Part I.—Its Nature
WE here enter the region of the yet unfulfilled purpose of God, and known to us only through prophecy. There is, therefore, no general agreement as to the nature or order of the events yet to take place, except in general that Christ will return to earth as the Judge and King, and having put all things under Him, give up the redemptive Kingdom to the Father. But His own prophetic utterances and those of inspired men, interpreted in harmony with God's actings in the past, are sufficient to give warrant to an attempt to outline the work the Redeemer has yet to do before redemption is accomplished. From this point of view, we may define the Kingdom period as the last stage of the Son's redemptive work; when it is ended, He gives up the Kingdom to the Father, and the Eternal Age begins (1 Cor. 15: 28). The dominant feature of this period is the visible exercise on earth of that authority which was given Him before He ascended (Matt. 28: 18; 25: 31).
It is of great importance in this enquiry as to the nature and purpose and time of the Kingdom, to keep clearly in mind that the Church is an election, as the Jews were from among the nations, some taken from the many for a special purpose. These so taken constitute the body of Christ, the instrument through which He acts upon others; and they are, as an election, a defined and limited number. The gathering of these is not the end, but a means to the end. When the full number has been gathered, and prepared, and fully united to the Head in resurrection life, the Church period, distinctively socalled, comes to its end and a new period begins. Now the Lord proceeds to the manifestation of His authority, or takes His great power, and reigns (Rev. 11: 17), the members of His body, made like Him, serving as His kings and priests.
But the work of redemption is not ended with the assumption of His kingly power; only a new phase of it is begun. The union of the Church with Christ in resurrection life, or, in symbolic terms, "the marriage of the Lamb," is a necessary preliminary to the establishment of the Kingdom. As this election is from all nations, the Gospel is to be preached to all (Rev. 5:9).
That the present Church period is the Kingdom period, or, in other words, that Christ at His Ascension entered upon His functions as
King, is a very general belief. It is true that before His Ascension He said of Himself, "All authority hath been given unto Me in Heaven, and upon earth" (Matt. 28: 18, R. V.), and upon this ground He commands the Gospel to be preached to all. But those are yet to be gathered who shall rule with Him. He is made "Head over all things to the Church" (Eph. 1: 22). He now rules over all with reference to the gathering of the Church, but not till this election is completed does it rule with Him.'
1 The identification of the Church and the Kingdom has been the source of many evils. It has greatly lowered the standard of the spiritual life. Instead of sitting patiently in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, waiting for His manifestation of Himself as King, the great ambition of the Church has been, at least in its larger divisions, to take its place among the kingdoms of this world, and be a Power in the earth, and rule over the nations. The end being worldly, the means used are necessarily worldly. The Lord said: "My Kingdom is not of this world," or of this cosmos,—this present sinful order of which Satan is the prince. "If My Kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight" (John 18: 36). To obliterate the line of distinction between the sacred and the secular, between this age and the age to come, between the Church and the world, is a most efficacious means of hindering the Lord in His redemptive work, where the perfection of the lower is a necessary step to the higher. The King cannot come till the Bride is perfected, and ready for the marriage (Eph. 5:27; Rev. 19: 7).
Part II.—The Preparation
It is necessary, also, in this enquiry to distinguish the Lord's acts preparatory to the establishment of the Kingdom, and His acts in its administration when established—the two stages of His work, the Judicial and the Kingly—and to note their relation to each other.
We may first consider the necessity of a preparation for the Kingdom and its ground. It may be asked, Why a preparation? The answer is that the Church has never been spiritually ready for the return of her Head and for the part she is to take with Him in His future work. The Lord in His teaching laid great stress on the readiness of His disciples to receive Him at His return (Luke 12: 35, 36), and set forth its absolute necessity in the parable of the Virgins (Matt. 25). This watchfulness and readiness were not the duty of a few only, but of all (Mark 13: 35-37), and the full means of preparation were provided for in the original constitution of the Church. All are to go on unto perfection, the perfection of one stage being readiness for the next (Matt. 5: 48; Heb. 6: 1). Only if ready, can they be translated in a moment, and brought into the fulness of eternal life, and be made kings and priests. If any are found unprepared, like the foolish Virgins, it will be through their own unfaithfulness (see Malachi 3:2).
