TREASURES OF TRUTH, VOLUME 11
WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT
BY: GEORGE R. HAWTIN
WATCHMAN WHAT OF THE NIGHT
THE LATENESS OF THE HOUR
BE YE LIKE MEN THAT WAIT FOR THE LORD
UNTO THEM THAT LOOK
LOOK TO YOURSELVES
THE TIME OF THE INTERIM
WAITING FOR THE BLESSED HOPE
WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT
There is almost universal conviction today that we are now living in the end of the age. We humans soon learn that, as the evening approaches, shadows begin to lengthen, casting the specter of the coming night across the land. So also the lengthening shadows of this age of grace herald the approach of the black night of tribulation, which will be followed by the kingdom day.
When our Lord Jesus Christ was here, He often marveled at the ignorance and stupidity of the people. He was appalled at the unbelief of His own people, but sometimes marveled at the faith of Roman, Syrophoenician, or Samaritan. He foresaw a day in which strangers would come from the north, the south, the east, and the west to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God, but His own people would be cast out. There is no royal road to the kingdom of God, but only the pathway of faith. No privileged people walk this way, but only obedient sons. There are no special helps for the laggard, no easier paths for those who fear hardship, nor any quicker way for the impatient. He reminds the faint-hearted, “My Son, do not think lightly of the Lord’s discipline, and do not faint when He corrects you; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He acknowledges. The sufferings that you are enduring are for your discipline. God is dealing with you as with sons: for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? And if you are left without discipline, of which every true son has had a share that shows that you are bastards, and not true sons.” Heb. 12:5-7. (Weymouth)
There never was a teacher like Jesus. The soldiers said, “Never man spake like this man”, and the common people, hearing the authority of His teaching, in wonder remarked, “Lo, He speaketh with authority and not as the scribes.” The teachings of Jesus were simple, but always beyond the reach of the wise and prudent of this world. Jesus taught that it would be a very simple thing to recognize the signs that herald the end of the age and foretell the approach of the kingdom of God. Just as simply as a man or a little boy foretells the weather by simple signs, so also shall we be able to foretell the imminence of His coming by the simple but multiplied signs He gave us. When one day the Pharisees with the Sadducees approached Him, desiring that He would give them a sign from heaven, He answered and said unto them, “When it is evening, ye say it will be fair weather, for the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today for the sky is red and lowering. O, ye hypocrites, Ye can discern the face of the sky: but can ye not discern the signs of the times?’ Matt. 16:2–3. And again, “When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say there cometh a shower, and so it is. And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say there will be heat, and it cometh to pass. Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?” Luke 12:54-56
Surely these are simple signs that even a child can understand, but it seems that we are all prone to ignore the winds and red skies that proclaim the end of the age. Are we to be numbered among those foolish people who willfully brush aside all evidence, smugly assuring themselves that, “since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the foundation of the world”? As this age speeds to its close, there will be ever increasing and indisputable evidence that the end of this age is upon us and the kingdom of God is at hand.
It is true that no man knoweth the day nor the hour when the Son of man cometh, but it is equally true that “Ye have no need that that day should overtake you as a thief. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape, but ye, brethren, are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all children of light and children of the day: we are not of night nor of darkness.” 1 Thess: 5:2-5. Therefore, as a man who knows a thief is coming sits and watches that he is not taken unawares, so let us watch also that, when He cometh and knocketh, we shall be ready to open immediately to Him.
Every dispensation begins with a promise, but every dispensation has ended in judgment. The dispensation of grace in which we now find ourselves will be no exception to this rule. Without question the judgment, which will bring this age to its climax will gather into its fearful self the calamity and wrath of all ages before it. Eden, the dispensation of innocence, ended with man’s being cast out from God’s presence. The dispensation of conscience ended with the judgment of the flood. Human government ended with the tower of Babel. Promise ended with the destruction of Egypt and the death of the firstborn. Law ended with the crucifixion of Christ, and the dispensation of grace will end with a tribulation as terrible as the expulsion from Eden, as universal as the flood, as complete as the overthrow of Babel, and as devastating as the destruction of Egypt.
Man is so constituted that he readily becomes accustomed to noise, to traffic, to cold and heat, to physical disabilities, and even to pain. Men who have been long hardened in battle become accustomed to the crash of artillery and the whine of bullets. In like manner the multiplying signs of the end of the age creep upon us unawares and we are inclined to believe that things have always been this way. Our minds have become so accustomed to the lawlessness and violence that daily glare from the headlines of our papers that we frequently turn the page without even reading the story. Thus the earth has become filled with signs that tell us that the end of the age is here, but we have become as insensible as the people of Noah’s day, who “knew not until the flood came and took them all away.” Indeed, we have become so insensible to the truth that a great part of Christendom is willing to relegate the story of Noah and the flood to the level of Anderson‘s Fairy Tales. But let us assure our hearts of this: In spite of all science, whether true or false, the word of God has never been proven inaccurate nor untrue. God always makes His statements without explanation because all He declares is truth, even though it may take unbelieving man endless generations to discover that God cannot lie. Therefore, when the Lord declares, “A virgin shall conceive and bear a Son,” there is room for neither discussion nor argument about possibilities or impossibilities. The virgin birth of Jesus Christ was not a whit more miraculous than the birth of Adam, or Eve, or you, or me. God is the miraculous author of them all and man knows not how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child. While we walk this pilgrim pathway, our only true recommendation before God is faith in the veracity and immutability of the Lord. All such men know that, should heaven and earth pass away, the word of the Lord will endure unto all generations.
For centuries men have believed the promise of Christ, “If I go away, I will come again.” Often have we repeated the words of the two men in shining garments, “This same Jesus which was taken up into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10–11. Though we have waited long until hope deferred has made the heart sick, yet the promise is sure. Though it tarry, we will wait for it, for it will surely come.
The ever increasing signs now gathering about us on every hand are evidences given us of God that the long delayed hope of creation is drawing near. Sonship, the hope of the entire creation for which all creatures groan, is soon to be a living reality. The kingdom of God for which Jesus prayed is being prepared in secret to spread its wisdom and knowledge, justice and equity, like a sweet perfume over the entire earth. All who truly hope for sonship and all that it entails will lift up their heads and rejoice that the redness of the sky on this dread evening of the tribulation and heartache is the divine assurance that all will be fair in the kingdom of tomorrow. We should concern ourselves with the gathering signs of the times, not for the sake of being spectacular, but because Jesus Himself said, “When ye see these things begin to come to pass, then lift up your heads and rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh.” It is with this thought in mind that I wish to point out some of the truths that clearly show that the end of the age is come and the true hope of all past ages is about to be realized — the kingdom of God. The Sabbath of rest is at hand.
Of all the scriptures which concern the end of this age the one most frequently quoted is this: “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” Luke 17:26. It is a sobering thing to know that “all things happened unto them for ensamples to us upon whom the ends of the ages are come.” 1 Cor. 10:11. Therefore all the things, which happened in other ages were given not alone for the sake of those who then dwelt upon the earth, but for our instruction and understanding upon whom the ends of the ages have come. This is the most important hour of human history. The perfection and hope of the saints of all ages depends upon those who are coming to perfection and sonship now, for they without us cannot be made perfect. Heb. 11:39, 40. Let us then refrain from esteeming lightly the things that are coming upon the world, for they are/or our instruction, and our sure knowledge of them will help us to follow the steps of Him who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despised the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the majesty on high. “When a cloud rises in the west, ye say there will be a shower, and it cometh to pass.” Let us then at the sight of the gathering clouds lift up our heads and rejoice, for our redemption draweth nigh.
In the days of Noah there was a great dearth of spiritual life and spiritual understanding, for the Lord had said to Noah, “Thee have I seen righteous before Me in this generation.” Gen. 7:1. Therefore God “spared not the old world, but saved Noah, the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.” 2 Pet. 2:5. Never in any generation has the Lord left Himself without a witness. He has always had an election according to His purpose and according to His grace, and Noah, that one righteous man, that one man was the forerunner and foreshadow of an elect company of sons who will stand as one body in the great tribulation. Though they be many, yet will they be but one, for all are one in Him. For this reason they are called the manchild. As we behold the ever increasing godlessness, apostasy, hate, and rebellion, all of which herald the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, contrary to all ungodliness and in direct opposition to it will stand God’s elect sons who, though despised and hated even unto death, bow not the knee to Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian image. But they as Noah will hold in their grasp the key to man’s redemption, the regeneration and re-constitution of all things. Acts 3:21
Important and indisputable are the signs in the earth today, for they are the swift heralds of the climax of this age. Yet the most important event transpiring in the earth is the secret, silent formation of the manchild, the sons of God who are to rule the world in the ages to come. As Solomon’s temple was built without the sound of a hammer from stones carefully cut and prepared in the quarries before time, so is that great temple of the body of Christ being prepared in the dismal quarries of this dark age. The work is perfect and the moment is at hand when, without noise of hammer or rasping of saw, each select, elect member will be found standing in his proper place in Christ. Thus will the kingdom’s temple be complete and the rule of Christ will have begun.
There will not be a great revival before the end of this age as is expected by some. No dispensation has ever ended with a revival and this age of grace will be no exception to the rule. All dispensations, including the kingdom of God, end in judgment, and true faith is found only in the hearts of an insignificant few. “When the Son of man cometh, will He find faith on the earth?” No! Indeed He will not, except in the hearts of those few elect whom He will call together from the distant ends of the earth and heaven. The next great revival will be in that glorious age when “the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” That will be no local affair, but will cover the world like a mantle until the knowledge of the Lord will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. Then no man will say, “Know the Lord,” for all shall know Him from the least to the greatest.
In Noah’s day the flood (tribulation) covered the entire earth. So also shall it be in the day of the coming of the Son of man. Every day we live is bringing us closer to the hour when the nations of the world will be forced from sheer necessity to form a’ world government under a world dictator. Nations can no longer be independent of each other. They can no longer act alone. What affects one seems to affect them all. Modern means of travel and communication have practically eliminated distance and time. The assassination of President Kennedy was known around the world in minutes, and the murder of Oswald was witnessed as far away as Russia the moment it happened. All these things demand a world government and a world leader. The word of God leaves no doubt that such a government is on the way, when power and authority will be given to “the beast”. We are now entering upon the phase where nations, trying momentarily to bury the bloody hatchet, will say peace and safety. The united forces of great Babylon will rise higher and higher to rule over the kings of the earth, but the destruction of this antichrist system will be sure, sudden, universal, and complete.
In the days of Noah the world at large was in complete ignorance of God’s plan. This is the story as told by Jesus Christ. Matt. 24:37-39. (Phillip’s Translation) “For just as life went on in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of man. In those days before the flood people were eating, drinking, marrying, and being given in marriage until the very day that Noah went into the ark, and knew nothing about the flood until it came and destroyed them all. So will it be in the coming of the Son of man.” These words adequately describe the faithless lethargy into which our own age has fallen. All things continue on day after day as they have “since the fathers fell asleep” – marrying, giving in marriage, divorcing, remarrying, rising, going to bed, seeking pleasure, making money, playing religion, living and dying, but knowing nothing and caring less about the tribulation soon to envelop the world. The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of the flesh have drawn a veil over the eyes of the masses of humanity that they cannot see the gathering storm clouds of tribulation, nor hear the distant rumblings that herald the blackest day the world will ever know. “They knew nothing about the flood until it came and took them all away.” Millions of Christians of our day have ceased long ago to watch and be ready for the coming of the Son of God. They have become like those who say, “My Lord delayeth His coming”, and so they have set their hearts on gaining earthly things, neglecting to pray, neglecting the word of God, neglecting to tithe, and failing to avail themselves of the graces, which God has freely offered to every man. We live in a world abounding with religion, an age packed full of systems professing godliness, but God has departed from them all. Christ is no longer found in the excitement of the multitude, but standing at the heart’s door of the individual, saying, “If any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him and he with Me,” Rev. 3:20. Thus it is in this the Laodicean age. Christ is found outside the church system, knocking and asking admittance to the believing hearts of individual men and women. To those separated individuals He says, “He that overcometh will sit with Me in My throne, even as I overcame and am set down with My Father in His throne.” Rev. 3:21. I know nothing at all of the religion of Noah’s day, but without doubt they were a religious people. Humanity has always been religious, but seldom godly. In all probability our present day is the most religious of all ages, but with less power and less true knowledge of God than any age before us. Our age was summed up by Paul in these tragic words: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” From such we must steadfastly turn away.
If we read the account of the days of Noah with reverence and meditation, we will need no help nor explanation to see the exact parallel in our day, for “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth and it grieved him at His heart.” Gen. 6:5–6 “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.” Gen. 6:11-12 What a dread but accurate description this is of our modern day! Could we fill volumes with description of our twentieth century decay, we could enlarge very little upon these few divinely inspired words, “the earth was corrupt”, “the earth was filled with violence”, “all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth”, and “the imagination of men’s hearts was only evil continually.”
The earth was corrupt then, and the earth is corrupt now. Corruption has crept like a sly and stealthy serpent into all walks of life until we find ourselves in the sad position of having to admit that there is scarcely a walk of life that is not infested with corruption. Corruption is found on every level of government, from the highest to the lowest. Corruption has crept into the court of justice so that judgment can often be bought for a fee. The poor can be punished because he is poor and the rich is set free because he is rich. We strain at gnats and swallow camels and rob the hireling of his wages. Faults are built into automobiles and washing machines. The evils of dope and drink are allowed to persist because they are big business. While we collect millions of dollars to fight cancer, cigarette companies go on advertising their cancer producing products, and so on and on the corruption goes.
One would certainly think that religion would be the one realm, which could be pronounced free from corruption, but, so far from this being the truth, “the Father’s house has become a house of merchandise and the place of prayer a den of thieves.” Religion today has become big business. It is one of the biggest and most lucrative businesses in the whole world. More than one preacher, supposing that gain is godliness, has become a millionaire in the last decade, not because of God-given gifts, but because he was a tremendous promoter. Through clever talk they have tossed the children of God to and fro and carried them about with every wind of doctrine. By the sleight of man and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive they have beguiled innocent people, pretending that they were great ones with outstanding gifts. Yet for all their pretended revivals there is no spirit of revival in the land, and for all their claims of healing, the sick abound more and more. By craftiness they obtain the names of tens of thousands of people to whom they regularly send their pleas for financial help, with their self-addressed reply envelopes into which the poor and the widows are urged to put their offerings that they might live in wanton luxury upon the earth. Woe to them, for they have gone greedily in the error of Balaam’s covetousness. With glib tongues and plausible programs of imagined faith these smooth religious salesmen with feigned sincerity have robbed widow’s houses and have covered their crimes with long prayers and eloquent sermons. Well-meaning people are urged to give to further grandiose programs, which are not the plan of God at all, but merely the product of an imaginative, scheming, and avaricious mind. Millions have been squeezed from the poor to build huge temples, world churches, Christian cities, refuges and sanctuaries for the time of tribulation, and to devise schemes to further other human notions which seldom, if ever, materialize. The greed and avarice of this self-styled clerical order is always applied in the name of religion and amounts to nothing but a veritable plunder system. One would certainly be convinced that the avaricious scheming of Protestantism is not one whit behind pagan Rome, who for centuries has collected vast sums for confessions, penance, and indulgences of all kinds.
In the face of such vast corruption as is seen on every hand, the fiery words of St. James ring like a trumpet of doom to our entire generation. “Go to now, ye rich men; weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them, which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts as in the day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.” James 5:1-7
Corruption abounds everywhere, and I do not know how the world could become more corrupt than it already is. Corruption is big business. It abounds in governments, in courts, in ordinary business practices, in sports, in schools, in religion, in morals, and even in homes. Certainly the days of Noah are upon us, for “all flesh has corrupted his way upon the earth.”
In Noah’s day the earth was filled with violence as it is to-day. We live in an age when violence is international policy. Scarcely a day goes by without violence breaking forth somewhere. We do not need to look to international wars or remote rebellions for violence, for there is violence among street gangs, violence in trade unions, violence on the highways, and violence in sport. There are sluggings, beatings, knifings, shootings, and brawls every day on an almost unbelievable scale. Somewhere in America a murder is committed every few minutes. The seed of violence is continually sown in the minds of young and old by television, radio, theatre, newspapers, and novels. It is a most significant trend and an infallible proof that we are living in the final days of this age.
In the May, 1959, issue of the Calgary Farm and Ranch Review the following article appeared, which for a secular magazine is unusually to the point. “One of man’s most tragic weaknesses is his failure to benefit from the lessons of history. Yet those lessons have for centuries been recorded by scholars. Not the least of these was the famous historian, Edward Gibbon, who dedicated many years of his life to future generations by his precise research into the causes and effects of social changes.
In his classic, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, he cited the five primary causes for the deterioration of that historic society.
1. The rapid increase of divorce and the undermining of the sanctity of the home.
2. The spiraling rise of taxes and extravagant spending.
3. The mounting craze for pleasure and the brutalization of sports.
4. The building of gigantic armaments and the failure to realize that the real enemy lay within the gates of the empire in the moral decay of the people.
5. The decay of religion and the fading of faith into a mere form, leaving the people without any guide.
How does our society compare with that of imperial Rome that once ruled the western world? What about our mounting divorce rate, climbing taxes, and government extravagance? Have the telephone and the automobile brought more home life or have they turned the home into a clearing house for outside activity? Now that T.V. has brought wrestling into the drawing-room and gun-play into the nursery, have we more fair play and athletic skill? What about religion? Is man simply going through the motions, or does he know what the symbolism is about? Or is he instead on the golf course or sleeping off the effects of intemperance from the night before? In the light of today’s conditions the failings of ancient Rome make a rather sobering comparison with our own.”
The above quotation shows a keen insight into the true condition of our age. If editors of secular magazines can see the glaring evils of the present hour with such clearness, then surely those who believe God’s word must assuredly know that these conditions are forerunners and harbingers of the great tribulation and the end of the age. In the light of such truth we need not be caught sleeping, for those who are looking for Christ should be much more awake than those who care not at all. But it is to their eternal shame that we find millions of Christians sunk so deep in this slough of corruption that they can never see anything clearly. In their mad dash for money they have forgotten all the finer things that life affords. The frantic race to possess and partake of earthly things has dulled all spiritual desire until God’s people actually believe that “gain is godliness.” Millions of Christians who once fervently loved Christ, crowning Him head of their lives and homes, knowing no joy like the glory of His presence while they patiently waited His coming, now lock Him out of their parlors while they fix their eyes for countless hours on all the filth that corruption affords, sitting like Lot in the very gates of Sodom. Christ has no fellowship with Belial. How then can he who fills his head with the world of Belial dare to hope for the mind of Christ?
Neither I nor any other person on earth knows the exact sequence of events which precede the end of the age and the coming of the Lord; neither does any man know the day nor the hour of His appearing and manifestation, for God has hidden these things from our minds. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit has caused to be written some very forthright and exact lists of events, which any man can understand if he wishes to heed them. The apostle Paul in his epistle to Timothy left the world a most exact account of the last hours of this age of grace. No more searching blow by blow description could possibly be given than the one he gave when he penned these words: “This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come, for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent (having no control over appetites and passions), fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady (headstrong), high, minded lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” 2 Tim. 3:1-5. There is practically nothing one could add to these words by way of comment, but no more exact description of our time could possibly be given than Paul gave in this brief, word by word run-down of the sordid conditions that will bring this age to its close. When men become “lovers of their own selves”, then everything else, whether physical, moral, or spiritual, must be adjusted to suit and satisfy self. No fraud is too great to perpetrate, no crime too great to commit, no covenant too sacred to break, no truce so binding that it cannot be ignored, no name too holy to blaspheme, no parent worthy to be obeyed, no gift worthy of heartfelt thanks. Even the loud professions of godliness are for selfish ends, hoping to ease a guilty conscience here or subtly hoping to escape judgment hereafter. These frightful conditions are so prevalent today and have become so familiar and ordinary that they are no longer noticeable among us. Our eyes have become dim from seeing them, our consciences seared by their presence, and our ears deaf to their shouted warning that the end of the age is even at the doors.
If we believe not these things, neither would we believe though one rose from the dead to tell us. Luke 16:31. And though an angel from heaven came to warn this godless generation, it would have no more effect than the warning of the angels had upon the men of Sodom, who persisted in their heady unbelief until fire and brimstone fell upon them and the stinking stench of their unbelief ascended in billowing smoke before the judgment throne of Almighty God. “As it was in the days of Lot: they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all; even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” Luke 17:28-30. Sodom has always been a symbol of evil and her people the quintessence of evil. Both Sodom, the city, and the Sodomites, the inhabitants, have lent their names to the languages of earth to signify the embodiment of every corrupt and evil thing. How dreadful is the indictment of Christ against our day when He likens it to the days of Sodom! Let all who have begun to flee from the city of destruction remember two things. First, remember Lot, who, though he started bravely for the mountain (Zion), turned aside from the distant peaks sublime and settled for a little earthly habitation, Zoar, requiring no faith, easily attained and soon forgotten.
Some of the greatest truths of the word of God are the ones that lie hidden like pearls of great price, unnoticed by the careless but available to all who will search beneath t? Uninviting surface ground. Of the many signs which herald the soon coming of the Lord and the end of the age, the most significant of all is the one which fewest people see. It is the one sign which is hidden almost entirely from the world of professing Christians, for they, being a part of it, are absorbed by it. They sit at its tables and are drunk with its wine. “The priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink; they are swallowed up of wine; they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment, for all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.” Isa. 28:7-8
The sign to which I refer is the sudden, unbelievable, mysterious rise of the system known in the scriptures as Mystery Babylon, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. That which has become familiarly known as the ecumenical movement is in reality the heading up under one universal head of all religious systems of the earth, especially those who claim the name Christian. The mystery of Babylon will be complete when the harlot mother, who is so well known to us all, is united with all her harlot daughters, which includes the entire denominational system of Protestatism. Then, united in her whoredoms, she will sit on many waters, drunken with the blood of saints and of the martyrs of Jesus. It is she who rides the scarlet-colored beast with seven heads and ten horns (Rev. 17:30) and by the hate and wrath of these ten horns shall she be utterly destroyed in the end. Rev. 17:16–17.
When we wrote the book, Mystery Babylon, in 1962, many people doubted that there would ever be a union of church systems such as we then foretold, but today only those who choose to be blind could possibly doubt it, for its phenomenal rise is evident everywhere. During the last few years the heads of the Romish system, together with the heads of the Protestant systems, have been working overtime to iron out their differences. Many of these “heads” were saying that, though there would be eventual union, it may be many years before it could be achieved. There is, however, another remarkable and sinister development which not even the cleverest leader could have foreseen, for during the past few years the efforts toward union have been snowballing from the opposite end, that is, from among the common people, until now it has gained such momentum that the leaders will be hard pressed to keep ahead of it. Story after story appears in the newspapers heralding the success of Protestant-Catholic rallies. In Vancouver, B.C. a “standing-room only” crowd of some 5000 took part in an interdenominational Roman Catholic-Protestant service. Ministers and priests alike hailed it as the true ecumenical spirit. In Seattle, Wash., a Lutheran church announced a month of meetings at which a Roman Catholic priest was to officiate. Such gatherings are increasing all over America as anyone who has watched the newspapers will have noticed.
There are some misinformed people who think that I am “fighting” against these things. Nothing could be further from fact. Neither Jesus nor the prophets were fighting when they warned the world that these things would surely come at the end of the age. Neither am I fighting when I point out that the things they foretold are happening to us. There is no desire in me to see these things stopped, but rather, seeing them, we lift up our heads and rejoice, for our redemption draweth nigh.
