord, whereas the saints are turned (converted) already. This time of burning was foreseen by the prophets as the great and terrible day of the Lord when the earth would quake, the heavens tremble, the sun become dark, and the stars withdraw their shining. It would be a day, said the prophet, when “a fire devoureth,” and “a flame burneth. Over and over again the prophets used the word “fire.” Many times in the Bible the word “fire” is not the fire of combustion as we commonly know it. The scripture teaches that God uses fire as a cleansing and purifying agent. When we read that the Holy Spirit came as “tongues of fire, we do not suppose these were literal fires singeing the hair of those upon whom they sat but rather a representation of the character of the Holy Spirit coming in power to cleanse, purify and transform. Certainly it will be a fire of judgment upon the world. However, it will be not only a fire of judgment but a fire of cleansing and purification. The process of change that will produce the new heavens and the new earth is seen in these words: “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness…” It is remarkable that two thousand years ago a divinely inspired writer should have used the term “dissolve”, which has become suddenly fraught with modern meaning through contemporary science. “Dissolved” was the same word Jesus used when Lazarus stood before Him in front of his burial tomb, bound in grave clothes. Jesus said, “Loose him, and let him go” (Jn. 11:34). Dissolved and loose are both translated from the same Greek word LUO, and when this world “shall be dissolved” it shall be “loosed” from its grave clothes of fear, ignorance, disease, poverty, sorrow, bondage and death. The whole creation shall be let go into a new and glorious state of existence. Every one of us has dissolved a tablet in a glass of water. What took place? The tablet disappeared, loosed from its solid form, but it was not destroyed. Instead of a solid, it became a liquid. It changed its appearance but not its substance. It assumed another form of existence. Some such dissolving as this will take place in both the heavens and the earth — the spiritual and the natural realms — not destruction or extinction, but a change into new forms, conditions, and occurrences. The Lord declares, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). God will do this by means of fire. This leads us to ask these questions: Why a new heavens and a new earth? Why fire? Why judgment? Why cataclysmic change? Why not instead of these things the continuation of human progress producing a golden age? The answer lies in the fact that sin and death cannot be destroyed by any scientific process. Just as God sent Jesus to redeem His body and prepare the vast family of the sons of God, so there must be another divine event to end evil in the world. Jesus came with His gospel of grace to build His church, but the sons of God will come with their rule of authority and power to conquer the nations of the earth. The new heavens and earth will emerge from a world on fire. Every vestige of sin, rebellion and corruption must be destroyed. All of society with its various institutions must be purified. Every aspect of the primeval curse must be obliterated. The world must be let loose and freed from the restrictions and limitations imposed upon it by the curse of sin and death. There must be a universal riddance of the rule of the carnal mind and nature, so that no handicaps are carried over into the structure and composition of the new world. Praise God! “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I Jn. 2:17).
The ancient world was destroyed by water, and the present world shall be destroyed by fire. The fact that the water was literal leads some to believe that the fire must also be literal, but this by no means follows. Under the Old Testament all things were literal, whereas under the New Testament all things are spiritual. The temple of God once was of literal stones, but now the true temple is built up a spiritual house made of living stones, not of earthly material. Noah’s ark was literal too, but it served as a type and example of the greater ark of the New Covenant — Christ and the power in Him which will save the sons of God from the loss of this perishing world and through them will replenish and renew humanity. When “fire” is mentioned most christians think of hell fire, but not heavenly fire. But the testimony of scripture is that OUR GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE (Heb. 12:29). “And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and His anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp” (Num. 11:1). “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house” (II Chron. 7:1.) “And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people. And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (Lev. 9:23-24). “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord” (Lev. 10:1-2).