The Church, as Christ's body, having in it the fulness of life, and all organs for its manifestation, if it abide in Him, is a perfect school of Christian culture. It has everything needful that its members may attain unto individual perfection, and to such unity that all can be presented as one body unto Christ (Eph. 4: 11, 12). In other words, the perfecting of the Church is the attainment of that spiritual condition which makes it ready for the coming of the Lord (Eph. 1: 13, 14). But this is possible only by the operation of the Holy Spirit through all the ordinances and ministries of the Church (Eph. 4: 16).
It necessarily follows that if, through unbelief and separation from the Head, the appointed means of perfecting its members are partially wanting, or inoperative, the Holy Spirit cannot do His perfect work. No one can by any efforts of his own supply these means. As the wheat must be ripened by the sun and the rain, so must the Christian be perfected through the spiritual action upon him of the Head and the Spirit.
But if His children are imperfect, or not ready, the Lord is hindered in His action, He cannot come to take them into the fellowship of His glory. His coming must be their condemnation and judgment, and must, therefore, be delayed until the due preparation is made. But how can it be made? If it can be made only through the Divinely appointed means, and some of these are wanting, they must be restored that through them a company, greater or smaller, may be prepared.
We find here the explanation of the term "firstfruits," as a company first prepared for the Lord. As in gathering the harvest, the first step under the Law was the plucking of a few ripe stalks, and presenting them to the Lord in His Temple, before the reaping could begin, so with the spiritual harvest of the Lord (Lev. 23: 9-). He gathers His sheaf of first-fruits and presents it before the Father, and then the harvest can begin (Rev. 14: 4). This law as to the first-fruits rests upon the principle that the first in a series of God's gifts to us is to be consecrated to Him, we by this act acknowledging Him as the giver of all and sanctifying the residue. The first-fruits of a tree, the first-born of the cattle, and the first-born son were His, and by the presentation of the first to Him, all that followed were consecrated (Ex. 2 2: 29; Num. 15:20; Neh. 10:35). A commentator says: "No ordinance appears to have been more distinctly recognised than this."
Thus in the harvest at the end, God will have His sheaf of first-fruits—those first spiritually ripened. Of these the Lord speaks, "One shall be taken"—the ripened one—and "one shall be left"—the unripened (Matt. 24: 40). Also in the parable of the Ten Virgins we are taught that five being ready are admitted at once, and five not ready are shut out. The ready ones are those of whom He speaks elsewhere as "worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass" (Luke 21: 36). In the Revelation, the firstfruits are mentioned as those escaping the great tribulation, and in contrast with those who pass through it and wash their defiled robes (Rev. 7).
It is wholly in correspondence with the Divine appointments under the old covenant that we are told of "the first-fruits" of the Church (Rev. 14: 4). These are the first ripened ones, and as such objects of God's special desire: "My soul desired the first-ripe fruit" (Micah 7:1). They are the first gathered, and thus "escape the things which shall come to pass" (Luke 21: 36; Rev. 7:4).
The first-fruits having been taken to stand before the Son of Man, the Lord can proceed to gather the harvest; but the yet unripened fruits must be ripened. And this is effected, not by the normal use of the Divine means, but by sore judgments (Isa. 1:25). Into details we need not enter. The Apostle Paul tells us of "the fire that shall try every man's work"; if he has builded upon the rock, wood, hay, stubble, though his work shall be burned, the builder shall be saved, yet so as by fire (1 Cor. 3: 13-15). By "the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning" will God purify His children (1 Cor. 3: 13; Mai. 3:2; Isa. 4:4). The same truth is set forth in the call to the angel to reap: "Thrust in thy sickle and reap: for the harvest of the earth is ripe"; in the margin, "dried." It indicates a ripening not normal, but effected through adventitious influences (Rev. 14: 15).