In Christ’s parable of the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8), He asked this question: “When the Son of man cometh, will He find faith on the earth?” The answer is that, when the Son of man cometh, true faith will have departed from the earth and from the church system and from all forms of religion. They will become like the Pharisee who trusted in himself that he was righteous and despised others. Luke 18:9. But there is a company of people now as always whom God calls His elect. In them and in them alone will true faith be found. Their faith will be tried to the bitter limit. Many times their hopes will all but vanish as through weeks and months and years they cry day and night to Him, but they shall neither fail nor be discouraged until He sends forth judgment unto truth, for their ear shall continually hear the clear ringing of His promise, “Shall not God avenge His own elect which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?” Luke 18:7
All evidence goes to show that at the end of the age there will be a tremendous trial of faith for all true children of God. Every dispensation has ended with a great trial of faith to the few remaining elect children of God. There is always evidence of plenty of religion but no real faith in it. True faith is always found in those few seemingly peculiar people who stand outside the camp of the religious systems and who have become a sort of laughing stock and a byword because they have been sanctified unto the kingdom of God. Was there faith in the earth in Noah’s day? No, indeed, there was not. Yet in the heart of Noah, the elect of God, simple faith abounded in that at God’s word he built an ark to the salvation of his house. And was there faith in the days of Moses? Very little, I fear, for only through mighty signs and wonders could he make the people believe that God was visiting them. Where was faith in Jesus’ day? Why, it was more to be found in Syrophoenicians, centurions, publicans and harlots than in the hearts of scribe and Pharisee. But now we stand at the close of another dispensation, the dispensation of the grace of God, a dispensation specially given by God for the explicit purpose of gathering out of all nations a people for His name. And can we find faith on the earth? I tell you, no More religion than at any other time in world history, more programs for the advancement of religion, more schools turning out assembly line preachers, more presses pouring out literature, more voices on radio, more faces on television, more compassing of land and sea to make proselytes, more advertising, more high pressure campaigns, more building of churches, money flowing like water to advance all causes, but in spite of it all from sea to sea men of all denominations are hailing the ecumenical spirit and joining the crushing throng eager to bow their knees to the Babylonian image. And when at last at the signal of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musical instruments the whole church system falls on its face to worship the Babylonian image, only the elect will be left standing, for they know that their God is able to deliver them both from the burning furnace of tribulation and from the king of Babylon, the final head and anti-christ of the Ecumenical Movement.
Let us not deceive ourselves. Great tribulation is coming. Already people have suffered excommunication because they have refused to join the march of the multitude to unity with Rome. Great deception is coming. We are seeing false signs and false wonders. We will hear of men high in church stations who will perform miracles and imitate the glory of Pentecost as did the magicians who resisted Moses. It would have been hard indeed to tell the difference between the miracles of Moses and the miracles of the magicians who duplicated with their enchantments the things that he did. But all who walk in the Spirit will know the difference. By the Spirit of God alone truth and error are manifest.
Many hundreds of years ago the prophet Isaiah significantly stated, “Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me.” Isa. 54:15. The truth is that many millions who have refused to recognize the true coming together of the body of Christ to make Him the one Lord and supreme head of their lives will now find themselves coming together to form another body of which He, Christ, is not the head. The words of Jesus Christ come ringing like a trumpet over the centuries: “I have come in My Father’s name and ye did not receive Me: If another shall come in his own name him ye shall receive.” John 5:43. In this all important hour, when any number of men are seeking followers, refuse to follow them. Learn to follow Christ and be led by His Spirit, for such are the sons of God. While human voices clamor for the attention of your ear, refuse to listen. Learn to know His voice, for “My sheep know My voice and they follow Me, and a stranger will they not follow, for they know not the voice of strangers.” Cease to crave the fellowship of people however dear they may be. Crave the fellowship of Christ whose voice is only heard when all other voices are silent.
I cannot believe that the existing church system everywhere visible in the earth is either the true church or the true representation of Christ. Protestantism today is in the same sorry state as Romanism in the days of Martin Luther. The “faithful city has become a harlot.” Therefore, if it is not the true church, it is wrong to assemble with it, but right to come out of her that we be not partaker with her plagues.
The church of Laodicea is the representation of the church at the close of the age, a church lukewarm ready to be spued out of God’s mouth, a church rich and increased with goods, having need of nothing, but knowing not that it is wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. It is a church which has forced Christ outside its precincts so that He stands outside, knocking not at the church door, but at the door of the individual heart of men and women like you and me, and saying, “If any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him and he with Me.” Rev. 3:20
THE LATENESS OF THE HOUR
Because of the lateness of the hour and because of the dreadful calamities which are relentlessly hurling themselves upon the earth and all mankind, I have been filled with a great urge to place before you certain signs which cause me to believe that we are now living in the closing months of this dispensation of the grace of God. Since we are all fallible men and women, it is always possible for us to be wrong or over-zealous about things which vitally concern us and the world in which we live, yet it would be a most remarkable thing indeed if among those who read these lines any will be found who do not have a God-given premonition that the door of God’s forbearance and longsuffering is now closing upon this rebellious and untoward generation. The most incredible situations are stalking the whole earth. Crime, violence, destruction, war, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, the collapse of morals, and the impending collapse of the entire financial system are all on hand until every new day brings its new disasters.
Forgive me for the use of personal pronouns and personal opinions. There is no desire in me to set myself up as one knowing more than my brethren, for God has never given me reason to believe that I am anything more than the least among them. I disavow any intention to lead away disciples after myself either in the days that are past or in the days that are present. Within my heart my one longing toward mankind has been to so present the truth that men and women would love God and, seeing His goodness and greatness, be transformed into his likeness. My heart’s desire has been that, should my tongue be stilled or my pen laid down, mankind would never miss me because they had learned to depend, not on me, but upon the everlasting arms of Him unto whom they had “looked and were lightened, and their faces were not ashamed.” Cursed be he that putteth his trust in man, but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed.
If we reflect upon the things about us, we will be forced to conclude that the world situation with its maze of problems is completely beyond the grasp of mankind. The racing inflation that engulfs the financial world is such a problem that governments are no longer trying to grapple with it, but instead have thrown up their hands in despair and decided just to let it race to its doom. The politicians (for there are no statesmen now) are like engineers who have lost control of a runaway train, which gathers speed at every yard as it descends the mountain. The whistle is screaming, the brakes are burned out, all controls are useless, and they themselves are utterly helpless. To make matters even worse, the runaway train of the world financial system has now gained such unbelievable speed that they dare not try to jump off. They have become like frenzied men who, having seized a tiger by the tail, dare not let go though it is hopeless to hang on.
The whole world situation is so touchy that even a rumor could set forces in motion that could bring absolute ruin on the present doomed order. Only today I read of a Japanese woman in Tokyo who jokingly remarked that a certain bank was going broke. Within hours forty-eight hundred people had rushed to retrieve their savings and had withdrawn five million dollars from the various branches and almost broke the bank. The manager in amazement said, “I still don’t know what hit us.” I mention this only to show more clearly what a literal volcano the whole world system is sitting upon.
Our Lord Jesus Christ revealed important details concerning the end of the age, some of which are enough to fill any heart with terror, but, bless His dear name, He always added many things that were intended to comfort those who will love Him in these perilous, closing days of time. After telling the people of the dreadful events to come upon the earth in the days in which we are now privileged to live, He brushed aside our anxiety as a mother wipes away the tears of her infant and soothes the childish woes of the little one she loves. “When ye see these things begin to come to pass,” He said, “then lift up your heads and rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh.” Jesus was not underestimating the awesomeness of the things that were to come in the end of the age, but well He knew that there would be a people upon the earth in the last days who would live lives so totally detached from the world and its godless system that they would be almost unaffected by the dreadful upheaval that would accompany the end of the age, knowing that the calamities of this present order are the swift heralds that loudly proclaim that glorious age, the kingdom of God.
In the book of the Apocalypse we have a picture given by revelation to the apostle John. In the vision he saw the fall of the world system, that Babylon of confusion of which the scripture speaks. Babylon may be defined as both political and ecclesiastical. It represents both the world system and the church system as they are seen and known in their abominations in our day. The revelation given John concerning them is almost beyond human belief as he describes the fall of Babylon in these awe-inspiring words; “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself and lived deliciously, so much sorrow and torment give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord who judgeth her. And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour thy judgment is come. And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, and cinnamon, and odors, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. And the fruits that thy soul lusteth after are departed from thee, and all things, which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. And the merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying, Alas, alas that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to naught. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! For in one hour is she made desolate.” Rev. 18:4-19
Having seen the complete and utter destruction of this whole world system, both political and religious, John’s eyes are directed to another scene and another company, and these are told to rejoice. As we read his words, we can hear again the faithful words of Jesus, “When ye see these things begin to come to pass, then lift up your heads and rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh.” “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of the harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of the prophets, and of the saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are His judgments: for He hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of His servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up forever and ever.” Rev. 18:20, 19:3
This great and terrible vision seen by John is a true picture of the end of the age in which we live. It portrays the end of the present world set-up, the collapse of the present system of finance, and thus in consequence the end of commerce and trade as we have known it for six thousand years. If faithfully describes the end of the present religious system, which is now governed by man, and all this great and dreadful fall is the final preparatory step for the coming of the kingdom of God.
The weeping and howling of the merchants and rich men of the earth because of the fall of their system brings to mind the faithful words of the apostle James as he, too, describes the financial collapse of the last days in these significant words: “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton, ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” James 5:1-8
The collapse of the present world order is definitely at hand. It is falling apart on every side and in every nation. The great depression that overwhelmed the whole earth, beginning in 1929 and continuing without let-up through those tragic years known by millions as the dirty thirties, will be merely a shadow compared to the fearful collapse into which we are without doubt now heading. Those of us old enough to remember those trying times, that came as a scourge over all the earth, have some realization of what a world-wide depression can be like. Terrible as were those evil days, there is every reason to believe that they were child’s play compared to that tribulation which is now brewing. From the last great depression there was a period of recovery, but there will be no true recovery from that which is to come. The great world antichrist dictator, which is to come before the end of the age, will for a time bring about a spurious and phoney prosperity, but it, too, will collapse at the coming of the Prince of peace.
There was a time in Germany when a whole wheelbarrow full of marks was scarcely sufficient to buy a cup of coffee. There was a time in France when it took thousands of francs to buy a tank of gasoline. There was a time in America when the old continental dollar was so worthless that creditors would hide from their debtors who wished to pay their debts in that worthless currency. All these things were but the beginning of sorrows, but we are soon to see the day when the rich men of the earth will wake up and find their millions utterly worthless. Their gold and silver will be cankered and as useless as the dirt in the street.
Terrible as these things are, there is no need for alarm in the heart of any saint of God — no need of alarm, I say, only true understanding and godly concern. Jesus told us to rejoice when we saw these things coming, not because we were to be flippant and careless and unconcerned, but because we know that the collapse of this present world order is the trumpet call proclaiming the setting up of that wonderful kingdom which shall never be destroyed, a kingdom over which Christ and the Sons of God shall reign, a kingdom promised from the very beginning of time. “I will give unto you a kingdom,” Jesus said, and that kingdom shall have fully come when this present confusion is ended. When the sun goes down with a flaming ray and the sky is red, we say it will be fair weather tomorrow. It is the eventide of this present world order. The sky is red as the sun is setting on this evil age, and the very redness of the sky in this awful hour is clearly telling us that the kingdom of God is at hand. The signs of the times are explaining to all who will hear that His coming is near, yea, even at the doors. There will be a rainbow round about the throne very soon to signify that the deluge of man’s iniquity is over, the flood is past and the tribulation is gone. We who love God know that these things will surely come to pass and nothing can thwart them and no devil can find power in heaven or earth or under the earth to prevent them.
Again the voice of God is calling over the din of this world’s final calamity, “Lift up your heads and rejoice.” Again the blessed voice of Jesus is saying to His own, “Let not your hearts be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
It may be, dear child of God that you will not like what I shall say now. If you disagree, I have no quarrel with you. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. For many years I, with millions of others, adhered strongly to what may be called the rapture theory, a doctrine which teaches that all God’s people are going to be taken out of this world by a rapture – that is, they are all going to be caught up into heaven and will not be here at all while the great and terrible tribulation period is upon the earth. Now there is no question that there will be a catching up, for the scripture has said, “We shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” I know all the arguments there are to substantiate this doctrine and for years I faithfully taught them all, but as time has passed, I have become more and more convinced that there is much misunderstanding concerning this rapture theory.
One day, when our Lord was telling His disciples about the end of the age and spoke of the great tribulation that was coming upon the earth, He made these definite statements: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” Matt. 24:21–22. The question I wish to ask is simply this: What are the elect doing in the tribulation? If they were all previously caught up to heaven, as so many affirm that they will be, then why must the days of the tribulation be shortened for the elect’s sake? The thing really does not make much sense, does it? We must conclude, then, that there must be a great misunderstanding as to the meaning of this catching up.
The three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace were living types of the elect of God as they will be preserved through the fires of the tribulation. The fire will not hurt them and the Son of God, who was with those blessed three, will be with us also. The elect will be right here in the world, yet they will be caught up to a new realm of spiritual glory and power, a realm where nothing of the earth can really harm them. Daniel was thrown into the den of ravening lions because of his faithfulness to God, but because he lived in a heavenly realm far above all his associates, the roaring lions became as docile as domestic kittens in his presence. It is quite possible that he stroked their manes and listened with pleasure to their mighty purring throughout the night when angels came to shut their mouths, yet these same lions tore his enemies to pieces before they could fall to the bottom of the pit.
The apostle Paul knew the glory of being caught up. He said he was caught up to the third heaven; but remember this: When he was caught up into God’s presence, he was actually right here on the earth. He never left the ground for a minute, and thus I think it will be for all God’s elect people. They will be in the fire, but never feel it. They will be in the lion’s den, but find no hurt. Yea, they will be like Noah, who rode through the great waters of the flood, but came down on the other side to people a glorious new age, which in our case will be the age of the kingdom. The man child of Revelation 12:5 was caught up to the throne of God, but in verse six we see them feeding the woman in the wilderness. I frankly admit that I am by no means sure just what the wisdom of God has planned in this regard. Things concerning the end of the age have always been shrouded in mystery, but it is the blessed prerogative of every saint of God to so live in His presence that, whatsoever wonder He has purposed for His people, they will be found in Him, ready, waiting, and watching for His coming. Therefore, should He call at the cockcrowing, in the morning, at noon, or in the evening, we shall be found ready and waiting to enter with gladness and rejoicing into His wonderful presence with fullness of joy.
This age is not going to end in a world-wide revival as some seem to believe. There will be a remnant saved, but that is all. There will be a mighty turning to God during the great tribulation, but that turning to God will be mainly among Christians whose robes have become soiled with the filth of Babylon‘s harlotry. These will be purged and made white during the awful fires of the tribulation, which they will not escape but endure. These saints will be the innumerable throng whom John saw standing about the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes and with palms in their hands. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb …And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Rev. 7:9, 10, 13, 14
The end of the age and the second coming of Christ are to be preceded by many signs of great importance and significance. A man is a fool indeed if he pays no heed to the wonders, which are sent to warn the people who dwell on the earth that the Lord’s coming is at hand. Our Lord once said, “O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” Matt. 16:3. Men are very wise in their own generation, but they seem to be awfully dull in any sort of spiritual understanding. It is not hard to understand why men in centuries past did not give heed to the signs about them. That was because the Spirit of God was not bringing these wonders to their attention. It is true we have always had wars and famines, but our Lord made it plain that these signs would greatly increase as we come to the end of the age and to such an extent that there could be no mistaking them. He told us there would be false christs. It has been a shocking wonder to find in our day both men and women openly saying, “I am Christ.” One would not expect to find women saying, “I am Christ,” but they are doing so. In the face of the warnings of scripture one would not expect any to be deceived by such impostors as these, but it is amazing to find how many become their avid and faithful disciples. The warnings of God mean nothing at all to such people. They just go right on believing as deception dictates.
In my articles concerning the white horse of Revelation six, I have described some of the awful persecution endured by God’s people in ages past, but I think there is every reason to believe that a persecution of unheard of proportions will come during the tribulation years. Those dreadful fires will be the means by which saints with defiled garments will have them washed clean. Persecution always contains the fearful but wonderful aspect that it separates the wheat from the chaff, divides the sheep from the goats and the false from the true. It separates between the genuine and the pretender so that nothing is left that is unreal or impure.
In the world at this moment we see the abominable spectacle of children being disobedient to their parents. This rebellion has reached the stage where it is no longer mere disobedience but outright hatred, and in millions of cases there is no reason for such a circumstance to exist. It is true that there are parents who are completely unworthy of the name. Rebellion in this instance is bad enough and unnecessary. The thing that staggers the mind, however, is the sight of children who have come from excellent homes, where love and harmony reigned supreme, carrying their senseless rebellion to the point of actual hatred, doing all manner of evil to ruin their own lives in hope of bringing harm and loss to parents who loved them. Jesus foretold the evil day when the household would be divided; and that evil day has come. He spoke of a time in which children would betray their parents and cause them to be put to death. He also spoke of parents who would betray their children, and these things we are now beginning to see. This condition will become much worse as time goes by. When religious persecution becomes such that no man can buy or sell without the mark of the beast, then we will know what it means for children to betray their parents and parents to betray their children unto death.
Our Lord spoke of fearful sights that would come upon the world in the last days – of blood and fire and vapor of smoke. He prophesied of dreadful earthquakes, one of which John saw in his revelation, so terrible and of such vast proportions as the world has never seen. Our Lord told us that famines would stalk the earth, and we are now beginning to see these in all their stark and dreadful reality.
In my opinion the Bible gives abundant proof that the British Commonwealth of Nations and the United States of America are brother nations, direct descendants of Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, respectively. Let us never forget the ancient wonder that in the universal famine that gripped the world when Joseph was in Egypt it was Joseph who possessed the corn to feed the starving world. It is God’s grace and kindness that today these two sons of Joseph possess eighty percent of the wealth of the earth and are the biggest suppliers of wheat for the world. The Bible says there will be famines in the last day – famines of such terrible proportions that they will snuff out the lives of one-third of the people. The population planners need no longer worry their unspiritual heads about world-burgeoning population, for before the end of this age two-thirds of it will be wiped out by famine, war, and pestilence, and except those dreadful days are shortened, no flesh shall be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
Our Lord told of plagues and pestilence that would come on the earth and terrible sores that would break out on man and beast. Most of those who read are aware that already new varieties of plague and disease are breaking out faster than medical science can begin to cope with them. It will not be long before we see dreadful plagues on earth so consuming as to swallow up untold millions of earth’s inhabitants. The epidemic of Spanish influenza, in which fifty million people died, will seem mild in comparison to the plagues that are coming as the age draws to a close.
Before the children of Israel entered into the Holy Land, Moses, the man who spoke to God face-to-face and mouth-to-mouth, gave them detailed instructions as to what their future would be. Warning them of evils that would overtake them should they turn to other gods and cease from serving the Lord, he said, “Cursed shall thou be in the city, and cursed shall thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of the body, and the fruit of thy land, and the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shall thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shall thou be when thou goest out The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou sellest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken Me. The Lord will make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until He have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it. The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish. And thy heaven that is over thee shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron. The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed. The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shall go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shall be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. And thy carcass shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away. The Lord will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed. The Lord will smile thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart: and thou shall grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shall not prosper in thy ways; and thou shall be only oppressed and spoiled forevermore, and no man will save thee. Thou shall betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shall build a house, and thou shall not dwell therein: thou shall plant a vineyard, and shall not gather the grapes thereof … Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto other people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thy hand.” Please read Deut. 28:15 to the end of the chapter. These are but a few of the curses pronounced upon the children of Israel for their disobedience lo God, and have we not in our day disobeyed God? Nations whose very constitutions were laid in God’s truth are now turning to every imaginable rebellion against the Lord, who, when we honored Him, made us great in the earth. Filth in literature, in news media, on radio, on television, on public platform in high places and low places, has become a veritable flood. No longer are the minds of young and old fed upon things that belong to faith and soundness, but upon all that is low and degrading, and for all these errors does the Almighty God now bring the world into the judgment of the great and terrible tribulation.
When one reads of the dire calamities that are coming on the world, injurious disasters recorded in the word of God as they were spoken by Jesus, by the apostles, and in the book of Revelation, we are inclined to think of them simply as the irresistible hand of God, coming to judge the people with fearful vengeance. It is true that these impending calamities are the judgment of God, but if we will pause to consider the mailer, we may readily see that each and every dire calamity will come upon mankind through man’s own doing. Their own iniquities will correct them, and their own disobedience shall bring judgment upon them. “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee.” Jer. 2:19
One of the rampant scourges blighting the world today is venereal disease. Why has it become such an uncontrollable plague? Simply because man vainly imagines that God and all His ideas are old-fashioned! Like men bereft of their senses they ignorantly proclaim what they imagine to be a new morality. “Laugh at ma, laugh at pa, give them all the ha, ha!” Laugh at God, laugh at the Bible, laugh at all the old values and defame all morals as Victorian prudishness! And what is the unseemly result? Galloping venereal disease now reaching epidemic proportions in all nations of the world, bringing in its train blindness, madness, heart disease, crippled children, broken homes, and aionian destruction. The man or woman who thinks he can defy God and His law is a fool of fools. No one — absolutely no one — can be as great a fool as he who defies God.
Man imagines himself to be clever with all his sprays, food additives, and his wonder drugs, but all these things are bringing the plagues upon us that are solemnly foretold in God’s word. There need be no manifestation of the power of God to bring the plagues and famines of Revelation on the earth, for man himself is preparing the ground work for the death and destruction that is now coming apace. Only a few weeks ago a doctor to whom I was speaking helplessly shook his head and said, “They are putting so many things into foods that we just don’t know how to cope with it.” Elements foreign to the body and detrimental to health are being accumulated in ever increasing amounts in land and air and water, and it will not be long before they bring the dreadful plagues of Revelation upon the whole earth. Even the prophecy of Peter — “the earth shall melt with fervent heat” — could be fulfilled by man’s own evil doing, and indeed it may be, should God permit it. Therefore “thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee.” Jer. 2:19
Some fifty years ago Dr. Benjamin Spock cursed the earth with his teaching of self-expression. Children, according to him, should not be corrected nor given any kind of punishment. The result of this teaching is that the world is seething with every imaginable disorder. Disobedience and confusion is everywhere. Not only does it corrupt and destroy the homes of our country, but because of the selfishness caused by this wickedness the whole earth is in a turmoil of strikes, lockouts, walkouts, slowdowns, and now in ever increasing fury violence is being used to force decisions in favor of the rebellious. The kidnapping of company presidents and high officials is almost a weekly occurrence and, when the police catch up with the criminals, the law refuses to punish them and allows them to go free. And now, after the world is filled with rebellion and disorder, Dr. Spock publicly admits that his doctrine of self-expression was a grievous error and also helplessly admits that it is now too late to do anything about it. Indeed it is too late, because the boys and girls who grew up under that God-defying error are now the leaders of the world. Because they were never disciplined themselves, they have no will or understanding to discipline the wicked or the unlawful. Thus the momentum toward judgment increases as the whole world rushes in darkness toward the final great tribulation when a wicked super-dictator will bring all things under his control so that none can buy or sell without his abominable mark.
In the dark days of the American War of Independence, in the year 1777, George Washington, the father of the American Republic, was given a vision of its future from that time down to the end of this present age, and in my opinion he was finally seeing the beginning of the kingdom age. True prophecy may be judged by whether or not it came to pass. Since, therefore, up to the present all his vision has been fulfilled, I feel no need of hesitation in believing the remainder of it. As the number of people who have read this account is comparatively few, I am taking the liberty to quote it here as it was given, trusting it will help us all to see how close we are to the end of this present age. The following account was given by Anthony Sherman, July 4, 1859, before the Civil War.
“The last time I ever saw Anthony Sherman was on the Fourth of July, 1859, in Independence Square. He was then ninety-nine years old. His dimming eyes rekindled as he gazed upon Independence hall, which he came to visit once more. ‘I want to tell you an incident of Washington’s life — one which no one alive knows except myself; and, if you live, you will before long see it verified.’ “
He said, “From the opening of the Revolution we experienced all phases of fortune, good and ill. The darkest period we ever had, I think, was when Washington, after several reverses, retreated to Valley Forge where he resolved to pass the winter of 1777. Ah! I have often seen the tears coursing down our commander’s cheeks as he would be conversing with a confidential officer about the condition of his poor soldiers. You have doubtless heard the story of Washington’s going to the thicket to pray. Well, he also used to pray to God in secret for aid and comfort.
“One day — I remember it well — the chilly winds whistled through the leafless trees, though the sky was cloudless and the sun shone brightly. He remained in his quarters nearly all the afternoon, alone. When he came out, I noticed that his face was a shade paler than usual, and there seemed to be something on his mind of more than ordinary importance. Returning just after dusk, he dispatched an orderly to the quarters of the officer I mention, who was presently in attendance. After a preliminary conversation of about half an hour, Washington, gazing upon his companion with that strange look of dignity, which he alone could command, said to the latter:
“I do not know whether it is owing to the anxiety of my mind, or what, but this afternoon, preparing a dispatch, something seemed to disturb me. Looking up, I beheld, standing opposite me, a singularly beautiful being. So astonished was I, for I had given strict orders not to be disturbed, that it was some moments before I found language to inquire the cause of the visit. A second, a third, and even a fourth time did I repeat my question, but received no answer from my mysterious visitor, except a slight raising of the eyes. By this time I felt strange sensations spreading through me, and I would have risen, but the riveted gaze of the being before me rendered volition impossible. I assayed once more to speak, but my tongue had become useless, as though it had become paralyzed. A new influence, mysterious, potent, irresistible, took possession. All I could do was gaze steadily, vacantly at my unknown visitor. Gradually the surrounding atmosphere seemed as though becoming filled with sensations, and grew luminous. Everything about me seemed to rarefy, including the mysterious visitor.