The only light in the Most Holy Place was God’s shekinah glory, brighter than the sun. It is also described as a “pillar of fire.” When Elijah had his contest with the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, he built the altar and laid the sacrifice thereon, and the wood; then he instructed those around him to haul some water, and they poured twelve barrels full of water over the altar until everything was saturated and the water filled the ditch around the altar. There was no known fire that could possibly light that altar and burn that sacrifice. But this was no ordinary fire that would come to consume the sacrifice, and Elijah was going to prove it. When they had finished the preparation Elijah prayed, “Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that Thou art the Lord God, and Thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt-sacrifice, and the wood and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench” (I Kings 18:37-38). My, what a fire that was! It not only burned the wood and the sacrifice, but also burnt up the stones the altar was built of, and the water that was in the trench and the dust underneath. There was absolutely nothing left of the altar or the spot where it had been. I do not believe that we could be wrong in saying that this was no ordinary fire. This was the fire of the Lord, and how it consumed! The fire that consumed Elijah’s sacrifice was obviously literal in its manifestation. There is no doubt it was literal. Yet, in II Kings 6:17 the “chariots and horses of fire” that appeared before the prophet Elisha in the city of Dothan became visible only after the Lord had opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant. It was still fire and just as real, but not naturally visible. The New Testament manifestation of God as a consuming fire began on the day of Pentecost when tongues of fire rested upon the waiting disciples. They were accepted, approved, transformed and anointed when God’s spirit-fire baptized them. They would never be the same again. They were the sacrifice, God sent the fire and they (their carnal state) were consumed. What a refining came to the apostles on that glorious day! How full of self-seeking they had been up to the very last supper! At the last supper they had a dispute as to who should be the first in the Kingdom of Heaven, but after Pentecost they no longer thought of self, but Christ. How weak and cowardly they had been right up to the crucifixion! They all forsook Him and fled, and Peter denied Him, at the accusation of a servant maid, with oaths and curses. But after the day of Pentecost, that same Peter that cursed and swore and denied Christ when the servant maid accused him of being a follower of Jesus, faced the very council that condemned Him, and said, “If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole, be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole” (Acts 4:9-10). What a cleansing the baptism of fire does in a moment! These tongues of fire in Acts 2:3 were not seen by the multitudes. Such a strange phenomena would have been recorded. It was the vocal tongues that amazed them and not the “tongues of fire.” Apparently, they were not seen, they were felt. John the Baptist said Jesus would baptize in the Holy Spirit and fire. The obvious change in the disciple’s lives after Pentecost proves John’s prophecy. Peter’s change of nature is outstanding. He met the glory of God and tasted the fire of God. A coward became a conqueror!
The prophet Daniel spoke of the coming of the Lord in judgment and described the awesome scene: “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days, did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire. A firey stream issued and came forth from before Him: and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set” (Dan. 7:9-10). So we also read in the Psalms: “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him” (Ps. 50:3). So again in Isaiah it is written: “Behold, the name of the Lord cometh from far, burning with His anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue as a devouring fire: and His breath as an overflowing stream (of fire). Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared: He hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it’ (Isa. 30:27-33).
There is no better way to deal with filth than to deal with it by fire. The final work of God in this world will be the destruction of the world by penal fire. That will change all things. That will melt up all the real estate, so that no man will be able to tell you where his original grab was. That will burn up all the stocks and bonds. That will melt all the gold and silver, and destroy all the landmarks, and make of this world a New Heaven and a New Earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. Every man’s work will eventually be tested by fire. The fire will try every man’s work of what sort it is. If you and I build into our spiritual activities wood, hay and stubble, the fire will find it out, and the wall will come tumbling down. Every child of God is building his spiritual life upon the foundation that is Jesus Christ. There is no other foundation that can be laid, or is laid. We are either building the quality of gold, silver or precious stones or the weak and unprofitable things of wood, hay and stubble that are soulish self-efforts and carnal. If the works that I do are gold, then surely it must mean that I am building out of the Spirit. Am I led by the Spirit of God? Or am I fulfilling my own ambitions? There is a vast difference. The heart of man, even the believing man, is often found to be desperately wicked in this regard. It is not difficult to find men who glibly make great claims to being led by the Spirit of God, but many, alas, are involved in gaining a following and building their own kingdom, though they imagine they are building for God. Beware the man who tells you that he alone has the truth, that he alone bears the message of the hour, that you will not hear the deep secrets of the Lord from any other source, and his word alone holds the key to life and immortality, to sonship and the fullness of God. These people still move in the wicked spirit of the Babylon system, working over time to build up their own Babylonish Kingdom. Such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. These are self-deceived egotists, not discerning the Lord’s body. God has not made me a ruler or a judge of my neighbor’s motives, but it does not require an exceptional gift of discernment to conclude that much of the work done in God’s name is in reality the wood of a deceitful heart, hay of spurious revelation, and the stubble of carnality. All work, whether carnal or spiritual, will be subjected to the testing fire of God. If it is gold, silver, or precious stones it will stand the test. If it is the wood, hay, or stubble of self-effort it will be burned up and destroyed. If any man’s work can abide the fiery testing of God’s judgmental fire, then that man will receive a reward for the profitable work he has accomplished. But if any man’s work abide not the fire, but rather is consumed by it, then that man will suffer humiliating loss. All that he has done through a life-time of supposed service to God will all go up in smoke before his eyes, and he will suffer dreadful loss. He himself will be saved, but his loss will be disappointing and fearful.
