A glance at 6,000 years of history, and a glimpse of ....

Lesson 6. When God Reigns

James McBride: This world is not a happy place! We're distressed by the awesome natural calamities that beset our planet, grieving over the agonies of earthquakes, famines, floods, droughts. We sorrow over the terrible results of maiming accidents, disease, bereavement. Personal tragedy strikes us all sooner or later.

And we wonder - will there be an end? Is there hope? Is there really - as goes the song - "a new world coming in the morning"?

Various "Think Tanks," the Club of Rome, a string of specialists' reports - all predict change of some kind ahead for the world and its five billion plus inhabitants. But the predicted changes are almost entirely negative. They give us little cause for hope.

Sadly, and more horrifying than foreseen by men, such prophecies are all too true. Such events will occur as certainly as the rise of tomorrow's sun. They will engulf mankind as a direct consequence of our chosen and habitual life-style.

But there are alternative - long-term - predictions!

Most of us are weary of the frustrations, pains, sorrows we face. Yet the Bible insists there's a new world coming. It's a world of peace, health, beauty, justice. Here's a glimpse of today's world - and what you can expect in the world of tomorrow.

Let's look at some of the transformations predicted for tomorrow's world: the environment perfectly in balance, disease eliminated, crime halted, politics purified, the military establishment tamed. And everywhere human minds at peace and all nations co-operating in perfect harmony.

The Works of Man

Over the six thousand years of recorded history mankind has built magnificent structures - both in bricks and mortar and socially. Some material structures have adorned the face of our planet for centuries, even millennia - apt testimony to man's in-born creative genius.

Eminent historian Arnold Toynbee writes of "...the five or six thousand years that have elapsed since the first emergence of representatives of the species of human society that we label `civilization'"
[Civilization on Trial, p.19]

"Real history only goes back to 6000 years BC" [John Glubb)

"The first rudimentary traces of man acting on his environment are barely seven thousand [years old]" [Jacques Boudet: The Great Works of Mankind, Preface]

Equally long-lived are man's social and religious structures: the military and political establishments, educational systems, half a dozen major religions - and, we could add, the criminal fraternity. But however much these social works of man may be praised (or criticized), they have all contributed to the awesome scenario we looked at earlier. These human institutions reflect mankind's debased nature. They are based on human ideas, however cleverly concocted. They mirror man's greed, his lust for naked power.

Why do the nations rage at one another? Why are there deep political divides in all nations? Why are billions educationally deprived? Why doesn't everyone have clean water to drink? Why are all people so deeply divided religiously and why hasn't "religion" solved our human problems? Why ... ?

Here's why! All these great works of mankind have been built without a vital foundation layer. All - even religion - are built on the shifting sands of human philosophy, human reasoning. But, you say, isn't that all we have? No! Most assuredly not!

For all man's efforts omit one essential ingredient - divine revelation. They leave the Creator God out of the picture!

Said Jesus: "Except you repent [i.e., turn your life around] you will all likewise perish" ... Luke 13:3, 5

The apostles Paul and Peter also warn us to learn from history ... I Corinthians 10:1-12, II Peter 3:1-8

- the earliest human family displayed the nature that plagues us to this day. Human nature doesn't change! ... Genesis 3:1-7, 4:4-10, Jeremiah 17:9

- less than seventeen centuries after man's first encounter with his Creator this nature cried out for destruction ... Genesis 6:5-7

- despite God's correction by means of a universal flood human lust for power in only two generations drove men to build Godless empires. It has since been the pattern for all human civilization ... Genesis 10:6-12

"In [Talmudic Judaism, Nimrod] personifies both rebellion against God and military might in the earth. He is described [in Scripture] as 'the first man of might on the earth'" [Marshall Pickering Bible Encyclopedia: art. Nimrod)

- recall the description of the four world empires described by Daniel ... Daniel 2:36-43

- of special interest to our time is the fourth empire, which is predicted to wield massive authority over all the earth at the close of human rule. This world empire will be led by a fierce king who is none other than a front for Satan. This end-time "Nimrod" will "speak words against the Most High", and will seek to eliminate the tiny remnant who cling to the true religion despite persecution ... Daniel 7:19-26, Revelation 13:5-10

One of our Lessons will take, you behind the scenes of the spirit world, Their activities explain much of what perplexes us!

