The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 84
Part V. — The Millennium
Referring again to the vision of the prophet Ezekiel, after the account of the destruction of "Gog," or Antichrist, the Wilful King, and his army, the vision proceeds to describe how the land is to be divided, the building of the Temple, the offerings, the ordinances of the priesthood, and the rights and duties of the Prince (Ezekiel, xl. to end). Here we meet with apparent difficulties, which create doubts as to whether it can possibly be taken to be the time of the Millennium, which has been pictured in so many passages of Scripture as a remarkably blessed period, during which time Satan shall be bound. The question naturally presents itself to the reader : "Shall we go back from the substance and the reality to shadows, and to things which have passed away, and have been found insufficient for salvation ?"
There are many difficulties, no doubt; but we shall endeavour to solve them if possible. And in doing this we have to remind the reader of the fact that God never did not intended to satisfy his children with shadows for realities. All the ordinances which God has provided for his children are realities; everything which conies from (rod is real, though it may be involved in outward ceremonies and representations. Whilst "faith" receives the reality of the same, the ignorant and unbelieving content themselves with the outward representations, or shadows of the substance. Even faith itself is a substance (Hebrews xi. 1), for it is only by means of the substantial aid and influence of God we are enabled to believe : "This is the work of God, that ye believe" (John xi. 29). St. Paul, in Hebrews xi., gives us a long list of heroic believers of the old dispensation, showing that they lived in a faith of substantial support; also the Psalms give much evidence of the same, as well as the similitudes in the Song of Solomon.
The Apostle Paul, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter x., verses 1 to 4, says : "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all"—men, women, and children—"baptised unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea." The cloud did not rain upon them, nor did the sea make them wet; nevertheless it was a baptism in substance, by the word of God administered to them, of which the cloud and the sea were the shadows. "And did all eat the same spiritual meat," of which the manna, produced by the dew of heaven during the night, was the shadow or outward appearance. "And did all drink the same spiritual drink, for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them : and that Rock was Christ,"—as the substance, of which the river, flowing out of the natural rock, was the shadow. It is even so with the Sacrament instituted by our Lord. There is the bread and wine as the shadow of the substance, which substance is invisible; and that invisible substance conveyed to a believer's soul is its substantial nourishment, of which a person in his natural state knows nothing; nor does his soul long for it, because his soul is not alive to God, and consequently does not long for any nourishment from Him, nor is it possible for him to comprehend it.* (For further remarks about the Sacrament, see Appendix C.)
* The written word of God is a mere shadow, for the letter is dead. And for this reason the Bible is a sealed book and a mystery to any natural mind, for it is impossible for any such to understand it, be they ever so clever and learned, and however much they may profess to know or have studied Scripture, and have preached or talked about it, as, alas, there aro too many who thus employ themselves, and blindly lead the blind to their common destruction.
The carnal mind contents itself with the various writings and preachings of his carnally-minded fellow beings; but these are only husks, upon which a soul cannot feed and live. Christ said, "He that believeth in me hath everlasting life" (John vi. 47), and "He that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life." (John v. 24.) Such passing from death unto life takes place at the moment a person believes; and only those persons can understand the Scriptures in whom such change is wrought. For such the Bible is at once alive, the book of life—the book full of life; all the letters have, as it were, become alive : and as the breath of God in him has been revived and now needs support, lest it languish again and die, therefore for this purpose has God breathed into His word the same immortal breath, of which the soul may inhale and receive life and strength. Adam and Eve plucked, unbidden, of the tree of knowledge, and brought death and wretchedness upon themselves and their posterity; but here the true believer, bidden of God, plucks of this tree of knowledge, and finds true wisdom, life, and peace. It is for him "the tree of life," the "heavenly manna "—direct from God, incorporated in the written word as the shadow; unadulterated food, suited to all the stages of his spiritual life, from childhood to manhood. It is to him the "river of water of life" flowing from the throne of God; it is "the fountain of living waters," ever springing up fresh and clear, for the quenching of his spiritual thirst. Here he sits down to a least all ready spread, with a variety of food in every page, verse, and sentence, whilst the carnal mind finds nothing else but the dead letter and an empty information.