The perfecting of the first-fruits is simply the attainment of that spiritual condition that is expected of all in Christ (1 Cor. 1:8; Rev. 14: 4, 5). There is not the setting up of some new and ideal standard at the end, but the standard set at the first for all, to which it is their duty to attain; and no means of attaining are given but those originally given.
We thus find in the Church just before the Lord's return three classes: (a) those loving the Lord's appearing and waiting for it, but unconscious of their own unpreparedness, and not realising the need of any special preparation; (b) those who retain a greater or less measure of faith in Christ as their Saviour and of zeal for Him, and who think to set up His Kingdom by their own labours before His return, but without unity of doctrine or of action; (c) those apostate in spirit, openly or secretly denying the Lord. These classes must be separated, and all in whom faith can be awakened must be prepared.
The first class mentioned is the first to be prepared—the first-fruits of the harvest—and is prepared by the Lord through the operation of the Holy Spirit in the appointed Divine ministries and ordinances, of which they are made to see the necessity. They are thus brought into that condition of spiritual ripeness in which the Lord can gather them.
The Apostles saw very early that till this condition of spirit was attained, the coming of the Lord must be delayed; and there was, therefore, a corresponding change in the tone of their teaching. The looking for death now took the place of the hope of translation and resurrection. How long this spiritual unpreparedness, and consequent delay of the Lord's return, would continue, the Apostles knew not. But St. Paul saw in it the beginning of the apostacy, and that it would find its culmination in the Antichrist.
The second class pass through the great tribulation, and see their structures of wood, hay, stubble, burn, but are themselves saved, "yet so as through fire." These constitute the harvest— "a great multitude, which no man could number" (Rev. 7:9; 14: 15-).
The third class, those alienated in spirit from the Lord, are prepared to follow the Antichrist when he shall appear, and will join themselves to him and perish with him. It is this class which is presented to us under the symbol of "the vine of the earth" (Rev. 14: 18), whose clusters are gathered, and "cast into the great wine-press of the wrath of God."
Whilst this process of preparing the Lord's own is going on, Satan is also preparing his own — the Beast and his armies. More and more, the chasm between the followers of Christ and the followers of Satan deepens and widens, and an organised antichristian world-power comes more and more clearly into view (Rev. 13: 1). Finally the Antichrist appears, the lawless one, the man of sin, he to whom the prince of this world gives his power and great authority, "whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders" (2 Thess. 2: 9). Around him gather all the disobedient and unholy. Into his hand it is given "to make war with the saints, and to overcome them"; and " all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb" (Rev. 13: 7, 8). But his reign is short; the Lord appears, and with the breath of His mouth and with the brightness of His coming the Beast and false prophet are taken and cast into the lake of fire, and their armies are slain (Rev. 19: 20-). Satan is bound and cast into the abyss. The last of the ante-Kingdom judgments is then upon the nations, those who have joined themselves to the Antichrist (Matt. 25: 31, 32).
We find in this judicial and preparatory stage three successive steps: the gathering of the firstfruits, the harvest, and the vintage.
How long a time will be occupied in this preparation for His Kingdom, first of the first-fruits and then of the harvest, and of His judgments upon the Beast and false prophet, cannot be said, but probably a considerable number of years. Nor can the exact order of events be determined, nor any precise line separating the Lord's earlier judicial from His later kingly functions. Perhaps, indeed, the whole Kingdom period may be in a limited sense one of judgment—that is, of separating the good from the evil, the final act of separation not taking place till the end (Rev. 20: 11).