“I began to feel as one dying, or rather to experience the sensations which I have sometimes imagined accompany dissolution. I did not think, I did not reason, I did not move; all were alike impossible. I was only conscious of gazing fixedly, vacantly at my companion.
“Presently I heard a voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn,’ while at the same time my visitor extended an arm eastwardly. I now beheld a heavy vapor at some distance rising fold upon fold. This gradually dissipated and I looked out upon a strange scene. Before me lay spread out in one vast plain all the countries of the world — Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. I saw rolling and tossing between Europe and America the billows of the Atlantic, and between Asia and America lay the Pacific.
” ‘Son of the Republic,’ said the same mysterious voice as before, ‘look and learn!’ At that moment I beheld a dark, shadowy being as an angel standing, or rather floating, in mid-air’ between Europe and America. Dipping water out of the ocean in the hollow of his hand, he cast some on Europe. Immediately a cloud raised from these countries and joined in mid-ocean. For awhile it remained stationary and then moved slowly westward until it enveloped America in its murky folds. Sharp flashes of lightning gleamed through it at intervals, and I heard smothered groans and cries of the American people. A second time the angel dipped water from the ocean and sprinkled it out as before. The dark cloud was then drawn back to the ocean, in whose billows it sank from view.
“A third time I heard the mysterious voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn,’ and I cast my eyes upon America and beheld villages and towns and cities springing up one after another until the whole land from the Atlantic to the Pacific was dotted with them. Again I heard the mysterious voice say, ‘Son of the Republic, the end of the century cometh; look and learn.’
“And this time the dark, shadowy angel turned his face southward, and from Africa I saw an ill-omened specter approach our land. It flitted slowly over every town and city of the latter. The inhabitants presently set themselves in battle against each other. As I continued looking, I saw a bright angel on whose brow rested a crown of light, on which was traced the word ‘Union,’ bearing the American flag, which he placed between the divided nation, and said, ‘Remember, ye are brethren.’ Instantly the inhabitants, casting down their weapons, became friends once more, and united under the National Standard.
“Again I heard the mysterious voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn.’ At this the dark, shadowy angel placed a trumpet to his lips and blew three distinct blasts; and taking water from the ocean, he sprinkled it on Europe, Asia and Africa. Then my eyes beheld a fearful scene. From each of these countries arose thick black clouds that were soon joined into one. And throughout this mass there gleamed a dark red light by which I was seeing hordes of armed men who, moving with the cloud, marched by land and sailed by sea to America, which country was enveloped in the volume of cloud. And I dimly saw these vast armies devastate the whole country and burn villages, towns and cities that I beheld springing up.
“As my ears listened to the thundering of the cannon, slashing of swords and the shouts and cries of millions in mortal combat, I again heard the mysterious voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn.’ When the voice had ceased, the dark angel placed his trumpet once more to his mouth, and blew a long and fearful blast.
“Instantly a light as of a thousand suns shone down from above me, and pierced and broke into fragments the dark cloud which enveloped America. At the same moment the angel upon whose head shone the word ‘Union’ and who bore our national flag in one hand and a sword in the other, descended from the heavens, attended by legions of white spirits. These immediately joined the inhabitants of America, whom I perceived were well-nigh overcome but who, immediately taking courage again, closed up their broken ranks and renewed the battle. Again, amid the fearful noise of the conflict, I heard the mysterious voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn.’ As the voice ceased, the shadowy angel for the last time dipped water from the ocean and sprinkled it upon America. Instantly the dark cloud rolled back, together with the armies it had brought, leaving the inhabitants of the land victorious.
“Then once more I beheld the villages, towns and cities springing up where I had seen them before, while the bright angel, planting the azure standard he had brought in the midst of them, cried with a loud voice: ‘While the stars remain and the heavens send down dew upon the earth, so long shall the Union last. And taking from his brow the crown on which blazoned the word ‘Union’, he placed it upon the standard while the people, kneeling down, said, ‘Amen.
“The scene instantly began to fade and dissolve, and I at last saw nothing but the rising, curling vapor I at first beheld. This also disappeared, and I found myself once more gazing upon the mysterious visitor who, in the same voice I had heard before, said, ‘Son of the Republic, what you have seen is thus interpreted. Three great perils will come upon the Republic. The most fearful is the third, passing which the whole world united shall not prevail against her. Let every child of the Republic learn to live for his God, his land and Union.’ With these words the vision vanished, and I started from my seat and felt that I had seen a vision wherein had been shown me the birth, the progress and the destiny of the United States.”
“Such, my friends,” said the venerable narrator, “were the words I heard from Washington’s own lips, and America will do well to profit by them.”
It would be presumptuous to add anything to this vision or seek to explain the wrath it foretells, so soon to come upon this part of the world. Nationally we have forsaken the God in whose hand our breath is to live instead after the baseness of the god of this age.
It must have been difficult for Nahum in his day to describe the modern automobile, but describe it he did in the second chapter of the book that bears his name. It must have been hard for Ezekiel to describe our modern air warfare, but he did so very successfully in Ezekiel 38:9. “Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm; thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.” No doubt George Washington was somewhat bewildered, especially by the last part of his vision, but it appears very clear that what he saw was the awfulness of modern warfare, the coming of the Lord and the subsequent setting up of the kingdom age, all of which without doubt are now very near at hand.
In these troublous times let us lay aside every weight and the abounding sin that does so easily beset us as our hearts continually cry, “Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.”
BE YE LIKE MEN WHO WAIT FOR THEIR LORD
Christ is coming and coming very soon. There can be no doubt about that. To Israel, more than three millenniums ago, the hope of their coming Messiah was the burning prayer and fervent desire of the elect. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, looking with prophetic vision far beyond the first advent of Christ, lifted up his voice to prophesy, saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” Isaiah wrote of the coming of the Lord, telling of His advent as a suffering Messiah who would be despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, a man from whom we hid our faces, and a redeemer lightly esteemed by those He came to save. God’s people Israel were baffled and confused in mind, because they had learned to look only for a Messiah who would come to deliver them from their enemies and from the hand of all who oppressed them. The scriptures plainly taught that a deliverer would come out of Zion. Of this they were confident and assured, but their unregenerate hearts did not know that the first work of the great Redeemer would be to deliver them from the curse of their sins and transform their wicked hearts by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which salvation could only be accomplished by the shedding of His righteous blood and the renewing of the Holy Ghost within them.
What value would it have been had the Redeemer come only to deliver them from the power and authority of Rome if there was to be no change in their wicked and rebellious hearts? God’s word is full of accounts of His mighty acts of deliverance on their behalf, but no sooner were they delivered from their enemies than they utterly corrupted themselves and forsook the Lord. God’s word records how they had corrupted themselves and defied the authority of Moses, saying, “You take too much upon yourselves,” and “We will not have this man to rule over us.” This same Moses had warned them before his death that after his departure they would utterly corrupt themselves. Deut. 31:29. The mighty Joshua had scarcely begun his victorious conquest of the Promised Land when the people fled before their enemies at Ai simply because one of their number had sinned in that he had taken the forbidden thing, hiding a wedge of gold and a Babylonish garment in his tent. Joshua 7.
Furthermore, after the death of Joshua they again corrupted themselves and, leaving the worship of the one true God, who had always delivered them from their enemies and who had made them a peculiar people unto Himself, they went a-whoring after Baal to worship him and to make images to that hateful thing in orchards and groves and in the high places. No sooner had they done so than the hand of the Lord God of heaven was against them to deliver them into the hand of their enemies, who enslaved and devastated them. Then in their misery and oppression they cried unto the Lord and He in grace and mercy raised up deliverers such as Barak, Deborah, Gideon, Samuel, and Samson. Yet for all this they corrupted themselves again and again, going after strange gods, marrying heathen wives, and building altars to Baal, Moloch, and Ashtaroth, who could neither see nor hear nor walk.
The book of Judges is a wonderful book. Over and over again it records the loving kindness and tender mercy of God on the one hand and the incredible corruption of the human heart on the other. I must confess that time after time I have closed the book with a feeling of despair bordering on disgust as I have read how the Lord mightily delivered only to be repaid by the same ever-repeated story, “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord;” and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines, or the Ammonites, or the Moabites. (See the book of Judges.)
The corruption of the human heart is beyond belief and it would have been completely useless had the Lord sent His Son to be the deliverer of His people Israel while leaving their wicked hearts unchanged and their carnal natures not destroyed. What good would it be to have a perfect law beautifully written and wonderfully engraved on a table of stone within one’s house while the heart of man is deceitful and corrupt and his mind more nearly the mind of a devil than the mind of God? If ever the world is to be ruled in righteousness, then righteousness must first be established within the heart of man and the law of God removed from the cold tablets of stone to be written on the warm tables of the heart.
There must be a new birth, even a birth from above. The wickedness of man demands it. There must be a conversion wherein evil men who once were afar off from God are made nigh by the blood of Christ. The very well-spring of that conversion must be a birth from above by which a new heart and a new spirit are placed within the believer. Therefore Jesus, when He appeared on the world scene, came preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and the first word of that gospel is this: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Matt. 4:17, for godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of, but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 2 Cor. 7:10.
The whole problem with Israel as a nation in Old Testament times was that they were unconverted. While they willingly made covenants with God and swore allegiance and obedience to Him, their hearts were not changed. There was no birth from above. All the while they were forcing themselves to do God’s bidding, their unregenerate hearts were wandering after Baal or Ashtaroth or Mammon, because these gods catered to their flesh and to every abomination that is common to the human heart. They did not serve the Lord because their hearts were not attuned to a life of holiness, which begins when Jesus comes into the heart. The same condition still exists all about us in the realm of the unregenerate and unconverted people who go to what they call “church.” With their lips they serve the Lord, but their hearts are far from Him. They sing, “Holy, holy, holy,” while their hearts dream of business and pleasure and oft times unholy things. The first essential step in the life of any man is briefly stated in these words: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
There can be much hypocrisy in singing. As one has well stated, we sing, “Sweet hour of prayer,” and content ourselves with five or ten minutes. We sing, “O for a thousand tongues to sing my Savior’s praise,” and don’t use the one we have. We sing, “There shall be showers of blessing,” but don’t come in when it is raining. We sing, “Blest be the tie that binds,” and let the least little offense sever us. We sing. “Serve the Lord with gladness,” and complain about every little thing we do. We sing, “I love to tell the story,” but never mention it to our friends. We sing, “Cast your burden on the Lord,” and worry ourselves into a nervous breakdown. We sing, “O day of rest and gladness,” and wear ourselves out traveling for pleasure. We sing, “Throw out the life line,” but content ourselves by throwing out the fishing line.
I do not mean to be sarcastic or derisive, but the sooner we learn that the human heart is utterly corrupt the sooner we will come to the fountain of His blood for cleansing that there through the grace of Christ we might be soundly converted and our spirits born anew from above. It is a wonderful blessing to be raised in a Christian home, but even there the hidden danger sometimes lurks that children may grow up, hearing wonderful truth from childhood yet never themselves having the blessed personal experience of sins forgiven or a personal knowledge of regeneration. What good would it have been had the Saviour come to Israel to deliver them from their Roman oppressors if He had left their hearts unchanged? They would no sooner have been delivered from their enemies than they would have turned back to heathen gods and to the lusts of their own flesh as they did in the days of Samuel and the judges. Is not this what the unregenerate are doing now? Do they not worship Mammon, the god of riches? Are they not lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God? Do men not worship the god of self and the god of sport and the god of lust and sex? No wonder the Lord said, “Ye draw nigh to Me with your lips, but your heart is far from Me.” How well did James proclaim, “Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.”
The first and most essential thing is this: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ that you may be saved, for what shall it profit if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul? There is no price that man can give in exchange for his soul. What America and England and all these nations must do is repent of their sins that they might be saved. Then would the Lord deliver them from all that oppress them? When Great Britain served God and honored Him in all their doings, the sun never set upon her Empire. When America honored the Lord in her Congress and in her schools, she was in truth the land of the free and the home of the brave. But now God is dishonored. His laws are broken down. Punishment of crime is delayed, then forgotten altogether. Homosexuals are interviewed on TV as acceptable people. Nations from the far east are permitted to bring in their heathen gods and to build temples to these shameful idols, religions that have brought only poverty and misery to all who follow them. They are allowed to build temples to their sightless, speechless, grotesque gods while their priests are permitted to teach our children to turn away from the living Christ unto gods that are dead and have never lived. Cursed be their idols, for they speak not, neither do they hear.
All these things demonstrate as nothing else can how desperately the human heart needs regeneration by the washing of the blood of Christ and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which God has freely given to all who believe. Without the power of regeneration, that renewing Spirit of Christ, we can never hope for anything more than continual backsliding and falling away from God. No matter how well we have been brought up, we must have a personal experience of the new birth. We must be saved from our sins. “They shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.”
The coming of the Lord draweth nigh; there can be no possible doubt about that. We only weary our souls by continually repeating the many signs of His coming – signs of which Jesus said, “When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.” Luke 21:28. The whole world is now a fermenting mass of corruption. Few people are worthy of any confidence or trust. Politicians make solemn promises, but make little or no effort to keep them. The leaders of the church system cannot be trusted. Their programs, supposedly for the good of mankind, are very often cleverly devised schemes for personal gain. We are living in an hour when parents betray their children and children rise up against their parents. We can scarcely expect, therefore, to find faith and trust in anyone.
In the midst of all the violence and war, the cheating and lying, drugs and sex, the filth of homosexuals and lesbians, and the prevalence of every imaginable false cult and religion, there still remains a people in the earth who are undefiled before God. They are a people who have repented of sin and every work of the flesh. They have burned their idols of wood and stone and gold. The symbols of the world and all that is in it – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life – they have put away, with all malice and greed. They are done with the goddess of illicit sex, the god of Mammon, the craze of sport. With Christ, their victorious head, they have died to the desires of the flesh and of the mind. No longer do they crave to be possessors of earthly treasure. They are a people who have fixed their hopes in Christ the Lord. They have come to Him through the open gate of repentance and their godly sorrow has worked repentance unto salvation that needs not to be repented of. The sorrow of the world that works naught but death is far from them. Their ransomed hearts cry not for the trinkets and tinsel of the world, but their prayer ascends to God day and night, “Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.” They are like men and women who “wait for their Lord, when He will return from the wedding; that when He cometh and knocketh, they may open unto Him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you that He shall gird Himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.” Luke 12:36, 37
From time immemorial the Lord has reserved a people for Himself. He always has a people for His name. These people are never more than a little flock. At no time can they be numbered in millions. In the days of Enoch there was scarcely any who walked with God. In the days of Noah he alone was found righteous in his generation. In the days of Abraham all Babylon was gone after their idols, and when Elijah was witnessing before the idolatrous house of Israel, he was told of seven thousand others who had not bowed the knee to the image of Baal, a small number indeed when compared to the multitudes of that nation. Though Jesus preached to multitudes and countless thousands were blessed by His ministry, it was to a very small number He spoke the words, “Fear not, little flock; it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Even so it is today. The Lord has a people still. One may as well try to stop the sun from shining by day or the moon by night as to extinguish the light of this handful of elect people in whose hearts the Lord dwells.
Have you ever read the words of David when he spoke of that great day of blessedness to come, even the kingdom of Christ? He said, “There shall be a handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon; and they of the city shall flourish like grass.” Psa. 72:16. That handful of corn on the top of the mountains is God’s elect people. Then “His name shall endure forever; and His name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in Him; all nations shall call Him blessed. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who doeth wondrous things.” Verses 17-18
Everyone of us at some time has waited patiently or impatiently for the arrival of someone we knew was coming. How vivid in my recollection are the numberless times in our pioneer prairie home when we would watch and wait and listen for the sound of the wagon wheels that told us someone was coming home. Only those pioneers who in bygone years moved out into the great prairie vastness can appreciate the conditions as they were then when hardy settlers pushed one hundred miles or more beyond the end of the railroad. There were no roads then – only wagon trails across the vast prairie landscape. There were no automobiles to bridge the endless expanse of miles. Lowing oxen at a snail’s pace turned the furrows one by one and he who had a team of horses possessed the utmost speed. There were no radios, no telephones, nor any modern convenience. They were difficult days, but good days. Wonderful beyond words! I am forever thankful that I was raised among them. Then neighbors were neighbors and friends were friends, more so when one was in need than at any other time. There were no doctors within miles; neither was there much sickness that a good dose of Watkin’s liniment would not cure. In all those pioneer years I never met nor heard tell of an insecure child, a divorce, or a broken home.
Often times it was necessary for some member of the family to take the team and wagon, or in the winter the bobsleigh, and go to the village for groceries and mail. How often have I gone to the door and listened through the unbelievable stillness for the sound of the wagon wheels coming in the distance or the sound of the sleigh bells in the frosty air! There was no way to know just when they would arrive, but they would never get closer than a mile or so before I could hear them coming. Then the lantern was lit, the teakettle put over the fire, and all was ready to receive the weary traveler home. Thus Jesus said that we who live in these last days should be like men that wait for their Lord. Let your loins be girded and your lights burning. Luke 12:35.
In the long dark night that has enshrouded the earth since our Lord went away, the elect have been God’s lights in the world. “Ye are the light of the world,” said Jesus. “A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” Matt. 5:14. It is a wondrous thing that Jesus, who Himself is the light of the world, should deem it good during His absence to place His elect as lights of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. It is no small wonder that He instructed His people, saying, “Keep your lamps burning.” Anyone who had had anything to do with a kerosene lamp will surely remember that two things were necessary, and that continually, if there was to be any light at all. First the lamp must be filled with oil, and, secondly, the wick must be trimmed as often as necessary. If there is no oil, the lamp will go out. If the lamp is not trimmed, it will smoke and give a very inferior light. The oil here represents the Holy Spirit in our lives and the wick represents ourselves. We can never have light without the Spirit and the Spirit cannot shine unless we are trimmed. All is darkness without Him. Even the attempt to preach the word of God is darkness and death when the Spirit is not present. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63. These are the faithful words of our Lord Jesus Christ as He stood teaching the people. We cannot give forth light without the presence of the Spirit within; neither can we receive light unless the Spirit of God reveals it unto us. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” But we have received, not the spirit of the world, but that Spirit which is of God that we may know the things that are freely given us of God.
When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and Jesus Christ returns with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, it is the Spirit who will make alive our mortal bodies. Just as steel responds to the pull of a magnet, so the elect will respond to the pull of the Spirit when the dead are raised incorruptible and we are all changed into His likeness. I am among those foolish people who believe that the body that was sown (buried) in corruption is also the body that will be raised in glory, and I think I see at least one scripture to indicate that even in the dead bodies of the elect and believing saints there may yet remain some trace of the Spirit of God.
Long centuries ago Elijah threw his mantle around the shoulder of Elisha and immediately the Spirit came upon this plowman who was to be anointed in Elijah’s room. And, when Elisha made request of Elijah, his request was that he might have a double portion of the same blessed Spirit that was on Elijah. The request was granted and Elisha did receive a double portion of Elijah’s Spirit. After performing double the number of miracles and signs and wonders that Elijah had done, Elisha died and was buried. On a certain day, when war raged in Israel and the warriors were burying a dead soldier, they saw the enemy coming. With haste they cast the dead man into Elisha’s tomb, whereupon the dead body, falling upon the bones of Elisha, came forth from the grave alive. It is the Spirit that quickeneth. The flesh profiteth nothing. Therefore even those dead that sleep in Jesus will respond to the Spirit of the Lord when He descends from heaven and will come forth, not in corruption, but in incorruption; not in mortality, but in immortality. God’s people are not immortal at the present time, but they will without a doubt put on immortality at the coming of the Lord. They are not incorruptible at the present time, but when the trumpet sounds, the dead shall be raised incorruptible.
The Spirit today is teaching us how great is the necessity of passing our lives here in constant communion with the Holy Spirit. Many who once were baptized with the Spirit are now walking in emptiness. How often I shake my head in utter sadness when someone writes me a long letter, telling of the waywardness and wickedness of some backslidden relative only to hurriedly add, “Of course, they are Spirit-filled.” How can you believe such utter nonsense as that? The Spirit of God does not dwell in reprobate people. There was a time when the Spirit of God came upon King Saul and God gave him another heart, 1 Sam. 10:5-9, but because he later walked in envy and strife, the Spirit of the Lord departed from him and an evil spirit began to trouble him. When homosexuals and lesbians sing, “We’re filled with the Spirit, there isn’t a doubt,” they speak the truth, but the spirit with which they are filled is not the Spirit of God, but the spirit of the devil and of antichrist. Every homosexual in the world should read the first chapter of Romans. Then he would know he has been abandoned by God and is now possessed of an evil spirit. No homosexual is saved. How then can he have the Spirit of the Lord?
So we must keep ourselves filled with the Spirit if we are to shine as lights in the world. Phil. 2:5. God Himself is the Father of lights. With Him there is no shadow of turning. Not only is there no shadow of turning, but with Him there is no shadow. The light that shines from His glorious self shines brightly from within, leaving no place dark or any gloomy shadows of doubt anywhere. His light fills the whole house, bringing springtime and morning and warmth of the whole being of man, “and now no condemnation abides to turn away my soul from His salvation. He’s in my heart to stay.” It is not a difficult thing to remain filled with the Spirit. It is simply a matter of walking in light and the Holy Spirit is light. It is not difficult to be led by the Spirit. All it requires is a complete surrender to Him and a lifetime of walking softly before Him. It is not necessary to be always “putting out the fleece” that we might know the mind of God. The leading of the Spirit of God encompasses our entire pilgrimage. Our Father in heaven has many ways by which His unseen hand leads us into His will. Dark calamities that come like evil specters into our lives are very often the hand of the Spirit, irresistibly pushing us in the direction He wants us to go and working together for good to them that love God. The awful calamity that overtook Joseph when he was sold into Egypt by his brethren was later known by him to have been the hand of God, sending him to be a mighty deliverer to his people. The calamities, which overtook Paul when he was cast into prison and securely shut up so that he could no longer travel or preach among the churches, have proved to be of greatest blessing to the church of later years. It was through Paul’s imprisonments that we have been given the finest of his epistles. And so it happens to us all. God is standing in the shadows, keeping watch amid the dark travail of our souls. He is with us in the den, shutting the mouths of lions, and in the fiery furnace He is loosing our bands. If men would but believe that God is with them in their trouble, they would find that through the turmoil He was leading His people to His desired haven, to blessing and deliverance.
When I speak thus of tribulation, I am referring to men and women who have committed their lives to God and are trusting Him. I am not speaking of those ungodly persons who through their own wickedness add sin-to-sin, trouble to trouble, and sorrow to sorrow. The way of the transgressor is hard and his own wickedness will correct him, but those who put their trust in the Lord may walk assured that He will be with them in trouble. He will strengthen and uphold them with the right hand of His own righteousness. His righteousness is Christ; therefore it is by His hand that you will be upheld.
We mentioned above how Jesus Christ instructed us to keep our lamps burning, and saw how light requires the oil of the Holy Spirit. We are further told that our lamps must be kept trimmed. Now trimming concerns not the oil, but the wick, and I would certainly think that the wick has something in common with ourselves rather than the Spirit. Be there ever so much oil in the vessel, if the wick be untrimmed, there will be a smoky light that grows increasingly dimmer the longer it remains untrimmed. Therefore, it is our God-given duty to trim off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of our mouths. We must lie not one to another, seeing we have put off the old man with his deeds. A thorough searching of the New Testament, together with the Proverbs and Psalms, will do wonders in showing a Christian how to trim his lamp so that his light may shine brightly in the world. I am convinced that there is much more to being a Christian than giving one’s testimony, good as that may be. Those who are born of God and walking with Him are soon recognized by the world. It is not long before worldly men behold their chaste conversation, which is coupled with the fear of God. “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” Rom. 12:9-11. A slothful man is brother to a great waster. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee, lest thou be turned aside to follow in the way of the foolish.
