Preparing for the Kingdom
“When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).
We have come a long way through the harvest, the ending period of the Gospel Age, toward the Kingdom. Brethren living early in the harvest forecast that the time of trouble would arrive at the close of 40 years, which from 1874, would be 1914. There the time of trouble predicted in Daniel 12:1 did commence, with the first war known to history as a World War.
That date proved not to see the Church completed, as once supposed. In 1916 appeared the article “The Harvest is Not Ended,” recognizing that “our expectations” “that the harvest would be ended by now” were premature. “The harvest work is going grandly on; it is not ended by any means” (R5950).
It did appear that the judgment connected with the closing of the Times of the Gentiles had commenced in 1914. Noting that the fall of Masada, the last fortress of the Jewish rebellion against Rome, came in 73 AD, the possibility was raised in this article that perhaps the parallel date, 1918, could be meaningful. In retrospect it seems that it was, for 1918 was the close of World War I. However, it did not bring the close of the harvest.
In the opening page of the Foreword to Volume Three, also written in 1916, remained the hope that the time would be short. “Evidently the door is not yet shut, although we anticipate that before a very long time — perhaps a year or two or three — the full number of the Elect will be completed, and all will have gone beyond the Veil, and the door will be shut.” Fortunately for us of succeeding generations, the opportunity for the “High calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14) remained open, as it is even today.
The Time of Trouble
Daniel 12:1 speaks of the time when Michael, our Lord Jesus, would “stand up” with royal authority and begin a transition from the kingdoms of this world, to the Kingdom of Christ.
“At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.”
The expression “stand up” is used six times in Daniel chapter 11 to refer to a king coming to the throne (Daniel 11:2, 3, 4, 7, 20, 21). It appears to have this meaning also in Daniel 12:1. In which case, we have another testimony that Michael is Jesus, for no angels other than Jesus would ultimately exercise kingly authority.
We find a similar testimony respecting Jesus during the harvest in Revelation 14:14. This verse describes Jesus, the Son of man, with a sickle in his hand prepared for the harvest work, and “on his head a golden crown.”
A third testimony to the regal authority of Jesus during the harvest is from Revelation 11:15. “The seventh angel sounded; and there followed great voices in heaven, and they said, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord [God], and of his Christ [ Jesus]: and he shall reign for ever and ever” (ASV).
What follows in verse 18 is the anger of nations, “the nations were angry,” referring to the time of trouble also mentioned in Daniel 12:1. Verse 18 also describes rewarding “thy servants the prophets, and … the saints,” which begins with the raising of saints at the outset of the harvest.1
(1) The terms “prophets” and “saints” are descriptors that here refer to faithful ones of the Gospel Age. In Revelation 18:24 the blood of “prophets and … saints” were found in great Babylon, thus here also the terms refer to Gospel Age saints. Ephesians 4:11,12 uses the term prophets for Gospel Age teachers: “He gave some apostles, and some, prophets … for the work of the ministry.”
The Restoration of Israel
Daniel 12:1, describing the time when Michael would “stand up,” says that Michael is “the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people.” Daniel’s people were Israelites. This indicates that when Michael exercises his authority during the harvest, he would stand for them, by restoring to them their homeland and their national standing among nations.
We have seen this from 1878, from the settlement of Petah Tikvah, forward. But we could begin this effort as early as 1874, when Benjamin Disraeli was elected to his second term as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.2 At the Berlin Congress of Nations in 1878, Disraeli influenced the Ottoman Empire to open land sales in Israel to Jewish settlers.
(2) His first term was a brief one from February to December of 1868. His second term ran from 1874 to 1880. Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield, was the only Jewish Prime Minister to govern the United Kingdom
Raising the Dead
Daniel 12:2 says, “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Actually, all of the dead of past ages will be raised, not merely “many” of them. This is apparent from John 5:28, 29, “All that are in the graves shall … come forth.” The “many” in Daniel 12:2 intends to describe a large number, but not to be a limiting term. The RVIC says, “Multitudes sleeping in the dust of the earth shall awake.” The NIV reads, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake.” Young’s Literal translation has, “The multitude of those sleeping in the dust of the ground do awake.”
As some wake “to everlasting life,” this may refer to the Ancient Worthies raised in the Kingdom. It could also include the saints raised during the harvest. But perhaps the raising of the saints is independently covered in the closing portion of verse 1, “at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” Philippians 4:3 refers to Gospel Age saints with this description. “Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.”