Let us get to the foundation of things. The foundation of the revelation of God is the revelation of a God who answers by fire. When Israel was sunk into the deepest depths of degradation, Moses, whom God had specially designed to deliver His people, went away and committed that terrible blunder of yielding to the unholy fire of unholy anger and the self-effort it engendered. The Bible says he looked this way; he looked that way; he looked all around; he looked on every side; but he did not look up; and because he did not look up, he went away and did a thing that caused him forty years of exile. Yes, Ex. 2:12 says, “And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he smote the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.” Ah, Moses, why did you not remember that God saw you, and that “Be sure your sin will find you out!” is eternally true! Moses could not hide his sin, with the body of the man he hid in the sand. He killed an Egyptian, and that caused him and the people more suffering, crime, and sorrow than can be measured.
Moses, it is universally admitted, was the heir apparent to the throne of Egypt, the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter. Pharaoh had no son, and this adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter would, when Pharaoh had died, have been seated upon the throne of Egypt. To think, he would have been king! He would have been Pharaoh, and could have established the religion of God in Egypt, because the Pharaoh was an absolute monarch, and was the head of the religious as well as of the political system of the kingdom. Then he could have delivered God’s people without all the miseries, and plagues, and agonies, and wretchedness that came upon them because of his sin. It seems to me that if Moses had just brought the offender who was oppressing the Israelites before the proper tribunal for punishment, it would have been alright. It was his duty to honor the law. Instead of that he killed him. The very next day he reaped the consequence of his crime, because when he interfered and tried to stop two Israelites from quarreling, one of them said, “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us! Thinkest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian?” Then he saw that his crime was known. He looked on all sides, but the very man in whose behalf he had intervened had betrayed him, had told of the crime that he had committed, and Moses had to flee. The result was forty years that are a blank as far as he is concerned; but they were forty long, torturous years of oppression and slavery for God’s people, with all the debasement of such conditions.
I do not say that God did not teach Moses something in those forty years. No doubt He did, but he had to go away into Midian and marry a Midianitish princess; and he was settling down to be merely a master of large flocks, when God revealed Himself by fire. It took a fire to do it. As Moses, forty years after his exile, was walking there in the plains near to the Mount of God, he saw a strange sight. It was a burning bush, right there in the midst of the plain, and the more he looked at it, the brighter it seemed. Strange that it did not burn up! The brighter it burned, the brighter the bush seemed to be. He said, “I shall go nearer and see this strange sight.” When he drew near, he heard a Voice out of that bush say, “Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is Holy Ground.” It is my own conviction that God ordered Moses to get out of his shoes so that GOD COULD GET INTO THEM. Moses had walked in his own way long enough; now it was time for him to walk in God’s way. He did as he was bidden, and then he heard from that bush the Voice of Yahweh saying, “I AM.” That Voice told Moses to go back to Egypt, and return to the work from which he had run away forty years before, when he killed the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand. If God the Almighty brought you into this world to do some work, you had better do it before He takes you back by the ear to do it. Some of God’s servants have to be dragged back to their work. You think you can get out of it. You cannot! You have to do it, and you had better do it without being forced. Even if it is after forty years, you will have to go back and do it. But you will not do it as well as you would have done it forty years before; you will find it ten times harder. Moses found it so, because the people had been suffering for forty years. They had gone down into a deeper degradation; the iron of slavery had entered into their very souls, and they were hopeless and despairing under the taskmasters of Egypt.