Above all we must deliver ourselves from the Babylon system. “Come out from among them and be ye separate saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor. 6:17,18. We are living in the day when the cry, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird,” Rev. 18:2, is a reality. There was a day when Babylon was riding high, as indeed she seems to be now, but her end is at hand, and nothing can help her. All the frantic moves toward church union and renewal are building her up for a great fall. The Ecumenical Movement, the Charismatic Movement, the moves of the World Council of Churches toward Rome, the Jesus Freaks, the hobnobbing of the church system with heathen religions and Judaism, and the devilish trend toward the ordaining of homosexuals and lesbians to the ministry is proof of her terrible fall. The whole thing is a seething mass of corruption, a boiling pot of iniquity, upon which the wrath of God shall presently be outpoured. Therefore, thus saith the Lord, “Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins,” for strong is the Lord that judgeth her.
The Lord God of heaven is calling loud and clear today to all His elect people, requiring that they leave religious Babylon and walk with Him. But I will add yet another fact. In my opinion even now the Lord is beginning to call His people to abandon Babylon‘s temporal and political system. Not only is the church system falling. The governments of the world system are falling one by one. They are literally disintegrating before our very eyes. Make no mistake about that. The clay feet of Daniel’s image are eroding away in the floods and tempests of this present hour. The mighty British Commonwealth, once representing almost a billion people, has fallen into irretrievable decay. Our brother nation, the United States of America, is collapsing beneath her own enormous weight as fraud, deceit, love of pleasure, love of wealth and luxury, greed and debauchery erode her very foundation and make null and void the beauty of her God-given constitution.
It may be said with certainty that, when the patriarch Jacob called his sons to his bedside, saying “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days,” Gen. 49:1, he was definitely speaking of the days in which we now live, for these are in truth and in fact the last days. All these twelve sons were to become nations, Gen. 17:5, 16;48: 19, and if we read carefully Jacob’s prophetic utterance as recorded in Genesis, chapters forty-eight and forty-nine, with a little research we can identify most of the tribes of Israel as they exist as nations in our day. The existence of Ephraim and Manasseh is indisputable. Gen. 48:19. Wonderful as were the prophecies given to these twelve sons, none of them compares to the prophecies given to the two sons of Joseph, whom Jacob adopted as his own. Gen. 48:5,6. So, laying his right hand on the head of Ephraim, he said that his seed would become a multitude of nations. Gen. 48:19. And to Manasseh he said that he would become a great nation. Verse 49 The word multitude here used in the King James version is translated by some as commonwealth, and indeed Paul uses the term commonwealth of Israel in Ephesians 2:12. There is only one Commonwealth of Nations in all the world. Indeed, only one Commonwealth of Nations has ever existed in this world. There have been many empires, but none of them except the British Empire ever became a company of self-governing nations. Furthermore, there is only one company of nations who has a brother nation that can be called a great nation and that great nation is the United States of America or Ephraim’s brother Manasseh. Once we understand that the ten supposedly lost tribes of Israel were predestined by God to become the great free nations of the world, then I affirm that three-quarters of the entire Bible takes on new meaning and the hidden mysteries so often spoken by Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and other prophets begin to unravel themselves.
If I believed, as many do, that God was no longer concerned with His people Israel, then I would not take space here to mention them, but Paul removed all doubt from our minds concerning God’s love for His holy people when he asked, “Hath God cast away His people?” and then emphatically answered his own question by saying, “God forbid; for I am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away His people whom He foreknew.” Rom. 11:1-2. It may come as a surprise to many to learn that the word British comes from two Hebrew words – brith meaning covenant and ish meaning people. Thus the word British means covenant people, or the people with whom God made His covenant.
Now in our times we are seeing the collapse of these two mighty powers. England is broke financially, her empire dissolved, and her leaders completely out of touch with reality. The United States will be five hundred billion dollars in debt this year. They expect unemployment to reach eight or nine million. Scarcity is looming everywhere in the midst of plenty. The greatest depression in the history of the world is in the making and it will grow worse for many months. The sinister feature about all this is that all this distress is being deliberately connived behind the scenes by great financial interests whose purpose is to bring the nation to ruin.
I have stated these things to emphasize the following fact: The downfall of these two mighty Israelitish powers, Great Britain and the United States, is the greatest proof that we are now in the dying moments of this age and the kingdom of God is at hand. When Daniel with great desire sought the Lord for the meaning of his visions, he was told, “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river. And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by Him that liveth forever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” What does the Lord mean when He expresses Himself thus – “to scatter the power of the holy peopled In my opinion I can see only one true answer to the question, and it is this: The great Israel nations, which in God’s sight are the holy people because they are covenant people, will in the last days have all their might and power taken from them and scattered as the dust of the summer threshing floor. The fearful disintegration of the Anglo-Saxon nations will continue to the end of the great tribulation, when Christ shall come with His elect to set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed.
I know that some of these things may seem drastically new, but they really are not new at all. The problem is that our Christian lives have been so humbugged with Romish tradition, to which we adhere with complete docility, that God can never show us anything new at all. If I live to be a thousand years old, I shall never forget the admonition of my dear instructor, Elmer Hoff, who said, “The moment you say no, you close the door for God to teach you anything.” So let us keep the door of our heart open, and little by little the Spirit will instruct us in the mighty mysteries of the great God of heaven. Be like men that wait for their Lord. Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when He cometh, shall find watching. Many times in God’s word we are instructed to watch. Indeed, the Lord has made us like watchmen upon a wall, but in this case we are not looking for the coming of an enemy, but the coming of Christ, the exalted Head of His own body. It is improbable that Jesus meant we should stand by our window, looking for His coming, but it is our God-given duty to watch for the ever, increasing procession of signs that herald the coming of the Lord. The sign of the scattering of the power of the holy people is a tremendous- sign that the end is upon us, and when that scattering is complete, the Lord will undoubtedly come. I may be wrong, but I shall be surprised indeed if we pass this decade before we see the literal coming of the Lord and the end of the age. Should you ask an answer to this hope, I can only reply that there are certain things I am watching, and as they come to pass one by one, there is much greater assurance that the end of the age is not many months away.
It is a singular thing that several times in the word of God the coming of the Lord is likened to the coming of a thief in the night. Peter vividly describes the sudden end of this age in these words: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat…” 2 Pet. 3:10. It is much more than a matter of passing interest to know that the very things mentioned in this verse are things which can now be accomplished with hydrogen bombs — the melting elements, the fervent heat, the great noise, and the burning up of the works of man. But all this must come to pass that a kingdom may be set up which will never be destroyed.
In like manner Jesus also described His coming as the coming of a thief when He said, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the good-man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.” Matt. 24:42, 43. Paul also likened the coming of the Lord to the coming of a thief. “But of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” 1 Thess. 5:1-4. Here the Holy Spirit tells us a wonderful thing; first, that the coming of the Lord is to be as unexpected as the coming of a thief. Secondly, he gives us a definite sign for which we should watch, that is, “when they shall say, peace and safety,” a thing we hear with ever increasing frequency, then sudden destruction comes upon them as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others: but let us watch and be sober.” Verses 4-6
The ever increasing signs are God’s messengers to His people, warning them that the greatest events of all history are about to take place – the end of man’s six days of labor and misrule, the coming of the King of kings, the resurrection of the dead in Christ, and the setting up of the kingdom that shall never be destroyed. We cannot expect the world to understand these things, for the Spirit has said, “None of the wicked shall understand.” Yet amid their darkness and lack of understanding even the world of the unsaved is in fear and trembling, knowing in themselves that some great event of world, shaking proportions is about to take place. “Many shall be purified and made white and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” Dan. 12:10. The things which were sealed to Daniel were sealed unto the time of the end, but they are opening their secrets to the wise now in our day, and we clearly see these things are being fulfilled.
When the disciples asked to be told the signs of the end of the age, Jesus left no doubt as to what those signs would be. He told them, “Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, He is in the desert; go not forth: behold, He is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” Matt. 24:21-26
These are but a few of the many signs the word of God gives us, but I am certain that almost every Christian on earth has become conversant with the many signs spoken of by the Lord and His apostles and prophets that tell us there will be foul weather in the intervening days that precede the kingdom of God. What better exhortation can we have, therefore, than this: Be ye like men that wait for their Lord.
UNTO THEM THAT LOOK
We are drawing very near to the end of the age. The coming of the Lord draweth nigh. It is much nearer than we think and probably much different than we think. In the years that have passed many theories and doctrines have been formed concerning the coming of Christ, most of which, I fear, were the product of the natural mind and had little to do with the actual truth. The further we go with God the more we realize how little truth we have really known, and we realize, too, that the little we have known or thought we knew has hindered us from going on to the fullness and the glory of the coming of the Lord.
When our Lord came to earth some two thousand years ago, the scribes, Pharisees, and doctors of the law had their stereotyped doctrines and theories about the coming Messiah, but, when the King finally came, His coming was so contrary to their set theories that they did not recognize Him at all. The idea of the King of Israel’s being born in a manger was nonsense to them. The idea that he was to be lifted up on a cross was an even greater stumbling-stone. They were not in the least prepared to accept or receive any of these things because such things were contrary to all their preconceived ideas. So they gave their word against Him and hung Him on a cross saying, “Let His blood be upon us and upon our children.” But the tradition of the church today is even more involved than the traditions of Israel. For centuries Christians have talked of the second coming of Christ. They have filled books with arguments about how and when and for whom He will come, but I fear that, when He does come, many will never know a thing about it, or, if they do, they will reject Him because He will not have come in accordance with their theories.
There are a number of scriptures that I would like to consider with you. If you will let these gracious inspired words speak for themselves, there will be little need of explanation. First of all, however, there are a few things we should try to grasp and a few things we should let go.
No doubt there is a place for sound doctrine, but how good it would be if we could realize that doctrines as we know them are only articles of faith that have been set forth by certain sects for their people to accept and believe. Most of us imbibed the doctrines of the sect among whom we first believed. Doctrine that is set forth in this manner is not true doctrine. It is likely to have a fragment of truth but at best be only in part. It was likely living and real to the man to whom it was first revealed, but his successors merely received it as a tradition and it meant little or nothing to them and changed their lives not a whit. Doctrine that is not progressive in its scope is valueless. When a revelation becomes a tradition, it is practically worthless and serves only as an opiate to deaden the minds of those who accept it.
We are going to have to do more than accept dead doctrines. We are going to have to see the living Christ, for He is the Word of God and the Doctrine of God. It is going to take more than sermons on holiness and sanctification to make us holy and sanctified. We are going to have to see Him and be changed into His image. It is going to take a great deal more than meetings and human fellowship to bring us to a knowledge of God. We shall have to meet Him as Thomas and Paul and John met Him. We must hear His voice speaking to the deep recesses of our hearts. We must speak to Him and hear His answer and His command. Church meetings have been a blessing to us in our spiritual infancy even as the country school house was a blessing in our natural infancy. But church meetings have no ability to produce Christian maturity. Maturity can only come by personal association with Christ Himself. I am willing to stake my life and what feeble ministry I have on this assertion: no man or woman can ever become mature until he has cast off the yokes and bondages of human tradition and religion and has met Christ personally, spoken to Him face to face and heart to heart, and continued to walk in the ever increasing light and glory of what he saw. The Apostle Paul struck the keynote to the whole thing when he said, “When it pleased God who separated me from my mother’s womb to reveal His Son in me, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.”
Once a man has seen Christ, he has no need to confer with men, for man’s traditions and ideas will stink in his nostrils and all human suggestions, thoughts, and ideas will be found to be desperately constricted, confined, and short of the mark. As the feeble flickering light of a wax candle fades before the rising of the glorious sun, so all human doctrine and understanding fade into insignificance and nothingness before the glorious rising of the Sun of Righteousness. Just as sure as we live and move, the next great event in the order of things is that those who believe and are faithful are going to know the transcending glory of His appearing and they will see Him in His beauty. That one glimpse will do more for us in a second of time than all the meetings we have attended, all the songs we have sung, and all the doctrines we have listened to in our whole life.
Have you ever wondered what is the difference between a Pharisee who laboriously, fervently, and reverently adhered to the minutest commands of the law and a man like Paul who, though he made no effort to keep the law, had a far higher and richer standard of holiness than the Pharisee? I’ll tell you what the difference is: Paul had met Christ personally. His eyes had beheld His wonderful beauty and purity and with that beholding he had been changed into that same image. To walk as Christ walked from thenceforth was not a matter of slavish imitation of a hero or an idol but a matter of being. He walked like Him because he was like Him, for his eyes had beheld Him. Yet the Pharisee, adhering strictly to his tradition, was only a slave to what he believed and at the end of his life was no more like his pattern or his doctrine than he was the day he began.
Has not the above also been the picture of the Christian? Here and there someone has met the Lord and been changed into His image, but the vast majority of so-called “born-again” people spend their lives in the shallows miserably trying to be like Jesus so that they will go to heaven when they die, but with the other side of their nature reaching out to partake of as much of the things of the earth as they feel they dare. No man who has heard the sweet sounds of heaven’s music can lend his ear to earth’s rasping discords. Much less can those whose eyes have seen the King in His beauty be entertained in their parlors by the adulterous seed of Hollywood. It is not a matter of do’s and don’ts. It is a matter of whether or not we have seen Him.
How I wish that for a while at least you could forget your continual groaning and moaning for fellowship with people and for the rest of your life concentrate on finding fellowship with Him. How I wish you could quit groaning for meetings and the wonderful days of the past and meet Christ personally for the first time in your life. You are not going to find Christ in meetings any more. If you are going to look for Him there, you are going to be disappointed, for the times are changing and old things are passing away. A new day and a new era is coming when men shall know God and His mind will dwell in them and they will walk in the light and glory of His will.
There is no greater authority on these things than the word of God itself. Paul the Apostle was ordained of God to bring the Christians the teachings of the church age. He knew how a church meeting should be conducted and it must have been a glorious thing at times to meet together as he taught the people. But it is a source of wonder to see that right in the midst of his instructions about spiritual gifts and all the other wonderful things that were to take place in a public gathering he soared away into the Spirit to tell us of a more excellent way — a glorious way where all the former things would fall into decay, where prophecy would fail, tongues would cease, knowledge would vanish away, and preaching would be no more. Certainly none of these things are necessary in that realm where we meet Him face to face. Surely there is no need of seeing through a glass darkly when we have seen face to face. Surely there is no need of partial knowledge and partial prophecy when we know Him as He knows us.
How sad my heart often gets when I hear someone trying to explain from 1 Cor. 13 how we should show love. With all respect I must say that no one is ever helped by such teachings, for at best it can only make him an imitator and he is no more like Christ by being an imitator of Him than a parrot is like a man because he imitates him. The foundation and root of the whole matter of love is that God is love and that he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him. There is no love apart from God for God is love, and God has manifested His love toward us in that He gave us His Son that we might have the love of God in us because His Son is in us.
Our great need is not a return of the good old meetings of the past with all their tongues, interpretations, prophecies, hearings and miracles, for you can have all these things, together with much more, and still have absolutely nothing. Our need is to meet with Christ personally and individually and there find all the needs of a groaning creation are met by the fullness that dwells in Him. Love is not a thing. Love is a person, and God is that person.
Let us see now and take note of some of the strange and wonderful promises He left us for the last days. I am fully aware that the church has already explained away many of the wonderful things He left us as a sure inheritance. But these promises of Christ are true and, when they actually take place in those who believe them, their fulfillment is going to bring about the transformation of the ages.
We are not following some cunningly devised fable when we look in faith for Christ to manifest Himself to us personally. He has told us by His word of truth that “unto those who look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation”. Heb. 9:28. There are many people today talking about a rapture when they believe they will be caught away suddenly into heaven, but there are very, very few people who are looking for Him. If you can rid your mind of the church tradition of rapture for a while, you may be able to see more clearly what the scripture means when it promises that unto them that look for Him shall He appear. We have grown too busy in our numerous activities to be looking for Jesus to appear to us as He did to Mary, Peter, Thomas, and Paul and transform our lives by His glorious presence. But the hour is at hand when Christ will appear to those who are looking for Him and this will surely take place right while the multitude of Christians are busy with the usual forms and ceremonies of church activity. He will have come as a thief in the night and they will be unaware of it.
It would be well worth our time to consider prayerfully just what is actually stated in the promise of Heb. 9:28 which says, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto those who look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” I am sure we have never yet grasped the tremendous import and meaning of this promise, but to give ourselves opportunity to comprehend what is meant I should like to quote it from one or two other translations. First from the Amplified version: “And as it is appointed for (all) men once to die and after that the (certain) judgment, even so it is that Christ, having been offered to take upon Himself and bear as a burden the sins of many once and for all, will appear a second time, not carrying any burden of sin nor to deal with sin, but to bring to full salvation those who are (eagerly, constantly, and patiently) waiting for and expecting Him.” Heb. 9:27–28
This is a promise of God and can no more pass away than any other of God’s promises. It clearly describes the purpose of the first coming of Christ that is, to bear the sins of the world – but it also describes the purpose of His coming the second time, which is to bring full salvation to those who look for Him. That statement in itself explains Paul’s remark in Romans 13:11, “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awaken out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” The two statements go hand in hand. It is a grave mistake to think that we entered into the fullness of salvation when we believed. Indeed we were believers. Indeed we were saved, but the nearer we get to the second coming of Christ the nearer our salvation comes, for He is going to appear the second time to bring us to the fullness of it.
Weymouth’s translation of Heb. 9:28 reads thus: “Christ also, having been once offered in sacrifice in order that He might bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, separated from sin, to those who are eagerly expecting Him to make their salvation complete.” And Moffat: “Christ, after being once sacrificed to bear the sins of many, will appear again, not to deal with sin, but for the saving of those who are on the lookout for Him.”
The Lord Jesus greatly puzzled His disciples by saying, “A little while and ye shall not see Me, and again a little while and ye shall see Me, because I go to the Father.” John 14:16. This statement so puzzled the disciples that they said to each other, “What is this that He saith unto us, a little while and ye shall not see Me; and, again a little while and ye shall see Me; and because I go to the Father? They said therefore, what is this that He saith, a little while? We cannot tell what He saith.” That statement has puzzled Christians of all ages. It has caused wonder in us all and because we have not understood it, we have come up with many theories and strange answers. I have sometimes thought that Christ’s answer to the question was intentionally ambiguous, but as I read it now it seems to be a clear description of all that has happened to true believers from His first appearing to His second appearing. It portrays a weeping, lamenting, sorrowing, travailing church contrasted by a laughing, rejoicing world, but He tells them, “I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice and your joy no man taketh from you. In that day ye shall ask Me nothing; verily, verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name He will give it you.”
The traditions of the past have so dimmed our understanding that every truth is side-tracked to be made to conform to the doctrines and teachings of a Babylonish church. Thus it is that when we speak of Christ’s appearing unto those who look for Him, our minds fall into the thought of a rapture and once again we begin to look for a moment when the whole Babylonish church is to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and the whole world is left to the Antichrist. I cannot accept it. The truth is that the existing church is not looking for the Lord. It is too engrossed in the pleasure of the world and in its numerous activities and programs to want the Lord to come, but Christ will appear to the ones who are looking for Him and hoping that every shadow is His shadow, every knock at the door is His knock, and every footstep is the sound of His feet. Their hearts are crying, “Oh, Lord Jesus, how long?” Their lips are repeating the prayer, “Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.“
There is a beautiful story in Luke 24 that tells of one of the many appearings of Christ and of the transforming results that followed. The blessed Lord had been crucified and laid away in the tomb. With the death of this great prophet of God who they thought should have redeemed Israel faith and hope had ebbed from their lives as the tides of the sea ebb from the shores leaving unknown rocks and sinking sands. The sun, darkened for three hours at Calvary, had now set beyond their little horizon and with it the last faint rays of hope had faded into darkness. Two disappointed and heartbroken disciples trudged wearily down the road to the little village of Emmaus. They might as well go home, they thought. There was nothing else left to do. As they plodded their weary way homeward, their rough hands of toil brushed away the blinding tears that crowded unbidden o’er their sight. Choking back the sobs of sadness and disappointment, they communed with each other and recounted with brokenhearted bitterness the events of the past few days. As they communed and reasoned, a shadow fell across their path and a stranger drew near who, walking with them, asked the meaning of their sorrow.
“And, behold, two of them went the same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know Him, and He said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another as ye walk and are sad? And one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto Him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem and hast not known the things that are come to pass there in these days? And He said unto them, What things? And they said unto Him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death and have crucified Him. But we trusted that it should have been He which should have redeemed Israel. And beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women of our company made us astonished which were early at the sepulcher; and when they found not His body, they came saying they had also seen a vision of angels which said that He was alive. And certain of them that were with us went to the sepulcher and found it even as the women had said; but they saw Him not.
Then He said unto them, O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself. And they drew nigh unto the village whither they went; and He made as though He would have gone further, but they constrained Him saying, Abide with us; for it is toward evening and the day is far spent. And He went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as He sat at meat with them, He took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened and they knew Him and He vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures; and they rose up the same hour and returned to Jerusalem and found the eleven gathered and them that were with them, saying, The Lord is risen and hath appeared to Simon, and they told what things were done in the way and how He was made known by the breaking of bread.”
My heart leaps within me for joy as I contemplate this wonderful story and anticipate the glad hour when He shall appear in some like manner to you and to me and to all others who love His appearing. I do not know the day nor the hour of His appearing, but I do know that, when our eyes behold Him, our tears of sorrow will turn to pearls of praise, our broken chords will vibrate once more, and in a moment of time we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. From the distant mountain peaks of faith comes an echo clear as vesper ringing. It is the voice of Job sounding from out the centuries past. “I know that my Redeemer liveth and He shall stand in the latter days upon the earth, and if after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes shall behold and not another.” This is the kind of appearing that is going to make the difference and change our lives and make us new creatures. And when it happens, it will do more for us in the twinkling of an eye than all the sermons, teachings, and doctrines have ever done in a lifetime. Furthermore, those unto whom the Lord has thus appeared will be able to accomplish more for the earth in a moment of time than in a whole lifetime spent in the shallows of our present state.
I have often thought of the wonderful words “no man can see God and live.” Oh how often we have quoted that wonderful passage as proof that we may not hope to see His face. Will you allow me to reverently say something else? Though it is true that no man can see God and live, it is equally true that no man can see God and die. Men do not die in God’s presence, neither do they live as they used to live, but they are transformed. Hallelujah! They are changed; they are transfigured; they come into that same image of Him who created them. In whatever measure God reveals Himself to man, to that same measure they are changed and nothing can avoid that conclusion. There is no possibility of any man’s ever being the same again or living as he used to live once he has personally met the Lord and his eyes have beheld Him, the King in His beauty. “As for me,” said David, “I will behold Thy face in righteousness. I shall be satisfied, when I wake, with thy likeness.” My own heart answers Amen. That is when I, too, shall be fully satisfied.
There are few recorded instances of Christ’s appearing more enlightening than the account of Christ’s personal revealing of Himself to Thomas. It is a sobering thing to know that a man could be with Jesus for three years and yet never really see Him. But truly a man could be with Jesus three thousand years and never see Him until it pleased God to open his eyes and understanding. Thomas was naturally slow to believe. By his very nature he was inclined to be a doubter. In any case the stories about the resurrection of Jesus sounded like idle tales in his ears. It may have been as a result of this doubt that he was absent when Christ appeared to the other ten, for “Thomas called Didymus was not with them when Jesus came.” Was he not the man who had said, “Lord, we know not where thou goest and how can we know the way?” And was it not he who at Lazarus’ death had said, “Let us go that we may die with Him,” and was he not now saying, “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.” But he did not know what a transformation would take place in his life when his eyes would see the resurrected Christ. How he longed to see the Lord, but, like many of us doubters now, he was almost beyond hope that he would see Him again. He did not know that one glimpse of the Son of God would pierce the gloomy mists of doubt and throw a rainbow of hope about his shoulders. “Reach hither thy finger,” said Jesus, “and behold my hands, and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side, and be not faithless but believing.” And Thomas answered and said unto Him, “My Lord and my God!” Gone were the gloomy doubts. Gone were the mists of fear and unbelief. Thomas had seen the risen Lord. He is transformed by the presence divine. Church history records that, after seeing Christ, none of the disciples ever exceeded Thomas for his fervent faith and labor of love until the day he gladly laid down his life for Him.
Saul of Tarsus was a hard-headed bigot if one ever lived. It is difficult for a man who has been strictly trained in tradition from childhood to have any inclination to change. We cannot help but admire the man and his background as it is recorded in sacred writ. Few men have ever been able to boast of a better record after the natural than Saul and well he was aware of it. Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness of the law, blameless. Phil. 3 5-6. He had been taught by the great teacher Gamaliel, and had risen above many who were his equals. His zeal for God and the law stopped at nothing less than a determined effort to stamp out Christianity at all cost and by any method. With this thought in mind he was on his way to Damascus to bind and chain the Christians and bring them to Jerusalem when Jesus Christ met him and revealed Himself to Him.
