Man in sweet felicity was made,
The man was turned out upon the world to earn his support by labor. The ground was cursed for his sake. It brought forth thorns and thistles, and in sorrow he must eat of it all the days of his life. Cherubims and a flaming sword prevented his return to the tree of life, which stood in the midst of the garden. The apostle John in his revelations beheld this sad scene. He saw the book of life -- tree of life -- to be sealed with seven seals, and he saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon," and he wept much. Rev.5:1-4. How sad the scene! Man was created in holiness and happiness. He dwelt in the garden of Eden and had access to the tree of life, the very source of peace. But sin entered his heart. He was driven away to be in sorrow all his days. No man in heaven nor earth could secure his return. God saw his wretchedness and that his "wickedness was great in the earth" and "it grieved him at his heart." Gen.6:5, 6. Sin swayed its scepter over the heart of man and he groaned beneath its tyrannical power, but God's mercy was not "clean gone forever." They cried unto the Lord because of the oppressors and he promised to send them a "Savior, and a great one," to deliver them. Isa.19:20. Man was encaged in the prison-house of sin, but God promised to send a deliverer "to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." Isa.61:1.
The beloved apostle John, in the vision before mentioned, wept because no man was found worthy to open the book; but one of the elders said unto him, "Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." Praise God! John in his vision saw the man fall from his pure and happy state into sin and the book of life becoming sealed. He also saw that no man in heaven nor earth was able to restore him to his original place and holiness, and it caused him to weep. But in his vision there appeared one who prevailed to open the book and "redeem us unto God out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation."
In the prophetic days of ancient Israel men who walked with God and trusted in his promises were permitted a visionary look down through the centuries to behold the dawning of a day glorious in the effulgency of its light and the greatness of its power. Even in those dim, remote days the wondrous glory of a day when the "Prince of Peace" should come was foreseen by the prophets, who break forth in beautiful strains of music, expressing their joy and admiration. Isaiah in speaking of that expected day says, "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." Isa.60:1-3.
It is a day of wonderful light. When the prophet speaks of the Gentiles coming to the light the reader begins to understand the time of the dawning. He further says, "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended." Isa.60:18-20.
The prophet by a long stretch of faith passed through the gates of Praise to within the walls of Salvation and beheld a light above the brightness of the sun and the softness of the moon. We quote these texts, and the following, to impress the reader's mind and heart with the greatness of the light and the wonders of that coming day as seen in expectation by those ancient holy men. After a while we will come to the dawning, then the noontide, then the evening of this great day and we will find the glory and the wonders to be as the prophets foresaw and described.
What can the holy seer mean by saying, "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders"? We have only to turn to the eleventh chapter, where we have this clearly explained. Let us read: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reigns. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious."
Who does not know who is referred to by the words "the Root of Jesse," whom the Gentiles shall seek, "and his rest shall be glorious"? We hear of one saying in the New Testament, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land." "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb" in the day when the Gentiles shall seek rest in the Root of Jesse. This prophecy will never have a literal fulfilment, as some erroneously teach. It only exalts the salvation of the Branch of Jesse to deliver men from the wolf and lion disposition. It is the peacefulness of Christianity. In the day the prophet is speaking of there shall be peace on the earth. Man can find deliverance from sin and obtain a peaceful rest -- not being disturbed by evil and ill dispositions.
Isaiah in again beholding this glorious rest-day discovers a way which is called the way of holiness. He says, "The unclean shall not pass over it;... no lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Isa.35:8-10. Any one can understand that a literal beast is not meant here when he speaks of a lion, but that wicked, unclean men can not walk in the way of holiness -- only the redeemed can walk there.
Earlier in this chapter he speaks of the eyes of the blind being opened, and the ears of the deaf being unstopped, and the lame being made to leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb being made to sing. We have only to read the New Testament to learn of the fulfilment of this prophecy. In that day men of unclean, ravenous, and lion-like natures shall find deliverance and be made gentle, lowly and humble -- "The wolf and the lamb shall dwell together." What a wonder and expectation must have filled the hearts of those devout men in those days of darkness and gloom, as they looked forward to that time when the blind should see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk; when there should be no more violence nor destruction nor wasting, but there should be songs of everlasting joy, and sorrow and sighing would flee away.
