"I Am Coming"

By James H. Brookes

Chapter 4



The word for age is usually and improperly translated world in our authorised version. The following are examples: ‘The harvest is the end of the age,” Matt. xiii. 39; “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age,” Matt. xxviii. 20; “Be not conformed to this age,” Rom. xii. 2; “The god of this age hath blinded the minds of them which believe not,” 2 Cor. iv. 4; Christ “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age,” Gal. i. 4; God “set Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come,” Eph. i. 20, 21; “The rulers of the darkness of this age,” Eph. vi, 12; “Having loved this present age,” 2 Tim. iv. 10; “Fhe powers of the age to come,” Heb. vi. 5.

Bagster’s Analytical Lexicon gives as the definition of the word, “a period of time of significant character; life; an era; an age; hence, a state of things marking an age or era; the present order of nature; the natural condition of man, the world.” It stands, of course, in contrast with the age to come, and in the New Testament the present period of time has a significant character of evil, of self-denial, sorrow, suffering, trial for the people of God, until that age to come shall burst upon their gladdened view. There is not even a hint from the first of Matthew to the last of Revelation that this significant character will be changed during the entire age in which we live, or until the second advent of Christ.

Jesus tells us that the tares and the wheat “grow together until the harvest,” and as already seen, “the harvest is the end of the age,” Matt. xiii. 30, 39. “He said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me,” Luke ix. 23. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also,” John xv. 18-20. ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation,” John xvi. 33. ‘The world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world,” John xvii. 14. Where is there an intimation in the teachings of our Lord that this state of things will be changed, and that His followers will become so numerous and victorious, they shall no longer bear the cross, nor feel the hard pressure of adverse circumstances?

But do the apostles cheer us with the hope of a better time during the present age? Nay, they remind us “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God,” Acts xiv. 22; that we are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together,” Rom. viii. 17; that “unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake,” Phil. i. 29; that “if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him,” 2 Tim. ii, 12; “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution; but evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived,” 2 Tim. iii. 12, 13; ‘and the whole world lieth in the wicked one,” 1 John v. 19. Can a line be pointed out in any of the epistles which gives promise of a day when the saints must no more through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God, when the godly are no more to suffer persecution, when the world is no more to lie in the wicked one? It may be said that the church does not suffer persecution now—but why? Alas! because the church has been converted to the world, and the world does not persecute its own. But let the church be separate from the world, according to our Lord’s command and prayer, and it would soon be seen that the offence of the cross has not ceased.

Even if it be true that the church will extend her influence, and establish institutions of learning, and uplift the race to a loftier plane of liberty and intelligence and morality by the power of Christian civilization, what sort of a millenium would it be? Out of the present population of the earth a babe is born into the world every second, nine hundred and ninety-nine times in a thousand amid the frightful agonies of a mother; and at every swing of the pendulum a human being dies, nine hundred and ninety-nine times in a thousand amid pain and suffering unutterable. It is estimated that 86,400 babes, little children, youth, persons in the midst of their brief existence, and in old age, have the life choked out of them every day by the ruffian hand of violence, or by some horrible malady, 32,000,000 being tortured and slaughtered every year; and no increase of the church can avert the dreadful ravages of physical disorder and mental distress. Nay, since the time Jesus was nailed to the cross, millions of His followers have been called to face death in its most horrible form, and to-day tens of thousands of the most saintly women are quivering in the ruffian grasp of disease, or weeping in desolate homes over the burial of all earthly joy.

Even those who argue most earnestly that Christ took our sicknesses in the same sense in which He took our sins, and who assert most confidently that sickness may be healed in answer to faith, sicken and die like the rest, and find out that during the present age “it is appointed unto men once to die,” Heb. ix. 28. Many tell us that, in answer to their faith, they are kept in perfect soundness of bodily health, but the slightest acquaintance with them shows that they are mistaken, for they always exhibit the sure marks of decay. They, too, become bald, and gray headed, and wrinkled, and infirm, and lose their teeth, and have headaches, and heartaches, and go on tottering feet to the grave, and breathe the prayer of Moses, the man of God, “Our years we pass off like a sigh. Three score and ten are the years of our life, or, if our strength endure, they may be four score years; yet at their best they are toil and emptiness; for they pass swiftly, and we fly away,” Ps. xc. 10.