As he rode along the road to Damascus, his mind was filled with hate both against Christ and against Christians. His heart rejoiced at the thought of the persecution and slaughter he was about to bring upon them. Yet his heart was not all bad, for he was doing it ignorantly in unbelief and he thought he did God a service. Suddenly a light above the brightness of the sun shone upon him and he, falling to the earth, heard a voice speaking to him. “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” “Who art thou, Lord?” he asked, and the Lord replied, “I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” And he trembling and astonished said, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” And He said, “Arise and go into the city and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”
Years later when Paul was writing to the Galatians, he said, “When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, to reveal His Son in me, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.” Flesh and blood and sermons of men can never do for anyone what Jesus can do. A whole volume could not rightly give account of the works and the glorious life of this man after Jesus revealed Himself to him. But Paul increased the more in strength and confounded the Jews, which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is the very Christ. Acts 9:22. No life has meant more to the world than Paul’s after he saw the Lord. He must have realized how much he owed to the revelation of Christ in his life when he said of Jesus, “He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve, after that He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once... after that He was seen of James; then of all the apostles, and last of all He was seen of me also as one born out of due time. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, and yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Cor. 15:5-10
The greatest need of Christians today is to meet with Jesus. One moment of such an open revelation of Him will bring about a transformation such as nothing else could bring. Whether the Lord appeared in the New Testament or the Old, the result was always the same. It brought complete transformation to the one who met Him. What a message is brought to our hearts by Job when he said, “I have heard of Thee with the hearing of the ear.” Even this did indescribable good to his soul, for no man was more righteous than Job. But when the next phase of his experience came, he exclaimed in awe, “But now mine eye seeth Thee,” and he was a completely transformed man. The glory of God’s presence had made him look desperately unclean until now he cried in penitence, “Wherefore I do abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
Many times, no doubt, you get desperately restless because of the apparent inactivity that besets you. I certainly do, but in waiting on God He has spoken to my heart and made it crystal clear that until my mind is completely free from every last vestige of Babylon’s harlotish system, I shall not see His blessed face. Nothing is more real to my spirit than the truth that by God’s grace we must come out of her. There is no use in coming out of one phase in Babylon and then starting up the same old thing over again in another place with a little different setup, for that really only amounts to the birth of one more harlot in the same great mysterious system of Babylon. There is something deep within me that tells me that the kingdom of heaven is not going to be launched from the same old launching pad we have used for the past two thousand years. It is going to be as different from the systems of the existing church as the ministry of John the Baptist was different from the forms and ritualistic ceremonies of the Pharisees. People will think us fools and fanatics to hold to such notions, but this is the way it will be. I have no hesitation in saying that I do not believe in the church’s frantic programs for the conversion of the heathen and of the world. It never has worked, it is not working now, and it never will work. What the church now does and what Jesus and the apostles did are not the same thing at all. They went in the power of God. Today they depend on organization and money. I do not believe that the church system is right in proclaiming that, if the heathen are not reached now, they will be lost forever. Such human teaching makes God’s wisdom foolishness, His omnipotence, impotence, omniscience thoughtlessness, His love hate, His purpose aimlessness, and His glory shame. It makes the devil to be stronger than God, and makes an all-wise, almighty God depend on the impotence of men. The Bible contains marvelous promises for the heathen and when He is ready to reveal Himself to them, they will come. The church like the Pharisees compasses land and sea to make a proselyte and often they are worse than before.
If we really searched the scripture to find out what God is doing in this age, we would soon find out that we are not in the midst of some frantic scramble to drag as many unwilling victims as possible from an inferno that somehow got out of God’s control, but rather we are in a perfectly ordered plan in which God is calling out a people and preparing out of them a people for the government of the kingdom and of the ages to come, and in the dispensation of the fullness of times – the dispensation following the kingdom – God’s grace will be extended to every creature. Can any sensible man deny that this is what Paul taught in Eph. 1:9-11: “Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ both which are in heaven and which are in earth; even in Him. In whom we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” That is minutely the plan of God. The churches’ gruesome doctrines of rue and torment in a blazing hell for sinners who have never heard that God had a Son would seem to me to charge the blessed Lord with crimes more heartless and inconsistent than those of Adolph Eichmann.
The desperate crying need of the true Zion is to be completely delivered from the daughter of Babylon. Our true condition is perfectly described in the words of the prophet Zechariah. Zech. 2:7. “Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon.” The true church, the elect of God, has dwelt so long with Babylon that we imagine she is our true mother. Like ducklings hatched by a chicken we accept her as our mother though all our ways are contrary to her. Babylon has invaded the minds of people until they are at a loss to think without her. But the Lord has begun to purge away the filth of the daughter of Zion by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning. Isa. 4:3-6. It must be of this that Zechariah spoke when he said, “And He showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan was standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee. Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and stood before the angel, and he answered and spoke unto those that stood before him, saying. Take away the filthy garments from him; and unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee and l will clothe thee with a change of raiment.“ Zech. 3:1-4.
In connection with the above it is clearly seen that nothing will deliver us from the filth of Babylon like meeting the Lord face to face. Was that not Paul’s experience when he met Christ? He took all his past goodness, all his ancient tradition, all his natural descent, all his righteousness after the law, and threw it on the dung pile and reckoned that everything that had been a gain to him in the past was now nothing but a loss. Phil. 3:4-9. It will be exactly the same with you and me. All this Babylonish tradition with all its commendable works, its righteousness, and its program will be found to be like salt that has lost its savor – fit only for the dung pile.
This Joshua who stood before the Lord clothed in filthy garments is you and me dressed in the garments of Babylon (the great church system). But notice, please, that this Joshua met with the Angel of the Lord (which is Christ). He stood before Him and new garments were put on him. A fair miter was placed on Joshua’s head (this is the mind of Christ), and he was commanded to walk in the ways of the Lord. This is the will of God. Ah, what a difference it makes to meet with Jesus. How soon the filth of the carnal mind begins to disappear with all its human ways of looking at things, and that glorious fair miter, the mind of Christ, begins to change our lives with their carnal outlook, causing us to walk in the will of God and become men to be wondered at. Verse 8 It makes us branches of the glorious vine, and bids us call every man our neighbor under the vine (Christ) and under the fig tree (God’s chosen Israel). Please read verses 8-10.
There is never time nor space to consider these blessed truths as we should consider them. We will have to omit from our study many of the personal appearings of the Lord as recorded in the scripture and consider them in our closets of prayer before the Lord. The appearances of Christ to individuals and companies of individuals were so frequent throughout the New Testament that I would say we had every right to look for and long for that transforming experience ourselves. What a tragic loss there would have been to the story of the resurrection if Jesus had not appeared to a weeping woman who stood numb with grief, peering into an empty sepulcher for the body of her blessed Lord. Hearing footsteps behind her, she turned and saw Jesus standing, and knew Him not. “Why weepest thou?” He asked. “Whom seekest thou?” And she, supposing Him to have been the gardener, answered amid her sobs, “Sir, if thou hast borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him and I will take Him away.” Jesus said unto her, “Mary!!” It was the voice she knew and loved so well. There was no mistaking it. That was the voice, which had commanded seven devils to leave her body. She had heard that voice call men from out the tomb and still angry storms by a word. Yes, she knew it well. “Rabboni!!” she exclaimed with enraptured awe, and fell at His feet. But He bade her not to touch Him, saying, “Go to my brethren and tell them I ascend unto My Father and your Father and to My God and your God.” John 20:11-18
“I am the resurrection!” Angels smiled
That day in spring they rolled the stone away
While humans wept. They could not yet believe
That conquered death could never hold its prey,
But in that grave life stepped from out a shroud.
Life fears no shrouds nor death’s vales dark and wild:
The everlasting arms are lifting Him As tenderly as mother lifts her child.
C. S. Price.
What assurance would have been lacking had He not appeared personally to the disciples as with locked doors they sat huddled in fear of the Jews, mourning and weeping over what seemed to be the greatest loss the world had ever sustained. But see how hope banishes fear as light banishes darkness when He stood in their midst, saying, “Peace be unto you,” and showing them His hands and His side. Perhaps one of the greatest understatements of all time is contained in the words, “Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.” John 20:19-23
What a change took place in Thomas as he cried, “My Lord and my God!” at the appearing of Christ, and in Peter as he girt his fisher’s cloak about him and cast himself into the sea to hurry to Him! John 21:2-4. What indescribable joy must have filled the two Marys as Jesus met them saying, “All Hail,” and they held Him by the feet and worshipped Him! Matt. 28:8,9. See also Acts 1:3-11 and Cor. 15:7. If Jesus had not appeared personally to Paul, do you think we would have the undying truth today that we read in all his epistles? Had He not appeared to John on the Isle of Patmos, would we have had the glorious truth of the Revelation? Would John himself have known that fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, which he wrote about afterward in his epistle, saying, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you that ye may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3-4
I may be wrong in what I am going to say, but I think there is excellent reason to believe that every writer of the New Testament had met Christ personally and individually. I am not referring merely to His life on earth, but I mean that at some time after the resurrection Jesus had appeared to them and, because He had thus appeared, their lives had been so changed, their minds so transformed that they simply were not the same men and women they were before He met them. God forbid that I should seem mysterious in my talk, but there must come a day when His promises will find their fulfillment. It is not a catching away into the sky that we need. It is a revelation of Jesus Christ to our individual hearts. Then will our eyes and our understandings be opened and our innermost beings transformed. We need that which will make Christ to be far more than a historical character. We need to meet Him and see Him as the Son of the living God.
The glorious appearing of Christ is called That Blessed Hope. Let other men spend their time in arguing the how, why, when, and wherefore but let it be that you and I, who realize that the world’s greatest need is men who have met with Jesus, have heard His voice, have seen His face, and have felt His transforming power, begin our earnest watching that we may be found ready and waiting when He appears. Christ will appear to those who look for Him. He is coming for those who are watching. What I say unto one I say unto all. Watch!! He will not intrude into the picture show to reveal Himself to you. He will not even interrupt our T.V. or earthly amusement. Neither will He interfere with those who are engrossed in worldly plans. If we are going to see Him when He comes, we are going to need to be watching and listening for Him.
How well I remember my old boyhood home out on the boundless Canadian prairies. Our farmstead was twelve miles from the nearest town and in the pioneer days our only means of travel was by team and wagon. I do not think there is any place on earth that can be so completely silent as the vast prairies at night time. Their wonderful solitude causes one to stand in His presence. One of the most wonderful experiences of my life has been to stand alone in that immense vastness and listen intently to try to catch some faint sound of movement or life of some kind. With not even a breath of air moving there was no sound at all, and whenever there was a sound it could be heard for miles. How often, when father or brothers had gone away to the village in the morning and were returning late at night, we would stand outdoors and listen for the sound of wagon wheels in the distance. Returning at intervals, we would listen again and again until at last we could hear the sound we were waiting for. Then we would light the dim old kerosene lantern and be waiting on the doorstep to welcome them home. I shall never forget those good and wonderful days. But tonight I am not listening and waiting for the sound of a wagon rumbling over the plains. I am standing at the door waiting, looking, longing for Jesus to come; and He is sending His message before Him, “Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”
There is a great and damning fault among Christians that seems to be past explanation. It is a fault that has developed and grown more grotesque as the years have come and gone. Men and women have come to desire and covet spiritual things, not for the glory of God and the honor of His eternal purpose, but that they themselves might become great men in the earth. Many a man has spent long periods in fasting that he might attain a great spiritual gift, yet all the time he is supposedly seeking the gift, his talk shows that his mind is full of hope that he will become a great and powerful minister to whom people will look with awe and pride. This is wrong seeking and a very great evil. Many a man has sought after the gift of healing – not because he was burdened for the sick, but because the gift would bring him honor among the people. He expected it would bring him crowds and fame and money. Oh, let men search their hearts before they ask of God lest they ask amiss to consume it upon their own lusts. James 4:3. The result of such asking is spiritual death. It is of the carnal mind and hateful in God’s sight. The carnal mind is always desirous of spiritual gifts. It likes to appear honored of God and accepted. That is why there are so many false prophets, false teachers, false healers, and false miracle workers in the world. Men who love people to think they are the great power of God will, for all their apparent wonders, hear God tell them on that day, “I never knew you.” We have an example of this kind of man in Acts 8:9–10: “But there was a certain man called Simon, which beforetime used sorceries and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one, to whom the people gave heed from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.” There are such men in our day who have similarly bewitched the people. They clamor for spectacular gifts that they might have a spectacular following. This is not the way a man should seek a gift.
I greatly fear that many people will desire to see the face of Christ in the same inquisitive manner – not because they love Him or long to be like Him, but only to see what God would look like. Their interest is more on the level of a crowd rushing to see the President or the Queen or of nosey little children crowding around to catch a glimpse of the victim of a tragic accident. In Exodus 19:12,21 we have a perfect example of this very thing. At the time of the law God commanded Moses in these words: “Thou shall set bounds unto the people round about saying, Take heed unto yourselves that ye go not into the mount or touch the border of it: – and the Lord said unto Moses, Go down; charge the people lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish.” Imagine that! Lest they break through to gaze! It was only their curiosity they wanted to satisfy. They were inquisitive, prying, peeping Toms. Their only interest in God was to gape and stare.
I am not exaggerating when I say that the average Christian has a similar attitude toward God and miracles. It is better not to approach to God at all than to approach with the attitude of a sight-seer.
David said, “My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say more than they that watch for the morning.” Psa. 130:6. This is the desire men should have when they seek the face of Christ. Men and women who with burning love and desire stand weeping for His presence will see Him when He comes and be found ready and waiting to be changed by the glory of His presence into that same image. Their longing prayer shall be, “Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou makest They flocks to rest at noon.” Songs 1:7. “By might on my bed I sought Him whom my soul loveth, but I found Him not. I will arise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek Him whom my soul loveth: I sought Him, but found Him not. The watchmen that went about the city found me; To whom I said, Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth? It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found Him whom my soul loveth.” Songs 3:1-5
“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth and hath long patience for it until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient. Stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” James 5:7–8. “We know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifleth Himself even as He is pure.” 1 John 3:2–3. And they shall see His face and His name shall be in their foreheads. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so come, Lord Jesus.
LOOK TO YOURSELVES
In the life of each one of God’s people there should frequently come a time of soul searching and stock taking. It is not enough to hold beliefs about sonship and the kingdom of God and all such blessed truths, for there are many who cry, “Lord, Lord,” who are unfit for the kingdom of God. There are, I fear, almost endless thousands who prophesy and do wonderful works who are not known to God at all. The fact that a man may pray for the sick and see some healed does not mean that he is a manifested son of God; neither does it mean that he has any special standing with God at all. We were warned long ago by the apostles and by the Lord Himself that the church system would have its store of those who would bewitch the people with miracles. In my opinion it is high time that God’s people opened their minds to the indisputable fact that both the Antichrist and all his ilk will be such masters of deception that they will completely deceive their own selves and, if it were possible, even the very elect also, for Paul forewarned God’s people of him whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. 2 Thess. 2:9–10. It is of terrifying significance that the apostle follows this statement with this warning: “For this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie, that they all might be condemned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Verses 11–12 To whom did the Spirit of God give such dreadful warning but to those who “received not the love of the truth”, verse 10, or in plainer words, to those who did not love the truth?
As the years have passed by, experience has taught me that it is absolutely necessary for every Christian to spend time by himself alone with God, away from the assembling of the multitude, away from the voice of preachers, away from the opinions of people, away from books, away from programs, and away from teaching, that he might come unto the backside of the desert where no one can speak but God, where the Holy Spirit can point out the inconsistencies of his life. I do not speak of the inconsistencies of others, but of the inconsistencies of his own life.
One dreadful indictment against God’s people in our day is that they have become “yes men” and head nodders, going along with silly programs of silly people who are great organizers and builders but who speak and act from the fertility of their own minds rather than from acquaintance with the eternal purposes of the Most High. The apostle Paul likened himself to a trained boxer who made every blow count. “I therefore so run,” he said, “not as uncertainly. So fight I, not as one that beateth the air.” 1 Cor. 9:26. Too much of our running today is with uncertainty. Every man is running, running, and doing, doing, but few know where the goal is. Everybody is fighting and doing battle, but for the most part they are beating the air. Let us assure our hearts of this one cardinal and fundamental truth: “Every plant which My heavenly Father hath not planted will be rooted up.” Matt. 15:13. And we might further add that every race that is run with uncertainty, together with all the fighting that is merely beating the air, will be of profit to no one and will receive condemnation rather than reward. Too many of God’s people are like the two drunk men who rowed all night to get to the other side of the lake only to find in the morning, when they were sober, that they were still anchored to the wharf. Whether we appreciate the allusion or not, the solemn truth remains that many great works are being done through the ingenuity of men rather than the direction of the Holy Spirit, and we labor in vain.
We cannot declare too emphatically that the most important thing in the life of any child of God is to know God’s will, and you will not know God’s will until you have delivered yourself from the confused voices of the multitude around you. You will not discover God’s will by enquiring of people that your heart may be assured by their opinions. They simply do not know the will of God for you. You cannot order your life by a prophecy or supposed prophecy that was given concerning you. Far too many people are saying, “Thus saith the Lord,” when the Lord has not spoken. I sometimes receive letters that are full of prophecy concerning myself. Occasionally one will witness to my spirit and be a comfort to me, but I never allow my life to be directed by them, for we must first prove all things and holdfast to that which is good. Paul taught that we should not despise prophesyings but that we should prove them and judge for ourselves whether or not to be influenced by them. This he practiced in his own life when the prophets said that he should not go up to Jerusalem. Acts 21:4-13 Though by obeying them he might have spared himself much suffering, he also knew for himself what the mind of the Lord was for him, for God had taught him by the Spirit that bonds and afflictions were his lot no matter where he would be.
A burning love for God is the first and foremost essential in knowing God’s will. It is she who with love and devotion takes time to bathe the feet of the Lord with her tears and anoint them with the precious ointment of consecration who discovers the blessedness of walking in the will of God rather than she who is constantly cumbered with much serving. The woman who washed His feet with tears and dried them with the hair of her head was too obsessed with her devotion to God to trouble about the dissenting of scribes and Pharisees or to be concerned with that greedy covetous one who would sell the ointment with feigned generosity toward the poor rather than lavish it upon the head of the Eternal One. It is when we pour out our love at the feet of Christ, talking little and listening much that we come to the knowledge of His will.
If I may now testify from lifelong experience, I will tell you a wonderful secret concerning God’s will. In all my life I have never known God to divulge the fullness of His mind and will at any one time about any one thing. But I have discovered that, as I walked with Him, loving Him and desiring to be directed by Him, He has led me one step at a time, one day at a time, revealing one thing at a time. Among the many closed doors in the wall He would open one and bid me enter. He has led me by misfortune, by enemies, by storms, by traitors, by false brethren, by flat tires, by inspiration, by open doors and closed doors, and by simply doing the thing at hand that needed to be done. God has not directed my life by great bursts of heavenly revelation but by circumstances that were often most mystifying at the time. When those who were my enemies rose up against me, blocking my path and plotting my ruin, I found this to be God’s certain way of changing my direction and ushering my life forth on a course of blessing I had not dreamed of nor planned. The surest leading Joseph ever had in his whole life was when his wicked brothers plotted his ruin and sold him into Egypt as a slave. In later years he knew it was God, not his brothers, who had sent him to Egypt. What better thing could have happened to Moses than the disaster of having to flee to the backside of the desert? Even the wrathful act from which he fled was the hidden but guiding hand of God. The shipwreck of Paul on the Island of Melita was just as much the leading of the Lord as was the vision in which a man prayed him saying, “Come over into Macedonia and help us,” for through his shipwreck many heathen were saved and a church was established on the Island of Melita.
Never give yourself to the spectacular at any time and least of all where the direction of the Lord is concerned. Learn that calamity and difficulty are all part of your training just as are success and prosperity. Whom the Lord loveth He correcteth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth, for all things are working together for good to them that love the Lord and to them who are the called according to His purpose. “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:38–39
The hour in which we now live is a time fraught with much danger for every child of God, and, though I am loath to declare it, it is undoubtedly true that those who most desire to attain the greater promises of God are the ones who are the most beset with every peril of the way, for they like lonely pioneers are pressing into the unknown, and, unless they keep their eyes fixed on God and on Him alone, they will travel many a side road or find themselves going in circles even as they forever do in that wilderness whence we came out.
Though we may be alert for danger from without, the greatest danger always lies within ourselves. In these last days above all others men have become filled with self-confidence and puffed up with a sense of their own ability. There is nothing more dangerous than this. Both our ability and our wisdom are but foolishness in the sight of God, and should we consciously or unconsciously set our hearts upon them, we find ourselves leaning on our own resources, devoid of the Spirit of God and abandoned to our own devices. Now when a man begins to lean on his own devices and depend upon his own ability, his works are no longer known of the Lord and he has come to the place where the Lord must say of him, “I know you not.” How well did Paul learn that we should never trust ourselves when he said, “We had the sentence of death in ourselves that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us.” 2 Cor. 1:9–10. Our safety is secure when we pass the death sentence on self and trust in God who raises the dead.
These are perilous times because men have become lovers of themselves rather than lovers of God. Indeed, many Christians and a multitude of preachers use God and His work for a pretence and a false front behind which they may hide, but take the mask away and you will see self sitting on the throne, covetous self, soliciting money for the work of God when in reality it is self that wants it; deceptive self, proclaiming the building up of the kingdom of God when in reality he is building up his own kingdom; false self, proclaiming the mighty works of God when in reality it is naught but the sleight of men (hand) and the cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive. How thoroughly did Paul foresee the end of the age when he wrote to Timothy? “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high, minded lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away.” 2 Tim. 3:1-5. These are not conditions existing in the world alone. These are conditions that run rampant throughout the entire church system, which is no longer the true church, but Mystery Babylon.
These are perilous times because so many of God’s people do not understand the message of the hour, a message peculiar to us now, designed of God for this hour and none other. Day after day I am confronted by the indisputable fact that God’s people do not understand the message of Babylon. There are, indeed, a few who do understand, but for the most part there is little understanding in them, for many have become like men possessed of evil habits who, though they see their wrong and try to reform, yet again and again fall back into the same pit whence they were digged. If God reveals to you the confusion, disorder, and abomination of the professing church with its multiplied systems of religion, whose God is not the Lord, but the system and the program, so that you come out from among them and deliver yourself from them, what have you gained by your deliverance from denominationalism if you immediately join yourself to some other system that dares to call itself undenominational? Do you not know that its purposes are just the same as the purposes of the larger group? God does not call men out of one Babylon into another, but He is calling you out of Babylon unto Himself.
Christians today are forever chorusing the words, “We need each other”, but they seem to have forgotten that there is One they need ten thousand fold more than they need each other, and that is they need God. The words of Jesus to the church at Ephesus were, “I have somewhat against thee because thou hast left thy first love.” Rev. 2:4. These solemn words are as true in this last hour as they were when spoken to the church at Ephesus long ago. Our Lord did not tell them that they had lost their first love, but that they had left their first love. The first love that any Christian has is for his matchless Lord and Redeemer. Christ is all and in all to him. Christ is all that matters. The rich, the poor, the destitute, the sick, and the dying are content to rest in His marvelous love and in the strength of His everlasting arms. The new-born Christian rejoices in the love of God and in the eternal hope of being with Him forever.
In our first love we were not concerned about doctrines and denominations. The dogmas and theories of men were forgotten in the joy of our new found love. We were unaware that all about us rages a brutal and merciless struggle in which men who long ago had left their first love now compassed land and sea to make proselytes for their own petty cause. In our first love we did not know that preachers and people who had once basked in the sunlight of God’s love were now engaged in titanic struggles against each other, as though the pet dogma they preached was important. But it is not important. There is nothing in heaven or earth as important as loving God. If any man thinketh he knoweth aught, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know, but if any man love God, the same is known of Him. To love God is better than sacrifice. To love God is better than any offering. To love God is better than doctrine. To love God is far beyond the sickly thing that men today insist on calling fellowship. We were not saved and rejoicing in Jesus Christ, our first love, for long before the wicked harlot system began to entice us away from our devotion to God, holding before us a set of doctrines and a set of rules, preaching that this doctrine was right and that doctrine was wrong until we began to find ourselves engaged in vain and fruitless janglings with men who had once loved God above all else, vainly proclaiming ourselves victors on the field of controversy, and all this in the name of God and in the defense of Him who needs no defense from anyone.
