THE COMING FORTY YEARS OF TROUBLE.
The organizing of capital against labor, the rising of the people in self defense, the overthrow of law and order, the casting down of the "thrones" and governments, and "a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation;" are all clearly foretold in Scripture as events to precede the millennial age of glory. And the signs of great events at hand are so apparent that all are impressed with the dark shadow of coming trouble.
The nations are perplexed, and are preparing for a terrible struggle; huge engines of war are being multiplied by land and sea; millions of men are under arms, and still their numbers are increased, while the people are becoming desperate and alarmed.
When the struggle begins, as soon it must, a ball will be set in motion before which "all the kingdoms of the world, that are upon the face of the earth, shall be thrown down;" and, according to Scripture, one wild scene of desolation and terror will result, [This is the baptism of "fire" through which the world is to pass, e'er it enter that long promised and much desired age of glory when nations shall "learn war no more ".]
That the millennium is to be ushered in, or preceded, by the most terrible and desolating wars this world has ever witnessed, is so clearly revealed, as to leave no room for the believer in the Bible to call it in question. Many texts might be offered in proof, but a few will suffice: "For they are spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty " (Rev. 16: 14). And in Joel 3: the restitution of Judah and Jerusalem is foretold; and it is added, "I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there, for my people. . , . Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let the men of war draw near; beat your ploughshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears; let the weak say, I am strong; . . .Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe; come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision, for the day of the Lord is near. . . . The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shall shake; but the Lord will be the hope of his people." And are the nations not prepareing for war, as never before ? Huge guns are being multiplied, some of which are capable of projecting a ton of iron through the air for miles; and other preparations of equally vast proportions; and when the roar of the conflict reaches its
highth, the heavens and the earth will indeed "shake," "but the Lord will be the hope of his people." "I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk, in my fury; and I will bring down their strength to the earth." And yet, notwithstanding these desolating judgments, the Lord will not cast off forever, for "he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." These judgments on the world, like the chastisement of his saints, are for their eventual good; and good is to result: "For my determination is, to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn the people to a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of Jehovah, to serve him with one consent" (Zeph. 3: 8).
Thus we learn that after the storm comes the sunshine. By these judgments, the people are turned to "serve the Lord with one consent.' 'And the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters do the sea."
But Scripture need not be multiplied to prove either the final conversion of the world, or that such conversion follows these desolating judgments on the nations; for prophecy clearly foretels a reign of peace, when "nations shall learn war no more." And until the battle of the great day; until the scenes are passed in which God calls upon the nations to "prepare for war," they will "learn war." "The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved; he uttered his voice, the earth melted; Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth; he maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the earth" (Ps. 46).
No one will claim that this is already accomplished, hence, it remains to be fulfilled. And certainly no one will for a moment, claim that the "desolations made in the earth," by which war is made to cease, is gospel conversion. Hence it is by these judgments and the conquest of the nations, and not by gospel conversion, that the reign of peace is to be ushered in.
At the present time the kingdoms of this world belong to the Gentiles by a God-given right, and they do not become "the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ," until the "times of the Gentiles are fulfilled;" nor does war and oppression cease till then, for Christ says, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21: 24). [Let no one mistake the "times of the Gentiles," for the "fulness of the Gentiles" (Rom. 11: 25), for they are entirely distinct; the former meaning the time during which the four Gentile kingdoms, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Grecia, and Rome, are to rule over and tread down Jerusalem; the latter, the period
which spans the gospel to the Gentiles and "blindness to Israel."] The times of the Gentiles began when the diadem was removed from the head of Zedekiah, the last prince of the house of David; and terminate only at, or during, the sounding of the seventh and last trump. And to Zedekiah it was said, "O thou profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come; take off the diadem, remove the crown; ... I will overturn, overturn, overturn it, and it shall be no more till He come whose right it is, and I will give it him" (Ezek. 21). "And the seventh angel sounded, and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ."
This interregnum in the royal line, from Zedekiah to David's great Lord and Son, is the time during which these "four great beasts " (Dan. 7:), were to tread down the whole earth. But it is almost ended, as we purpose to show; the fourth and last, or Roman empire, having passed through all its many changes except the one last death struggle, is now girding up its loins, to enter the arena of Armageddon.
The fourth empire, represented by Rome, was to pass through many changes. It was to exist first as a purely civil power. It was then to exist as an ecclesiastical power. It was to be divided into ten parts, represented by "the toes of the image" (Dan. 2), and the "horns of the beast" (Dan. 7). It was also to have "seven heads" or governments. In Rev. 12: its characteristics as a purely civil power, arc given under the symbol of "a dragon having seven heads and ten horns." In chapter 13, its leading characteristics as a compound of "church and state," are represented. In Rev. 17, its characteristics are given as a dual power, with church and state, "woman" and "beast," kept distinct.
It is a fact that the Roman empire, or civil power, while under the dominion of the papacy, although held in abeyance by the church, had a separate existence; and this dragon element, as we shall see, is maintained in the symbol to the end. The ecclesiastical element also exists to the end. And so does the body of the beast after its heads have fallen. And thus it is the "great city," [the fourth empire] is divided into "three parts" (compare Rev. 16:13, 19); a division now being consummated. I refer to the monarchical, the religious, and the republican elements of Europe, The monarchical, represents the imperial or "dargon" power; the papacy, the religions element; "the false prophet that wrought miracles" before the Roman beast (Rev. 16: 13, and 19: 20). While the International, or republican element represents "the body of the beast;" or "the peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues," on which the woman sat. And
this third of the empire, when fully developed, is to be a headless monster, or the "beast," after its last "head" is fallen (Rev. 17: 11); just what the Commune, or Internationals profess to be.