THE CLOCK OF GOD, Part 5, THE REIGN OF CHRIST

Goodnews Christian Ministry

"On him was conferred sovereignty, glory and kingship, and men of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants. His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire ever be destroyed." ---Daniel 7:14

CHAPTER 19

A Time of Trouble

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"Know this, then, and understand: from the time this message went out: 'Return and rebuild Jerusalem', to the coming of an anointed Prince, seven weeks and sixty-two weeks, with squares and ramparts restored and rebuilt,
but in a time of trouble."

(Dn.9:25)

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Since a measure of Satan's influence still remains on earth, the millennium here has not been a time of perfect peace and harmony; it has been a time of difficulty and trial -- a fact attested to by the prophet Daniel. (Dn.9:25).

John referred to this time of trouble as the 'Great Persecution' (Rv.7:14), and every Christian has had to be touched by it. But by locking Satan in the Abyss, God has held back the worst of these trials so that most people in the world have been able to repent and be saved in an atmosphere conducive to conversion.

That repentance and the salvation it brings is the rebuilding of Jerusalem that the voice of Christ initiated on earth. It is a rebuilding that has been accomplished 'living stone by living stone'. (1 Peter 2:5-6).

"Wait before you do any damage on land or at sea or to the trees, until we have put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." (Rv.7:3).

John's words show that the wrath has been held back for baptism. This 'time of waiting' which scripture tells us must occur before any damage can be done on earth defines the age of the millennium -- the age of baptism.

Satan is locked up, Jesus temporarily rules on earth, and the children of God are being searched out by the Holy Spirit and baptised into safety -- that is what the millenium is all about.

It is all about a period of time on earth when there exists in the world a political and social atmosphere conducive to repentance and faith.

In Satan's absence, the troops of God have been able to march in and take temporary command of Satan's city. Removing Babylon's pagan administration, they placed it, instead, under the martial rule of Christ.

For seventeen hundred years forces promoting God have been in control on earth. We can see this dominion mirrored in the authority of the Church and its rules of Christ-centered morality which have governed the world and its major governments for almost 2000 years.

This world belongs to Satan, so the millennium here cannot be a copy of heaven. Satan's dominion here is such that there can never be a divine utopia on earth. But for a little while the philosophy guiding worldly rulers has changed.

During this period, the children of God have been able to accomplish the rebuilding that Daniel predicted. "With squares and ramparts restored and rebuilt, but in a time of trouble." (Dn.9:25). In an atmosphere conducive to obeying Jesus, we have rebuilt Jerusalem through faith and conversion. But we have done so in a troubled world that continues to live in hostility to the Gospel.

The fact of the Great Persecution has not been changed by the millennium.

What the rule of Christ in this world has changed is the mechanics of this persecution.

Christian people have never been spared the trials that wash each of them in the blood of Christ, but for almost 1700 years, most have been spared grave physical harm during that persecution -- and in many areas, even the verbal abuse and character defamation associated with Christianity's adversaries has been significantly minimized.

The rule of Christ then, mellowed the hostility in a way that allowed the word of God to spread easily across the world -- touching every person in its path so that the spiritual restoration of Jerusalem could extend to the ends of the earth. It did not make the world obey Jesus, but it did make the world listen to Him.

The spiritual restoration associated with this spread of the Gospel has occurred as the world watched, but it has not been centered in Palestine -- it has taken place throughout Babylon in fulfillment of the prophecies (Micah 4:10)-- gathering together a world-wide restoration of God's people to spiritual unity with the Lord in the kingdom of heaven. (Heb.13:14).

During this 1700 year period of Christian rule, the world-conversion to Christ has put the Gospel above the governments, allowing all people to see the light of God as the true power that it really is.

This is precisely the message that we get when we see the images of all the mighty kings of the past bowing in homage before the cross of Jesus. During this Christian reign, the people of the earth have been allowed to see the righteousness of God for themselves, and have been free to choose to repent and convert and be saved if they want to be.

It is not in God's plan to legislate righteousness by force as far as heaven is concerned. The rule of Christ on earth did not occur to force the people to be good, but to give everyone a chance to be good -- to have the opportunity to choose whether to be good or bad.