How often our hearts have rejoiced as we have seen sinners saved at a common altar! With tears streaming down their faces they rejoiced in their new, found love of God and, clasping each other in the embrace of brothers, they gave glory to Him whose blood had made them one. But how our hearts have been sickened when during the next week or two foolish and unscrupulous men were teaching these happy converts something else besides loving Christ. While one was being taught to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, the other was being taught to be baptized in the name of Jesus. While one was learning that God is a trinity, the other was learning that there is no God except Jesus, and while one was learning the doctrine of Calvin, the other was learning the doctrine of the Armenians, so that, when they next met, instead of embracing as brothers in Christ, they drew their swords, sharpened keen by the stone of human reason, to pierce each other through the heart and remain spiritual enemies as long as life should last. They had left their first love and embraced a second love that would keep them at war and be a wall of partition between them as long as they would both live.
No, my friend! If you have recently heard the voice of God calling you out of the disorder and confusion of Babylon, there is something you need infinitely more than fellowship with man. You need to return to your first love and learn to have fellowship with God. You need a sort of spiritual honeymoon when you can leave houses and lands, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers that you may be alone with your Lord and become acquainted with Him. The reason you are so anxious to get to meeting is because they have through years of habit become uppermost in your mind. Apart from them you cannot conceive of God; neither can you conceive of finding God apart from them. You have become like the woman of Samaria who, in spite of her lack of spiritual life, was full of argument and ready to start a debate with the Lord Himself when she said, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” You see how she associated God and worship with places and things? And that is the confused spirit of Babylon from start to finish. People who have walked in its deceptive ways cannot conceive of finding God or worshipping Him anywhere except in a building and among a crowd. They have never learned that the heart of the multitude is usually far from God. Our Lord Jesus Christ would have no part with her argument, but told her the truth that I, too, would tell you now. “Woman,” he said, “believe Me, the hour is coming, and now is, when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall men worship the Father, but the true worshippers shall worship in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.” Cf. John 4:21-23
What does that immortal saying mean to you as a worshipper of God? Worship in spirit and in truth cannot be found in the rituals and ceremonies of Babylon, but in the adoring contemplation of a heart rejoicing in the love of God. The system we call the church and which I call Babylon is becoming more confused by the hour as she seeks in her confusion and frustration to make herself pleasing to all men. I have on my desk a clipping from the newspaper, dated Jan. 6, 1967, with the heading, “Atheism under study.” Quote: “Vatican City: The Vatican secretary for non-believers will establish a center for the study of Atheism in Rome in co-operation with the eternal city’s religious colleges and seminaries, it was announced Thursday.” End of quote. Is it any wonder that the glory of God has departed from this system of confusion? Is it any wonder that, having departed, the Lord is now calling His faithful people to depart also? And have they so little understanding that, having departed, they will again wander back into some religious shed that is in reality the same thing in different attire? Let us come out and let us come out unto God, returning once and for all to OUT first love.
The word of God has warned us that strong delusion would be rampant in the earth in the last days and that it would be the result of men’s having no love for the truth. Truth in the final analysis is the Lord Himself, for He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Delusion stalks like an evil specter in the world, in the church system, in the courts, in the government, in society, in universities and schools, and in any place you look. That which is evil is accepted as good and that which is good is rejected as evil. Darkness is heralded as light and light is shunned as darkness. The bitter things are devoured as sweet; the sweet things are despised as bitter. The things that God in His wisdom had declared to be immoral man now exalts as the new morality. Paul taught us to be aware of the oppositions of science, falsely so called, yet this same science, which is forever changing its theories, is exalted as truth while the word of God is relegated to the realm of myths and fables. Does it not appear that even the laws of the land are weighted in favor of the criminal rather than the innocent, the burglar instead of the burglarized?
The delusion that is in the world is also rampant in the religious systems of the day. The fact actually is that delusion has its beginning in religion rather than in the world, for delusion begins when God’s people leave their first love and begin to build around themselves. Love for power creeps into the hearts of the ministering class unawares. They begin to leave the simplicity of the gospel and the exaltation of Jesus Christ. They make things complicated with program and doctrine so that the hearts of men are centered on them instead of on the Lord Himself. Instead of teaching the eternal purposes of an almighty and immutable God that can neither be frustrated nor annulled, they make God out to be the victim of evil circumstances brought about by that arch fiend, the devil. The people are indoctrinated to believe that, unless they throw all their weight of influence, labor, and finance behind the preacher’s man-made scheme, God will certainly come off the loser and the devil the victor. Thus the hearts and minds of men are turned from the simplicity of Christ to the complications of men.
The more the government of man comes in, the more the government of God is crowded out, until the gifts of God wane and the ingenuity and cleverness of man takes their place. The more men are educated and learned in the various arts of public ministry, the less they depend upon the Spirit of God until the prophet no longer speaks by the Lord but from the storehouse of his books and carnal understandings. Thus the appeal ceases to be made to the spirit of man, which is one essence with the Spirit of God, and is made to the intellect of the natural mind, which is an enemy of God. For the natural mind is an enemy of God. It is not subject to the law of God, nor can it possibly be.
Once this appeal is made to the natural mind, the church is no longer the home of the meek and lowly followers of Christ, but the abode of those who say, “I am rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing.” But they do not know that in spiritual things they are wretched and miserable, poor and blind and naked. Thus it comes to pass that the church, which once shone with the glory of the sun of righteousness, now stripped of her glory, sits in the miserable rags of her prostitution. The purity and holiness, the righteousness and truth that made her the light of the whole earth have been snuffed out and she has become smoke in the nostrils of all mankind, parading her selfishness, pride, intolerance, and worldliness.
It is so easy for the self life to begin to work in God’s people. The danger is ever present of beginning in the Spirit and ending in the flesh. The more machinery and program we gather about us the more danger there is of drifting into the use of manpower instead of walking in the Spirit and working by the inspiration and power of the Holy Ghost. We add program to program and machinery to machinery, not by the leading of the Lord, but by our own initiative. Then, when we find there is no spiritual power to drive our machinery, we resort, as Samson did, to the arm of flesh, which can prove itself so simple and so refined that we deceive ourselves into believing that the flesh we use is in truth the Spirit of God. This is a most dangerous thing. The great danger of these human programs is this: Once they are begun, necessity demands that they must be kept going. Otherwise there will be much loss. More often than not many people have been involved financially and, should the program halt, there would be financial loss. Therefore necessity demands that it must be kept going at all costs. As the Spirit of the Lord withdraws from it, the ingenuity and cleverness of man takes over more and more until all that is left is a great organized effort, a big noise, a sensational work with the outward appearance of a work of God, yet motivated by the power of man and self.
My heart greatly fears such involvement, for personal experience has taught me the grief of being saddled with things in which God has no interest. Even now it is a grief to my spirit to see men, who but a few years ago were rejoicing in their freedom from the confusion of Babylon, now greatly encumbered with their own program and the machinery to run it, as link by link they fashion a chain of bondage that will bind them like slaves to a work from which God has departed, and which must be henceforth carried on by their own steam.
Let us therefore lay aside every weight and the sin, which doth so easily beset us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. There are many things, which, though they are not sins, are weights that hinder us in the race that is set before us.
Men who carry weights in races may be counted to be losers before they ever start, for men who run in races strip themselves that they might obtain a corruptible crown, but we run that we might attain an incorruptible crown. Let us therefore run that we may attain. If we are to attain the spiritual heights to which God has called us, there must first be a clean break with the world and the flesh and the devil and all his works. The importance of this cannot be over-estimated. There must be only one love in your life and that love must be centered in the realm beyond the veil of the flesh where God dwells in all His purity and holiness. Set your affections on things above and not on things on the earth, for you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Then, when He shall appear, you also will appear with Him in glory.
There must be no mingling of seed, no mixing of good and evil. Fellowship with infidels of whatsoever sort they be must be as out of bounds as fellowship with Belial. You have no doubt noticed how in the Old Testament types God instructed that they were not to plow with an ox and an ass in the same yoke, for the ox is a clean animal while the ass is unclean. They were not to mix wool with linen, and they were not to mingle the seed of the field. All these things were done to demonstrate to us that God’s people are not to be a people of mixtures, mingling the clean with the unclean, the things that are of the earth with the things that are from above, the flesh and the Spirit, the corruptible and the incorruptible. We are to be God’s people even as Paul taught us; “Come ye out from among them and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing.” And again, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with believers.” Yet again, “What fellowship hath Christ with Belial, or what communion hath he that believeth with an infidel?” If God has taught us that we must not sit with the drunkards in the tavern or visit the houses of harlots, then what business could we possibly have is such places of shame? And if God has taught us that the existing church system is Babylon and confusion, then what business have we frequenting those places, since God has commanded us, saying, “Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partaker of her sins”
The very spirit of the age in which we now live is to mix everything and everybody together so that all appear to come out of one mold. It is the working of the spirit of Babylon, which never can be anything but confusion. Man is doing his best to mingle the seed of God with the seed of Satan. He is endeavoring to mingle the church with the world and religion with politics. Nothing would be more pleasing to the spirit of this evil age than to be able to say, “There is no difference between the children of the world and the children of God”. Indeed, a Lutheran minister recently declared, “There is no difference between the church and the world. They are two parts of the same thing.” How different is this teaching from the words of the Bible, which says, “Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Again, “If My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight.” And again, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” And yet again, “All that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. These are not of the Father, but of the world, and the world passeth away and the lusts thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”
There were many who came to Jesus for instruction while He dwelt on earth, but there were three in particular who came, each with a different need of heart, and each in turn received his needed exhortation; and the exhortation they receive should be given much consideration by us all.
First, there was the scribe who said, “Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest,” to whom Jesus replied, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.” Matt. 8:19–20. One should never come to Christ saying, “I will follow Thee,” without having first counted the cost, for the cost will be revealed in many unexpected ways and perhaps in many unpleasant ways as well. Those who follow God will never be the darlings of the world, and neither will they be the darlings of the church; and, if you ever become either the darling of the world or the darling of the church, then you are not truly following God. Make no mistake about that. The men who today are almost worshipped by their followers are not following God. They are displacing God. Whenever you find people who are all taken up and absorbed with a man, referring to him and speaking of him continually, exalting him as some great one, then beware, for that man has succeeded in exalting himself more than he has exalted the Lord. True men of God have never been exalted by their contemporaries, but have endured the tribulation of which Stephen spoke when he said, “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One: of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers.” Act. 7:52
It is easy to sing, “I’ll go with Him through the garden,” without being mindful that the garden through which He passed was not a garden of roses, of singing birds and budding fruits, but lonely, dreadful Gethsemane, the one and only pathway in this present world that leads to the center of God’s will. It is easy to sing with the multitude, “A tent or a cottage, why should I care,” while you are living in the lap of luxury, but that song may have a melancholy tune in that day you find yourself in a hut where your best furniture is an apple box and your mattress a pallet of straw. It is easy to vow, “Lord, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest”, without considering that, though foxes have holes and little birds have nests, the Son of man, whom you would follow, hath nowhere to rest His head.
Then to another man Jesus said, “Follow Me.” He replied, “Let me first go and bury my father” Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their dead, but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” To another who said, “Let me first go bid them farewell which are at my house,” He said, “No man, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-61
Centuries ago three heart-broken widows, Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth, stood on a dusty road in the ancient land of Moab. Naomi was returning to the land of Judah and her two daughters-in-law had decided to go with her. But as they walked, Naomi with weeping said unto her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each to her mother’s house; the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice and wept. And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people. And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters; why will ye go with me? Are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; would ye tarry for them till they were grown? Would ye stay for them from having husbands? Nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me. And they lifted up their voice, and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law; but Ruth clave unto her. And she said, Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone back unto her people and unto her gods; return thou after thy sister-in-law. And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; Where thou diest, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” Ruth 1:8-17
We shall not try to explain the truths of a story that need so little explanation, but here we have two young women counting the cost, and, after counting the cost, one decides to go back to her own country. The other decides to leave everything that was ever dear to follow God into a land wherein she would be a stranger. If such decisions are firmly made in God, they pay dividends in the end such as eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath entered the heart of man. You have probably noticed, I am sure, that among the four women mentioned as progenitors of our Lord is the name of Ruth the Moabitess. Matt. 1:5.
“Let the dead bury their dead that may be a saying not easily understood in our day, but it simply means that there are plenty of unregenerate people living in the world to take care of the dead things that belong to this present age without our needing to distract our attention from the Lord to attend to them. We should be too intent upon the prize that is set before us to waste our time looking back to see how well we have done. I don’t think the Lord is very interested about what kind of furrow we plowed away back there, nor in how many times we have fallen and risen again. He is concerned that we keep our eyes forever forward, leaving the past in God’s hands. Therefore “let thine eyes look right on and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.” Prov. 4:25
Then there was the rich young ruler whose love Jesus tested by saying, “If thou wilt be perfect, sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and come, take up thy cross and follow Me.” And he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Jesus, seeing him go sadly away, said to those about Him, “A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven, and again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Matt 19:23–24. God has no objection to a man’s having great riches, but whether he loves his riches more than he loves God is manifest by what he does with them, and he may rest assured that before his life is over God will prove to His own satisfaction whether of the twain he loves the most, his riches or the kingdom of God. It has been proven long ago that it is not rich men who freely give of their abundance into the treasury of the Lord, but the poor, who of their penury cast in their all. “He gives not best who gives the most; but he gives most who gives the best. If I cannot give bountifully, yet will I give freely, and what I want in my hand I will supply by my heart.” (Warwick)
We are without doubt living in the closing hours of this dispensation.
The sun is setting now and bands of light,
Like rosy fingers, steal across the skies.
Down in the sheltered vale the deep’ning night
Like a dark mantle o’er the tired earth lies.
Deep shadows creep along the country lanes,
And birds are winging homeward to their nests.
Bright little lights wink out from window panes
And bid the weary toiler home to rest.
The hour has come for God’s sons to be gathered unto their Father. We must now learn what the true church is. The true church consists of those blessed ones who have heard His voice and followed Him. They are not members of the professing church with all its warnings and strife nor are they members of any faction of it, but they have heard God’s voice saying, “I have called them. Behold, thou art Mine. Because thou hast loved Me, I have loved thee and put My Spirit within thee. Thou art members of My body, of My flesh, and of My bones. Thou art my sons and members in particular of the Christ company, for through the love of God your Father and the grace of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, thou hast become members of a vast family of sons, members in particular of that one body of sons, of which body Jesus Christ is the eternal head and elder brother.
“It is through Him and through the shedding of His blood that thou hast thy redemption; therefore thou art His and His alone. Thou art a thing apart from all people but His people, chosen in Him before the foundation of the ages. Thou dost not belong to the world or to any of the systems of it. Thou hast no part in the ten thousand voices of Babylon, for I have called thee from among her citizens to be a peculiar treasure unto Me.
“I will now breathe upon thee and thy flesh shall wither, even as the flesh of Jacob withered in the presence of the angel of the Lord. Gen. 32:25. And thou shalt rise to walk in newness of life that all men may know that thou art My sons, a peculiar treasure unto Me. The fuller’s soap shall be applied, even the power of the blood of Christ and of the Holy Spirit, until all thy spots and wrinkles shall disappear, and thou shalt be clean, even whiter than snow. For as Christ is spotless, so shalt thou be spotless to be presented holy in His presence with neither spot nor blemish upon thee.
“Furthermore, in this final hour thou shalt be refined as gold and silver are refined that all dross may be taken from thee. Think it not strange, therefore, concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you, for this is the refining and the perfection of the soul. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, taking joyfully the spoiling of all earthly goods that heavenly good may abound and be thine eternal riches. Thy gold shall be like unto transparent glass where neither evil nor dross can hide, but only the purity of God’s eternal light. Thou shalt be both pliable and yielding unto Me. Give no more your hearts to this world nor to any of the things which are in it, for the riches of the world serve only to turn the heart away from God whom thou shall love with a love above all loves, a love compared to which all other loves are but hate, for only in loving the Lord thy Father with all thine heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind canst thou reach that maturity of loving thy neighbor as thyself. Then will I anoint the Christ within thee with the holy anointing oil of My Spirit, and thy perfume shall flow among all the nations of the earth in a blessed reign of righteousness that shall fill the earth with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters fill the seas.”
God in this hour is doing a great thing in the earth, making the ears of all who hear to tingle. Silently as the daybreak comes back when night is done and the crimson streak on ocean’s cheek grows into the great sun, so without noise or fanfare He is laying His hand upon His chosen ones, ordained in Him before the foundation of the ages. He is bringing them first into unity with His own Spirit, making them one with Him, for God does certainly know that only in unity with His Spirit can the unity of the brethren be found. This is His church and the redemption of a groaning creation.
THE TIME OF THE INTERIM
Seven men stood talking together. They were Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John, and two other disciples of the Lord. John 21:2. Their reason for being together is very evident. Not only were they friends of long standing, but they were all disciples of the Lord. The earth-shaking events of the past days had knit their lives into closer union, as tragedies always tend to do. The topic of their conversation is not difficult to guess, nor is it difficult to imagine the consternation that now filled them with uncertainty and dread. What man does not feel a measure of uncertainty when he faces the unknown, knowing that no other has walked this way before?
These men had seen things that no man before them had ever seen. Their ears had caught the sweet sound of a message so transcendingly glorious that even the soldiers exclaimed, “No man ever spake like this man!” He told them of the glory of an age to come, an age in which they with Him would sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. He had spoken of a kingdom wherein all was blessedness, all was right, and all was righteous. They had been with Him on the mountain of beatitudes and their ears had heard with joy His manifold blessings pronounced upon those who had the spirit of the kingdom of God in their hearts. Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed they that mourn; blessed the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and blessed are His own when men shall revile them and say all manner of evil against them falsely for His sake.
Never could man devise such a kingdom as this. All other kingdoms from the foundation of the world have been ruled and governed by man’s stupidity, never prospering for long because of the deep corruption of the human heart, fashioned as they were in the mold of man’s fallen nature. Jesus told them of a kingdom that would be the direct antithesis of all former kingdoms, a kingdom in which the love of God would both rule and be shed abroad in every heart.
“Upon the mountain Jesus sat; the hillside by the beach
Grass-carpeted cathedral where He could speak, and teach
Those flaming, burning words of truth that priest and demagogue
Would never tolerate at all in church or synagogue.
“His own cathedral He had built; had built it by His word,
And ‘neath its vaulted panoply the glory of the Lord
Would pale the light of noonday sun; for what He said that day
Would blaze and shine eternally, when worlds had burned away.
“Back to their tasks the crowd had gone, and He was left alone
Save for a little company that He could call His own.
What use was there for restless crowds – the worldly, giddy throng
Might listen to the music, but never hear the song.
“Blessed are ye,” the tones rang out, repeated o’er and o’er!
Galilee pressed with watery hands the keyboard of the shore;
And from her heaving bosom rose the music of her waves,
For heaven was calling earth to tell that only Jesus saves.
“For can the sermon on the mount be lived by human life?
Can sinful man ascend so high above his sin and strife?
Is there the possibility that he can strive and strain
Through a thousand consecrations that life to attain?
“Forgive us, Lord, is such we think, for this is not the way.
Oh, give us ears to really hear what Thou didst say that day!
We want life. Oh, vision blessed, from us, Lord, never part,
For we can only live it when Thou livest in our heart.”
Charles S. Price.
This poor, bleeding world speaks of love while hate is deep-seated in the heart. They seek for lasting peace, but the Prince of peace they turn away from their doors. No nation can have good laws without giving honor to Him from whom all law comes, even Him who on Mt. Sinai proclaimed a law so good, so pure and holy, that no people on earth, no, not even the godless nations, have ever been able to pick a flaw in it. Some immoral and deluded folk have called it outmoded, but they quickly find disobedience to its precepts brings nations to ruin, as we now see on every hand.
Jesus had not only told them of a kingdom to come in which He would reign supreme, King of kings, and they, His devoted consorts, would reign with Him, but He had warned them that He must first suffer many things, be rejected by His people, and be put to death – all of which seemed to be incompatible with and contradictory to the things He was teaching. As though He would amaze them more, He had spoken of His rising from the dead and of an unspeakable hour yet to come in which all mankind would hear the trumpet call of the voice of God’s Son and would come forth from their graves, some to aionian life and others to aionian destruction. It seems all clear to us now, but to them it was not clear. Their minds were confused with the very weight of the truth so fervently spoken to them and their understanding became incapable of grasping the awesome and wonderful message he proclaimed.
Like so many Christians of our day, these men rejoiced in the things they heard, but their hearts could not comprehend nor were they able to understand the vital truth and reality of the message. They “listened to the music, but never heard the song.” How often through the years I have encountered this lack of comprehension among the people of the Lord! They have eyes, but they do not see. They examine the outer shell, but never taste the kernel within. They say they understand, but their spirit has not grasped the truth. Someone will ask, “How do you know they do not see or understand?” The answer is so simple. Truth transforms the receiver and flows from him so that deep calls unto deep. During the past years scores of people have told me that they have seen the truth regarding Babylon and that the entire, existing church system is indeed Mystery Babylon. You will have to write a very large book, my brother or sister, if you are going to convince me that you have seen the truth about Babylon while you still remain within her prison walls. I know you have not seen it. When men say they have seen this pertinent truth, yet they still remain faithful to the system either in its organized or unorganized state, they are deceived. They have seen nothing. Many thousands are now professing to preach what they proudly call the sonship message. Ah, my brother, talk is cheap indeed. It is not he who proclaims the theory of sonship who is God’s son, but he who has the Spirit of His Son.
The minds of these seven men who stood and spoke together were confused indeed. The spirit within had not grasped the truth of death and resurrection. They had actually seen Him die and now, wonder of wonders, they had actually seen Him alive, a fact assured by many infallible proofs. If anyone on earth should have believed the message of the resurrection, it should have been Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene, yet these two faithful women, who during His life doted on His every word, had come early to the sepulcher, not to see Him alive, but, laden with sweet spices, to embalm His dead body and wrap it in endless yards of cloth that death might hold Him captive forever. But, when they came, they found the tomb no longer closed and sealed, but open wide; yet their sorrowing hearts could not believe that He was risen. He was not in the tomb and for this they wept bitterly. Surely someone must have stolen Him away, or perhaps the gardener had removed Him. Then He spoke, saying, “Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?” yet she knew not that it was He until He spoke her name, as so oft before He had done, and then she knew. Oh what rapture ravished her despairing soul as the unbearable burden of grief, doubt, fear, misunderstanding, and disappointment fell like lead at her feet! Her tears of sorrow became glistening diamonds of happiness and joy as His wonderful voice called out her name. “Rabboni!” she cried in ecstasy as she fell to worship at His feet. It was only a word that He spoke, but it was enough to drive away the distress of a lifetime and fill her being with joy for eternity.
And so it will be with you, my precious brother or sister. One word, falling like a gem from His lips in love and pardon, will change your whole life and everything hi it. That is the way it was with Thomas when Jesus appeared to him. He never could believe a thing until it was proved to him. Therefore, when he heard that the Lord was risen from the dead and had been seen by many of his brethren, he said with the heaviness that doubt always brings, “Except I see the print of the nails in His hands and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.” Eight days later the Lord appeared to His disciples again and this time Thomas was present. “Reach hither thy hand,” He challenged, “and thrust it into My side, and be not faithless, but believing.” And Thomas, hearing and understanding the full force of the resurrection by the Spirit, cried out in wonder and amazement, “My Lord and my God!”
“He speaks and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing;
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.”
“Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me,” spoke the risen Christ to a desperate man warring against the overwhelming convictions within his heart and kicking against the goadings of the Holy Spirit in His soul. Saul, hearing a voice but seeing no man, cried out from the depths of his anguished spirit, “Who art Thou, Lord!” for beyond doubt he knew it was the voice of the Lord. “I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest,” was the instant reply. “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks,” and Saul in astonishment cried aloud, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?‘ Then said Jesus, “Go into the village and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” And when Ananias was come to him, he laid his hands upon him and the Spirit of the Lord entered into him as the blinding scales that had bound his spirit in outer darkness all the days of his life fell from his eyes and he rejoiced in Jesus Christ the Lord.
“Jesus is all this poor world needs today.
Blindly they strive, for sin darkens their way.
Oh, to draw back the grim curtains of night!
One glimpse of Jesus and all will be bright.
All that I need is in Jesus.
He satisfies; joy He supplies;
Life would be worthless without Him;
All things in Jesus I find.”
And now his ransomed soul was singing a theme that never left his heart through all the days of his sojourn on earth:
“Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
Save in the cross of Christ, my Lord.
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.”
