What Is This World Coming To?
The Kingdom of Christ
The prophecies considered in Chapter One indicate that we are at the end of the age, therefore the selection of the church is nearly completed. The great time of trouble foretold in Daniel 12:1 and Matthew 24:21 is upon us. Haggai 2:7 contains a thrilling promise that we should cherish in these troubling times.
Speaking of this "Time of Trouble" Haggai prophesied, "And I will shake all nations and the desire of all nations will come." How comforting! The legitimate desires of all nations or peoples shall come. The Scriptures show that one of the reasons for the "Time of Trouble" is that the various segments of society are demanding both just and fancied desires from each other. And nations are superimposing their desires upon other nations. The result is the disintegration of our present evil world. But all people have legitimate desires that God will fulfill after the tribulation demonstrates that selfish man cannot .establish his own utopia.
What are some of these desires the Kingdom will fulfill? If we asked the working man struggling to keep his head above water, "What is your desire?" his answer would be, "If only we had economic security." Speaking of the Kingdom, Isaiah 65:21-23 says, "They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit. They shall not plant and another eat. They shall not labor in vain nor bring forth for trouble."
There will be no unemployment problem, fear of automation, inflation, depression or any economic problem. In the Kingdom, all will have economic security as symbolized by these words of Isaiah.
If we stopped a man on the streets of Harlem and asked him what he desired, he would reply, "Why, if the needs of the poor and minorities were only understood, and if we could only be assured of justice, then life could be beautiful." The Kingdom will satisfy these desires. Then "He [God] will defend the cause of the poor, deliver the needy and crush the oppressor." (Psalms 72:4) And Isaiah 9:7 again tells us, "Of the increase of his [Christ's] government there will be no end.... It will be established with justice and righteousness forevermore."
If we asked one of our elderly in our crime ridden cities what is his desire, he would probably reply, "If only there were no more crime and violence." This desire will also come, for in the Kingdom we read, "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain [Kingdom], for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isa. 11:9).
What would be the desire of patients in hospitals? Of course, they would say, "If only there were no sickness and crippling diseases, no cancer, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy. If only the blind could see, the deaf could hear and the crippled walk." Oh! Thank God! These desires will be fulfilled! Of the Kingdom we read in Isaiah 33:24, "And no inhabitant will say I am sick." Isaiah 35:5-''Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped, then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy."
And what would be the desire of youth? One of their many idealisms is, "Can't there be a world without war? And why can't the billions of dollars and the cream of technology that is wasted on the armament race be harnessed for peace and human needs?" In the Kingdom we read in Isaiah 2:4, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they learn war anymore."
If we went to the sub-Saharan drought belt of Africa where over a million have starved to death in a recent six-year period, and ask, "What is the one desire in life you want?"-with one accord they would say, "Oh, if only the rains could be depended on, so that we could be assured that the land could bring forth food to feed our children." The climatic conditions in the Kingdom will be ideal. The earth will bring forth in abundance. In Isaiah 35:1,7, we read, "The desert shall blossom as a rose.... And the parched ground shall become a pool and the lands springs of water."
Think of the countless millions who have lost loved ones in death. Their one desire is the return of these dear victims. And in the Kingdom they will be united with their loved ones. Speaking of all that died, Hosea 13:14 says, "I will ransom [deliver] them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be your plagues; O grave, I will be your destruction." Is it any wonder Jesus taught us to pray, "Your Kingdom come, the will be done on earth as it is in heaven"?
Is Man Too Selfish?
Well, someone might say, God will wonderfully bless mankind in the Kingdom, but there is still the problem of man. If history has taught us anything, it is that man is too selfish to permit an ideal society. This has been true, but the reason the Kingdom will work is that God intends to change man's selfish heart of stone into a heart of love. We have seen in the chapter on the permission of evil that the basic lesson God is now teaching man is the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Man alienated himself from God by disobeying and man without God results in selfish havoc. The Kingdom of Christ will rule in righteousness; the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the deep so that all will know the Lord (Isaiah 11:9). Satan will be bound so that he cannot deceive the people (Revelation 20:1-3). The love of God will abundantly bestow blessings of life, peace and happiness upon all. The very spirit or influence of this Kingdom arrangement will have an overwhelming transforming effect on the hearts of men. Of this mighty working of the spirit we read in Ezekiel 11:19-20, "And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh. That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people. and I will be their God. "
The Iron Rule
For many an iron rule will at first be required in order to change their heart of stone into a heart of flesh. The laws of the Kingdom of Christ will be far more exacting than those of any previous government and the liberties of the people will be restricted to a degree that will be galling indeed to many now clamoring for an increase of liberty without responsibility. Liberty to deceive, to misrepresent, to overreach and to defraud others, will be entirely stopped. Liberty to abuse themselves or others in food or in drink, or in any way to corrupt good manners, will be totally denied to all. Liberty or license to do wrong of any sort will not be granted to any. The only liberty that will be granted to any will be the true and glorious liberty of the sons of God-liberty to do good to themselves and others in any and in every way. Nothing will be allowed to injure or destroy in all that holy kingdom. (Isaiah 11:9; Romans 8:21) That rule will consequently be felt by some to be a severe one, breaking up all their former habits and customs, as well as breaking up present institutions founded upon these false habits and false ideas of liberty. Because of its firmness and vigor, it is symbolically called an iron rule, "He shall rule them with a rod of iron." (Compare Revelation 2:26, 27; Psalms 2:8-12, and 49:14.) Thus will be fulfilled the statement, "Judgment will I lay to the line and righteousness to the plummet. And the hail [righteous judgment] shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters [truth] shall overflow the hiding place," and every hidden thing shall be revealed. Isa. 28:17; Matt. 10:26.
Some will feel rebellious against that perfect and equitable rule. Now under the influence of Satan, they lord it over their fellow men. In the Kingdom, these will attempt to live wholly at the expense of others without rendering compensating service. This present life of self-indulgence and gratification will naturally demand and receive many and severe disciplines under that reign, before such will learn the lessons of that Kingdom-equity, justice, righteousness. Psa. 89:32; Luke 12:47,48
But, blessed thought! When the Prince of Life has put in force the laws of righteousness and equity with an iron rule, the masses of mankind will learn that "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." They will learn that God's plan and laws are best in the end for all concerned, and ultimately they will learn to love righteousness and hate iniquity. (Psalms 45:7; Hebrews 1:9) All under that reign who have not learned to love the right, will be counted unworthy of lasting life and will be cut off from among the people. Acts 3:23; Rev. 20:9; Psa. 11:5-7.
Revelation 21:4 beautifully sums up the work of the Kingdom: "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
At the end of the thousand-year Kingdom of Christ, as mankind stands at the threshold of eternity, they will look back upon this present life of suffering, sickness and sorrow. And though this experience seems dark and interminable at present, then, by contrast with eternity, it will seem trifling. With this grand perspective, what this world is coming to now is seen as only a necessary bridge that passes over into life everlasting.
Men will thank their God for this experience with sin and evil, and at that time all creatures in heaven and every creature on earth will raise their voices in that grand Hallelujah chorus recorded in Revelation 5:13, "Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him [God] that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb [that was slain] for ever and ever." Amen.