That the time of preparation for the Kingdom, or the judicial work of the Lord, will be a time of great trial to all the unprepared, the prophetic Scriptures everywhere affirm. This is the time so often mentioned as "the last days," or in a comprehensive term, "the day of the Lord." Scarcely an Old Testament prophet can be found who does not speak of this great and dreadful day, "the day of vengeance," "the day of His fierce anger," "the day of wrath" (Isa. 61:2; 63:4; Joel 1: 15; Isa. 13: 13; Rev. 6:17).
How terrible is this day, is shown in our Lord's words: "There shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world, to this time, no, nor ever shall be, and except these days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved" (Matt. 24: 21, 22). This "day of judgment" is set in contrast with "the day of redemption." The time of tribulation is to the faithful in the Church at the end of her earthly history what Gethsemane was to the Lord at the end of His life on earth—the most searching proof of man's trust in God, the final trial of faith, a time of deepest darkness, when God seems to have forsaken His children. Out of the depths will they cry: "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." Yet will faith prevail, and their Lord will hear their cry, and appear suddenly for their deliverance.
Part III.—Its Administration
Having considered the preparation for the Kingdom, we turn to its actual establishment. But we must first ask in what sense the term "kingdom" is here used.
We know that in general, every national government, without distinction of form, is called in the Scriptures a kingdom, as the Assyrian, the Persian; only the Messianic Kingdom embraces all nations. But we are here concerned with the distinction between the ruling power in a kingdom and its subjects. In the Lord's Prayer we say, "Thy Kingdom come"—the full exercise of His authority, the will of God perfectly done. The Lord says to the saved nations: "Come, . . . inherit the Kingdom." This, however, does not mean participation in its rule. To "inherit the Messianic Kingdom" was a Jewish formula meaning to partake of the blessings of its rule (G. T. Lex.)—to be its subjects, not its kings or priests (Matt. 25: 34). In Christ's Kingdom, all obedient nations will partake of its blessings, but the Church only is called to sit with Him in His throne, and to take part with Him in the administration of His government. Her sons, now glorified and immortal, may be His kings and priests—kings as helpers in His rule, priests as His ministers in worship.
It is in itself probable that those who on earth have filled the highest places in His service, and have been obedient and faithful, will fill the highest places in the Kingdom. An illustration of this is seen in the promise of the Lord to His apostles: "Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. 19: 28; Luke 22: 30). But to take part in His rule is given in its measure to all. "I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them . . . and they lived and reigned with Christ" (Rev. 20: 4). In a vision, St. John saw "round about the throne four and twenty thrones, and upon the thrones four and twenty elders sitting . . . and on their heads crowns of gold" (Rev. 4: 4). St. Paul speaks of the crown of righteousness to be given him, and not to him only, "but unto all them also that love His appearing" (2 Tim. 4:9; 1 Peter 5:4). All in Christ constitute the "royal priesthood."
That the Christian Church is to take part with her Head in the administration of His government, and that her sons will be kings and priests under Him, is a truth so often and explicitly declared that we need not dwell upon it here. "To sit on my right hand and on my left hand, is not mine to give, but it is for them for whom it hath been prepared of my Father" (Matt. 20: 23, R. V). The Jews, as God's holy covenant people, believed themselves chosen to this high position. They were "the sons of the Kingdom" (Matt. 8 : 12) and expected to reign with the Messiah over the nations. When they rejected Him, and would not have Him to reign over them, they lost as a people their pre-eminent position: this was to be taken by His Church, His body. As made like Him in resurrection or translation, His children could be His helpers, His kings and priests.
This participation in His future rule was used by the Lord Himself as an incentive to faithfulness and diligence in the parables of the Pounds and the Talents (Luke 19: 17; Matt. 25:21). Of those abiding in Him, the branches in the Vine, the measure of judgment is not their salvation, for this is assured, but the manner in which they have served the Lord on the earth. All who have been faithful in the few things He has entrusted to them, He will make rulers over many things—"To every man according to his work" (Psa. 62: 12). To one to rule over five cities, to another to rule over ten. The highest places will be given to the worthiest. As in an earthly kingdom the king has many of various ranks taking part with him in his rule, so is it with the Lord in His Kingdom.
