The Gospel at the Time of the End
“Wisdom called”, and “understanding raised her voice” (Proverbs 8:1 – 11), under trees near a marketplace, on street corners, in parks near public thoroughfares and near bus transit centres of Papua New Guinea. The voice warned interested friends in PNG of an impending crisis in world affairs that would, in fulfilment of the sure word of Bible prophecy (1 Peter 1:19), transform the world in which we live forever (Isaiah 2:1 – 4).
The nature of this coming crisis is of such a magnitude that no nation or people upon the face of the earth would be left unaffected. So transforming will this crisis be for the world and all men and women upon it, that this astounding divine intervention requires nothing short of “a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time” (Daniel 12:1).
We urge our interested friends to carefully look up each of the Bible passages that we quote as the foundation of our remarks, for if what we say cannot be proved from the Holy Scriptures, then this undertaking is worse than useless.
“To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn” (no light in them, no hope of participation in the day of God’s great salvation). “You must no longer walk as Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart”.
Of the Bereans it is testified; “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Isaiah 8:20; Ephesians 4: 17 – 18; Acts 17:10 – 12).
According to Bible prophecy, at the impending crisis of the ages (Daniel 12:1-2) will witness a conflict between two powers the likes of which the world had never before seen. The two powers that will engage in this conflict of the ages are symbolised in the “sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19) as a Colossus in human form and “a stone cut out by no human hand”.
The power symbolised by the little stone strikes this image on its feet, the impact of which breaks its several parts “all together” in pieces, and then proceeds to grind them to powder (Daniel 2:32 – 35). This colossus in human form represents what the sure word of prophecy refers to as “the kingdom of men”(Daniel 4:17; 5:21) at the zenith of its development ─ a coalition of nations never before so united in history, gathered together under one head in what Scripture refers to as “the latter days” (Daniel 2:28). It stands erect in unrivalled arrogance and power; “assembled at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon” (Revelation 16:16).
Into the land of the Hebrews and specifically upon the mountains of Israel, at Jerusalem (Ezekiel 38:8 – 9; Joel 3:1 – 2, 14 – 16; Zachariah 14:1 – 5) this colossus of nations controlled by one head will be broken to pieces by the little stone power formed by “no human hand” ─ a supernatural or divine development though not understood as such by the nations gathered together for war (Revelations 16:15; Psalm 24:8 – 10; Psalm 2:8 – 12).
This little stone power formed of “no human hand” is a symbol of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 21:42 – 44) and his immortal saints, resurrected, judged and the worthy transformed into immortal beings at “the time of the end” (Matthew 22:30 – 32; Daniel 12:1 – 2) and will stand with him in victory upon Mount Zion (Revelations 14:1). This little stone power, having established itself in Jerusalem according to the sure word of prophecy (Isaiah 2:1 – 4; Micah 4:1 – 8) after the destruction of the Colossus of nations, will constitute God’s kingdom re-established (Daniel 2:44 – 45; Acts 3:19 – 21); in the land which is covenanted to Abraham and to his seed the Christ (Genesis 12:1 – 3, 7; 13:14 – 18; Galatians 3:16; Luke 13:28 – 29) and according to the everlasting covenant made to David (2 Samuel 7:12 – 16; 23:3 – 5; Luke 1:33 – 35). This “the stone that struck the image” having established itself in Jerusalem as a divine theocracy, shaking the world to its foundations by the obliteration of the most powerful national Confederacy of nations ever known upon the face of the earth, will extend its power over the nations of the world abolishing their governments, republics, monarchies and authoritarians, sweeping away the refuge of lies which constitute the world religions (Isaiah 28:16 – 17) growing until this stone which struck the image Colossus, “becomes a great mountain and fills the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35); “And the kingdom and the Dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the most high; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them” (Daniel 7:27).