- this remnant of godly people will have a key role in the next world empire - God's

Jesus made quite clear that the vast majority of mankind will choose the easy way in life. His real followers - that tiny remnant - will be treading a narrow and difficult path ... Matthew 7:13-14

- the succeeding empire (kingdom) will be by divine appointment. God's Kingdom will destroy every vestige of human mismanagement of the planet ... v.44, 45

After The Beginning

In 1908 an ice fragment of some 100,000 tonnes exploded above Siberia and flattened an area of 1000 square kilometers

Earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, threats of catastrophic encounters with massive asteroids - all such begin to shake our confidence that we live on a stable planet. The awesome spectacular we witnessed when a string of comets gouged earth-sized hunks from the planet Jupiter shows just how naked and vulnerable we are, protected only by a few miles of invisible atmosphere. The planets of our system testify to bombardment from space. Earth, too, has experienced asteroid impact in recent times - even during the twentieth century. And it is destined to happen again

The materials of the universe were a divine creation - created perhaps billions of years before mankind appeared. Earth became "without form and void" (Heb: tohu, bohu). But this is not how it was created "in the beginning" ...Genesis 1:1-2a. Isaiah 45:18

- prior to man's creation a catastrophic geophysical event destroyed the earth, resulting in a global flood, the debris from which shrouded our planet in impenetrable darkness ... Genesis 1: 1-4a

- God, through the Word, re-formed the earth into a planet more beautiful than we know today. In God's eyes the new creation was "very good" ... vv. 9-31, Colossians 2:16

"he did not create it a chaos [KJV in vain, Heb. tohu], he formed it to be inhabited" ...Isa. 45:18

- note that the first two "days" were mere reconstruction following the earlier destruction. They are not called "good" by God. Day three is devoted to preparation of earth and sea to receive the living creation of days four, five and six

- the pinnacle of all creation was mankind. All the elements essential to human life were created "in the beginning": man was the purpose of the material creation! The human race was created in the "image and likeness of God" - designed to care for the rest of creation, and eventually to share in the reign of God ... Genesis 1:26-27

A future lesson will discuss in detail the origins of earth and its myriad species

- our planet, unique in the solar system, was made perfectly adapted to man, and of perfect beauty. It was ecologically balanced with full provision for every need of both man and the lower orders of creation. In God's own words "it was very good" ... vv.29,30

in this Paradise God taught man the way to live in perfect harmony with his environment, and the laws which governed human health and happiness. They walked and talked with God ... Genesis 2:9, 16

- in Eden the foundation principles for harmonious human relationships were explained ... v.20-25

The "tree of life" is symbolic of immortality. It passed into the mythology of many ancient nations.

The two trees emphasize the fact that God gave Adam and Eve a Law. "Sin" is the transgression of God's Law ... I John 3:4, Romans 5:12-14, 1 Cor 15:21-22

- in the garden were both the tree of life and the tree of "the knowledge of good and evil". Adam had free access to the tree of life, but was forbidden to touch the second tree ... v.17

Paradise Lost

Man's tenure of "Eden" didn't last for long. Before many years had passed, the "Adam family" rejected the Creator's instructions and disqualified themselves from being the curators of Paradise.

Without God "in all their thoughts" it was downhill all the way for him and his posterity

The "serpent" [Heb. nachash] in Scripture and copied in ancient mythology refers to the Devil [Gk diabolos - the accuser, slanderer] His role in history will be discussed in a later lesson ... Revelation 12:9-10, Job 1:6-11, 2:1-5

Recent excavation in Israel has uncovered fossil 'snakes' - with legs!