The only substance without shadow by which God reveals himself to man is what is termed "conscience," for that is God's voice direct to man; it is the voice of God's Spirit convincing man of his sins—his guilt (John xvi. 8). He who resists that voice, and the impression it makes upon his heart, resists God in his very first attempt to draw man to himself, and thereby declares God a "liar." Thus he hardens himself against the infallible truth; for the evidence of conscience is infallible, and in the strictest corresponding terms with the written word of God. So long as a man resists that conviction of his sin. he shuts the door of his heart against Christ's knocking, and refuses to let Him in to sup with him (Rev. iii. 2.;). He nips the flower of his salvation in the bud, and cannot be saved; for there are no other means by which a person can be convinced of his sins and be brought to repentance. The reading of Scripture, or any religious writings, however powerfully they may be written, only produces beneficial effects by the impression it makes upon his heart, caused by what is called "conscience."
Let us now turn to Ezekiel's description of the millennial times, with reference to the offerings to be instituted, as described in chapters xl. to xlviii. By the foregoing remarks it will be obvious to the reader that, in substance, there is no difference in God's ordinances, or in His dealings with man, as to the old and new dispensations, however different in outward appearance they may appear. We assume, therefore, the fact that there is not nor ever has been any real difference in God's dealings with man, in substance, between the old and new dispensations, and this clearly appears in the system of offerings and ordinances of the priesthood, prophetically appointed for the millennial times; and that it is chiefly for this reason the offerings and ordinances were instituted.* We have also further to notice that the millennial institution is the winding up of both old and new dispensations; for the remnant of the Gentile Church, returned from their wilderness place of safety, will then be incorporated in the Jewish nation; which Millennial Empire will thence continue to the end of the world, even during that "little season" when the devil shall be loosed from his imprisonment, and when the heavenly priesthood shall have been withdrawn, for that priesthood will only continue during the specified thousand years.
* But, that it is not intended to re-establish the Mosaic institutions by the ordinances prophetically instituted for the Millennium is evident, from the great change in the Temple services, the sacrifices, and the feasts of its worship; though for the exact meaning and purpose of these services we shall have to wait until they actually take place. The reader may notice the following changes (1) The Paschal lamb is removed; also (2) the great Day of Atonement, (3) The Feast of Pentecost, and (4) the Feast of Trumpets. (5) There is no drink offering poured out on the sacrifice; (C) The Sabbath is to be kept henceforth on the eighth day, i.e., upon the first day of the week (Ezekiel xliii. 27). (7) Ail the sacrifices, too. are distinguished from those which had been appointed by Moses. For example (a.) The daily sacrifice (compare Num. xxviii. 4, with Ezekiel xlvi. 13); (b.) The Sabbath sacrifice XXVIII 9. with Ezekiel xlvi. 4); (c.) The monthly sacrifice (Num. xxviii. 11 with Ezekiel xlvie); (d.) The Paschal sacrifice (Num. xxviii. 18, with Ezekiel The sacrifice of the Feast of Tabernacles (Num. xxix. 12, with Ezekiel xlv. 25). The name of the city, "Jerusalem." is also changed, and from that day forward shall be called "Jehovah-shamma" "The Lord is there."
There are, however, several things mentioned in Revelation, which seem to be of importance, which we shall make a few remarks upon. It is said in chapter xx. verses 1 to 3, That Satan shall he bound a thousand years, and that he should deceive the nations no more till that period is finished. In what sense to interpret this is hard to conceive; we do not suppose that his influence will be entirely subdued, so that the inhabitants of the earth will be without sin altogether, like as Adam before he fell; still we cannot decide on that point, nor does it concern us much until it takes place. But it is of importance what is said in continuation : "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was giver, unto them : And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their forehead or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection : on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." (Rev. xx. 4—6.)
