In our January 2017 paper, we presented the first part of Chapter IV of Epiphany Volume 17, The Millenium, in which Brother Johnson described the means by which Satan has kept mankind in subjection and God’s Plan for overthrowing Satan’s empire. He described the conditions that lead to World War I and World War II, which he noted was one war in two phases. We now continue his discussion:
RESULTS OF THE WORLD WAR
Thus the war had two results directly opposite to those that Satan had planned: (1) the side that he favored was defeated; and (2) his empire was weakened and debt-burdened almost to collapse. Moreover, the Lord overruled the matter to the complete frustration of Satan’s purpose of making each nation emerge from the war with the masses and the classes thoroughly united with each other, instead of their being divided against each other as they had been before the war. This purpose of Satan was frustrated by the Lord’s making known, not only the human, but also the Satanic causes of the war, particularly as these were connected with the doctrine of the Divine Right of kings, aristocrats and clergy, which doctrine and its resultant practices were the basic human causes of the war.
The making of these things known has had various results: (1) the almost complete abolition of autocracy [rule by one person with absolute power], a child of the Divine Right doctrine; (2) in some countries a large abolition, and in other countries a large limitation of aristocracy; (3) greatly decreased belief in the Divine Right of the clergy and a correspondingly immense decrease of their influence; (4) greatly increased embitterment and opposition of the radicals to what is Satan’s order of affairs; (5) greatly increased demands for more liberty from state, aristocracy and clergy; and (6) most threatening imminence of worldwide revolution.
These things have been true after both the first and second phases of the World War. The second phase is usually called World War No. II, but we believe that it is better to call it World War, Phase II, because from 1919 to 1939 there was no real peace, but merely an armed truce; for the Germans, forced to sign the Versailles treaty, threatened at the time to break it when able. Hence they from time to time repudiated part after part of it, until they repudiated it altogether. Hence that which existed between 1919 and 1939 was really a truce, not a peace, and the war of 1939-1945 was really a continuation of the war of 1914-1918.
During the interval between the two phases of the war, Satan saw that the Conservatives and the Radicals were becoming more widely separated and in danger of overthrowing his order of affairs, so he used dictatorships in an attempt to hold his empire together. But when he saw this was to no avail, he heedlessly plunged them into the second phase of the war, and invented even more horrible weapons and munitions of war.
But again it was a case of his purpose being turned aside, a case of God opposing his ruthlessness with a “so far and no farther.” The end of this second phase found the side which he favored defeated, and his empire even more debt-burdened, almost to collapse; and worse still for Satan, it found the masses and classes farther apart than before the conflict began, after having been temporarily united in some measure during the conflict. The Lord’s making known the causes of the second phase had the same six effects as mentioned above in connection with the first phase, except that they were even more accentuated than after 1914-1918. Thus in a deeper sense than most people recognize, Satan emerged from his adventure in the World War as the worst defeated sovereign of all history.
THE WORLD REVOLUTION
The World War was no usual war. From the above description it will be seen that it was a greater conflict, with larger issues involved, than mankind in general recognizes. As a matter of fact the World War is the great war of prophecy – the war that, according to the Scriptures would precede Armageddon, the war that would be the first part of the great Day of the Lord, the Day of Vengeance. In many places the Bible refers to it. The following are among the more important of these references: Joel 3:9-14; Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21,22; 1 Thess. 5:1-3.
This war, and the very year (1914) in which it was to begin, were forecast from the Bible by Pastor Russell years before it began. See the book, The Time is at Hand. According to the Bible, after an ever increasingly stormy interval, it is followed by sudden world-wide Revolution, which will overthrow the present form of Satan’s empire in state, aristocracy and religion. And, according to the Scriptures, even greater famines and pestilences than those which accompanied the World War accompany the World Revolution.
The ten European language groups (Greek, Turkish, Slavic, Magyar, Scandinavian, English, Hispanian, French, Germanic and Italian) are represented by the ten horns of the beast of Rev. 17 (comp. Zech. 8:23). The rule of the various heads of the beast has culminated in the eighth, which is one of the seven (Rev. 17:11). We believe it to be the papacy. We look for the above-mentioned ten horns to destroy this eighth head (Rev. 17:16), which we believe has already begun in part. These will increase and continue, as, according to the Scriptural delineations, the radicals, in this Revolution, attack the present order with crushing and relentless blows, under which it will collapse with but scant resistance, due to its greatly weakened condition resulting from the wounds received in the World War and its aftermath. This will show in another way what a great blunder Satan made in bringing about that war; for by greatly weakening his empire it will have prepared that empire to become an easy prey to the attacks of the radicals in the World Revolution. Events on all hands indicate that we are being rapidly swept into this great social upheaval.