Adam lived 930 years. Excavations have uncovered pre-flood (chalcolithic) skulls with perfect teeth - but almost worn level with the gums, by centuries of use!

- giving way to the thoughts implanted by the serpent, first to Eve and docilely followed by Adam, they forfeited their privileged position, became subject to death and by example taught his progeny to sin ... II Cor 11:3, I Tim 2:13-14

- as a result all mankind is subject to decline and death, for all of us have sinned ... Romans 5:12

- the end result, some sixteen centuries later, was the almost universal corruption of mankind and the animal kingdom to such an extent that God had to begin again with just one family, and selected animals ... Genesis 6-9, II Peter 3:1-6

Earth has been subject to a series of catastrophes - a notion only recently "rediscovered' by scientists! A worldwide flood is evident in history and in geology

- Jesus warned of a similar scenario just before his return as King of kings. Humankind will be going about their business and leisure pursuits oblivious to God and His laws - bringing swift destruction ... Matthew 24:36-44

- the book of Revelation is a step-by-step portrayal of events in the years leading to the end of human rule. The details will be the subject of a future Lesson. In sum, there will be, on an unprecedented scale: religious deception, wars, famine, disease and catastrophic natural disasters of such an extent that human populations everywhere will be decimated ... Revelation chs 6ff.

The history of ancient Israel is a lesson in how national prosperity is a reflection of obedience to God's revealed instructions.

- because of Adam's rejection of divine rule, God gave mankind a nominal "six-day week" in which to work out his own ways to implement human happiness. Where there has been success it has been when God's Laws were applied - whether knowingly or not.

Note that it is a fruitless task to try to set a date for "the end of the world", or the return of Messiah, based on the Bible chronology. This is not complete, and the "six thousand years" is schematic. The time will become obvious to those who are alert to the "signs of his coming" as given in God's Word. Skeptics be warned - we are now in "the time of the signs" ... Matthew 24 etc.

- prophetically, the "six days" are six thousand years, to be followed by a thousand year "sabbath rest" when God will reign over all mankind in the person of Jesus Christ ... Psalm 90:4, II Peter 3:8, Revelation 20:4

- as we have seen (Lesson 5), this is "the reign (or Kingdom) of God", prophesied throughout Scripture

- when Jesus contemplated the ruin of Jerusalem, he was brought to tears. His followers today, in this end of man's inept rule, will similarly weep over the open flouting of the divine laws at the highest levels of our society ... Luke 23:28-31, Ezekiel 9:4

A New Dawn

The term applied to this earthly reign of Messiah is "millennium". It means, simply, "a thousand years" and derives from the Bible teaching that Messiah's reign will last for a thousand years.

Several views about the millennium circulate. Review Lesson 5 for a summary.

However, man's mismanagement of planet Earth will end. The night of human destructiveness will close and a new day will dawn. The Bible is a record of human failure to sustain right principles for long enough to make a permanent difference. But it also looks beyond in hope - to a time of peace, prosperity, health and all that the human heart longs for. That golden era will come only when Messiah (see Lesson 3) reigns.

- Jesus asserted that he would come again. He is now in heaven where he will remain until a time of universal restoration. It's an era that was foretold time and time again by God's prophets ... John 14:3, Acts 3:21

- symbolically Jesus is "seated at the right hand of God". That is, he shares in bringing to pass the Father's plan to expand His Kingdom ... Ephesians 1:18-23

- in the physical realm Jesus by means of his awesome power sustains the universe. It was created with mankind as its purpose ... Colossians 1:16-17, Nehemiah 9:6, Ephesian 1:4-6

- spiritually, he is preparing his people for kingship, to reign with him having benign dominion over all the earth. It is the restoration of God's original purpose, and is foretold in the writings of the prophets ... Daniel 7:18, 27, Isaiah 2:2-5, Micah 4:1-3 etc