That is why evil behavior has persisted on earth despite the conversion of much of the world to Jesus. Because faith is not given to everyone there are those who choose to be evil despite all of God's offers.

It is this fact that has given Satan the power to return at the end of the millennium and decieve the nations one more time, returning them to the paganism of the past. (Rev.20:7-8).


Night is Coming When No One Can Work

Jesus is the light of God shining on earth, and as long as He shines (as long as He is preached), the daylight remains. Emphasizing this, Jesus said "Work while you still have the day, night is coming when no one can work". (Jn.9:4).

The 'night that is coming' defines the time when Christ's reign on earth will come to an end under the onslaught of the beast. As the master architect of this 'night', Satan will re-enter the arena of the millennium and corrupt it's thinking, deceiving the hearts of those who live there by instilling in them a thirst for war and violence.

This is where Gog and Magog come into the picture. According to John, Gog and Magog are the powers destined to bring the millennium to an end. (Rv.20:7). Besieging Babylon, these eastern forces are going to swarm into the city of God and destroy the power of the holy people (Dn.12:7).

Since there can be no Gog or Magog in this world until after the millennium comes to an end, their appearance on the planet defines the completion of the 'thousand years'. (Rv.20:8). If these two are building now, the thousand years are over.

Scripture clearly shows that Gog and Magog cannot come and assemble the nations of the world for the second war until after the thousand years have ended and Satan has been released from his chains: "When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive all the nations in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, and mobilize them for war." (Rev.20:7-8).

Gog, of course, is the Rebel, and Magog his empire -- the ten-nation confederacy of the last days. The fact that these forces are stirring now is the ultimate proof that the millennium has already occurred, and that we, ourselves, are living in its final days.

Nowhere can the imminence of John's Apocalypse be better seen than in the rise of fundamentalism. The millennium was a period of great Christian triumph -- the victory of the Church in this world. As a sign of this victory, the tenure of the millenium has been marked by a liturgical 'triumphalism' in the churches.

But all the trappings of that showiness is now under attack by new Christians who are preparing themselves for the coming war. Fundamentalism is apocalyptic. It is a sign of the times.

The triumph of the Church in the world is at an end. The sixty-two weeks are over. Now come Gog and Magog. They are coming to usher in the last and final week -- the war of the end described by Daniel in his prophecy.

And because the times are now becoming austere and harsh for Christians, the Church is returning to its earliest format. The millennium is nearing a state of collapse and the last-day Christian warriors are appearing to take their place on history's stage.

As the millennium dies, the banners of triumph are all being pulled down. In their place has appeared the austerity of battle gear. But these warriors of God cannot use the weapons of men anymore than their predecessors did; they, too, must fight with the word of Jesus Christ. "He conquered the bitter plague, not by physical strength, not by force of arms; but by word he prevailed over the Punisher..." (Ws.18:22).

For the most part, God's troops in the last days will stand on the Bible and be wedded to Christ's Gospel of peace. Some, however, will take to physical arms and try to prevent the takeover by force. (Lk.22:35-38).

Duplicating the seizure of Christ in Gethsemane, then, the world will likewise take the Church itself as a criminal when the day comes for it to be hauled to disaster under the orders of the beast.

As the violent and angry pagans wrest control of the world away from the peaceful lords of the Church and return it's reins to Satan, great turmoil can be expected -- in fact, has already started.

There are many who claim today that the unfortunate Christians who get caught up in this time of wrath will be deficient, somehow, in faith -- that the true believers will all be ushered into heaven beforehand, leaving only the faithless around to endure the terrible trials of the earth's final collapse.

Those who preach this way, victimize the victims. Ignoring the poverty and catastrophe's already so prevelant in the world, they add to the travail of a wrath that has already started to fall on good and bad alike, piling guilt on top of the suffering these final Christians must endure.

And their teaching is wrong because Jesus taught that the last would be first. So the truth is just the opposite of what these preachers say. It is the greatest Christians, not the least Christians, who will come at the end and have to endure the trials of the last days.