Of this coming upheaval, the following are some of the Biblical descriptions, clothed in figurative language: “The battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Rev. 16:14; Isa. 13:4,5), “Armageddon” (Rev. 16:16), “a great earthquake” (Rev. 16:18; Heb. 12:26), “the fire of my [Jehovah’s] jealousy” (Zeph. 3:8; 2 Pet. 3:10,12; Mal. 4:1; Nah. 1:5), “the whirlwind” and “the storm” (Nah. 1:3,6,7), “a tempest of hail,” “a destroying storm,” and “a flood of mighty waters” (Isa. 28:2; Nah. 1:4,8), “the besom [broom] of destruction” (Isa. 14:23), “a furnace of fire” (Matt. 13:42), “a lake of fire” (Rev. 19:20), “the supper of the great God” (Rev. 19:17), and “the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Rev. 19:15).
As one reads these many terms descriptive of these same events, the conclusion is irresistible that they set forth in symbolic language an appalling calamity in the near future.
The form of government to be set up after the Revolution will, we opine, be socialistic in form. This being a part of the “present evil world,” Satan, of course, will be its invisible ruler. Forced, much against his preference, to accept such an order of affairs, he will seek to use it to further his controllership over the human family. However, the inherent impracticability of Socialism as a method of government among fallen, selfish men will be quickly demonstrated, even as the inherent impracticability of Communism as a method of government among fallen, selfish men has been quickly demonstrated in Russia by its adventure with Bolshevism; for the Scriptures seem to indicate that after this form of Socialism shall but briefly pilot the ship of State amid the storms of the social sea, Anarchy will set in, and like a devouring fire will completely destroy every vestige of Satan’s empire. More severe famines and pestilences than those accompanying the Revolution will accompany Anarchy. Fire is the most frequent Biblical term describing the anarchistic phase of the Great Tribulation.
The prophet Elijah was given a vision of the three great phases of this Trouble – war, revolution, and anarchy – by the wind, earthquake and fire of 1 Kings 19:11,12. Using Jerusalem as a figure of Christendom, the prophet Ezekiel by the term “sword” describes the War and Revolution, and by the figure of the noisome beast (a beast is opposed to law and order) fittingly describes the Anarchy of the Time of Trouble. (Ezek. 14:21) Additionally, in the same passage, he shows that famines and pestilences will play their part in these troubles, as we by observation know they played their part in the war.
Satan will, after the Anarchy, attempt but one final effort against God’s people, which will be against His fleshly Israel. One of the signs of our times as a fulfilment of prophecy has been Israel’s returning to Palestine. This has had several stages, beginning with the Berlin Congress of Nations, 1878 (Zech. 8:23), requiring Turkey to permit Israel’s return to Palestine under certain guarantees of protection.
The Balfour Declaration of 1917 greatly advanced their return. Arab opposition gave a temporary setback to their return, but in due time this obstacle was removed to such an extent that Israel has emerged as a separate government. Present world-wide conditions have influenced many wealthy Israelites to divert vast millions of treasure to their Home Land, and the land is being richly built up; and much treasure is being laid up there for safekeeping against the financial losses of Christendom. All this is in fulfilment of prophecy relating to our times. (Ezek. 36:8,12)
Satan, beholding these prosperous Israelites, and realizing that his days of mischief are about over, will, after Anarchy has destroyed the future socialistic governments, in hatred against Israel stir up the anarchistic remnants of all nations to plunder the Israelites in Palestine. These plunderers, as described in Ezek. 38 and 39, Zech. 12:1-9 and 14:1-3, will be gathered by Satan from among all nations and will sorely afflict Israel in what the Bible calls Jacob’s Trouble. (Jer. 30:1-9)
This will be a very severe trouble, according to the prophetic description given in the above citations, and will be Israel’s final chastisement. It will effectually turn them to the Lord Jesus in thorough conversion, when they, in the complete overthrow of their plunderers by the Lord Jesus, will remember that their trouble and their troublers’ overthrow were forecast to them by the Truth people. And their affliction and besetment by these anarchistic plunderers will be the last act of oppression under Satan as the god of this evil world. With that wicked effort his rulership as man’s supreme oppressor will be over, for which we thank God.
