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The Progress Of The Age+





This present age is unrevealed in the Old
Testament. When Daniel received the great prophecy which Gabriel
carried from the Throne of God to the praying Prophet, he heard that at
a certain time the death of Christ should take place, and that the city
and the sanctuary should be burned, and the nation scattered. This was
at the close of the sixty-ninth week, four hundred and eighty-three
years after the command to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem had been
given. As we have shown in our book on Daniel this has been literally
fulfilled, and as all students of prophecy know there is an unfulfilled
week, or seven years, which are yet to come to pass in the history of
that nation. The space between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth week
is this present age. Nor is there anywhere in the Word of God a
revelation which tells us of the duration of this age. There is no
hint about it in the Old Testament; and when the disciples asked the
Lord about the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel, which manifestly
takes place at the close of this age, He told them, "It is not for you
to know the times and the seasons." It is therefore useless trying to
find out about the duration of the age.

But when we come to the moral and religious characteristics, in
connection with the progress of this age, it is different. They are
fully revealed by the Lord and also by His Spirit. Especially is this
true of the very end of this age. Twice our Lord spoke on these
matters, once on earth when He gave the Kingdom parables in Matthew
xiii and spoke of the progress of the age and what should take place
during His absence. Again He spoke from heaven about these same
things, when He gave the messages to the seven churches. In them He
outlined the course of the professing church on earth, and reveals in
it what is to take place during the progress of this age.

We shall cover the same seven things which we have mentioned in
connection with the beginning of this age, and learn how they are
affected as this age progresses and nears its end.

+First+, as to the Lord Jesus Christ in glory. Enthroned in the
highest glory He can never be affected by what is going on down here.
Satan's power cannot reach Him. The Lord Jesus is the same, yesterday,
today, and forever. Whatever man does on earth, however great the
hatred may be against Him, even if the nations unite to cast off His
cords and bands, in the language of the second Psalm, "He that sitteth
in the heavens shall laugh at them and hold them in derision." But
there is a comforting truth in connection with this, the comfort of
which has been the blessed portion of all God's people as the age
progressed, and its true character became more and more known. "Saul,
Saul, why persecutest thou me," was the word the Lord Jesus addressed
to the persecutor of the Church of God. It shows His loving interest
and sympathy for His suffering members on earth. And so as the age
progressed in the pagan persecutions and the equally bad, if not worse,
Papal persecutions, He has sustained His people on earth, He has never
failed them, He has carried them through the water and through the
fire. He has presented their petitions before the Throne of God, and
answered their prayers. Nor will He ever fail His people until they
are gathered home into His presence, the trophies of His grace.

+Second+. Nor can the Holy Spirit and His work be affected by what the
progress of this age brings. He knows no failure. His Divine mission
cannot fail. In every generation during this age, no matter how dark
it may have been, He has continued successfully His work and added to
the Body of Christ, in each generation those who believed on the Son of
God.

+Third and Fourth+, as to the Gospel and the Truth of God it is
different, for we shall notice here at once what the progress of the
age has brought about in connection with what God has given to this
age. Our Lord tells us in the second parable, in Matthew xiii, that no
sooner had the wheat, the Truth, been sown in the field, which is the
world, but that an enemy came and sowed the tares. Then He revealed
this fact that the wheat and the tares were to grow together until the
harvest, which is the end of the age. There is then a development in
the progress of this age, a development in the wheat, which is ripening
for the harvest, and the development of the tares. The Truth is to
shine more brightly as the age progresses, and darkness becomes more
dense. We see therefore that after a brief period of purity the evil
began in the professing church. The Gospel, even in Apostolic days was
being denied, and the Apostles' doctrines corrupted.

What the Lord Jesus taught in the parable of the mustard seed came also
to pass as the age progressed. The little mustard seed became a great
tree, and the birds began to lodge in its branches to defile the tree.
The professing church became a great world institution, and in alliance
with the world where the throne of Satan is, became corrupted; instead
of being the espoused virgin, she became the harlot and adultress.
What the Lord Jesus announced in the Parable of the leaven came
likewise to pass as this age progressed. The leaven, which is
corruption, evil in every form, especially in Christian doctrine, has
been introduced into the pure doctrine of Christ, the three measures of
fine wheat.