Part IV.—The Church, The Jews, and The Nations
During this period, we meet three classes: the Church, the Jews, and the nations. Let us consider the place of each, and, first, of the Church.
Several questions here meet us. Where dwell the Lord and His Church?
As the saints are in their resurrection bodies, which, as we have seen, though heavenly, are material, they have a local habitation, but where we are not told. But we must believe that it is upon the earth, or closely connected with the earth. St. Paul speaks of the dead in Christ, and those living at His coming as caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and adds, "and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4: 17). The Lord is returning to the earth, His saints meet Him in the air, certainly not there to remain. Does He with them return into Heaven, or come with them to the earth? The latter only is in accordance with the fact of His manhood, and with the whole course of His earlier manifestations as preparatory to His Incarnation. There has been a visible Divine Presence in earth from the beginning; first, in theophanies and symbols, and culminating in the Word made flesh, the Son of the Virgin. Here on earth He was born and lived. To it He promises to return. Here He has a great work still to do.
Will He disdain to come to the place of His birth, to the home of His childhood, to the Mount from which He ascended to His Holy City? And the glorified saints with Him are human, the earth is their home. All the associations of their lives are here; are these to be obliterated? Why be taken to some unknown world?
It has already been noted that the Lord speaks of many mansions, or abiding-places, in His Father's house, and adds: "I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also." This seems clearly to affirm a local habitation. He departs from the earth and returns to it, and here receives them to Himself. This implies that at His return, He will have a place prepared for them as distinguished from others, one corresponding to their new resurrection life. It is true we cannot tell where the dwelling-place of the Lord and His Church may be during the Kingdom period, nor the manner of their life. But there are many mysteries which we believe but cannot explain, as the ever-present ones of the union of body and spirit, and the place and manner of the life of the disembodied.
We may at this point direct our attention to the physical changes, already spoken of, that may take place in the earth before and during the Kingdom period. That the creation shall be "delivered from the bondage of corruption" we are assured by the Apostle (Rom. 8: 21), and in the Revelation we are told, "He that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new." When does this process of new material creation begin? We may believe that it began in a special sense when the Lord began His preparation for His return. When on earth, looking forward to His work in the Kingdom, He speaks of "the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory" (Matt. 19: 28).
This clearly intimates that the process of new creation begins with the Kingdom. In Acts (3: 21) mention is made of "the times of restitution [R. V., restoration] of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets." This restitution is doubtless the same as making all things new, and is a progressive work. Its first stage may begin with the resurrection, when the heavenly life is manifested on the earth (Rom. 8: 19). Mention is also made of "seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3: 19) as preparatory.
We are to note that there is distinct mention of physical changes to take place at Jerusalem at the Lord's return. "His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives . . . and [it] shall cleave in the midst thereof . . . and there shall be a very great valley. . . . All the land shall be turned as a plain" (Zech. 14). Whether changes like these extend to other regions we cannot say.
Of the details of the worship offered to the Father by the Church during the Kingdom we cannot speak, but it being offered by the Head as the High Priest, and by His glorified saints, is the highest that can be offered. That during this period there may be different forms of worship, according to the relations in which the worshippers stand to God, is seen in the fact that the present worship of unfallen angels must differ in important particulars from that of redeemed men. The worship of the Church glorified may differ, then, in various points from that of the Jews, and that of the Jews from that of the nations, yet all have the same fundamental principles, many common rites, and one High Priest. We may recall the words of the Saviour at the last Passover Supper, "I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God" (Mark 14: 25; Luke 22: 30). Christ is He through whom, as High Priest and Leader, all worshippers must approach the Father. That the nations will go up to Jerusalem to worship, and to keep certain feasts, we are told by the prophet Zechariah (Zech. 14). But there will also doubtless be places of worship in their own lands, worship fitted to their stage of religious development.
