The Scriptures outline a plan that will end wars and usher in a thousand years of peace. Here is that divine plan:
Since the days of the great sixth century BC world empire of ancient Babylon through to our own day, despots have dreamed of ruling the world. For Adolf Hitler it was a `thousand year Reich'. For all of them it demanded conquest. Vast resources poured into the training and deployment of an efficient killing machine.
Yet here we are - still a world in which nation states jealously guard against invasion by would-be dictators. Billions of dollars are annually expended on armaments and armies supposedly for self-defence.
`I have a dream' announced the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. It was from God, prophetic, and is as relevant today as then (Daniel 2)!
He saw a huge multi-metal statue head of gold, silver arms and torso, loins of brass and legs of iron. Each represented successive kingdoms which dominated vast swathes of the world - Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome. All were briefly victorious by force of arms.
The Roman kingdom was destined to last longest, and - represented by the European Union - is with us still, its military muscle now being flexed on the world stage. Prophecy reveals it will destructively dominate the world.
`Peace', under the rule of these empires has ever been bought at the expense of suppression of all opposition, and maintained by fear. And all have with time crumbled to dust.
Officially, the Roman Empire expired some fourteen hundred years ago. But repeatedly - just as prophesied - it has been empowered to rise again, always with accompanying bloodshed. Its coming `resurrection' is the final stage!
Few in our western world give a thought to the course of history. It just flows on, meandering aimlessly through times of relative peace and frenzied outbursts of destruction. Most are blind to the pattern that is stamped on the ages.
Kingdoms rise and wane, men rise from obscurity to notoriety. It all appears random. But the `hand of history' is God's hand. The Creator hasn't retired!
The on-going fulfillment of that sixth century prophecy recorded in the book of Daniel is evidence enough that God is acutely interested in human affairs. He is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes - and sets over them the lowest of men' (Daniel 4:17).
A Crushing Blow
Man turned his back on his Creator, chose to follow his own agenda. God wasn't included. So He has simply let us get on with that agenda. He allows us to follow our human reasoning - hence world chaos! - but continues to exert His sovereign control of events.
The great image stood on feet of iron and clay - great strength mixed with political instability. Those feet are planted in our age, at world's end. It is time for God to act!
The whole of human civilization is about to be dealt a crushing blow. All human government with its perversity, its incompetence, its ignorance is about to be overthrown by the direct intervention of our Creator. The king of Babylon in his dream saw a great rock `cut out without hands' - supernaturally crash down on the feet of the image, with its ten ruling `kings'.
Prophetically, it sweeps away all trace of human civilization and replaces it with the divine Kingdom:
In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end but it will itself endure for ever (v.44)
God hasn't left us in ignorance. His plan for the restoration of mankind to his created intent is clearly laid out in Scripture. Prophecy gives us the detail. But the broad brush-stroke of the divine plan is depicted in the pattern of `appointed times' - annual events when God meets with His people, each day significant in human history.
Since the beginning, God has set aside special days every year, outlined in Leviticus 23: "These are the Lord's appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times" (v.4). [Note that they are God's feasts, not Israel's!]
New Horizons will address each of these in due course, but of significance at this time of year is the `Festival of Tabernacles' - seven days of worship, fellowship, instruction; a joyous celebration in God's presence. [There is, added on to it, an `eighth day' which has special significance for eternity.]
In Israel, Tabernacles celebrated a harvest safely gathered in. It was also a reminder of their forty years exile before entering `the promised land'. For Christians it is symbolic of our pilgrimage through life, with its ups and downs - but always with God and His Son our Saviour ever present with us `in the pillar and the cloud'.
But there is more to Tabernacles.
The festivals depict physical events on earth. For example, a preceding festival (the Day of Trumpets) is firmly set prophetically around the time of Christ's return - coming as King of Daniel's `stone Kingdom'. We would, then, expect Tabernacles to picture a further earthly working out of the divine plan.
And that's so, for one of the first acts of the returning Messiah is the enforcement, by powerful divine sanctions, of a requirement to observe Tabernacles:
Then the survivors of all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year by year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem ...they will have no rain (Zechariah 14:16-19)
In sum, the Festival of Tabernacles has the prophetic significance of the final stage of God's dealings with human flesh before eternity. These seven days - completeness symbolize Christ's coming Kingship over all nations.
He will reign - with the resurrected Christians - over the remnant of those men and women who survive the coming world chaos, and will usher in a thousand years of peace. The prophet Micah explains:
In the last days the mountain of the Lord's Temple will be established as chief among the mountains [i.e., nations]. It will be raised above the hills and people will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, `Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths'. The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more (Micah 4:1-5).
To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.
For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Volume 5 No. 5, September/October 2001. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
Go to Literature Index Page
This URL is abcog.org/nh/plan.htm