It is a terrible thing to neglect your call, and have to come back to it after forty years. Terrible! Terrible! You must fulfill God’s purpose in your life. God will have it done, and if it is not done one way, it will have to be done another. Moses was hand-picked; schooled in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, deschooled on the backside of the desert; from kingly robes to a shepherd’s smock, from the banqueting hall to the lunch bag, from a master- builder to dunking lambs, from knowing it all to knowing nothing. At forty years of age he could take on all comers, at eighty he didn’t know if he could speak up for Israel. To some it was lost talent and a wasted life of a brilliant mind, stuck in the wilderness just feeding sheep. Out of the burning bush God spoke. “Oh,” Moses objected, “I cannot talk.” A man who is a stutterer has to be really made to talk, and it took forty years for Moses of old to learn. Then he had to be sent down to Egypt to talk. It took the fire of the burning bush to give him a burning message, a burning word of authority from the eternal I AM. Unless you have heard the Voice, precious friend of mine, you have no message from God. Unless you have contacted the Fire, you have no authority from God. Now Moses saw the fire, Moses heard the fire, and Moses received the fire. That burning bush, that burning fire is God. “Our God is a consuming fire.” What do you think Christ came to this earth to do? He said, “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and what will I, if it is already kindled?” Do you know He came to send fire? Do you know that He came to set fire in the hearts of men? Do you know that He came to touch your lips with the fire from His altar? Do you not know that God “maketh His Messengers spirits; His Ministers a Flaming Fire? (Heb. 1:7). Fire! The fire of God must come in to destroy. The fire of God came to Egypt. The fire of God brought the children of Israel out of bondage. The fire of God had consumed the old Moses of forty years ago. The fire was in Moses’ heart. The fire was in Joshua’s heart. The fire was in Caleb’s heart. The fire was in the hearts of those who had ears to hear and eyes to see and hearts to understand. Moses died. Forty years more passed away, and Joshua, the great warrior, with that fire which had never burned out, was now the leader of God’s people. That was a royal generation with faith in God, with hope in God, with love for God, with the word of God living in their hearts which came up out of the deserts and took possession of the Promised Land. They marched in faith around Jericho, and its walls fell flat. That fire burned before them and devastated the enemies.
The first apostles were constantly arguing about which of them would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. John and James thought they would get a start on the rest, so they came to Jesus and brought their mother with them to make a request of the Lord. They asked if He would grant that one of them would sit on His right hand and the other on His left in the Kingdom. These were the chief positions. Jesus answered them by asking them a question. “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” They answered, “Yea Lord, we are able.” So He said, “You shall indeed drink of that cup, and be baptized with that baptism, but to sit on My right hand or on My left, is not Mine to give.” The cup was the cup of suffering, and the baptism was a baptism of fire. They were not going to be promised the chief seats in the Kingdom, but if they were to have a part with Him in the Kingdom, they had to drink of that cup, and be baptized with that baptism. And so must we all. There is no getting around it. It is my conviction that we will all be given the opportunity to make a choice, whether to be willing to follow Him and walk as He walked, go through what He went through, or take an easier way. The choice is ours. But do not forget–HE WILL DEAL WITH YOU ACCORDINGLY!