And so we see that as the age progressed the rejection of every phase
of Divine Truth set in. The Deity of Christ denied, the Virgin Birth,
His atoning death, His physical resurrection, everything denied; the
Bible as the revelation of God rejected; and with these denials there
came the increase of unrighteousness and moral declension, till the age
produced the condition which the Word of God clearly foresaw, a great
professing church, with the harlot character, unfaithful to Christ and
to His Word; while of course it is equally true that there is the true
Church, which remains true to Christ and to His Word.

+Fifth+, as the age progresses there is no change seen in the condition
of the world. It is true man has been developing Man's Day. As the
age progressed great inventions and discoveries were made. These are
often taken to be indications that the age is getting better. They
point to the telephone, and wireless, the great engineering feats, the
chemical discoveries, and everything else in these lines as evidences
that the age is constantly improving. Before the war we were told that
the age had improved to such an extent that a great war would no longer
be possible. Everybody was lauding our great civilization to the
skies. A few weeks after everything was knocked sky-high, and what is
left of all these optimistic ramblings? No, this age does not improve,
and everything which the Word of God has to say about it has been
solemnly verified and confirmed by the roar of cannons and by the
slaughter of millions. Our great inventions and discoveries have not
made the world more righteous. On the contrary, unrighteousness and
lawlessness have increased, and later we shall show how everything in
these conditions points to the very end of this age.

+Sixth+, Satan. The world does not change, neither does Satan. He can
never be anything else but the enemy of God, nor can his person and
work be arrested by man's efforts. As the age continues his opposition
becomes more marked. We know from the lips of our Lord that he is the
liar and the murderer from the beginning. He has made good these
titles throughout this age. He tried to stamp out more than once the
Truth of Christ by instigating the cruel persecutions of the people of
God. They were slain by the thousands and hundreds of thousands during
the reign of the Roman Emperors. When he failed in this then he
manifested his character as the liar from the beginning. He began to
counterfeit the Truth, and partially succeeded in corrupting the
professing church and putting a spurious system in control, where he
makes good his title as the liar. When in the progress of this age the
Spirit of God began reviving the Truth, when the noble men and women
refused to bow before Rome, he again acted as the murderer. Thousands
upon thousands were tortured, slain, and burned alive, until he
discovered that the Truth cannot be stamped out by the fires of
persecution, that he was failing again as he had failed in the first
century of the age. Then once more he appears in the garb of an angel
of light. Now he does his work through demon-cults like Christian
Science, Spiritism, Mormonism and others. He manifests himself once
more as the liar from the beginning in the New Theology and the
Destructive Criticism, so widely accepted everywhere. And thus he
continues his work as the age progresses; no change for the better.

+Seventh+, as already stated the Jews are wanderers amongst the
nations. We know two things concerning the Jews. The first is that
they are given the promise in earthly things, and though they are now
blinded, God has not cast them away; and the other is that they are
during this age under judgment. These two facts stand out in the
history of that remarkable people as the age continues. If we want to
see the richest people, the most influential, the brightest, we must
turn to the Jewish people. In that fact God witnesses that they are
still His people. And then the greatest sorrow, the greatest
suffering, the greatest poverty is found amongst them; the witness that
they are under judgment. Over and over again in every century has
solemnly come to pass what their forefathers cried, "His blood be upon
us, and upon our children." We shall later point out the startling
change which is coming upon them as a nation when the age ends.