A question here naturally arises as to the intercourse between the risen and glorified saints and the Jews, and all still remaining in mortal bodies. It is difficult for us to think of meeting disembodied spirits without a feeling of repulsion, if not of fear. They seem to us to be of another order of beings, and we shrink from the thought of familiar communion. But this will not extend to those in glorified bodies. When mortality is swallowed up of life, those yet mortal, so far from being repelled, will be irresistibly attracted, for they will see in the risen and immortal ones the fulness of life, and the perfection of strength and beauty. We may thus well undertand how Mount Zion, or wherever the glorified saints may dwell, will be the place to which those still under the law of death will throng, and find in it not only holiness and peace, but also such material magnificence and splendour as befits the residence of the great King and Image of God.
We note, next, the place of the Jews in the Kingdom. This is intermediate between that of the Church and that of the nations. The first step is their restoration to their own land, or, rather, God's land (Lev. 25: 23). How this will be effected we know not in detail, but in general that it will be through wonderful revelations of the Lord in His actings toward them, awakening in them the consciousness of their covenant standing, and working faith in Him as their Messiah. That the tribal organisation will be restored seems to be clearly affirmed, thus establishing a commonwealth, rather than a monarchy with an earthly head. But on this point nothing positive can be said. As the Church has its King, Ruler over all, so the Jews may have a son of David as their prince (Ezek. 44: 3; 45: 16).
From the Church, through its ministers, the Jews learn the mind of the Lord, and make this known to the nations (Isa. 2: 2). The duties assigned to them at the first as "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation," though these are now fulfilled in their full measure in the glorified Church, may still be performed by them in a secondary degree. To the Temple at Jerusalem come the nations, probably in their representatives, to worship at the appointed times, and there is fulfilled the prophecy: "Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all peoples" (Isa. 56: 7).
Let us note, finally, the place of "the nations." This term is sometimes applied in prophecy to all, irrespective of religion; often to those which have been professedly Christian, but who, having apostatised, have joined the antichristian confederacy (Rev. 17: 17; 18: 3; Ps. 2: 1). These nations are those spoken of by the Lord: "Ye shall be hated of all the nations for My name's sake" (R. V., Matt. 24: 9). It is these nations which He will judge when He takes the Kingdom (Rev. 2: 26; Matt. 25: 34-). These constitute the greater part of the armies of the Antichrist, and will be destroyed by the Lord (Rev. 19: 15). This is the great judicial separation preparatory to the Kingdom—the gathering out of the tares (Matt. 13: 40).
But besides these apostate Christian nations, there will be at the time of the Lord's return many peoples to whom the Gospel has been partially preached, and who have some imperfect knowledge of Christ; and there will be others to whom He is fully unknown. What means God will use to bring these to the knowledge of His truth, and to faith and obedience, we cannot say; but it is evident that the gathering of the Jews to their own land, scattered as they are over all the earth, must be known to all, and will have a powerful influence in teaching the Divine purpose. And there will doubtless be added the witness of Jewish evangelists. Besides this, the coming of the Lord in His Kingdom of glory and power cannot be hidden from any. All who dwell in the earth will know that One has come who is King over all.
One of the first acts of the Lord in the setting up of the Kingdom is the binding of Satan, the prince of "this world"—or of the present unnatural order of the Cosmos,—that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years should be finished. What change this cessation of all forms of Satanic activity will make in the spiritual condition of the world may be conceived by those who know how mighty is the kingdom of darkness. But it is not the final end of his hostility. He is cast into the abyss, but not into the place of final and eternal punishment—the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 7-10), whither the Beast and false prophet have preceded him.