We have here, firstly, "the judgment" to consider. It does not say who they are who sit upon these thrones of judgment. But that this judgment can have no reference to the final judgment is clear, as it concerns only a few; whereas the final judgment (Rev. xx. 11, to the end) concerns the whole world; the just and the unjust shall all appear at the bar of judgment (2 Corinth, v. 10), and in which our Lord himself shall appear as the Chief Judge, who is not here mentioned at all. We take this judgment to be similar to a council, met in order to decide as to who shall be the most able and competent for the priesthood during these thousand years. Secondly, the persons who are about to be judged. These are they who firmly and manfully resisted the king's abominable worship; who having seen, heard, and gone through that great tribulation until each one's turn came to be beheaded, would he the most competent witnesses, being prepared to describe the terrible things which had taken place, such as had never been since the world began (Matt. xxiv. 21) Here, again, we have an unmistakable assurance that the image of the vile King shall be set up to be worshipped, and that his mark, in the forehead or on the hand, shall be received by all those who submit to the King's laws, and that those who resist shall be beheaded; for we now see those who resisted reaping their reward, inasmuch as they shall be the first to be raised from the dead in their glorified bodies, and live and reign with Christ a thousand years. To put a different construction upon these words would be a monstrous misinterpretation of Scripture.
It must not be forgotten that a thousand years is a long time, and the past events would speedily be forgotten by the rising generation in those happy, peaceful millennial times. To what extent the blessedness of this long period will be bestowed upon the subjects of that happy Empire is not for us to decide; one thing, however, we may take for granted—that there will be no war (Micah iv.); and, in order that the honour and praise of our Lord from time to time may be refreshed in the rising generation, persons will be required to teach the young folks, and compare the past with the present; as the elders who have passed into the new from the old dispensation, and have witnessed the ragings of Satan, will soon die out; else all these great and terrible events would soon be forgotten by those who step into their places. Considering all this, it would of course be requisite that a permanent priesthood should be established, unchangeable by dying. And particularly so, because it concerns only the subjects of that Empire—the Jews who returned to their land, and those Christians who migrated to their place of safety in the wilderness before all these terrible events took place, and therefore can know but little of what that vile King and his false prophet had carried on, for all the rest of the followers of Christ are slain.
Although there are ordinances of the priesthood described in Ezekiel, it is page 38 evident that those priests do not live a thousand years, but after a number of years pass away and new ones step in their places, who will be as ignorant of the olden times as the public in general. The priesthood spoken of here in Revelation xx. will be established to teach even the priests spoken of in Ezekiel, so that a current of teaching will be upheld during the thousand years. Still, we do not think for a moment that those priests having part in the first resurrection will be an established priesthood upon the earth; but whilst settled in heaven, in their glorified bodies as finally raised from the dead, they will occasionally revisit the earth, in appearance like unto mortals, as Moses and Elijah did at the transfiguration (Matt. xvii. 3), and as Christ appeared to his disciples at various intervals during forty days after he was risen from the dead, showing himself alive (Luke xxiv. 39), and speaking to them of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God (Acts i. 3). Thus they will teach the young as well as the old—not, however, as we teach, in order to know the Lord, for they will all know Him (Jerem. xxx. 24), but, as already stated, to teach and compare the old order of things with the new, &c., and thus give honour and praise to the Lord.
That Christ should reign on earth personally during these thousand years is altogether unlikely, as there is a human prince spoken of in Ezekiel; but that Christ may appear personally, in company with some of his raised priests at the celebration of certain feasts, is very likely.