"In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; we have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks." Isa.26:1. In that day salvation's walls shall surround the people of God. In the time of this prophet it was stone walls that surrounded their city, but he looked forward to a time when the walls of salvation would surround the city of God. Salvation means deliverance. In that day the people of God should find a deliverance or cleansing from sin. It is the gospel day when Christ should offer a sacrifice for the whole world. The people cried unto God because of their oppressors, and he sent them a Savior, and a strong one, to deliver them. Isa.19:20.
Were we to turn to the first chapter of the gospel by Luke we would there learn who this deliverer was. There we read: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life."
By reading the whole of this chapter you will learn that this horn of salvation, this deliverer, was the child Christ Jesus. This deliverer was to appear in that day. The most simple will at once understand that the day foreseen and foretold by the holy seers was the Christian dispensation, or the day of "grace and truth."
The prophet again exclaims: "And in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord." Isa.12:1-4. "In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy." Isa.4:2, 3.
The prophet Joel in contemplation of that day of great blessings says: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim." Joel 3:18.
Zechariah in beholding this fountain exclaims: "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." Zech.13:1.
Wonderful Fountain of cleansing,
The prophet again in beholding the glory and purity of that day says: "In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD." Zech.14:20.
The prophet did foretell a day,
Another man of God is permitted to look down through the darkness and see the glory of this day of cleansing. "But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." Mal.3:2, 3. In that day there shall be a fountain of cleansing, or a fire of refining, when hearts shall be made pure as gold and silver is refined and made pure. It is the day in which Isaiah says, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Isa.1:18.
The day foretold by this holy train of Old Testament prophets was spoken of as a day of "peace and rest"; a day of "praise and salvation"; a day of "refining"; a day when a "cleansing fountain shall be opened"; a day when "scarlet stains shall be made white as snow"; a day when "the lame man shall leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing," and the deaf ears shall hear, and blind eyes be made to see; a day when the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come unto Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; a day when "the desert shall blossom as the rose"; a day when the wolf and the lamb shall dwell together; a day when the "Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious." Praise God!
That day seen so far away by those righteous men awakened songs of praise in their hearts. They were not speaking of the eternal day in the glory world; neither of a supposed millennial age, but of this present glorious dispensation of grace and salvation. It requires only two texts to clearly prove this. The first is Isa.49:8: "Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee." The second is found in 2 Cor.6:2. Paul here quotes this promise the Lord made, and then says, "Behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Again in Rom.13:12 the apostle speaks of his having arrived at that day. He says, "The night is far spent, the day is at hand, let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light." How beautiful! The Christian's armor in the "day of salvation" is one of light, the darkness is flown away. The Old Testament writer said that in that day God would send a Savior. In the New Testament it is recorded that "unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." The Savior God had promised was the Christ, and the day was now come.
All hail the glad gospel day,
By many a prophetic Old Testament text that day of wonderful light and glory was spoken of as a day when God's salvation should appear. In the second chapter of Luke it is recorded that there lived in Jerusalem a just and devout man, who knowing those prophetic sayings concerning that great day of consolation, waited for its dawning. It was revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. He came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." Simeon, as he looked upon this young child, saw the salvation the ancient prophets saw only by faith. The day of which they prophesied the Holy Spirit witnessed to his heart he should live to see, and he saw it. It was the dawning of the day of Christian power and purity, in which we shall find came to pass all the prophetic wonders of salvation. You need not look forward to some marvelous coming age in which to find a fulfilment of these prophecies, but "to-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?"
For convenience and clearness we have thought best to divide this work into three parts. Part first to consist of the revealing of Christianity as seen in the life and teaching of Christ and the teaching and lives of his followers during the first few centuries of this Christian era, which is termed the morning of the gospel day. Part second will consist of the apostolic prophecies with possibly a few Old Testament prophecies concerning an apostasy during the middle centuries, or, the noontide of the gospel day; also showing that these prophecies find an exact fulfilment in the customs and doings of the popular religious denominations of this present time. Part third will consist of the prophecies relating to the restoration of the glorious truths of Christianity, or a return of God's people to the apostolic plane of Christian faith and power and teaching in the evening of this day of salvation. With this introduction we feel confident the reader understands the plan of this work and will readily comprehend its teachings. "Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding," is my prayer.