When man fell, God said: “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life: thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee,” Gen. iii. 17, 18. The Holy Ghost testifies, “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now,” Rom. viii. 22, The winds moan in their grief. The waves dash with sullen roar upon the shore. The tempests howl and hurtle over the globe, carrying with them enormous destruction of life and property. The air is heavy with the germs of pestilence. Each continent, nay, each state, is an Aceldema, a field of blood, covered with human bodies slain in battle. Crime and cruelty and vice that might shame the wild beasts blacken all pages of the world’s history. The sea roars in rebellion and wrath against the wickedness of man. The earth trembles and quakes at his audacity. The soil yields a reluctant return to his unceasing toil. The lower animals wage ferocious war with one another; and look where we may, we behold confusion, disorder, and unrest, every note of nature sounding forth in the minor key, as the musicians tell us, its sad complaint.

“Six thousand years of sorrow have well nigh
Fulfilled their tardy and disastrous course
Over a sinful world; and what remains
Of this tempestuous state of human things
Is merely as the working of the sea
Before a calm that rocks itself to rest.
. . . . . The world appears
To toll the death-bell of its own decease,
And by the voice of all its elements
To preach the general doom!”

Contrast this with the time when “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more,” Isa. ii. 4; when “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,” Isa. xi. 6; when “the inhabitant shall not say I am sick,” Isa. xxxiii. 24; when “the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose,” Isa. xxxv. 1; when God shall say, “as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands; they shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble,” Isa. lxv. 22, 23. It is obvious that the present age is under “the age rulers of this darkness,” Eph. vi. 12.

But may not the glowing predictions, just quoted, be fulfilled in the gradual enlargement and extension of the church? Impossible, because of the reply our Lord gave to the inquiry of His apostles, “what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the age?” Matt. xxiv. 3. He shows that the entire interval, up to the time of His coming, will be filled with wars and rumours of wars, nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; “and their shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. All these are the beginning of travailing pangs,” which grow more and more severe, until immediately after an unparalleled tribulation, “such as was not since the beginning of the world,” they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory, Matt. xxiv. 4-30.

Impossible again, because the Holy Ghost, in correcting the error of the Thessalonians, who feared that the day of the Lord had already come, distinctly says “It will not be, except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God. Remember ye not that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know that which restraineth, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season? For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work; only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of His mouth, and bring to naught by the manifestation of His coming” or presence, as the word is always rendered when it refers to a person, 2 Thess. ii. 3-8.

The mystery of lawlessness was working in Paul’s day, only there was some power hindering or restraining its outward display. But when that hindering or restraining power, whatever it may be, is taken out of the way, what then? Shall the Church enter upon its career of peace and purity and prosperity, and the gospel lead the nations to bow to its beneficent sway? Nay, there shall be revealed the lawless one, who is to be destroyed by the appearing, as the word is always rendered elsewhere, of our Lord’s personal presence. It is evident, therefore, that between the departure and return of Christ there is no place for a spiritual millennium, or for the universal reign of righteousness.

“Thou who from Olive’s brow did’st rise
In glorious triumph to the skies,
Before the rapt disciples’ eyes—
     Lord Jesus, quickly come!
For Thy appearance all things pray,
All nature sighs at Thy delay,
Thy people cry, no longer stay,
     Lord Jesus, quickly come!

Hear Thou the whole creation’s groan,
The burdened creatures’ plaintive moan,
The cry of deserts wild and lone—
     Lord Jesus, quickly come!
See signals of distress unfurled,
By states on stormy billows hurled,
Thou Pole-star of a shipwrecked world,
     Lord Jesus, quickly come!

Hush the fierce blast of war’s alarms,
The tocsin’s toll, the clash of arms,
Incarnate Love, exert Thy charms,
     Lord Jesus, quickly come!
Walk once again upon the face
Of this sad earth’s tempestuous seas,
And still the waves, O Prince of Peace,
     Lord Jesus, quickly come!

Lo, Thy fair Bride, with garments torn,
Of her celestial radiance shorn,
Upturns her face with watching worn—
     Lord Jesus, quickly come!
Her trickling tears, her piteous cries,
Her struggles, fears, and agonies,
Appeal to Thy deep sympathies—
     Lord Jesus, quickly come!

Come, with Thy beauteous diadem,
Come, with embattled Cherubim,
Come, with the shout of Seraphim,
     Lord Jesus, quickly come!
Come, on Thy seat of radiant cloud,
Come, with the Archangel’s trumpet loud,
Come, Saviour, let the heavens be bowed,
     Lord Jesus, quickly come!”