“ORDER OF EVENTS CONNECTED WITH THE APPEARING OF CHRIST AND HIS MILLENNIAL REIGN”
We come to Part 13, which covers from the bottom of page 360 to the top of page 365.
But however great the blessings of the millennial age, they still fall very short of the perfection of God. Sin, death, and occasional transgression, will yet be there, and repressive power (something unknown in heaven) will be perpetually needed, in order to prevent manifestations of evil, and sights of sorrow. The spirit therefore of the millennial saints will long for something more perfect yet to come. They will be taught, even as we, to look for New Heavens and a New Earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.*
(* In Isaiah lxv. 17, the subjects of joy and thanksgiving, presented to Israel at the commencement of their millennial blessing, are two — one future; the other, present. The final intention of God to create New Heavens and a New Earth, is first spoken of, and presented to them as an object of hope: next is mentioned, that which God will at that time be giving them, as a present joy; for at that time He will make Jerusalem and her people a joy.
“Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth,” strictly – Behold, I, the Creating One of new heavens, &c. For this abstract use of the present participle as not defining time, see “Occasional Papers,” No. II. Page 96.)
The distinctive characteristic of the Millennium therefore, is not to be found in the greatness of its blessings; for blessings higher and more abundant will be in the New Earth. The great distinctive characteristic of the Millennium is this, that it is the period when Christ, assumes and exercises power in order to subjugate every enemy. This is the object avowedly proposed when Christ takes to Himself His millennial power. Its exercise is seen in the destructive judgments whereby the Millennium is commenced — in breaking up the evil systems of every nation throughout the, earth — in punishing disobedience — in destroying the rebellious nations at the close of the millennial reign — in finally punishing Satan, and destroying Death. The subjugation of enemies is so distinctively the object of the millennial reign, that the power which Christ assumes for this purpose, He lays down as soon as it is accomplished. “Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He· shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and power. For He must reign, till He bath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is Death . . . And when all things shall have been subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. xv.) How wonderful therefore, that a dispensation whose distinctive characteristic is, power exercised for the subjugation of enemies, should be one distinguished also by blessings so transcendent that they seem to irradiate earth with the light and glory and happiness of heaven. Millions too will be saved, who would have been lost for ever, if the history of man in the flesh had been made to terminate at the commencement and not at the close of the millennium.
The millennium, however, does not conclude, without affording another instance of the inveterate evil of the human heart. Unregenerate man can neither be gained by mercy nor subdued by terror. Unawed by the judgments that introduce the millennium, and uninfluenced by the mercies that characterise its course, unwarned by the experience of preceding ages, and heedless of the lessons furnished by their own, the millennial Gentile nations,* (* The Gentile nations only will apostatise. Jerusalem and Israel will remain faithful to the Lord) as soon as Satan is again allowed to tempt, will instantly fall into the snare, and give themselves to him. They will deliberately assemble, in order to confront the visible glory of Christ, which they will long have known as present in the earth, and filling it with blessing.
They know that Jerusalem is, “the Beloved City,” and Zion “the citadel of the saints,” — they know that the glory of Christ is there; and yet none of these things will hinder the mad presumption of their evil. “And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the citadel of the saints about and the beloved city; and fire came down out of heaven and devoured them.” Thus ends the earthly history of unregenerate man. The general judgment follows: the dead are judged, and then He that sitteth on the Throne will say: “Behold, I make all things new.”
The glory of “the New Heavens and New Earth,” we little apprehend. Even the present creation was made excellent and glorious. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handy work: day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.” The sun in the firmament, and the lily of the field, alike declare the wisdom and the power of God.
But all this creation, so wonderful and so glorious, was connected with one, who was of the earth — earthy: with him, the heavens and the earth were created, and with him the heavens and the earth pass away.
If, then, a creation so glorious was connected with one who was of the earth–earthy, what will be the glory of that which is to be created in adaptation to Him who is the Second Man, the Lord from Heaven – a creation to be placed under His Headship, and to stand for ever in His blessedness? If we could estimate the difference between the person of Adam and the person of the Son of God, we might then appreciate the difference between the glory of the first, and the glory of the New Creation.
We are thus led on by Scripture to the first day of the completed blessing of the redeemed — the first day of their new history; when the Heavenly City, the Bride of the Lamb, descends into the New Earth. She had not descended into the Millennial Earth.* (* It is very important to observe the difference between individual and corporate symbols. Individually the saints do visit the millennial earth, and act in it — but in their corporate glory, represented by the heavenly city, they do not enter in.) She had been connected with it, and ministered to it; but she had not descended into it. She had been kept apart, as it were in holy separateness, until nothing should remain beneath, unsuited to her own purity and glory. The Heavenly Bridegroom had, throughout the millennium, been exercising His power in order to subdue every enemy; and when that had been effected, and all things had been made new, she is introduced as His Bride into the new inheritance.