In the foregoing pages we have shown that the Church of Christ has to pass through "the great tribulation" caused by Antichrist, the child of sin, and the great blasphemer. We have seen that one part of the Church is to be saved from destruction, and remain as a remnant; shall flee to the wilderness, where she will have a place prepared of God for the purpose of her preservation (Rev. xii. 6); and that after Antichrist, his army, and his dominion have been destroyed, and the Jews converted, this remnant will return to Palestine to be incorporated into the Jewish nation, and that henceforward both the Jewish and the Gentile Churches will become one visible flock, which has hitherto been a mystical one. We have also seen that during the great tribulation the other part of Christ's Church will be persecuted by that great king, Antichrist, the monarch of the world, for treason or rebellion against the law of the land, and beheaded by the sword; but those beheaded shall be raised again from the dead, to be priests of God and of Christ during the thousand years of the Millennial Empire, thus forming the complete Church of Christ on earth.
Here, then, a serious question presents itself to us for consideration : How are we to understand those passages of Scripture as 1 Thess. iv.. 15 to 17, where St. Paul says that the Church shall be taken up, to meet Christ when he comes in his glory ? In order to satisfy the reader on this question, we must direct his attention to the fact that, when Christ comes in his glory, he comes in the clouds, accompanied by many thousands of angels; whereas, on coming to destroy Antichrist's army, and to take him and his false prophet prisoners, to be carried to their everlasting confinement as prisoners of war, our Lord will appear as Commander-in-Chief, at the head of his heavenly army (Rev. ix. 11 to 21). Further, at his coming in his glory, Christ appears as the Judge to judge the world, which judgment cannot possibly take place before the Millennium; for the population of the world during the millennial period, and that "little season" thereafter, (Rev. xx. 3,) must be included in the judgment, as it is the universal and final judgment of the whole world, from its creation to its ultimate destruction; because we find no other mention of an universal judgment taking place where men are to be judged according to their works before the Millennium is established. The reason why the Apostles make no mention of the millennial times is clear enough—because it was not as yet revealed; God kept it secret until revealed to St. John in a vision. The other passages in Daniel and Ezekiel, &c., which we have drawn attention to, were probably not understood, and are, in fact, of themselves almost impossible to be understood until the whole was revealed, as we have it now. It is therefore quite clear to us that all those passages of Scripture which speak of the coming of Christ to judgment, and of the taking up of the saints to meet Him when coming in His glory, refer to the period after "Gog and Magog" shall have been destroyed; so that we make no mistake as to the resurrection, for it is dis- page 39 tinctly said that the rising from the dead concerns those only which are beheaded by Antichrist: and it is termed "the first resurrection" (Rev. xx. 5). signifying that noue had taken place previously, and that after that, resurrection a second one namely, a general resurrection, follows. (See Appendix B.)
When Antichrist and his dominion are destroyed, a large extent of the globe will of course have been laid waste. But we must not suppose that the whole human race outside the Millennial Empire will be destroyed. The destruction will extend only go far as to include those portions of the Empire of Antichrist of which the inhabitants have worshipped his image, and become naturalized subjects by taking his mark (Rev. xiii. 16; xiv. 8, 11). All those outside the limits of Antichrist's dominion will be spared. There will, therefore, be a remnant left, by whom the world will again be thickly populated, as during these thousand years there will be no war. "And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison" (Rev. xx. 7); and in verse 3, "and after that he must be loosed a little season."
That "little season" may be a period of one or two hundred years, during which time Satan will, doubtless, be at work as at present; and from whose temptations the millennial inhabitants will not be exempted. Further, as all the vast extent of Antichrist's dominion will have become repeopled, the inhabitants will necessarily come into close contact with those of the Millennial Empire; and "the sons of God" will once again begin to see the daughters of men that they are fair (Genesis vi. 1). They will thus become intermixed by marriage, and the sting of hatred will begin to rise, especially among that mixed race, against those who keep themselves within the bounds of the blessed Empire. Their jealousy and hatred will from time to time grow stronger, until another "Gog and Magog" shall arise, with intent to sweep the innocent ones from the face of the earth, and establish an everlasting but evil peace. They will accordingly once more, with a large host of enemies, compass "the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city" (Jerusalem); but God will make a sudden end," for "fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them." (Rev. xx. 9.)