1. The Issue for the World
May we seek to define the issues beyond the immediate end, and begin with the issues for this world and its kingdom. They are: Intervention, Dissolution, and Transformation.
God must be getting very tired of the apparently endless cycle of hopes and disappointments, new beginnings and sad frustrations, which characterize His world. The "course of the age" has been going on for a long time, and it would go on forever, only getting worse, if He did not break in and bring it to a close. He is "going" to break in - that is the message of the "stone cut without hands". The world system is not to be won over for God - that is impossible; it is to be brought to a sudden end by Divine intervention from Heaven. The thing that is being built up here on earth is NOT God's kingdom, and NEVER will be. The Lord is not asking His people to enter into an alliance with this world's kingdom to win it over for Christ on the earthly level. There is NO future that way. No, He is preparing a kingdom composed of men and women in vital association with His Christ, that is may break in from Heaven to terminate and overthrow the present order of things.
According to Nebuchadnezzar's dream the broken pieces of the image "became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them" (Daniel 2:35). This refers not only to the visible rulers but to that invisible kingdom which governs men's ways today. The visible thing of this world exercise a tremendous power for evil; men and women can make so much misery for others; but they only faintly express the whole host of wicked spirits, hidden from our view but tremendously real, who occupy every hour of the twenty-four of every day in resisting the will of God, robbing men of His blessing and seeking to turn them away from Him. That whole kingdom is going to be displaced, swept away, and chained in the abyss for a thousand years. What an issue this is for mankind, to have no more temptation from without, no more deception, no more influence for evil! A world without a tempter! What a world! Surely that is worth working for, worth praying for, worth suffering for!
While the ultimate aim of God is a new earth, it seems clear that for at least a thousand years there is to be a true expression of the kind of kingdom He desires here on this very earth which has rejected His Son. We so often feel that we want to get out of this earth, to get far away from it because it is hopeless. Well, in its present form it is; but God is not a defeatist, if we are. Our reaction from something hard or unpleasant is to want to flee it to somewhere easier; we think that it is impossible for God to work here, so we must move away elsewhere. But we cannot tell the Lord that a situation is impossible, unless it be to provoke Him to prove that it is not so to Him. The Lord was faced with a world which would not have His rule. Did He despair? Did He capitulate? No. He waited for centuries; He planned in patience; He sent His Son to die; and now He is gathering a people into resurrection union with that Son, shaping them, taking them through the fires and the lions' den if necessary, that when His moment comes this very world may be possessed as part of His own eternal kingdom. This is the kind of vision which will make us bigger men. Instead of praying or scheming to get out of our difficult situations, we gather faith to stand in them for the Lord. satan affirms that Christ cannot rule in fullness on this earth. Too often we accept this as true. But God has said that He is going to, the kingdom will come and the will of God be done on earth as it is in Heaven. How we need to be lifted out of our defeatism into the assurance of His triumph!
Then after a brief and sad interlude, we are given to expect the 'new havens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness'. Whatever follies men may commit with nuclear fission, they will never destroy God's earth. The 'elements will melt with fervent heat', but it will be when God's time comes, and when He is ready with His new heavens and new earth - then and not before!
(continued with # 3 -(2. The Issue for Christ)