The prophet Daniel in the seventh chapter, from which this final quote is taken, states “here is the end of the matter” the events outlined constitute the final outcome of the most remarkable period in the earth’s history ─ “the time of the end” during which God’s kingdom will be re-established upon the earth, and will conclude with the beginning of the millennial reign of Christ and his immortal saints over the twelve tribes of Israel regathered to the land of their fathers, their hard hearts transformed by God’s judgements, and all the nations subdued to Christ and his immortal saints rule (Jeremiah 31:10; 32:37 – 41; 33:14 – 16; Ezekiel 39:25 – 29; Zachariah 14:1 – 9; Revelation 11: 17 – 18). This time of unparalleled peace and blessing shall continue then for a thousand years, when the last enemy to be destroyed is death itself, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself is subject to God the Father in delivering the kingdom to Him, that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15: 25 – 28).
If the re-establishment of the kingdom of God upon the earth constitutes “the end of the matter” which the prophet Daniel was permitted to see by vision, what events does this same “sure word of prophecy” warn of this time’s approach that those who would aspire to rule with Christ for one thousand years as immortals may be prepared? John Thomas, an avid student of Bible prophecy, wrote in the pre-face of his work Elpis Israel in 1848,
“The future movements of Russia are notable signs of the times, because they are predicted in the Scriptures of truth. The Russian Autocracy in its plenitude, and on the verge of dissolution, is the Image of Nebuchadnezzar standing upon the Mountains of Israel, ready to be smitten by the Stone. When Russia makes its grand move for the building-up of its Image-empire then let the reader know that the end of all things, as at present constituted, is at hand. The long-expected, but stealthy, advent of the King of Israel will be on the eve of becoming a fact; and salvation will be to those who not only looked for it, but have trimmed their lamps by believing the gospel of the kingdom unto the obedience of faith, and the perfection thereof in ‘fruits meet for repentance’.” (Elpis Israel pre-face)
JOHN THOMAS and his REDISCOVERY OF BIBLE TRUTH
In 1832, a medical doctor named John Thomas was sailing from England to America when the ship floundered in a North Atlantic storm. The crisis compelled the doctor to consider his status before God Almighty: he had no particular religious conviction and no hope of life after death. Faced with such personal spiritual floundering, John Thomas vowed that if ever he survived the imminent shipwreck, he would not rest until he had discovered the religious Truth about God and made that Truth the basis and hope of his life.
God spared the doctor’s life and John Thomas kept his vow.
NINETEENTH CENTURY RELIGION IN AMERICA
Thomas came to America during a time of religious fervor characterized by confrontation and debate, periodicals and broadsheets, and many predictions concerning the Return of Christ. Controversies were fierce, but readers and audiences usually retained eager and open minds. Truth seekers were encouraged to investigate the evidence for themselves and to examine critically the arguments they heard. Many independent congregations welcomed any speaker they believed had any views or expositions worth contributing. The religious climate was perfect for a renewed interest in the true apostolic faith.
American liberty of speech and religion also provided the ideal environment for strong-minded men and women to express themselves and expect a following. Understandably, many new sects came into existence during this period, including Disciples of Christ (Campbellites), Jehovah Witnesses (Russellites), Seventh Day Adventists (Millerites), Mormons (followers of Joseph Smith), and Christian Scientists (disciples of Mary Baker Eddy). John Thomas was destined to begin another movement whose advocates would one day be called Christadelphians.
A BLANK SHEET
Although son of a minister, Thomas was never, as he expressed it, “cursed with the poison of a theological education.” His early years were spent in a private boarding school in England. He began his medical education when he was seventeen and spent the next eight years among medicine bottles, lecture rooms and dead bodies. He was totally ignorant of popular religious writings and had no intentions of enlightening himself in that area. Yet Thomas was to become one of the foremost Bible students and scripture protagonists of his day. Describing his state of Bible knowledge at the time, Thomas wrote: “Not having my mind perverted by human tradition, it took whatever impression the Word of God made upon it, like a blank sheet the impression of the printer’s type.” When the time came, Thomas was ready to learn and obey the plain teaching of scripture.