FINAL RESULTS OF EMPIRE’S OVERTHROW
Surely the immediate outlook presented above is far from pleasant; and if there were no blessings following these sad experiences, we would rather pass them over in silence. We tell them here in order to forewarn and thus forearm those who will heed the “sure word of prophecy” and “the signs of the times,” and by them apply their hearts unto wisdom. (2 Pet. 1:19; Matt. 16:3)
One may ask, How could a God of love permit these things? We answer, that for nearly 2000 years with marvelous long-suffering God has been calling upon the world to repent; but apart from a saintly few they have refused to respond, and thus have demonstrated that they will not be reformed by moral suasion. Hence God determined to permit devils and wicked leaders to bring them into great tribulation, which He designs to use as a rod of correction, that men may learn righteousness. (Isa. 26:9) As a surgeon, though inevitably hurting the patient whose broken limb he must set, performs the operation as the only means to secure the ultimate good of the patient, so God permits the Great Tribulation as the only remaining method of bringing the world to its senses, and thus of preparing it for its uplift through Christ’s Millennial Reign.
Then there is, connected with God’s permitting the Great Tribulation, another thing that shows His love even amid wrath: this tribulation will by Divine interposition break Satan’s yoke from off the neck of the race, and thus free humanity from the oppression of the worst of all tyrants. (Isa. 9:4; Psa. 72:4 – For a detailed description of Satan’s final efforts to deceive and his final destruction, see Epiphany Volume 16, pages 173-189.)
When we contemplate the fearful and remorseless havoc that Satan has wrought against and among mankind, and then learn that the Great Tribulation will result in his losing his empire and throne and in his undergoing thereafter a thousand years’ imprisonment (Rev. 20:1-3), and that consequently freedom for the race from his ruthless sway will set in, we at once see that to be freed from him it would be worthwhile to pass through twenty-five Times of Trouble.
And best of all is the third reason why God permits the Great Tribulation: it will be the means of sweeping away Satan’s empire, and thus of making way for the establishment of God’s Kingdom the world over for the blessing of mankind, living and dead, with the privileges of restoration to human perfection and Edenic bliss. To gain these blessings it would be worthwhile to pass through fifty Great Tribulations.
How glad we are that Satan, the proud, selfish and ruthless oppressor of our race, is now being laid hold on by the almighty hands of our Lord Jesus, and by them is being hurled from his throne, never again to be permitted to mount it! With this faith in heart and mind let God’s servants joyfully sing the song, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15)
Let all who reverence Him join in the refrain, “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!” (Rev. 19:6) Yea, let every one in heaven and in earth sing the jubilee song of liberty from Satan’s yoke to the earth and to the inhabitants thereof; and let every human heart cry out, “Make room! make room!” for the great Liberator, our adorable Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who with His Bride as the Seed of Abraham shall bless all the nations of the earth, and as King of kings and Lord of lords shall reign forever and forever!
QUESTIONS OF GENERAL INTEREST
Question: What will be the nature of the “liberty” into which the whole creation is to come, when the “sons of God” are manifested? (Rom. 8:19,21)
Answer: The nature of the liberty is indicated by the Apostle by his contrasting it with bondage in the same verse. The bondage was of “corruption” i.e. death, with all concomitants of pain, sickness and sorrow. For six thousand years it has proved itself a terrible bondage, one from which mankind could not escape. But a Savior came and ransomed the whole creation, the entire world of mankind, giving Himself a “corresponding price” for all; and as a result has obtained control of mankind, and the right by purchase (with His own precious blood) to open the tomb and release all men from every cord of bondage which now binds them.
By virtue of the ransom which He gave for all, “there shall be a resurrection [a lifting up to perfection] of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” (Acts 24:15) The Lord declares, “I have the keys [symbol of right, authority and power] of hell [hades – the death condition] and death.” (Rev. 1:18)
To release men from the bondage of death is to restore to original perfection. Adam was a perfect man “crowned with glory and honor” (Psa. 8:5), and in God’s sight “very good” until he sinned; because of sin he was delivered into “the bondage of corruption” according to the will and law of God. But since by His atonement sacrifice the Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), it becomes His right and privilege to save men, by liberating them from the wages of those sins, viz.: from the bondage of corruption – death.
This deliverance from corruption’s bondage was the theme and substance of Jesus’ preaching, not only as indicated by His recorded words, but as prophesied beforehand: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” (Isa. 61:1) Yes, this was Jesus’ mission and message, and it was illustrated by His miracles, by which He manifested forth His future glory – the work of healing, restoring, liberating from pain, sorrow and death, into the liberty of manhood – the liberty enjoyed by man while yet a “son of God” (Luke 3:38), before he became a sinner.
To this liberty or freedom from death and trouble, the whole creation shall again be restored – the glorious liberty common to sons of God on whatever plane of being they may be, whether sons of human nature (Luke 3:38) sons of angelic nature (Job 38:7) or sons of the divine nature (1 John 3:2; 2 Pet. 1:4). The same glorious freedom from death belongs to all the sons of God.