It may be a comfort to some to envision a rapture outside of Satan's worldly influence, but it is not accurate. Victimized by poverty and violence, and listening to such philosophies, many Christians in the days ahead will be left to question their faith and to wonder where they failed God as they watch the conditions on earth deteriorate around them.

This is a sad and faulty burden to add to their load, because the true fact is, the violence and the rapture will come hand in hand. One will produce the other. If the first war against the Church martyrd so many Christians, who could think the second would martyr less?

God champions the poor and the downtrodden. He always has and He always will. "What reply will be given then to the messengers of that nation? 'God has laid the foundations of Zion, and there the poor of his people shall find refuge." (Is. 14:32).

"Because a man is poor, do not therefore cheat him, nor, at the city gate, oppress anybody in affliction; for God takes up their cause, and extorts the life of the extortioners." (Prov.22:22-23).

The presence of God will be strongest where pain and poverty are at their worst, not where they are least. That is the way it was at the beginning when the millennium started and that is how it will be when the millennium comes to an end.

Like the travail of childbirth which Jesus compared it to, the terror of the last days will be short for those Christians who have to endure it, but the bliss following it will be eternal; and contrary to the teachings of many ministers, the heavenly glory for those who had to bear these tribulations will greatly exceed that accorded to the Christian's who did not. (Mt.5:11-12).


Everything in the Old Testament was pointing to Jesus. This is especially true of the 'Day of Atonement' -- the most sacred day in the Mosaic Law. Structured as the day of God's mercy for the House of Israel, the Day of Atonement pointed to the light of Christ which was destined to shine across the earth and bring God's mercy and forgiveness to mankind.

The people of the Old Testament knew that their priests and sacrifices could not forgive sins. (Psalm 49:7-9). And that is why God sent us His Son from heaven to redeem us.

For this reason, every day that we live in Jesus we live in the 'Day of Atonement', because Jesus alone is the purification and atonement of all sin. "All flesh must come to you with all its sins; though our faults overpower us, you blot them out." (Ps.65:2-3).

Jesus could do what Yom Kippur -- the Old Testament's Day of Atonement -- could never do. Forgive our sins and give us eternal life.

The millennium, then, is the time of God's offer of reconciliation to the world, and it will last only until the world itself rejects the offer. At the conclusion of the Great Revolt, when the apostasy has reached its peak, "The people of the prince to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary." (Dn.9:26).

This attack will constitute the world's rejection of God's offer. Violating the peace treaty, this assault will destroy the reign of God, bringing to an end heaven's offer of Atonement for sin. This will usher in the wrath -- the night Jesus warned about.

This rejection will bring the millennium to an instant end, and just like the crucifixion itself, it will occur in broad daylight: "I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight." (Amos 8:9). This shows that the wrath of Satan's 'night' will come at the height of Christianity's influence in the world -- at the noon of preaching -- suddenly, at the moment when God decides that the apostasy has reached is peak.

This broad daylight will be the intense faith of the saints of God as they openly resist the Revolt and proclaim Jesus at the top of their voices, using satellites and all other forms of modern communication to preach His Gospel into the remotest areas of the darkening world.

"They lift up their voices, singing for joy; they acclaim the majesty of the Lord from the sea. Therefore in the islands of the sea they give glory to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel...from remotest earth we hear songs, 'Honor to the upright one'. But 'Enough, enough!' I say, 'Woe to the traitors who betray!' Terror, the pit, the snare for you, inhabitants of the earth..." (Is.24:14-17).

Isaiah's prophecy reveals that while the earth is being plunged into darkness in most of the rest of the world, there will still be a measure of faith in the 'islands of the sea'. Daniel has shown us that these lands lie in the west, in lands across the great ocean.

Isaiah's words demonstrate that the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ will still be shining brightly in the world when the great attack on Christianity begins. In that attack, the darkness will come all at once, the millennium coming to an end at a time when it would seem impossible to most of the world's Christians that such a thing could ever happen.

NEXT
Clock of God, Chapter 20,
"Two Resurrections"

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