We continue with our extracts from Benjamin Wills Newton’s book, Prospects of the Ten Kingdoms, the chapter 14 —
“ORDER OF EVENTS CONNECTED WITH THE APPEARING OF CHRIST AND HIS MILLENNIAL REIGN”
We come to part 3 which covers page 318 to a suitable place to end this extract, half way down page 324.
The condition of the earth at the period of the Lord’s descent into the air is to be regarded in four aspects.
First, there will be the Jews partly in their own Land, as at the time of the Crucifixion, partly scattered throughout the nations, and many of them in captivity.
Secondly, there will be the Ten Nations of the Roman World — all owning Antichrist — all apostate from God — their armies gathered around Antichrist at Armageddon, and advancing upon Jerusalem. (Rev. xvi. 16; Joel iii.).
Thirdly, there will be many countries still sunk in the darkness of heathenism — countries, of which it is said, that up to that moment they have not heard the fame of Jehovah, nor seen His glory. (Isaiah lxvi. 19.)
Fourthly, there will be throughout the earth vast multitudes of Gentiles, who will retain the profession of the name of Christ. Few that acknowledge the name of Christ will be found in the Ten Kingdoms of the Roman World; for there, profession will, for the most part, be swallowed up by Apostasy. But throughout the rest of the earth, wherever Christianity has penetrated, multitudes will be found still bearing the name of Christ. Some will be His in truth; others only in profession. The first He has named in one of His own Parables, “wheat” — the others He has denominated “tares.” These together compose what is called in Scripture “the kingdom of heaven” or “His” — that is, Christ’s kingdom. It is named according to its profession. (See Matthew xiii.)
This — His kingdom, will be the first subject of visitation from the Lord. We learn in the Gospel of Matthew that as soon as the Lord has descended into the air He will send His angels to gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity.*
* It is not said that He will gather out of the earth all that offend — for that would not be true, inasmuch as many of the unconverted Jews and Heathen will be spared and converted. Neither is the earth regarded as having been His Kingdom, though it is about to become such. The expression, “His Kingdom,” is limited in this passage to the Professing Church — out of that, He gathers all that offends. Neither Jews, nor Apostates, nor Mahomedans, nor Heathen, are in this kingdom; and, therefore, cannot be gathered out of it.
At the same time, His saints will be gathered to Himself, and will shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
The gathering of the living saints to the Lord is preceded by the change of their mortal bodies, as also by the resurrection of all who have ever fallen asleep in Jesus. The same moment that changes the living saints – the moment of the last trump – is also that which awakens the dead that have died in the Lord. They arise in bodies incorruptible, and, together with the living saints in whom also mortality is swallowed up of life, are caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
We should accustom ourselves to consider the realities of that hour as they are revealed in the Scripture. It will be an hour solemn and terrible to nature; although the feeblest Believer may wait in peaceful expectation, as knowing that grace, and only grace, is to be brought unto him at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The signs in the heavenly bodies are spoken of in Scripture as occurring before the saints are changed. They will be yet on the earth, and behold these premonitory signs before the trumpet sounds. “When these things [ i. e., signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars] begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.” But as soon as the Lord descends into the air, the same trumpet that announces His presence changes them, and angels are sent to gather them to the Lord.
Angels are also sent to seize on those who are unchanged, and to gather them from among the righteous (Matt. xiii.). But the saints are changed, and cease to be the subjects of mortal feelings before that separation is effected – otherwise they might be unable to bear its agony. “Herein is love made perfect in its dealings with us (in order that we might have confidence in the *day of judgment), because as He [Christ] IS, so are we in this world.” (1 John iv. 17.)
* The day of God’s judgment begins as soon as the Lord Jesus returns. The principles of God’s holiness are then manifestly applied to the condition of human things. The raising all who have fallen asleep in Christ, and the leaving all the rest of the dead unraised, is an act of discriminative judgment. Another is the separation of the “Tares” and the “Wheat” – another the destruction of the anti-Christian nations, and the visitation on Israel. Indeed, the whole of the Millennium has, more or less, the character of discriminative judgment. Then also, “He will give reward to His servants the Prophets, and to the Saints, and those who fear His name, the small and the great.”
In order that we might have confidence in the day in which the principles of His holiness are applied to the condition of human things below, the love of God has been pleased already to grant to the feeblest Believer union with, and acceptance in, His Son : in other words, to make him, even whilst here, what Christ IS. We are already accepted in the Beloved – already we are regarded as one with Christ – and when He returns, we are instantly to be changed, and made manifestly like Him, whilst we are yet beneath the skies; and thus we shall have confidence, even whilst beholding the glory and the terror of that day, when the heavens and the earth shall shake. In this, we shall prove the perfectness of His love in its dealing with us. The being changed in the twinkling of an eye, into Christ’s heavenly likeness, will give us confidence in that “Day of Judgment.”
Few living saints, and few mere professing Christians, will be found in the Antichristian Kingdoms at that hour. Neither those kingdoms, nor heathen countries, are the first subjects of the dealing of the Lord’s hand. Nevertheless, seeing that the Antichristian Kingdoms and the Land of Israel have been, in past ages, the home of multitudes who have died in the Lord, the graves of such will open, and every sleeping saint will be seen awakened for the glory of the first resurrection. The whole earth, therefore (for some believers may have died in, or be living in even heathen lands), will teem with glorified saints, and with angels sent forth to gather them to the Lord. The Lord will be visibly present in the air, whilst these things are transpiring in the earth below.