Let me interject a foundational truth at this point. It is a truth seldom, if ever, heard among the people of God. The preachers and evangelists studiously avoid it, but it is fundamental to all our understanding of the work of God in this present age. It is a truth given by no less an authority than God’s only begotten Son. The following two scriptures vividly point out God’s method of choosing those who are elected to be saved in this age: First, “No man can come to Me except the Father which hath sent Me draw him…” John 6:44. The second is this: “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. Christians blindly strive under the mistaken idea that, if they will only meet certain conditions, God will reply by bringing every man into the fold of Christ in this present age. My friend, this is a very great error. It is about as far from the truth as anything could possibly be. God does not intend to bring all men into the fold now. If that were His intention, He could do it with but one word of His omnipotence. When God’s eternal voice speaks, saying, “Let there be light,” then light immediately floods the universe as it did in the beginning. There is no need for a candle nor the light of the sun, for the Lord God giveth them light. That light could not be matched by ten thousand suns, for the light that shone out of darkness in the beginning is the same light that lightens every man that comes into the world. It is the light that shines into benighted souls, bringing the life of the ages to men who are sleeping in earth. “Samuel! Samuel!” called the Lord, and a sleeping boy sprang from his bed to reply. “Mary,” was the only word Jesus spoke, and a weeping woman fell at His feet in utter joy. “Saul! Saul!” Jesus called to a disconsolate and determined persecutor, and he quickly replied, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” And so it will be when He calls to you, your child, your husband, or your wife with His still small voice speaking to the inner ear. Whether it be John, George, Henry, Joan, Phyllis, or Louise, all will fall at His feet in penitence and brokenness the moment He speaks, crying, “Here am I, Lord! What wilt Thou have me to do?”
It is useless to try to gather all the world into the kingdom in this dispensation, for that is not God’s purpose in this age. No man conies except the Father draw him. Those who insist on bringing all the world in now are trying to do in this age of grace the work that God Himself has said should be done in the dispensation of the fullness of times. In the dispensation of the fullness of times, his immutable word has declared, He will gather all things into Christ, both which are in heaven and in earth, even in Him. Eph. 1:10. “All that the Father hath given Me shall come to Me,” said Jesus, and you may be sure that this is the truth. At the end of this age there will not be one soul missing of all that number who were predestined to come to Him, and, when the kingdom age has run its course, there will not be one missing of all who are appointed to come to Him in that blessed age. So also we may declare for that wonderful age of the ages, the dispensation of the fullness of times, for God’s word has faithfully declared that in that blessed age of all ages every missing sheep will be accounted for as God gathers together in one the all things into Christ.
Let us not vainly bash our heads against the wall in frantic attempts to accomplish things that are outside God’s intention; for this age. Let us not try to bring the millennial kingdom in during the age of grace. It just cannot be done. Oceans of tears cannot change God’s appointed purpose. Neither let us try to do in that glorious age to come what God has reserved for the fullness of times. All the good resolves, the labor, and the tears will never change that which God has appointed to be.
My heart earnestly cries that the day may speedily come when God’s beloved people will know the peace of walking in harmony with the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. No praise is ever brought to God by our endeavoring to do things He does not want done. The world : will not know until the light of eternity what harm and distress the preachers have done who have taught the people that, unless they get saved now, they are doomed to unremitting and eternal ; fire. They have not helped by saying that, should we fail to • preach hell fire, men will live ungodly lives. Has this preaching kept the world from ungodliness? Is it not more wicked now than at any time since Noah? Could things sink much lower than they are in spite of all the threats of hell and rue and torment? What the world needs is not vain threats of punishment, but an understanding of what the will of the Lord is. This knowing the purpose of God is the greatest need among Christians today. I do not say you should not pray for the ungodly, but I do say that, if you are walking in the Spirit and being led by the Spirit, then your prayers will be directed by the Lord in whatsoever direction He pleases, and there will not be so many wasted prayers and useless efforts. Then prayer will be answered and His name glorified. Millions now are praying for another revival in this age like those that have gone before, but there will be no revival any more in this age. The next revival will come in the heat of the great tribulation when many saints with soiled garments wash them white and make them clean in the blood of the Lamb.
I suppose I will make some enemies, but I must tell you this truth nonetheless. I do not believe that the things we are seeing now are true moves of the Spirit of God. We hear it said on every hand that God is pouring out His Spirit on all flesh. My brother, if this were so and if this were the truth, then the world would not be sinking deeper into sin every minute of the day. All revivals of the past had the effect of lifting the people and the nations, but the charismatic movement, the Jesus people and the Jesus freaks, are sour substitutes and confused counterfeits of the real thing. There is no conviction of sin, no crying for mercy, no true repentance, no coming out and being separate, no refusal to touch the unclean thing, but the whole thing marches on, drunk with the blood of true saints and with the martyrs of Jesus. There is only one message for the saints who still remain in the church system, which is Babylon. It is the message I have ceaselessly uttered: “Come out from among them and be ye separate,” saith the Lord, “and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor. 6:17–18. Why should anyone silence or soft-pedal the truth just because he is afraid of the results or why should one think that by preaching a lie we might accomplish in this age what God has reserved for the ages to come? We have noticed how Jesus, when asked to explain His reason for speaking in parables, plainly stated, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” Matt. 13:11. How foolish of us that we have failed to hear Him say that His parables were spoken that seeing they might see and not perceive, and hearing they might hear, but not understand*. Matt. 13:34, 14. Would anyone but the Son of God have uttered a statement like that? And yet He did it, and it was all truth. Well did the Saviour know that another day is coming when the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Isa. 35:5.
So these seven men stood together talking about all the things that had recently taken place. Many and varied were their thoughts and opinions concerning these momentous happenings that had given rise to the doubts and dreads that flooded across their minds, filling their souls with gloom. Was it true that every hope and aspiration planted in their fertile hearts had come to an end like a dream in the night? Had this man, Jesus, with all His wisdom, His power, assurance, and miracles really passed from them like a whiff of sweet perfume? Would He appear to them again or was this to be the end? Were they to be like so many others zealous, but thoroughly deceived?
Mankind, it seems, needs a lifetime just to learn that God is never in a hurry; neither is He ever slack or tardy in His appointed times. Oh, how often men go astray when they fail to wait until the Spirit makes His next move – a move that is always different from the one that preceded it. The Bible is replete with illustrations of this human failure to await the times and seasons of the Lord, at the same time clearly showing the difficulties that arise when we grow impatient with God. We may not understand God’s reason for keeping Moses forty days in the mountain while the children of Israel impatiently awaited his return, but there was a reason, and the failure of the people and the failure of Aaron to wait on the Lord brought wrath from the Lord on the whole camp of Israel and much hardship and judgment, too. It will be well for us to take notice that their failure to await God’s time gave them the unpleasant task of having to wait all over again for another forty days.
We are not told why Elijah, who demonstrated such faith and power before the prophets of Baal, had to flee away to Horeb. Perhaps he did not have to flee at all, but, as with most of us, his human inclinations led him to believe that there must never be an interval between one great event and another. Why should Christians impatiently believe that there must never be a waiting period when no voice from heaven is heard and no sign is given that God is in their midst? God’s people should never put their faith in signs and manifestations. They should never depend on blessing, but on the faithfulness of God, who does all things in their appointed time. Healings, baptisms, speaking with tongues and all such signs and wonders have their place, but rest assured that, if you build your faith on them and come to depend on them, you will find yourself as deserted and comfortless as a crow in the ocean. Any man or woman whose spiritual experience depends upon what they see or what they feel will always be living that see-saw kind of experience that has them shouting the victory on the mountain tops one day and moping
in the valley of despair the next. The saint who really trusts in God maintains confident assurance in his heart, teaching him that the immutable Lord will do exactly what he has purposed to do, and, furthermore, that he will do it in His own time and in His own way. Nothing can let or hinder Him and no power in the universe can accelerate the divine time-table, no, not even by one hour.
It is both heartening and assuring to read such scriptures as these: “When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son…” Gal. 4:4. The faithful saints in Israel had longed for the coming Messiah. Through lengthening ages they patiently waited, but it was not until the clock struck the appointed hour that the long-promised Son appeared among them, and even then it was not to reign, but to die. It was some thirty years later that our Lord Jesus Christ lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour is come.” What hour was this of which He spoke? Why, my impatient brother, it was the hour that in wisdom God had set before the world began. That momentous hour had been set even before time began, and human kind had waited for its coming for at least four thousand years. But with the certainty of a sunrise at the exact time appointed the hour came and the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world, appeared to be slain in actuality just as God had decreed.
You have read how the Lord said to Abraham, “At the time appointed I will return unto thee according to the time of life and Sarah shall have a son.” The Lord did not hasten His purpose because Abraham and Sarah were growing old. Is anything too hard for the Lord? Only Abraham and Sarah could see any difficulty to the fulfilling of God’s purpose. They alone seemed to think the Lord had forgotten His promise, and so they tried to improvise some scheme of their own that might bring the promise to pass. Let me assure you, my brethren, that God is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness. Therefore let us learn that, if the Lord shows no interest in the accomplishment of anything, then it is much better to leave that thing undone. But be assured of this: When the time comes for God’s purpose to be fulfilled, He will raise up His elect servants to do it. Furthermore, He will have that one groomed, prepared, well-trained and ready to accomplish the task His wisdom has decreed should be done.
Why do so many people imagine that unless they do the task it will never be done? Have you ever found the Lord lacking a man when He had a job to be done? Never in the history of the world has such a thing been known. He has His Noah ready, and His ark, too, when it comes flood time. He has His Abraham ready, sealed and trained in obedience, when He is ready to raise up a new nation for His name. He had His Joseph locked up in jail all ready and waiting to become the second ruler in Egypt and with wisdom to begin storing up grain in Egypt against the famine that was coming on the world. He had His Moses, a forgotten man, in the backside of the desert, prepared in meekness and wisdom for the great task of leading a nation out of slavery. Back among the sheep on the hillsides of Judah He prepared a stripling to take the throne of Israel at the appointed time. We could continue speaking of the prophets and of John the Baptist, of Saul of Tarsus and of Martin Luther, and so many thousands of others through the years who appeared in God’s time to serve their generation and fall asleep. No, my brother, God is never a moment behind time and He is never slack concerning His promises. Just now, in this self-same hour in which we live, our God is preparing a people for His name. Let the world rush on in its ignorance and pride and let the preachers preach how they please. Let Babylon swagger and stagger as she drinks herself drunken with the blood of the saints, but, all the while mankind is flirting with her and her harlot daughters, God is preparing a people for His name. They will not seem to be in the forefront where the world will see them. Their names do not appear in the glaring headlines of the press. Their voices are not heard on the radio nor are their faces seen on television; but, as a chick is prepared in the egg shell and as a baby is prepared in the darkness of the womb, so God is preparing His elect that at the time appointed He will manifest them to an astonished world. In the dark and hidden places our Father is preparing His sons, and, while He does it, the world looks on uncomprehending of the glory of the thing it sees.
It does not enter their heads
that grace and mercy await the chosen of the Lord,
and protection, His holy ones.
The virtuous man who dies condemns the godless who survive,
and youth’s untimely end the protracted age of the wicked.
These people see the wise man’s ending
without understanding what the Lord has in store for him
or why he has taken him to safety;
they look on and sneer,
but the Lord will laugh at them.
Soon they will be corpses without honor,
objects of scorn among the dead forever.
The Lord will dash them down headlong, dumb.
He will tear them from their foundations.
They will be utterly laid waste, anguish will be theirs,
and their memory shall perish.
They will come trembling to the reckoning of their sins,
and their crimes, confronting them, will accuse them.
Then the virtuous man stands up boldly
to face those who have oppressed him,
those who thought so little of his sufferings.
And they, at the sight of him, will shake with coward’s fear,
amazed he should be saved so unexpectedly.
Stricken with remorse, each will say to the other,
say with a groan and in distress of spirit:
“This is the man we used to laugh at once,
a butt for our sarcasm, fools that we were!
His life we regarded as madness, his ending as without honor.
How has he come to be counted as one of the sons of God?
How does he come to be assigned a place among the saints?
Clearly we have strayed from the way of truth;
the light of justice has not shone for us, the sun never rose upon us.
We have left no path or lawlessness or ruin unexplored,
we have crossed deserts where there was no track,
but the way of the Lord is one we have never known.
Arrogance, what advantage has this brought us?
Wealth and boasting, what have these conferred on us?
All those things have passed like a shadow,
passed like fleeting rumor.
Like a ship that cuts through heaving waves –
leaving no trace to show where it has passed,
no wake from its keel in the waves.
Or like a bird flying through the air –
leaving no proof of its passing;
it whips the light air with the stroke of its pinions,
tears it apart in its whirring rush,
drives its way onward with sweeping wing,
and afterwards no sign is seen of its passage.
Or like an arrow shot at a mark,
the pierced air closing so quickly on itself,
there is no knowledge which way the arrow has passed.
So with us: scarcely born, we have ceased to be;
of virtue not a trace have we to show,
we have spent ourselves on wickedness instead.”
But the virtuous live forever,
their recompense lies with the Lord,
the Most High takes care of them.
So they shall receive the royal crown of splendor,
the diadem of beauty from the hand of the Lord;
for He will shelter them with His right hand
and shield them with His arm.
For armor He will take His jealous love,
He will arm creation to punish His enemies;
He will put on justice as a breastplate,
and for helmet wear His undissembling judgment;
He will take up invincible holiness for shield,
He will forge a biting sword of His stern wrath,
and the universe will march Him to fight the reckless.
THE BOOK OF WISDOM
The elect of the Lord are now in a time of patient waiting as they are being prepared for the hour when man in God’s image shall reign as the wisdom of God decreed in the beginning of the ages. This is not a time for God’s elect to get excited about the worsening condition of the world, nor is it wisdom to try to turn the tide of events in the world. No man who ever lived has been able to do this. Even Jesus Himself made no such effort. Well He knew that to everything under the sun there is a season and a time. He told us with great conviction, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do.” John 5:19
How long our seven friends stood talking I do not know, but we may be sure they had plenty to talk about, and talk they did until one of their number, a man named Simon Peter, decided it was time to make a move. “I go a-fishing,” he said, and his friends all agreed that they would go with him. You may not agree with me, but in my opinion it was not a bad idea at all. Their Lord was taken from their head. He had been crucified and, though they knew for certain that He was risen from the dead, he had given them no instruction whatsoever to indicate what their next move should be. When a child of God has no instruction from the Lord or any leading of His Spirit, then it is well to do whatever may be conveniently done. Thus these men decided to spend this interim hour in that old occupation they knew so well fishing.
There are many things to admire about what they did. They had no instruction from their Lord, so they attempted nothing of His work without His direction. They called no meetings, preached no sermons, held no prayer meetings. They had wives and families to support during this time of interim. What better thing, therefore, could they have done than to spend their time in honest enterprise until some new direction was given them from above? Perhaps someone will insist that these men should have spent their time waiting on the Lord. Well, in my opinion that is just what they were doing, and, when the appointed time came and the Lord appeared to give them instruction, He found them as detached from their occupation as they had been in the beginning.
We are in an interim period now just as they were in an interim period then. They stood at the end of the dispensation of law and the beginning of the age of grace. We stand between the end of the dispensation of grace and the beginning of the dispensation of the kingdom of God. I am not suggesting that we all go fishing or even that every man return to his secular work, but be it known to every saint that things are rapidly changing and all the glorified hosts of the universe are preparing themselves as heralds of the morning. The kingdom age, the greatest age that has ever been, is now at hand – the age when God’s Son will reign on David’s throne and all God’s chosen sons will reign with Him.
From north and south the people meet
To lay their trophies at His feet,
While western empires own their Lord
And savage tribes attend His word.
This is not a time to go rushing out to convert the world. This is the time of the sun rising. The crimson streak on ocean’s cheek will soon grow into the great sun, yea, the Sun, the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings. The acceptable year of the Lord is at hand. Two thousand years ago He began to preach the gospel to the poor. He told of a day when all the broken hearts would be mended by the miraculous power of His life. He told of a day when captives would be set free forever, whether they were captives of men or captives of their own sins. He preached that the blind would recover their sight and the bruised would be set at liberty. All these things he demonstrated daily during the three and one-half years of His earthly ministry as He delivered men from evils, healed their diseases, opened their eyes and their ears, touched the maimed so that their limbs grew back on and raised the dead to life again. These things He did were merely demonstrations and samples of the fullness that shall bless mankind, yea, all creation, too, in that acceptable year of the Lord.
Long ago he preached the acceptable year of the Lord, but the dead He raised to life were doomed to die again. It is wholly possible that many who were healed of their diseases fell sick again and passed away, and so it may have been with them all, but it will not be thus in that blessed age which prophets and sages called the acceptable year of the Lord. Isa. 61:1–2. In that glad day there will be no sickness. It will be abolished from the face of the earth. There will be no more blind, for blindness will be dethroned, not by the skill and genius of men, but by the decree of the King of kings and Lord of lords. There will be no lame men in that day nor will any be deaf and dumb. All such things will be disannulled. In that day there will be no more violence and no more war. These, too, will be effaced from His kingdom – abolished, dethroned, disannulled, forever effaced and forever obliterated that the glory of His kingdom should be without alloy and nothing should hurt or destroy in all His holy mountain.
Those seven men were standing in the interim between the dark and the daylight as we are in the interim now. I know not when our Lord shall come, at morn or noonday fair, but in my heart I know that we are as near to the Omega now as Adam was near to the Alpha in the beginning. It is true we do not know the day or the hour when the Son of man shall come, but it is also true that “ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night or of the darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” I Thess. 5:4-8
The world is in travail. Make no mistake about that. Everywhere we hear men speak of peace and safety, but, even while they proclaim it, travail has seized upon them as upon a woman with child. A woman with child cannot hope to escape her hour of travail. Neither can the world escape its travail, for a manchild is being born.
Again I say we are in the interim. All things as we have known them are doomed to pass away that the things which we have known only in the Spirit may encompass the world in its glad tomorrow. You have probably noticed that all dispensations ended in travail and upheaval. Innocence ended with man’s expulsion from the beautiful Eden of God. Conscience ended with the flood that engulfed the whole world in its watery grave. Human government ended with the destruction of the machinations of Babel and the confusion of tongues. The age of promise ended with the children of Israel in captivity in Egypt. The dispensation of the law came to is close amid the rending rocks and darkening skies that dreadful, predestined day at Calvary, when the Son of God offered His body, soul, and spirit for the reconciliation of the world and all that is therein. The dispensation of grace, that is now ending, will find its culmination in the greatest upheaval of all time – a time of trouble such as has never been before and never will be again, a tribulation so great that except those days should be shortened no flesh could possibly be saved, a day of tribulation so great that every being on earth will be held by the power of its grip. But it, too, will pass. It is only a moment and the Lord will appear with ten thousands of His saints to set up His kingdom and proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. Then
Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Doth his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
Long centuries ago in Seir the cry went ringing forth: “Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?” And the answer came quick and clear and strange, “The morning cometh, and also the night.” Isa. 21:11–12. A strange reply, indeed, but oh how fitting and true it is of our day! It is not a contradiction as it may seem to be. The morning and the night are both coming, and they will arrive together. Whether it will be morning or night to you depends on what ground you stand upon. If we stand in Him with our ransomed hearts embracing the glory of His appearing, clearly loving His purpose, the glory of His aionian morning will wrap its kindly mantle round our shoulders, but if we stand with the unbelieving, fixing our hopes upon the weakness and unprofitableness of the flesh, then all before us will be night; and so it shall be that that which is sunset for one will be the glory of the sunrise for another, for the morning cometh and also the night. We are waiting for the final crash and we will not have long to wait. The collapse of all things belonging to man’s vain kingdom is at hand, but the flashing of lightning and the roaring of thunder, which will bring the age to a close are also the eternal heralds of the acceptable day of the Lord.
Oh what bursting there must have been in the heart of Mary as the sublime words of the Magnificat flowed like a waterfall from the inner recesses of her ransomed heart! “My soul doth magnify the Lord,” she exulted, “and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46-47. The glory that filled her soul that day was born of the knowledge that the Christ-child was forming within. The glory that fills our ransomed souls today is born of the knowledge that the hour of His manifestation is at hand – the hour when the government shall be upon His shoulder to order and establish the kingdom with judgment and justice, even from this time forth unto the age of the ages.
“I go a-fishing,” said Peter, as he stood in the iterim, and they all replied, “We also go with thee.” They went forth and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. “But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered Him, No. And He said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. As soon as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish, which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, a hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
“Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask Him, Who art Thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus shewed Himself to His disciples, after that He was risen from the dead. So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed My sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou Me? And he said unto Him, Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee. Jesus saith unto Him, Feed My sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shall be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God.” John 21:3-19
The story is told of a wayfaring man who in his journeyings came upon a most beautiful estate. As with delight he viewed its well kept magnificence, he enquired of the chief steward who the owner might be. “He is away on a journey,” was the reply, “and we do not know when he will return.” “How long has he been gone?” the traveler questioned. “Fifteen years,” was the steward’s reply. “Fifteen years!” cried the wayfarer. “Why, you keep this place as though you expected him tomorrow!” “Ah, no!” replied the steward, “we keep it as though we expected him to return today.”
It is the time of the interim. It is the beautiful time of waiting and watching for His coming. It is the time to listen for the glad heralds of the morning. It is the blessed time of the interim.
It may be morn; it may be night or noon.
We know He’s coming soonl
WAITING FOR THE BLESSED HOPE
“Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” Because of the fewness of our days we are continually beset with the tendency to HURRY. Modern man seems to hate the thought of WAITING. He wants everything right now. We secretly imagine that, if we do not hurry, our lives will pass by without the realization of our dreams and ambitions. Thus man, who loves riches, hastens to be rich and sinneth. He who desires fame hastens to seek it. “Work for the night is coming” seems to be the theme of every man. Even the Christian is by no means free from this tormenting demon of haste, for he, too, proclaims his ambition for his life, hoping to see it accomplished before God calls him.
Now we would not say it is wrong to have an ambition and I would be the last man on earth to condone the idler who finds his greatest pleasure in avoiding or delaying every task as long as possible, for Bible history certainly substantiates the belief that all the men God ever called were men of devotion to duty. There is not a slacker among them. Neither laggards in love nor dastards in war were chosen by Him. Many whom He called were sweating under the burden of their toil when the Spirit of God first touched them and, bidding farewell to their herds of cattle, their flocks of sheep, their fishing nets, their yokes of oxen, their custom’s offices, their merchandising and their tent making, they followed wholeheartedly and with a good will in the path of His choosing.
Even so today men and women of all walks of life are counting all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus their Lord. They are reckoning the things, which are not as though they were. They are counting the things, which are invisible as though they were clearly seen. Like Abraham they are looking for a city, which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God, and, in searching for the glory of that invisible city, their eyes look past and beyond every visible city of earth. The eye, which is capable of seeing the invisible is a wonderful eye indeed. It is the eye of faith with the pupil of hope, for what a man seeth why doth he yet hope for? Hope is the very instigator of faith. Hope springs from obedience; indeed, it inspires obedience. It erases embarrassment and shame from the faces of all who rejoice in it, for hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, but when the desire cometh it is a tree of life.
Faith and hope are twin sisters. In all my life I have never known any person to have faith until they first of all had hope. Such a thing is impossible. For thirty and eight years the impotent man lay by the pool of Bethesda waiting for the moving of the waters. John 5. For thirty and eight years he had hoped against hope that some day he would be the first to step into the water to receive healing from its troubled wave and, thence rejoicing and praising God, he would walk away from the pool a healthy man. But bitter frustrating disappointment held him in its vice-like grip, for always after the troubling of the water, even while he desperately struggled to get in, someone else less needy than he stepped in before him and once again his hopes of healing were dashed to the ground. Then one day Jesus came walking through the mists of his despair speaking the soul-thrilling words. “Wilt thou be made whole?” Faith immediately leaped from the very bosom of hope to put her hand in the hand of God. Life flowed from Christ like a river into a broken body and from the heart of faith and hope came love. Thus they abide forever – faith, hope, and love – but the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13:13.
It is God who raiseth the dead and calleth those things which be not as though they were, Rom. 4:17, honoring even the hopeless who against hope believe in hope according to that which He hath spoken. Rom. 4:18. We all admire the faith of Abraham, and well we might, for he is the very father of the faithful. Abraham was not a man of many works but a man who believed God. It was in hope that he believed. Even when there was no cause to hope and every visible thing was against hope, yet against hope he believed in hope that he might become the father of many nations and heir of the promises of God. Rom. 4:18.
It was for the joy that was set before Him that Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the majesty on high. And it is for the hope that is set before us that we are today following Christ, which hope we have as an anchor for the soul both sure and stedfast and which entereth into that within the veil. Heb. 6:19. It is with such assurance of hope stedfast to the end that His sons follow Him through valleys where the shadows of death fall about them, through deserts where no water is, through fiery furnaces and lions’ dens, through lonesome days and heartless misunderstanding, through reproach and unbelief and all the varied circumstances which only the wisdom of God can devise to make them strong in faith, giving glory to God.