While the human creation shall be delivered from bondage to present death which came on account of Adam’s sin, and is to be removed because of Christ’s redemptive work, it does not follow that they shall retain their liberty. They may retain it, and from present experience will know the value of retaining it, yet they will ever be able to place themselves in bondage at their own option, but only by deliberate, willful, sin against full light and knowledge. The second or willful bondage is called the Second death, from which, deliverance is never promised.
The time for the deliverance of the world from present bondage to corruption (that which came as a result of Adam’s sin – Adamic death) is referred to by Paul. Jesus did not deliver the prisoners at the time of His first presence in the world; He merely preached deliverance to the captives and opening of prison doors. True, when reproved by the self-righteous Pharisees (zealous for the Sabbath, but ignorant of its real significance) for healing a woman on the Sabbath day, He said: “Ought not this woman, …. whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16) He did release her from the special infirmity but not from all the bondage of corruption; she was still subject to pain and death – the bondage of corruption – and the little release which Jesus granted her was only an illustration of the full and complete release which He would grant in “the times of restitution of all things” – the great antitypical seventh day or Sabbath. (Acts 3:21)
The time for this removal of the bondage of corruption from humanity, permitting them to return to the glorious perfection of Eden, is when the special class of sons selected during this Christian Age, as the “Body of Christ” has been made perfect with their head, Jesus. Then will come the manifesting of the power of those divine sons in the liberating, restoring, perfecting of the human family to the proper liberty of sons of God, secured for them by the ransom. This liberty will be fully attained by all willing to accept of it, by the end of the reign of Christ. It is the very object of His reign as promised, to thus bless all the families of the earth.
Question: With the understanding that we have – that death, not dying, is the penalty of sin, how shall we harmonize the statements that Christ gave His life as a ransom (substitute) for many (Matt. 20:28), and the statement, “I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” (John 10:18) Does not “it” in both cases refer to the same thing?
Answer: That the penalty of sin was death, is most clearly and emphatically stated – “The wages of sin is death” – “Dying, thou shalt die.” The imperfect and dying condition which we enter at our birth, is simply the process which culminates in the full penalty – death – cessation of life – extinction of being – non-existence. If death is the penalty, then when will the penalty end? There is no inherent power in us which can ever deliver us from non-existence – death. The only way which the Scriptures disclose for man’s restoration to existence is by the payment of his ransom, an equivalent price, a substitute. And this ransom was found in the Son of God who became a man – was “made flesh” [transformed from the spiritual to the human nature,] in order that He might give Himself a ransom for all.
That which Jesus laid down for our redemption was His being or existence in the condition He then possessed it – i.e. life or existence as a human being. We must not consider life (vitality) in the abstract without regard to nature the thing referred to, which He had power and commandment both to lay down and to take again. But in the sense of being or personality, the human Jesus gave Himself, His Life, His being, a ransom for all. And likewise He received life, being, or personality, in His resurrection; but it was a new being that arose of a new nature. Jesus arose a spiritual and no longer a human being; existence “it” was recovered, but not under human conditions, not human existence, for He never did and never will take back our ransom price, thank God.
It remains the equivalent price of our condemned race; and because it was laid down forever, we may live forever. It is life in the abstract sense that the pronoun “it” refers to in the text mentioned.
“If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law,” and not by a sacrifice. (Gal. 3:21) But commanding a man could never make an imperfect man capable of meeting the requirements of justice; and even if able to do so fully, there were penalties against each of us through and because of Adam’s sins which must be met, paid, settled by someone, and for each to meet them for himself, would be death – extinction. Hence the need of first a ransom, and secondly a life-giver; both of which needs are supplied to us by God in Christ Jesus our Lord. A thousand or a million years in death would not pay man’s penalty, as there is no limitation of time either mentioned or implied, in the terms of the prescribed penalty nor in any scriptural reference to it; there is no escape except through the ransom provided.
The human existence of Jesus, our ransom, our substitute, was surrendered to everlasting death; but thank God He lives as a divine being to claim and restore to its perfection that purchased by His human life – mankind.
(From Reprints 816 and 823, with minor editing.)
“BE OF GOOD CHEER”
When tempest-tossed on life’s wild sea,
And fair skies disappear,
Above the storm He calls to thee,
“Tis I, be of good cheer!”
Though Satan’s darts be fiercely hurled,
Beloved, help is near,
Trust Him who overcame the world,
And be thou of good cheer.
In tribulation’s darkest hour,
Yield not to doubt or fear,
But calmly rest in His all-power,
Who saith, “Be of good cheer.”
Press on, beloved, in the race,
The goal is very near,
Faint not, thou soon shalt see His face, –
Then, be thou of good cheer!
The date of our Lord’s Memorial is April 9, 2017, after six p.m.