In England there was a blacksmith, a very rough and uncouth man, an ungodly man. One day the Lord Jesus Christ walked into his blacksmith’s shop and said, “Follow Me.” He answered the call and began to follow the Lord. Soon it seemed that everything was going wrong, turning against him. His business was failing, his wife took seriously ill and spent most of her time in the hospital. With business poor, doctor’s and hospital bills to pay, and a lot of other things working against him, he was having a very hard time. One day one of his old cronies came into the shop and said to him, “Why don’t you give up this silly religious thing you have got yourself into; all you have had since you got religious is bad luck, and everything is against you. Why don’t you give it up?” Jim looked at him, and then pointed to a pile of metal lying in a corner. “That is my scrap pile. When I want to make something, I choose an appropriate piece of metal. I heat it to the necessary temperature–red hot or white hot–required in preparation for its intended use. Sometimes this is almost to the melting point. Then I take it out and hammer it on the anvil, then plunge it into cold water or oil and perhaps heat it again and hammer it some more. If it will take what I put it through, I will make what I want of it. But sometimes the piece will not stand up through the process, it will break down, then it is of no use to me and I throw it on the scrap pile. I just say to the Lord, “Lord, you can do whatever you want to do with me, you can put me through the fire, you can hammer me on the anvil, you can beat me, put me through the water, do anything you want with me Lord, but please Lord, don’t throw me on the scrap pile.
Many years ago there was found in an African mine the most magnificent diamond in the world’s history. It was presented to the king of England to blaze in his crown or state. The king sent it to Amsterdam to be cut . It was put into the hands of an expert lapidary. And what do you suppose he did with it? He took the gem of priceless value, and cut a notch in it. Then he struck a hard blow with his instrument and–lo!–the superb jewel lay in his hand cleft in two. Did he do this out of recklessness, wastefulness, or criminal carelessness? Indeed not! For days and weeks that blow had been studied and planned. Drawings and models had been made of the gem. Its quality, its defects, its lines of cleavage had all been studied with minutest care. The man to whom it was committed was one of the most skillful lapidaries in the world. Was that blow a mistake? No! It was the climax of the lapidary’s skill. When he struck that blow, he did the one thing that would bring that gem to its most perfect shapeliness, radiance, and jeweled splendor. That blow which seemed to ruin the precious stone was, in fact, its perfect redemption. For, from those two halves were wrought two magnificent gems which the skilled eye of the lapidary saw hidden in the rough, uncut stone as it came from the mine. So, betimes, God sends a stinging blow to fall upon the lives of His elect sons and daughters. The blood spurts, the nerves wince. The soul cries out in agony–Why? The blow seems to you an appalling mistake. But it is not; for you, precious child of God, are the most precious jewel, the rarest gem, to radiate the glory of your Father’s Kingdom. And HE is the most skilled lapidary in the universe.
The baptism of fire is that baptism which enables us to receive God Himself: the all-consuming, the everliving fire. Christ, who was baptized with the baptism of suffering and death, arose triumphant; He reigns in heaven; He reigns on earth; and He will establish His Father’s Kingdom over every heart, and every spot of ground. Because He lives, we shall live also. We cannot die. Let us live it, and carry the fire that will consume every unclean desire in every heart, in every home, in every city, in every nation, until the earth is purged with the purifying power, and Christ our King has come to reign, until the time when every foe is vanquished, and He delivers up the Kingdom to God, even the Father. As Peter told us, “The heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the Day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” We read about the passing away of this present kosmos, the heavens and the earth, and the establishing of the new in Isa. 65:17. “For behold I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” Hallelujah! What a wonderful thing that God will so thoroughly cleanse our own little world and the whole vast kosmos (world order), that even our minds will be purged from the remembrance of it. Wonder of wonders, to be able to forget that sin and death ever existed! God will make such a good job of His work, that the past will be completely obliterated and never thought of any more. Blessed be His name!