In either case, the raising of saints, at the opening of the harvest, is included in these verses. Thus, in Daniel 12:1, 2, which describe the regal authority of Christ (Michael) from the outset of the harvest, three works are referred to: (1) The restoration of Israel, (2) The time of trouble, (3) Raising of the dead, beginning with the Gospel Age saints.
Accomplished and Pending
All three of the above activities have begun. However, none of these is yet complete.
(1) The Restoration of Israel to independence took 70 years. Since then, even greater numbers of Jewish immigrants have returned to Israel. More land has been acquired since 1948: Old Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967, and the Golan Heights in 1973. Israel’s southern reaches do touch parts of the dry beds which, in rain, feed the Wadi El Arish, the “River of Egypt” mentioned in Genesis 15:18. So it may be that the southern reaches of Israel complete the portion intended for them there.
As Moses approached the land of promise in the last year of his life, because of the belligerence of Sihon and Og, Israel acquired land east of the Jordan River that apparently was not originally included in the promise to Abraham. It is thus of interest to note that in Ezekiel 48, those lands east of the Jordan River which are now part of the country of Jordan, are not included in the scope of restored Israel.
Genesis 15:18 does extend the land of promise designated for the seed of Abraham, northward, to reach some portion of “the great river, the river Euphrates.” Will this be restored, perhaps in the last deliverance of Israel, still pending? (Ezekiel 38). The Gaza strip apparently is part of the land designated for Israel in Joshua 13:2, 3, where formerly the Philistines lived. Will this also be restored to Israel?
We wait to see what the plan of God is respecting these areas — and, if they are included, whether they will be restored before, or during, the Kingdom proper.
(2) The Time of Trouble. World War I, and World War II, consumed the span from 1914 to 1945, a total of 31 years. Of interest is that in Joshua’s conquest of the land, there were two separate coalitions, one in the south, and a second more powerful one in the north, that he vanquished. The locations taken included 31 cities (Joshua 12:24). Might these two coalitions be symbolic of the two world wars? We incline to think so.
The time of trouble, however, is broader than the world wars ending 78 years ago. When Elijah fled to Mount Horeb, he saw three parts of the time of trouble in vision. There was a wind that rent the mountains, a great earthquake, and fire on the hillside (1 Kings 19:11, 12). The winds of two world wars have broken large kingdoms. Following this, former empires were shaken, as colonies in India, Africa, and Indonesia secured independence. This was capped off with the release of Soviet occupied countries in 1989. Thereafter, the fire of Islam began a resurgence. In 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait, leading to the first of two Gulf Wars. In 2001, terror hit skyscrapers in New York, leading to a 20 year conflict in Afghanistan.
Since then, disturbances have quelled in some Sunni portions of Islam. But unrest in the western world has been increasing. The next portion of the “fire” phase perhaps is pending.
(3) The Completion of the Church. In Exodus 12:29, the firstborn class was passed over at the opening of the last plague, which in Revelation 16:16, 17, is connected to Armageddon, a last conflict at Israel. If this represents the passing of the last members of the bride class from death to life in the first resurrection, at the “midnight” hour (Exodus 12:29), it seems to take us to the final blows, through which some of the Great Company class may linger.
A Closing Storm
Acts 27 speaks of a closing storm, which some think represents difficult experiences ahead, chiefly in the lands of Christendom. The storm raged for 14 days, leading to the breaking of the ship on which Paul rode, representing the ship of state of the western world. Fourteen is often a number associated with the incoming Kingdom.3
The number fourteen in this case (Acts 27:27) seems to represent the final distresses that introduce the Kingdom. As prophecy often applies days to years, these 14 days of storm may suggest 14 years of special distress leading to the Kingdom. We will watch with interest, to see if this is so.
Notice that in Acts 27:27, a crisis point came at “midnight,” just as in Exodus 12:29. Thereafter, Paul’s presence on board the ship may reflect the experiences of the Great Company class. In Acts 27:22, Paul’s earlier message reflects what the harvest saints know, that mankind has everything good to hope for ahead. Paul’s later message, in verses 35 forward, is about taking bread, that is, looking to Jesus, a message that may relate to good Christians outside of the harvest saints, more associated with the Great Company.
(3) There were 14 lambs each day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Hezekiah’s final deliverance was in his 14th year. Ezekiel 40:1, beginning a lengthy vision of the Kingdom, is in the 14th year after the smiting of Jerusalem. Probably this double seven intends to refer to the second age of redemption. The Passover lamb was slain on day 14. This represents the ransom provided by Jesus that applies to both ages of redemption.
Categories: 2023 Issues, 2023-March/April