Why he should be loosed from the abyss, and be permitted to tempt and deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, may seem strange to us, but may, perhaps, be understood if it be taken in connection with what we are taught elsewhere of the great trial of our humanity, that God will have all its secret tendencies to evil, and its deep-seated hostility to Divine rule, brought to light. Not only was the Son in Person rejected when on earth, and His Church rejected in its ministry, but even now, after the glorious revelations in His Kingdom, there are those also who dare to compass "the camp of the saints about and the beloved city" (Rev. 20: 9)—probably the earthly Jerusalem. It is the last but vain attempt of Satan to regain his place as the prince of this world. As the brighter the material light, the deeper the darkness, so is it in the spiritual world. The clearer the manifestation of the Divine and holy, the more intense is the aversion to it on the part of those who hate the light because their deeds are evil.
How the rule of the Lord will be administered over the nations during the Kingdom, we are not told, except in general that it will be through the Jews (Isa. 2:2; Zech. 8:3). Now under the rule of the Prince of Peace, war will be unknown, national strife will cease, and race antipathies, the contests of labour and capital, of the poor and the rich, will be known no more. Everywhere social order and harmony will prevail, and the prophecy spoken to Abraham of old will be fulfilled: "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 22: 18).
But we are to keep in mind that the necessary and ordinary pursuits of life do not cease—the industrial, the commercial, the scientific, the artistic, the literary. During all the period of the Kingdom, we shall still be in the redemptive stage, and as now all lawful occupations will be carried on, but in all, the love of God will rule, every one seeking the good of others no less than his own. In brief, the injunction will be fulfilled by all: "whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." There is a false spirituality which would narrow down all the actings of men in the age to come to acts of worship. We are not so taught. The powers of man, as given him by God at his creation, are to be developed to the highest degree, and find abundant scope for their exercise in every form. The finite creation will never exhaust the Infinite.
A few words may be said as to the place of death during the Kingdom period.
We are told by the Apostle St. Paul that "the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (1 Cor. 15: 26). It is after the last judgment that death and hell are cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20: 14). It is certain, then, that there will be some in the disembodied state down to the time when the Son delivers up the Kingdom to the Father. Those whom the Lord has gathered, and made partakers of His resurrection life, and are made His helpers in the administration of His Kingdom, do not here come into consideration. The question is, then, Does death continue among the Jews after their restoration? We can scarcely doubt this. It follows as a legitimate inference that if certain ones are mentioned as being delivered from the law of death, in the first resurrection (Rev. 20: 4, 5), all others continue under that law; and to this conclusion we are led by the words of prophecy (Isa. 65: 20). Without attempting to interpret these words, there seems to be an obvious reference to patriarchal longevity, and also that death during the Kingdom period will not be as now accompanied with anguish of body and of mind. It is said that "the voice of weeping shall be no more heard . . . nor the voice of crying (Isa. 65: 19). (Reference to this longevity may be seen in Zech. 8:4; Ps. 92: 10-14.)
We conclude, then, that, to the Jewish people, life will be greatly prolonged during the Kingdom period, but the law of death will not be set aside till their part in the work of redemption is ended. If not set aside with them, much less among the nations.
It is held by distinguished scientists that there is a slow but steady change going on in the material constitution of the earth through the impartation of new energy, and some affirm that this change "is constructive." One, Professor Ramsay, suggests that through the impartation of such energy to the living cells, human life may be much prolonged. If this be accepted, we have a possible explanation of the prolonged lives of the patriarchs—the energised elements imparting new strength. These long lives leading to pride and wickedness, God so changed the relation of the elements that the same degree of energy was not given, and human life was greatly shortened. Some commentators have said that this shortening of human life is spoken of and its term given as one hundred and twenty years (Gen. 6: 3). This could be understood only as a general limit, since Abraham lived one hundred and seventyfive years, but Moses only one hundred and twenty, and Joshua one hundred and ten.
It is possible that continued scientific investigation and a profounder knowledge of material forces may go far to make credible the biblical statements which have seemed to many incredible.