Clearing The Chaos

Man's mismanagement of the planet, together with the future consequences of it, will require a direct intervention from God to render earth once again habitable

At present growth rates it is estimated the population will increase from the current six billion to over eleven billion on the planet by 2050 A.D. [May 1998]

- one effect will be a serious depletion of earth's population ... Isaiah 24:1-6

- but it's not the "end of the world", for there are human and animal survivors! ... v.6, 11:6-8

Amos' prophecy indicates only 1 in 30 of Israel will survive their period tribulation

- also referring to this same end-time, God's own nation of Israel, for her sins, will be heavily depopulated ... Ezekiel 5:7-12, Zechariah 13:8-9, Amos 5:3

- the Kingdom of God - represented by Jesus Christ and "the saints" - will be tasked to bring about order from the chaos. They will reign over the confused and traumatized survivors of the coming attempt by Satan to rule the world.

saint refers in Scripture to any person alive or dead in whom lives the Holy Spirit of God. It is not a special category of Christian beatified for good works or special sanctity.

- Jesus Christ will fulfill his promise to return to our planet, at which time all true believers then alive will be gathered by angels to meet their returning Lord ... John 14:3, Acts 1: 11, I Thessalonians 4:13-16, Matthew 24:31

- with them will be all the saints from all ages who are dead, or will have died by that time. This is termed 'the first resurrection' ... Revelation 20:4-6

- they will rise from the dead, or be transformed. with a different, a spirit, body ... I Corinthians 15:42-44, 50-54

Request the booklet Key To The Book of Revelation for a fuller explanation of the time-setting of the last days

- this world-shaking event of the first resurrection occurs at 'the last trump(et)' - the final one of seven prophesied stages in the unfolding of end-time events ... v.52, Revelation 8:2

To be a part of the first resurrection each of us must repent - that is, change our whole approach to God and to life. Request the brochure What Do You Mean - "Repent"?

- the resurrected believers, as co-heirs with Jesus Christ, will work with him in his task of re-building civilization ... Daniel 7:18, Revelation 5:10, Romans 8:17

Satan [=adversary], also called the Devil [Gk. diabolos = accuser, slanderer] is a created angelic being whose pride and ambition led to a massive rebellion against God. A later Lesson will discuss this parallel spirit world

It's dangerous error to reject the Bible teaching that Satan is an immensely powerful creature intent on the impossible task of frustrating the plan of God. 'Satan' is not just a figurative expression for sin or human nature or evil

Satan and the demons are spirit beings originally created as angels with the power to choose. Through pride and misplaced ambition they rebelled, becoming adversaries to the work of God on earth

Use a concordance to make a word search on devil(s), Satan. Young's Analytical Concordance is ideal, as it separates the English translation into the original Hebrew or Greek

When our first parents changed allegiance from God to Satan they became subject to physical and spiritual death ... Genesis 2:17

One of the first actions of the returning Messiah will be to neutralize Satan's role in man's downfall. Although Satan cannot force us to sin, he has inserted his anti-God ideas into every aspect of human civilization. Through our institutions of government, education, military, religion, science and social activity Satan has all but succeeded in destroying true belief

- this incredibly evil being has from the beginning by lies and deceit blinded mankind to the true nature of the Creator, and to His purpose for us ... Genesis 3, Revelation 12:9, H Corinthians 4:4

- Satan, aided by his "angels" - called demons (KJV, Gk daimon) - causes illness, accuses and tempts the people of God, generates false doctrine, ensnares and opposes Christians, affects the course of nations, hinders prayers, attempts to thwart the work of God through His church. Satan has an earthly governmental seat, and has his churches

- God has permitted the presence on earth of these evil spirit entities. God allows Satan to test and to correct His people. But Jesus Christ will remove their influence over mankind at the beginning of the thousand years of his reign ... Revelation 20:1-3