III

+The End of the Age+. Like every previous age, our age will also come
to a close. It is here we find one of the vital errors amongst
Christians at the present time. They never think of this age of Gospel
preaching and Gospel privilege as coming to an end. If one speaks to
them about the end of the age, they think it means after the world is
converted, and the passing away of the world itself. Peter has given
us the witness that this would be one of the characteristics of the
last days, when mockers shall come, saying, "Where is the promise of
His coming? for from the day the fathers fell asleep all things
continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." This is
what we find so much in our day. In spite of the horrible conditions
in which this age has been plunged, and the confirmation of the
predictions of the Bible relating to this age, the mass of professing
Christians expect that things will continue, and that after the war the
age will speedily improve. We have seen before how impossible this is,
for the Bible teaches us that this age is an evil age, and there is not
a single passage which promises an improvement. On the contrary,
everything in the Word shows that as the age ends, and its real end
comes, all the evil conditions present in this age come to a head and
climax. We find therefore a great deal said in the Scriptures about
the end of the age. The Lord Jesus speaks of it in His parables in
Matthew xiii. He has given also a complete panorama of the age-ending
in His great Olivet discourse. Then when we come to the Epistles we
find that the Spirit of God through every writer gives a warning and a
witness about the end of the age. All these warnings and witnesses do
not tell us of a converted world, and a world which is won to
righteousness, of nations who lay down their armaments and no longer
make war; nor do these warnings and predictions speak of a triumph of
the doctrine of Christ. They tell us the very opposite. They give
warnings that the faith is going to be rejected, that delusions and
errors are going to multiply, that nation is going to lift up sword
against nation and kingdom against kingdom, that lawlessness and
unrighteousness are going to increase, and that the age itself is going
to end in a time of trouble such as the world has never seen before.

If we turn to the last Book of the Bible we find also an argument
concerning the age and its end. Before the heaven opens and He comes,
whose right it is to establish His Kingdom over this earth, the wicked
and wild conditions prevailing on this earth are described, and that on
account of them the judgments of the Lord will be in the earth.

And now to follow the same line of thought as in our preceding
meditations, let us again notice the same things which we mentioned
before in connection with the beginning and progress of this age.

+First+, as this age comes to a close Christ is still on the Father's
Throne. His ministry in behalf of His people both as Priest and
Advocate continues unbroken. He has promised, "Lo, I am with you
always even unto the end of the age." We say again, He changes not.
As He sustained His people in the beginning of the age and gave them
victory, as He kept the feet of His saints in every generation and
gathered them home into His own presence, so He will still minister to
the needs of His members on earth. Let the age become as dark as it
possibly can, His people who trust in Him and walk in His fellowship
will be kept and preserved. We do not know all that is going on in
glory. We know he is there as the upholder of all things. We know
that the greater part of the children of God are as disembodied spirits
in His presence. Some day a startling thing will happen in that glory.
The hour has come when the redeemed are to have their resurrection
bodies, and all the living saints shall be changed in a moment, in the
twinkling of an eye. When that hour strikes He Himself will arise from
the place at the Father's right hand and pass out of the third heaven,
and then from the air give the shout which will summon all the redeemed
to meet Him in the sky. For this the people of God are waiting in the
end of this age.


[1] See article "That Blessed Hope." [Transcriber's note: there was no
matching footnote number in the above text, so it is not known what
this footnote referred to.]


+Second+, the Holy Spirit also remains the same. His energy is
undiminished. The work He came to do and which He has done throughout
this age, will be done by Him to the very end. Indeed, while darkness
increases and the enemy becomes more active, God's people may
confidently expect that the Holy Spirit will also demonstrate His power
in the behalf of those who love and walk in the Truth. Some day He
will have finished the work for which He came, the Body will be
complete as to numbers; and when that crowning event, the coming of the
Lord for His saints, takes place, the Holy Spirit will have His part to
do. Not alone Christ will present the Church but the Holy Spirit as
well; and then He will leave the earth, no longer to be here to do the
special work which He came to do on the Day of Pentecost. He has
finished the work.

+Third+, the Gospel is still preached during the end of the age. As
long as the Church remains here the true Gospel testimony can never be
silenced, because behind it stands the omnipotent Spirit of God and the
power of Christ. But as the age closes the true Gospel is being more
and more rejected. We see this today; we hear on all hands that man no
longer needs to be born again, that the blood of Christ cannot save,
that character saves; that the soldiers who die on the battlefield
bring a sacrifice like Christ brought on the Cross, and that the hero's
death makes all things right in the past life and opens the gates of
glory. On all sides we see these rejections; the Son of God is denied
and every phase of His work is set aside. This is exactly what is
taught in the New Testament, that men would turn away their ears from
the Truth, and that the great mass of professing Christians would only
have a form of godliness and deny the power thereof.

