“Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Romans 13:11).
Adapted from The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, January 1926
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At the dawn of the New Year, we are reminded of the Apostle’s words. Here Paul encouraged our hope and faith, to buoy us up in trying conditions. Pursuing the same thought, he said, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand,” speaking from the standpoint of the night-time of six thousand years of sin and death. Considering that 4000 years were then past, and less than 2000 remained, the night was far spent, the day approached.
Lessons of Faith and Patience
The important lessons to consider are much the same for God’s people today as in the past. It is still the lesson of faith, obedience, loyalty to the will of God, renunciation of self, and consecration to God. These all need to be kept prominently before the mind of every follower of Christ who would live the victorious life.
Of special importance is patient endurance and waiting upon the Lord; waiting for his due time for the great consummation. To this end is the prophecy of old, peculiarly applicable to us in these days, “the vision … shall speak … though it tarry, wait for it … it will surely come, it will not tarry” (Habakkuk 2:3).
We as God’s servants today join those of past ages who, expecting a “dispensation of the fullness of times” (Ephesians 1:10) to usher humanity into blessings of peace and gladness, seek to know “what manner of time the spirit of Christ … did signify when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:11). Though Jesus did not grant full information regarding the times and seasons, he never rebukes his trusting servants for seeking such information.
Long ago, Paul said we would not be in darkness that that day should overtake us unawares (1 Thessalonians 5:4). We know something of the times and seasons of the approaching deliverance and reign of Messiah. We are to heed the sure word of prophecy to this end.
Jesus himself uttered a long prophecy covering the interim between his First and Second Advents, giving several important particulars that would be fulfilled in the closing days of this age, advising that “When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28). He thus admonished his disciples to watch, to give heed, in order to be aware and prepared for the great blessings that his Second Advent would bring.
Signs That The Night is Passing
The long weary journey of God’s people toward the celestial city nears its end. Many prophecies viewed in light of present events and developments establish that the great redemption draws nigh. St. Paul refers to the terrible time when everything that can be shaken would be shaken and removed (Hebrews 12:25-29). The entire present order of things political, financial, social, and religious, designated by the Apostle Peter “the heavens and earth which are now” (2 Peter 3:7), is to pass away.
The world’s political, financial, and governmental Institutions have undergone this shaking process. The wide dissemination of knowledge and the enlightenment of people figure largely in the matter, as was foretold (Daniel 12:1,4), with a clamor for rights and privileges long denied. Problems have grown out of this situation that has not confronted governments of the past, leading to legislation never before thought necessary. The world is in an unsettled state. No corner of Earth is immune. Discussions, controversies, disputes, and disagreements of the shaking process are heard in all the nations with increasing animation and vehemence, selfishness being an important factor.
In modern times revolutions in government can take place within a few days or weeks. Statesmen, jurists, and lawmakers are put to their wits’ end dealing with arising difficulties, and amicably adjusting economic problems. What do these things mean? Do they not signify that events rapidly march toward the inevitable and long-predicted end? This is the fulfillment of Jesus’ delineation of a transition from the rule of Satan to the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, when he said, “Upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:25, 26).
Man’s Remedies Destined to Fail
In these circumstances, every means is resorted to for staving off anarchy and bolstering up the present order. Gigantic efforts, international agreements, leagues, and peace treaties endeavor to ensure against future wars. These peace remedies may play their part, but in so doing they will only work out the Divine purpose, putting off for a time the cataclysm of trouble.
The Word of the Lord anticipated the efforts of modern times. “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” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Not by human might and wisdom, but by the power of God, will “on earth, peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14) be inaugurated, through the Kingdom of God’s dear Son.
Jesus said, “the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (Matthew 24:29). Ecclesiasticism is weighed in the balance and found wanting. “The heavens shall pass away with a great noise” (2 Peter 3:10). Christendom is represented in the term “Babylon,” which “is become a habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird” (Revelation 18:2). The last days will involve the fall of all systems, traditions, theories, and creeds of men.
The Lord admonished us to pray that we may be counted worthy to escape these things coming upon the earth (Luke 21:36). He declares that the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father (Matthew 13:43). They shall be glorified together with him (Romans 8:17).
Preaching What We Know
Let us be faithful in doing God’s will, loyal to the principles of truth and righteousness, rendering our service according to the instructions of His Word. While there are saints upon the earth, there is still a ministry to perform. All grateful and obedient children of God will desire to let their light shine.
God has promised a glorious day and prepared for it in the gift and sacrifice of Jesus. The world will receive the benefit and blessing of the great Atonement Sacrifice. The Kingdom of God is to be established, which through the thousand years of its glorious reign will suppress evil and establish righteousness. All the willing and obedient of mankind will return to God and receive everlasting life. Sorrow, sighing, and death shall be banished from the earth.
Dearly beloved, let us give the more earnest heed to the things we have learned (Hebrews 2:1). “Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue … knowledge … temperance … patience … godliness … brotherly kindness … charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. … Give diligence to make your calling and election sure … if ye do these things … an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly
into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-11).