THE WORLD TO COME
The coming “world” will be one that will see the fullness of God in operation through His sons, the demonstration of the mighty power of the Kingdom of God. It is not a mansion over the hilltop, or a cabin in the corner of glory-land, or white night gowns, or harps, or palm branches, or dangling feet in some stream of celestial water. There is a job to be done. A battle to be fought. A victory to be won. An enemy to be conquered. “And there shall be no more death.” This is God’s will for humanity on this earth, and this is what our call to sonship is all about. It would be a most beautiful thing if all the saints of God could have an open vision that would enable them to understand the glory of God’s purpose on earth, and His election in man. We read in Heb. 6:4-5: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted of the good word of God, and THE POWERS OF THE WORLD TO COME…” The Rotherham translation renders this last statement, “Mighty works also of a coming age.” The Interlinear Greek New Testament says, “The works of power of the age to come.” Jesus said, “Greater works than these shall YE DO!” But have the followers of Jesus really done any GREATER WORKS than Jesus did? The book of Acts doesn’t record them. Neither do the epistles. Nor does church history. And, my friend, after ninety years of the restoration to the church of the baptism in the Holy Spirit; after forty-five years of the restoration of the five-fold ministry, the gifts of the spirit, and the prophetic flow, have you seen any GREATER WORKS than raising the dead, cleansing lepers, walking on water, calming storms, turning water into wine! You know you haven’t. But according to Heb. 6:5 there are MIGHTY WORKS OF A COMING AGE, GREATER WORKS THAN JESUS DID TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO! And all we have experienced of God, of His Spirit, Of His Word, His power, glory, miracles and revelation, has been merely a small taste, a little sampling, of the glory and power of that coming age! Why friends, we have only seen the firstfruits of what God will do through His enChristed body upon this earth. The hospitals emptied, the dead raised incorruptible, natures changed, nations turned to God, the crucial problems of poverty, crime, violence, war, and corruption solved, the whole world system transformed — and GREATER WORKS THAN THESE SHALL YOU SEE as the glorious mind of Christ rules and reigns over the earth realm through the manifested sons of God. The fullness of what we have just had a taste will be the normal works on behalf of humanity during that world to come. Thus seen, the next dispensation is to be so different as to be the very reverse of the present one in almost every particular.
The heavens and the earth which are to come are the third heavens and the third earth since that long ago beginning. Paul knew a man who was given a glimpse of that third “heaven,” that coming arrangement in which the saints will reign from the heavenlies. He says he was “caught away” (spiritually or physically, or both, he could not tell, things were so real to his view) down the stream of time to the new condition of things, the new heaven, hence the third heaven. He thus saw things AS THEY WILL BE under the ministry of the sons of God, things which he might not at that time even disclose, for they were “not lawful to be uttered” (II Cor. 12:2-4). Doubtless these were the same things John the beloved saw afterwards, and was permitted to express to the church in symbols, which things may only be understood as the Spirit of God brings to light their fulfillment within us. John, in the revelation given to him by our Lord on the Isle of Patmos, was in vision carried down through the church age and its changing scenes of church and state, to the end of this present world, and there in spirit he saw satan bound, a manchild ascended to the throne, a hundred and forty four thousand sons of God standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion, the perfected and glorified bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem in glory and exaltation, a royal priesthood ministering the blessings and benefits of the Kingdom of God to all kindreds and tongues and peoples and nations, the NEW HEAVENS (spiritual government) and the NEW EARTH (social order) established; for the former heavens and the former earth were passed away.
Rejoice, O ye saints of the Lord, for the end of the world is upon us! ARA — the up-side down altar of fire — is now ready to pour its judgment upon the depths of the kingdom of darkness and all things shall be committed to the fire for purification. “Behold, I make all things new!” saith the Lord. It is important that we make a difference between “all new things” and “all things new.” God shall not end this world and call forth the new by destroying either His creatures or His creation. Not one thing, not one person shall be lost! He shall bring this world to an end and establish the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness by MAKING A-L-L T-H-I-N-G-S N-E-W –changed, purified, and transformed by fire. Blessed be His wonderful name!
J. PRESTON EBY
HEAVENS DECLARE, Part 27, Sagittarius-The Archer [J. Preston Eby] ~ BIBLE STUDY 1