"THIS, also, do, being aware of the era, that it is already the hour for us to be roused out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believe. The night progresses, yet the day is near" (Rom.13:11,12).
It has been a long night. Generations have flickered and gone, one upon another with their dreams and schemes, each with their vanities and selfishness paying scant attention to that which has been and what was yet to be. There has been much despair and tragedy, but always, like a golden thread linking the years, there has been an indefinable persuasion that there was purpose and meaning to life. It could not merely be aimless or accidental: The children's tales, the trusting, wide-eyed wonder, the insatiable hunger which was nurtured in lives of drab monotony, in lives of repetitive tasks, in seemingly endless days of pain. How strange, but reassurring, that there has never been complete surrender or capitulation; never a wholesale yielding to the adversary's insidious whispering snare of, "Futility! Futility!" Oh, how blessed is the Guardian Who has sustained humanity!
ALL IS OF GOD
How the elect have loved God's precious Word! Despite evil opposition and suppression, this same Word has been wonderfully preserved. Within the pages our aching hearts have rejoiced in rich horizons, new endeavors, and a love which far surpassed our wildest dreams. Especially important were the secrets which have pointed us to the stars and have directed our thoughts and values away from transient materialism to the incredible promise of immortality. How we searched the riches of this Word for it brought new meaning and purpose to all of creation. What a precious release from the sad humility of grievous insignificance and corruption. Now we see it is not humanity for the stars, but rather the stars, indeed, the whole universe for man in Christ.
There is a glow in the sky which heralds the approach of morning. The shadows loom heavy, and the change is so slight that only a few have noticed the transition. For these there is a stir of excitement, a sense of imminence. They can hardly withhold the wonder of their anticipation, but few listen or care. On the contrary, the grey of this dawning seems but to disclose the world's forlorn excesses, the stale decay of misery and failure. Even to these who perceive the consummation it is a time of much impatience. They fully understand that ultimately all will learn the wise provision of our loving Father. Without a single exception, all will eventually rejoice, but now, in their humility, they are yet a part of this world's loneliness and fear.
Initially, we could scarce contain ourselves, and eagerly we proclaimed the glorious news of conciliation. These happy tidings were ruthlessly opposed, and over the years the persecution has become more subtle and deceptive, but there is consolation: "We are thanking the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, always praying concerning you, on hearing of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints, because of the expectation reserved for you in the heavens..." (Col.1:3-5).
How foolishly mankind has venerated that which was feared. What depths were plumbed in contriving to placate the mighty and elementary forces of nature, not realizing that these same forces do but serve His directing! Little wonder that our Lord marvelled at the faith of the centurion (Matt.8:10). Hungrily persisting, each new religion has borne the same weary hallmarks of mystery and deception. All are urged to meditate, contemplate, and even procrastinate! In the failures (for there was no permanence), it has always been the same. Even now in these last days, humanism is striving to deify the creature with the trappings of "free will" and self-determination. All this was planned. Opposing God's will through inbuilt stubbornness, all unwittingly fulfill His intention. Knowing nothing of the purpose of conflict; unable to perceive that loving obedience is impossible without the essential contrast of offense, all have reacted precisely as designed. The shameful stake is still there, for naught may erase that memory, but day by day it becomes obscured in a virtual forest of deceit. Is God then frustrated? Nay, how can this be? Even the darkness of deception serves for the glowing revelation of contrasting grace.
ALL IS THROUGH GOD
Let us consider our preferment. We would remark on God's choice, for there is little to recommend us: "For you are observing your calling, brethren, that there are not many wise according to the flesh; not many powerful, not many noble, but the stupidity of the world God chooses, that He may be disgracing the wise, and the weakness of the world God chooses, that He may be disgracing the strong, and the ignoble and the contemptible things of the world God chooses, and that which is not, that He should be discarding that which is, so that no flesh at all should be boasting in God's sight" (1 Cor.1:26-29). What constrains us to reach out with such persistence? With loving devotion we attempt to mirror the graciousness of our calling. We faithfully proclaim the conciliation, though we be shunned.
Paul, who was honored with the revelation of the secret of the untraceable riches of Christ, once bade 276 souls heed his advice. These obeyed to the letter in a desperate situation, and thus all were saved from certain shipwreck and drowning off the coast of Malta (Acts 27). It may be concluded that through revelation he knew that he was set by God to appear before Ceasar, but how arresting to think that in such a panicstricken crisis he commands and is immediately obeyed. There was a similar directness in his earlier request, which reads like a demand, that he be accorded the privilege of Roman citizenship, to be tried in Rome (cf Acts 23:25). Knowing the murderous intentions of those in Jerusalem, he shrugged off any further involvement or commitment in that land.
There is no drowning for the elect in this dawning, but as stated, we are assaulted daily. In keeping with our Royal commission, our service has already begun. The first rays of the glory of our expectation are even now lighting up the skies. Our course is firmly set. Our embarkation awaits the Master's command. We are to appear before One Who is far, far mightier than Ceasar.
What of the morning and noon following this dawn? The night has been long and far spent, yet at the close of the eons it will serve as a back-cloth for the illumination of God's endless and all-embracing love. Out of the pain, the heartache, the tears and sorrow, will come that for which the hearts of all mankind have yearned. And all that has gone before will serve to help them understand; to kneel, not in abject submission, but in loving adoration. There in the glorious consummation, when all the stories, with their individual complexities, are related to the greatest love story of all at Calvary, and they are contrasted with the awe-inspiring completeness of that wondrous sacrifice, there will be no complaint, no resentment, no request for redress of grievance, but a single, universal acclamation of praise and joy!
ALL IS FOR GOD
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who blesses us with every spiritual blessing among the celestials, in Christ, according as He chooses us in Him before the disruption of the world, we to be holy and flawless in His sight, in love designating us beforehand for the place of a son for Him through Christ Jesus; in accord with the delight of His will, for the laud of the glory of His grace, which graces us in the Beloved" (Eph. 1:3-6).
It is early morning, and the restoration is impending. From every part of this globe, in a mistling wonder of glory, these few, who are surviving, and who wait to be snatched away together with those who sleep in Christ are ready, indeed, eager to raise the curtain for the commencement of the eons of the eons! When these, God's ambassadors for peace, are withdrawn, it will mark the conclusion of this day of grace, and God's indignation and judgment, so long patiently and most lovingly restrained, will be loosed. The ecclesia, this body of Christ will itself be complete and ready to serve as the complement of the One completing the all in all (Eph.1:23).
"Now to Him Who is able to establish you in accord with my evangel, and the heralding of Christ Jesus in accord with the revelation of a secret hushed in times eonian, yet manifested now and through prophetic scriptures, according to the injunction of the eonian God being made known to all nations for faith-obedience -- to the only, and wise God, through Christ Jesus, be glory for the eons of the eons. Amen!" (Rom.16:25-27).