When at last the Church has ended her ministry the sound of the Gospel
of Grace will no longer be heard. While this is true, on the other
hand the Gospel still preached up to the end of the age brings about
the completion of the Body of Christ. We see this today in a startling
manner. While amongst the so-called Christian nations the Gospel is
rejected, in heathen countries the Gospel is accepted by thousands upon
thousands, and thus the Body of Christ, the true Church, is being made
complete.

+Fourth+, when this age closes the whole body of the doctrine of Christ
and the Truth will be rejected. The foundation for this has gradually
been laid. It started over a hundred years ago in Germany, where the
modern criticism of the Bible started. This criticism has constantly
been growing, until everywhere throughout Christendom an infallible
Bible is being denied. Thus the foundations of the faith have been
undermined, and the way is prepared for the final apostasy, the
complete falling away from the Truth.

+Fifth+, in regard to the world. As stated previously this age cannot
get better, but becomes worse. We see it today, how all inventions and
discoveries in which we used to boast as evidences of progress are
being made use of in the most horrible catastrophe the world has ever
seen. Europe is like a human slaughterhouse. Nations are against
nations and kingdoms against kingdoms; and all this was started by a
nation which boasted of having the most light in religious things and
the best culture and civilization. And all along they denied Christ
and the Truth of God; and when the outbreak came it was only a
demonstration that behind their Christless civilization and culture
there stood the domineering shadow of the prince of this world. When
we look closer into the Prophetic Word we find that these conditions
continue to the end of the age, and that finally there comes a
tremendous crash, when the Lord Himself will deal with these horrible
conditions and smite the wicked and the ungodly.

But some one might say, "What is the use of doing anything at all if
this is the program?" "What is the use of us to fight as a nation?"
But this is wrong logic. There are principles of righteousness and
justice which must be maintained in this world, for which man must
stand up, and as far as our nation is concerned we are on the side of
justice and the defense of righteousness, which have the approval of
God, for they are in line with His righteous government. When the time
comes for the reckoning, not from the human side but from God's side,
this will fall heavily into the scale when the nations are judged.

+Sixth+, as to Satan. Like a huge serpent he has been winding his way
throughout this age, leaving everywhere his contamination. While Satan
is not omniscient and perfect in knowledge, he has sufficient knowledge
of his destiny and how soon that destiny will be accomplished, and so
as the age closes he becomes fiercer in his wrath; like a serpent which
is attacked and in danger of being caught, his hiss is heard on all
sides. He is now actively engaged in counterfeiting the Truth, in
putting in his demon doctrines, in perverting the Truth wherever he
can. And by and by after the true Church is gone he will put his
masterpieces into the world, of whom we shall have more to say in these
studies. Then he will blind the nations as never before and rush them
on to the final climax of the age.

+Seventh+, as to the Jews. We have seen how they were scattered at the
beginning of this age, and how they continued to wander amongst the
nations as the age progressed. When we come to the end of the age a
startling change takes place with His people. The figtree, once
cursed, puts forth new leaves; the dry bones of the house of Israel
begin to show signs of life. There is a movement amongst them, bone
comes to bone, they organize, their faces are turned towards the east;
they are getting ready for the greatest event in all history. The Lord
Jesus Christ said that Jerusalem should be trodden down of the Gentiles
until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. When the end of the age
comes the times of the Gentiles are about fulfilled; and the startling
sign that the age ends is the movement amongst the Jews so prominent
today. The capture of Jerusalem and the complete downfall of the Turk
are significant signs. Palestine will be given to the Jews when the
war ends. Then the stage is set, so to speak, for the predicted end of
the age.

We have rapidly pointed out the leading features of the beginning,
progress and end of this age. The real end is composed of seven years,
the last prophetic week of Daniel's prophecy (Dan. ix). The true
church will then no longer be on the earth. Her translation has taken
place. The Saints are with the Lord. But on earth the things will
come to pass which are so prominently revealed in the prophetic Word.
And when the seven years are over the Lord Jesus Christ will come back
in power and glory to establish His Kingdom of righteousness and peace.
Then that which has been shall be again and still greater glory added.





Next: That Blessed Hope

Previous: The Beginning Of The Age



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