The prize of sonship in God is a prize beyond the scope of human imagination. To be a son of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ that “as He is so are we in this world” is a hope which defies all possibility of description. Even faith falters before the wonder of its possibility and only hope smiles up through her tears of joy to whisper it shall be so. Never belittle a man who says, “I hope so”, for such a man is embracing that which hope alone can embrace, and all who scoff at hope are scoffing at that which abides forever. “Hope thou in God,” said David, “for I shall yet praise Him who is the health of my countenance and my God.” Psa. 42:5
When the apostle John spoke of sonship, he spoke of that which is the love of God and the hope of all mankind, the love of God in granting sonship to man and the hope in man that he might become a son of God. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God. Therefore the world knoweth us not because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons (children) of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, (mature sons), but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3. The hope that burns like a fire within the breasts of God’s elect sons is the inspiration that inspires them to purify their lives that they might be pure even as He is pure. Hope delivers men from despair, filling their hearts with courage to find a way where no way is and to embrace victory where there is naught but defeat. It makes toil-weary men cry, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him who is the health of my countenance and my God.” Psa. 42:11
It is when hope flies out the windows of your soul that ravaging despair walks in the door. When hope has fled, men walk with downcast countenance, making their way back to their fishing nets, returning to old traditions and abandoning themselves to despair. Listen to the words of the two heartbroken disciples as they plod their weary way to the town of Emmaus. “We trusted that it had been He who would have redeemed Israel.” Luke 24:21. But things had not gone as they had hoped and because of this they were in the grip of despair. That is why love is a little greater than hope, for, while hope sometimes falters, droops, and faints, love never faileth.
When the apostle Paul was voyaging to Rome, the ship encountered the fierce storm Euroclydon. Acts 27:14-20. The hardy sailors toiled tirelessly to save the ship, throwing the cargo into the sea and casting out the tackling, but when neither sun nor stars appeared and no small tempest lay upon them, all hope that they should be saved was taken away. But there was one man aboard who had not lost hope. He was still praying, still fasting, still hoping, still trusting and believing. When all others sat in despair, Paul stood forth in the midst and said, “Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me and not have loosed from Crete and to have gained this harm and loss, and now I exhort you be of good cheer, for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God (Jesus Christ) whose I am and whom I serve.”
A far greater storm than Euroclydon is settling down upon the world. A more tempestuous gale by far is about to blow upon us. Even now there must be many faithful Christians who wonder if the tempest that howls about them will be too great for their frail bark. You will wonder if perchance you have taken the wrong ship or if perhaps you should have stayed in the safety of the old harbors of Babylon. The things you hoped would happen have not happened, but hope on! The light that once seemed so close at hand that but a few short steps would bring you to it now has retreated to another horizon and seems as far away as ever. But hope thou in God, for you shall yet praise Him.
The great discoverer, Christopher Columbus, in his hope of discovering a north-west passage to India taught the world lessons in hope and patient endurance that have never been surpassed. Through uncharted seas he sailed, consoling and encouraging the hearts of his near mutinous men who longed to turn back and abandon the hope that lay before them. Of his epic voyage into the unknown the poet wrote:
Behind him lay the gray Azores,
Behind, the gates of Hercules,
Before him not the ghost of shores,
Before him only shoreless seas.
The good mate said, “Now must we pray,
For lo! the very stars are gone;
Brave Admiral, speak, what shall I say?”
“Why, say, ‘Sail on! sail on! and on!’ “
“My men grow mutinous day by day,
My men grow ghastly wan, and weak.”
The stout mate thought of home; a spray
Of salt wave washed his swarthy cheek.
“What shall I say, brave Admiral, say,
If we sight naught but seas at dawn?”
“Why, you may say, at break of day,
‘Sail on! sail on! and on!’ “
They sailed and sailed as winds might blow
Until at last the blanched mate said:
“Why, now not even God would know
Should I and all my men fall dead.
These very winds forget their way,
For God from these dread seas is gone.
Now speak, brave Admiral, speak and say-“
He said, “Sail on! sail on! and on!”
They sailed. They sailed. Then spake the mate:
“This mad sea shows his teeth tonight; He curls his lip, he lies in wait
With lifted teeth as if to bite; Brave Admiral, say but one good word,
What shall we do when hope is gone?”
The words leaped like a leaping sword,
“Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!”
Then, pale and worn, he kept his deck,
And peered through darkness.
Ah, that night Of all dark nights!
And then, a speck,
“A light! A light! A light! A light!”
It grew, a starlit flag unfurled!
It grew to be Time’s burst of dawn.
He gained a world; he gave that world
Its grandest lesson: “On! sail on!”
The most necessary thing in all the Christian walk is to have that blessed hope ever firmly before us. Such alone are capable of laying hold of the promises of God, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of the majesty on high. If you are going to turn back, by all means turn back now, for the hour of trial is at hand that will try every man that dwelleth upon the earth.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver; as an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear. Prov. 25:11,12. There are times in the life of every man when a word of encouragement is needed along the way. We all need exhortation here and there, for the journey may become long and the burden great until we know not which way to turn. For this very reason the good Lord has filled the Bible with exhortations to faithfulness. Examples have been left us by other men and women who with like passions as our own sailed through stormy seas, enduring cruel mockings and scourgings, yea moreover, bonds and imprisonments. They were stoned and sawn asunder, tempted and slain with the sword. They wandered in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, and tormented. The world was not worthy of them. Yet by their faith they subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again, and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. And for all this faith, hope, and endurance they all died without seeing the realization of their hope. But hope is hope and faith is faith and the word of God is the word of God, both sure and stedfast. Such realities as these can never be cancelled by death, for God counts the things that be not as though they were in preparation for the day when He will waken the dead from their temporary sleeping that they with us together may in resurrection partake of all His promises. See Heb. 11:32-40.
Now after the apostle had thus exhorted the people to stedfastness of faith by calling to their minds the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before and who all endured such suffering and tribulation, he exhorted them further by saying, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself lest ye be weary and faint in your minds.”
It is so easy to become weary and faint. Time after time hopes are deferred and our hearts are made sick. Oh, how often we could say with the two disciples who journeyed that night to Emmaus, “We had trusted that it should have been He who would have redeemed Israel.” Like Elijah we see cloud in the sky that promises rain, but instead of its increasing to a mighty storm as it did in his day, it withers away like a mist before the rising sun. We see world events shaping up that seem to herald the soon coming of Christ and the glory of His kingdom, but they too pass by without event. We hear of great religious moves and upon investigation discover that they are clouds without water. We hear reports of men with great gifts only to find that they are clouds and wind without rain, for that is the judgment of God against all who boast of false gifts. Prov. 25:14. We walk in sweet counsel with men, as David did with Ahithophel, only to see them become enemies and return to the husks of swine, or, having loved this present world, like Demas they wave good-bye and depart for the easier and well-trodden paths. Then, too, it is not at all uncommon to become weary with one’s self and the often weaknesses and infirmities of our own nature. Anxiously we glance about us for signs of developing sonship only to behold how unChristlike we really are. Without are fightings; within are fears. We look for the ruddy tints of health only to behold a haggard face and forms that droop and faint in the long walk of faith.
Thus we commune with our own hearts, wondering at the pitiful emptiness that so often engulfs us, until we hear the voice of the Lord ringing through the corridors of our soul, refreshing as a cool breeze in time of harvest. “Hast thou not known, has thou not heard that the everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not neither is weary? There is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength. Even the youths shaft faint and be weary and the young men shall utterly fail, but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles (sons of God). They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isa. 40:28-31
I am convinced that every Bible writer knew far more about spiritual fainting spells than he knew about being carried heavenward on billowy clouds of glory and blessing. Those warriors of the cross knew the meaning of the words, “Take up thy cross and follow Me.” They knew only too well that all who would follow Him must be ready to forsake mothers and fathers and children and every manner of friendship for the sake of the burning light that shone within them. They knew that the path of sonship might lead through poverty. They were not ignorant of the fact that their greatest enemy would prove to be, not other people, but their own flesh, and for that very reason they would be called upon to hate their own lives (after the flesh) also. They knew and you know and I know that any man who loves his father or mother, his son or his daughter more than Christ is not worthy of Christ. Yes, and you must love Him more than your own life besides, for your life is no longer your own. Ye are bought with a price. Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season ye shall reap if ye faint not. Gal. 6:9.
How often, when I have thought of the above text, I have wanted to reverse its words and say, “We shall faint if we reap not,” for that is often the reason so many people fall out by the wayside. But I think there is a whole world of truth bound up in the inspired words, “one sows, another reaps, but God gives the increase.”
Now our Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, gave us a wonderful remedy to save us from fainting. “Men ought always to pray,” He said, “and not to faint.” Prayer is the greatest antidote against weakness of heart and faintness of spirit that was ever put in man’s possession. What a regrettable thing it is that Christians in the blindness and confusion of all ages have thought to use prayer as a means of either begging or forcing God to do the things they wanted Him to do. How often I have heard men pray, beg, plead, and demand of God, insisting upon what they foolishly thought were “throne rights”, as they tried to press home their requests. But just as often I have seen them go away empty, only to return again to repeat the silly process. This is not prayer. It never was prayer and it never will be prayer. So often we have heard it said that, “prayer is the utterance of the soul’s sincere desire.” Though these words have been quoted almost as a text of scripture, yet it is not the whole truth, for man, being what he is, may have many, many sincere desires in his heart, yet every one of them may be contrary to the will of God. As long as Christians are dominated by the carnal mind, their prayers will be based upon the longings of their own hearts rather than on the will of God. Prayer is not much speaking. Prayer is not frequent repetition. Prayer was not given that men might impose upon God the childish desires of their own will. If the years as a Christian have taught me anything regarding prayer, it is this: The greatest element in prayer is the silent waiting of a surrendered will that asks from the hidden depths of the spirit, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” “Be still and know that I am God.”
How happy is the man who knows that God is God, supreme, immutable, omniscient, omnipotent, and divine, holding in His mighty head all the plans and purposes of endless ages, bringing to pass each edict ordained in His infinite mind before ever a creature was, raising up kings and putting them down, exalting nations and discarding them at will, creating darkness wherein men stumble and the light that drives darkness away, ordaining His elect from before the foundation of the world, calling them to justification and glory according to His purpose, raising up vessels of dishonor to serve their ignoble purpose in this age and to be visited with grace after many days. Eph. 2:7. Oh, how great Thou art! And what strength they sustain who kneel before Thee to hear Thee unfold Thy glorious plan! Happy is the man who has found in prayer this source of strength and life.
What a universe of difference there is between the man who thus searches out God’s mind and will and him who comes with rapid speech to recite a thousand impetuous demands which are neither heard of God nor remembered by him who prayed them. Such an intercessor is scarcely better than he who without thought or heart searching intones his prayer with melancholy voice from a prayer book.
“Therefore, seeing we have received this ministry, we faint not, knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not, but though the outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:1, 14-18
In the book of Judges, chapter 8, there is a record that should encourage every fainting soul. All day long Gideon with his three hundred men had pursued the hosts of the Midianites, and “Gideon came to Jordan and passed over, he and the three hundred men that were with him, faint yet pursuing.” Faint yet pursuing! What a heartening message that really is! For years perhaps you, like Paul, have pressed toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ. For months you have fought a good fight and strained every nerve like a mighty athlete to win a prize. You have suffered many a defeat. You have stumbled and fallen by the wayside times without number. You have seen the most stalwart men halt their step and return to the weak and beggarly elements of the flesh. You have marveled at the slowness of your pace and the oft recurring signs of your own carnality. Prophecy has failed; tongues have ceased; knowledge has vanished away. Well, let everything in the world fail. Though you are very faint, keep pursuing, for God, who cannot lie, has said, “In due season ye shall reap if ye faint not.”
When the path before is rough,
And the rocks in ridge and bluff
Bar your progress to the distant peaks sublime,
When your strength and heart are breaking,
Take pride in the fight you’re making.
Throw your rope around the high rock and climb.
Watching and waiting go hand in hand. Oft repeated and fervent are the exhortations of scripture to watch and be watchful. When Jesus spoke of the coming of the Lord, He said, “If the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched and not have suffered his house to be broken up; therefore, be ye also ready for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.” Matt. 24:43. The world today abounds with signs loudly proclaiming that the end of the age is upon us and the coming of the Lord is near. It is our duty to watch every sign even as he that reapeth watches the weather and the sky, heeding both winds and clouds, often listening to the weather reports that he might know what manner of weather is coming. “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of man cometh.” Remember these exhortations to watchfulness. “Tarry ye here and watch with Me.” “Could ye not watch with Me one hour?” “Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation.” “For the Son of man is as a man making a journey, who left his house and gave authority to his servants and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Take heed; watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is. Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning, lest coming he find you sleeping. And what I say unto one I say to all. Watch.” Mark 13:33-37
Paul the apostle continued these exhortations to watchfulness, saying in 1 Cor. 16:13, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit ye like men, be strong.” And again, “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light and of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thess. 5:1-6. In like manner also Peter, being mindful of the fearful destruction that came upon the careless and sordid generation which was disobedient when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was in preparation, wherein few, that is eight souls were saved by water, said, “The end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober and watch unto prayer.” 1 Pet. 4:7. “Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, for blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garment, that he may have right to the tree of life.” Rev. 16:15. A watchman is simply one who watches, and I am inclined to think that the work of a watchman, though of vital importance whether in peace or war, must be one of the most tedious tasks ever given to man. Weary nights and days are spent in lonesomeness, oftentimes in the cold, many times in danger from enemies of varied sorts. Yet to fall asleep when watching or to be careless or remiss for but a moment may mean disaster to a whole nation.
There is an impressive little story in 1 Kings 20:35-43 which should inspire us all to watchfulness. King Ahab had allowed Ben-Hadad to escape out of his hand and, in order that he might condemn himself with his own words, one of the prophets feigned this simple monologue: “As the king passed by, he cried unto the king: and he said, Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle, and, behold, a man turned aside and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shall pay a talent of silver. And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said into him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it. And he (the prophet) hasted, and took the ashes away from his face; and the king of Israel discerned him that he was of the prophets. And he said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people. And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased.” Now the words that stand out so clearly in this parable are these: “While I was busy here and there, he was gone.” People are so inclined to forsake watchfulness while they attend to the fleeting tasks of this present life. They allow some love for the passing to make them forget the permanent. They allow their minds to be taken up with play so that, instead of watching unto prayer and developing their spiritual nature, giving earnest heed to the precious hope of sonship in Christ, they spend their spare time grasping for the bursting bubbles of this present life, never realizing that what we are tomorrow today we are becoming. Thus, while we are busy here and there, the very thing that is most important escapes us.
It is not only those who are absorbed with earthly toil or earthly play who let the valued prize escape them, but thousands of Christians today are so busy here and there with every manner of religious work that all spiritual growth has come to a standstill. Do you keep forever on the run for church and society until all your spare time is taken up with this confusing maze of activity so common among Christians in our day? If so, you are not growing in the wisdom and knowledge of Christ and, if we may use the parable in this way, while you are busy here and there, you will wake up to find that He is gone, and you are drowned in your activity. God does not want your work. He wants you.
The true watchman, keeping his lonely vigil, is not to be meddling in affairs for his own amusement even though the hours are long and idle. His duty it is to say, “My Lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime and I am set in my ward whole nights,” Isa. 21:8-12, that when one calleth to him, “Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?” he with knowledge and understanding may reply, “The morning cometh and also the night.” For of a truth we are coming to a period of time when both the morning and the night shall come at once, morning to the watchers and night to the sleepers. What I say unto one I say unto all. Watch!
Now watching always implies waiting. Whether you are watching for a king or a thief, whether you are expecting good or evil, there is always the time of waiting. The word of the Lord to the prophet Habakkuk places watching and waiting side by side. “I will stand upon my watch and set me upon the tower and will watch to see what he will say unto me and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And the Lord answered me and said, Write the vision and make it plain upon the tables that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it will speak and not lie; Though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come; it will not tarry.” Hab. 2:1-3
Though the word of God is sure and stedfast and can never fail, standing sure even though the heavens and earth pass away, yet, because His promises are almost always long delayed and we are inherently impatient, we are prone to grow weary of our waiting and begin to say, “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.” 2 Tim. 3:4. Undoubtedly it is true that all things do continue very much as they have done since the foundation of the world. There is no doubting that fact.
Mankind is more absorbed than ever with the things of earth. He is bound and determined to make the world a better place to live in, forgetting all about God, who alone can make life worth living, whether in riches or in poverty. So concerned have we become with trying to better this life that we have forgotten that better part which God has reserved for those who look for that blessed hope and wait for His Son from heaven.
History is not lacking in evidence that men have almost always continued the heedless profligacy of former generations right up to the very moment when disaster fell upon them. In Noah’s day they continued their reprobate living to the very day the flood came and took them all away, marrying and giving in marriage, divorcing and remarrying, exulting in violence and wickedness until every imagination of their hearts was evil continually. Naught did they heed that mighty preacher of righteousness who in spite of his years of toil and faithfulness had no converts outside his own household. Then, in the midst of all their riotous living, the flood came even as God had said.
Things continued on as usual in the city of Sodom to the hour and minute of its desolation. God, they thought, saw none of their vileness and, if He saw, surely He cared not a straw. Their filthy conversation vexed the soul of righteous Lot who dwelt among them. What thought had they for God? What care had they for any warning of impending destruction? Even the close relations of Lot – his daughters and his sons-in-law – scoffed at his warnings, for he seemed to them as one that mocked. Gen. 19:14. But by the time the sun was risen upon Zoar the next morning, God rained fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah and overthrew those cities and all the plain. Verses 23–24
Did not judgment suddenly come upon Egypt in the days of Moses? And on Babylon likewise in the night Belshazzar was slain? And was not Pompeii suddenly destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, the excavated ruins of which today bear witness of its sin?
Let us not then grow weary with waiting, for “the thing is true, though the time appointed is long.” Dan. 10:1. Let us rather do as Daniel did and receive from God the understanding of it.
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, my lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to smite his fellow servants and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of.” Matt. 24:45-50
It is doubtful if any man fully understands the parable of the ten virgins, but though we may be somewhat in the dark as to the exact meaning of the parable as a whole, the lessons it teaches need not be missed by anyone. The ten were virgins, waiting for the bridegroom. The bridegroom tarried; they all slumbered. Suddenly, at darkest night, at midnight, the cry went out! “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him.” The hasty trimming of their lamps, the disappointing discovery by some that their oil had dwindled and their lights were almost gone out, their hasty departure to buy oil, the arrival of the bridegroom and his departure while the foolish virgins were absent, their consequent exclusion from the feast and their loss for the age to come — whatever else this parable may teach, only the most unthinking man could fail to see from these points the great need and vital necessity of preparedness.
Waiting is a wearisome task. The minutes seem like hours, the hours like days. Have you ever waited for the midnight train only to find it was an hour late? That hour is longer than any other as sleep and restlessness overtake you. The coming of the Lord seems to be always delayed – not because He postpones it as some think, but because we set our hopes and fix our hearts on some specific reason only to find we are wrong and must still abide His time. It is here that we are inclined to slumber and grow careless in our watching and impatient in our waiting. It is then we fall asleep or become busy here and there only to find Him coming at an hour when we are unaware.
The Lord made a promise to Abraham that Sarah his wife would bear him a son and that his seed would be as the stars of heaven and the sands of the sea for multitude. We have read how the years dragged by in the life of this man of faith until ha was well stricken in years and his wife far past the age of childbearing. Already they had resorted to means of their own design in a human endeavor to promote the promise of God, for Abraham, at the bidding of his wife Sarah, had taken Hagar the Egyptian that through her might come the promised seed and God’s covenant be fulfilled. In the course of time Ishmael was born and Abraham evidently believed that God had accepted his artificial method of fulfilling His promise. But when Abraham was one hundred years old and his wife ninety, to his amazement and apparent chagrin the Lord returned to speak to him again and to renew the promise that Sarah would have a son. Sarah, upon hearing the voice of the angel, laughed at the thought that a woman of her years should bear a son. But the angel, rebuking her for her laughter, assured her that about a year from then she would indeed bear the promised son. There is a sort of pitiful weariness in the words of Abraham: “Oh, that Ishmael might live before Thee!” He had grown weary in his faith and hoped that the promise of God had been fulfilled in Ishmael and that he would need to trust no more. Please read Gen. 17:1-19. 18:1-15.
I cannot fully explain just why the Lord appears to delay His promises. The real truth of the matter is that He never does delay His promise. It only seems that way. Man, short-lived as he is, naturally thinks that God’s promises must immediately be fulfilled, forgetting that God has His own appointed time for the accomplishment of all His will. In the omniscient mind of the Lord the day and the hour has been set for the fulfillment of His every purpose. Paul said, “In the fullness of time God brought forth His Son.” He did not bring Him forth one day ahead of His plan, nor did He bring Him forth one day late. Jesus Christ was born on the day appointed of God before the world began. When Jesus faced the cross, He lifted His voice to His Father in heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come”. That mighty hour of His death had been planned before ever there was a world or an age. One hour earlier would not have done; one hour later could not suffice. There is neither haste nor delay with Him. God runs the whole universe so perfectly on time that every watch in the world is set by its rotation. When Jesus spoke of His second coming, He said that no man knew the day nor the hour of His coming, but the Father only. God does not delay any of His promises. Long ago He ordained the exact day and the exact hour for the revelation of His Son. When the scripture says, “God waited in the days of Noah”, we must not think that He waited beyond the time appointed. He waited only until the appointed hour, and then the flood came. It is wrong to imagine that God is now delaying the end of the age or the coming of the Lord because of the unbelief of the world. God will not delay one second beyond the time appointed. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, but He will not wait nor tarry one moment beyond that time appointed by His omniscient mind before the ages began. No! The Lord is not delaying His coming. The time is long, Dan. 10:1, evidently much longer than anyone has expected, but He will surely come and will not tarry. See Job 7:1, Dan. 8:19, 11:27, Acts 17:26.
“Let patience have her perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” God has never changed the methods by which He brings into our lives the qualities and virtues He desires. Evidently He has some special design in mind for patience, for of all the many virtues of His Spirit He strives most earnestly to produce patience in the experience of His people. In seeking for spiritual perfection, we have likely forgotten long ago to pay any particular attention to patience. We have likely forgotten, if we ever knew, that, when patience has been permitted to have her perfect work within us, we ourselves become perfect and entire, wanting nothing. This is a wonderful hope indeed, and should cause us much meditation and searching of heart. The moment we understand that all God’s apparent delays are permitted to bring about the state of perfection that He deems perfect, then we can with joy and gladness settle down to long, long periods of patient waiting, possessing our souls in patience and love.
There is not too much value in praying for patience unless, of course, you are willing to take God’s mysterious way of producing it. Our heavenly Father will not hand patience to you on a golden platter just because you prayed for it. He has His own way of bringing patience into your soul. This is His way: “Tribulation worketh patience, patience experience, experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit.” If you request patience from God, sooner or later you will be partaker of tribulation of one sort or another. It is unavoidable, for this is God’s wise dealing and His divine method of producing patience acceptable to Him.
As you read the word of God, you will notice that patience has a special relationship to the coming of the Lord. A goodly number of times the two are mentioned together. James, for instance, says, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient, establish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” Jas. 5:7–8. Then again there is that most beautiful scripture written by Paul which seems to stop one dead in his tracks while he meditates on its glory and possibility: “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patient waiting for Christ.” 2 Thess. 3:5
From these scriptures it will be clearly seen that patience is a virtue much desired of God. He Himself is the God of all patience and His design is that we, too, should be likeminded. See Rom. 15:5. Is it any wonder then that in the infinite process of our becoming like Him He should strive endlessly and with all patience to reproduce all His attributes in the nature of His sons? Would to God in this important hour that all His people would joyfully yield themselves to His will even as clay yields itself in the hands of the potter. Instead of running pell-mell seeking every spectacular thing that clamors for our attention, let us diligently add to our faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and love, for these are the attributes of the divine nature. 2 Pet. 1:4-8. We must through patience and hope receive God’s promises; therefore, with patience possess ye your souls. Though the great Abraham believed God, it was not until he had patiently endured that he received the promises. Let us not expect then that our Lord will treat us with less devotion, for we are all the children of Abraham and heirs according to the promise.
TREASURES OF TRUTH, Volume 11, Watchman, What of the Night [George R. Hawtin] ~ BOOK 1