- Satan and his (`fallen') angels are on earth as a consequence of their opposition to God. Their continuing influence results from man's rejection of the ways of God as outlined in the Bible. Because of Adam's and Eve's submission to the Serpent, i.e., Satan, they became subject to death. Release from his influence is possible only through submission to God through Jesus Christ ... Hebrews 2:14, 1 Corinthians 15:54-58

The Age of Gold

In prose and poetry mankind has ever longed for a golden age of peace and prosperity, free from the pain and suffering that is part of life. When Christ returns he will begin a one thousand year era of reconstruction

- the cosmic events of the last few years before his coming will bring about major positive changes to the surface of the earth

The Mount of Olives (2,684 ft) lies directly to the east of Jerusalem separated from the city by the deep Kidron Valley, which is also known as the Valley of Jehoshaphat. The Kidron is a seasonal torrent which flows south, emptying over precipices into the Dead Sea.

- the topography of the area of 'Palestine' will alter, permitting the 'healing' of the Dead Sea. The coming of Messiah will be accompanied by the east-west division of the Mount of Olives, and by a new watercourse from beneath the new Temple. It will flow east then south causing the Dead Sea to become fresh, with new agricultural and fishing industries. Another branch will flow towards the Mediterranean Sea ... Zechariah 14:1-11, Ezekiel 47:1-12

The Bible prophecies tell us that before Jesus comes there will form a union of European nations, ten of which will unite to fight against the returning Messiah

In Bible symbolism mountains and hills represent nations.

- Jesus, as King of kings, will extend his political dominion to all surviving nations ... Isaiah 11:9, Revelation 17:12-14, 19:16

- his Kingdom will be governed by the Torah - the divine Law with which man was created to be in harmony. All nations will look to Jerusalem, Messiah's headquarters, for guidance ... Isaiah 2:1-4a, Micah 4:1-3a

- the destructive forces of mankind will be disbanded and all military training will cease, resources being channelled to productive agricultural effort ... vv.3-4

- government will be in the hands of the resurrected and now immortal saints who will be guided and motivated by the Spirit of God. These have in this life been prepared for rulership. Some have already been assigned to office ... John 14:1-3, Jeremiah 30:7-9, Luke 22:28-30, Revelation 5:10, 20:6

The 'Feasts of the Lord' are listed in Leviticus 23. They are practiced today only by Jews and by the small remnant of the Church of God. Write to any of our addresses for more information on how and where you may observe these days.

- as Lord of Lords Jesus will extend his religious dominion worldwide ... Revelation 19:16

Satan, as the present 'god of this world' has deceived mankind into worshipping any way it pleases. God, however, has revealed but one way. Modern festivals, as Christmas and Easter, and the host of non-Christian forms of worship, God finds to be objectionable.

- the only form of worship permitted will be that revealed by God (JHVH) in the Scriptures. No god other than the 'God of Jacob' (as revealed in the Old and New Testaments) will be worshipped. Those who fail to submit will be made to do so by physical pressures! ... Isaiah 2:5-22, Zechariah 14:12-20, Isaiah 66:16-23

This lesson barely scrapes the surface of the wonders of what God has in store for mankind. You are urged to study every quoted source in its Bible context and to yourself search the Scriptures concerning our millennial future. If you have unresolved queries please feel free to contact us at any of our addresses.

- the one thousand years of divine rule over human beings will also see a massive reconstruction program, measures that will bring good health and prosperity for all people, harmony between man and nature. And above all, free access to the Spirit of God with the open choice for all mankind to live for ever! ... Isaiah 11, 58:12-14, 25:6-8, Joel 2:28-32

The next Bible Basics will look at the only way God invites us to worship Him. You will be amazed at how mankind has deviated from it - to our detriment.

Reprinted with permission of Church of God, UK. Email comments to: COGUK@aol.com
Editor: James McBride.
Request literature mentioned from Church of God Outreach Ministries at information@cgom.org

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