At the beginning of a New Year we naturally speculate as to what may transpire during the year ahead; but perhaps it would be wise to first glance back over the old year, for the future (whether it be that of an individual or of a nation) is necessarily linked to the past.
As we look over the past year, and recollect periods of difficulty or perhaps serious misfortune, we shall, I am sure, still find many things for which to give thanks to God. And, if we take into our view the sweep of the years as far back as we can remember we shall be amazed at the way our Heavenly Father has led us. “All things,” do indeed, “work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.”
As individuals, gifted with the power of freewill, we make or mar our own destinies, and the final judgment at the bar of Divine Justice will be based on the life-long exercise of our own free will. There is no inevitable course laid out for any of us, but there is, in the foreknowledge of God, a place in His scheme of things for those “who are called according to His purpose.”
Now this “calling” should not be confused with fore-ordination or predestination; it is a calling based, not on a divine decree laying down the course each one of us must take, but rather on God’s foreknowledge of the course each of us will take, by the exercise of his own free will. During a life-time many thousands of free-will decisions must be made by every one of us; but among all these decisions there is just one that is absolutely essential if we would make “our calling and election sure,” 2 Peter 1, 10. That decision, of course, is to accept our Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour.
Now, addressing myself particularly to those who claim to be Christians, I would like to pose some pertinent questions. To be Christian; you must have accepted Christ as your Saviour, but are you convinced that He is, in very fact, the Son of God? if the One Who died on the cross was not actually the Son of God, he could certainly not have risen from the dead, and therefore, as Paul writes to the Corinthians (I Cor. 15: 17-19) “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins… Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
Now, assuming that you have no doubts as to the divinity of Christ, my next question is a dual one. Do you believe our Lord will come again to the earth? And, if so, Do you believe that He will come with a tangible, physical body? If you believe that Christ rose from the dead, you must believe also that He had a physical body, for in the 24th chapter of Luke we are told that the disciples were gathered in Jerusalem, and “Jesus stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you, But they were terrified and affrighted and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And He said unto them, Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet that it is I, myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit bath not flesh and bones as ye see me have,” And when He had thus spoken He showed them His hands and His feet. And while they yet believed not for joy and wondered, He said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb and He took it, and did eat before them.” (vs. 36.43) Now if this testimony of St. Luke be true, there is no evading the fact of Christ’s resurrection body being a tangible, physical body, Our Lord Himself said be had flesh and bones; and He also ate a meal. The only apparent change in Christ’s body seems to be that whereas it still had flesh and bones it had no blood. “A spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.” In verses 50-51 of the same chapter we read, “And He led them out as far as to Bethany and He lifted up His hands and blessed them, and it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried-up into heaven.” And in Acts 1:10-11 we read, “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven, as He went up, two met stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this, same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have been him go into heaven.” Do these words of our Lord Himself, His apostles and the angelic messengers mean anything?
Many have been led into a false understanding of these things by Modernist sophistry, or by the metaphysical nonsense that claims that Christ did not rise with a tangible body and that there is to be no resurrection of the physical body; but that, as soon as a person dies he experiences his own resurrection, and receives an ethereal body, Such teaching postulates a continual succession of individual resurrections, which must already have been going on for more than 1900 years. But in I Cor. 15:23 we read, that “Christ is the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming.” Has He come yet? If not, then neither has there been any resurrection of the dead.
To true Christians, the forward look is filled with the expectation of the return of their Lord; the resurrection of the dead, and the translation of the living. Listen to Paul, “Behold I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be rained incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” I Cor. 15;51-52.
Now let us briefly consider the backward and forward look from the standpoint of our race, Modern Israel, the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples. The links between the past and the present in this case, are the facts of history. It is by our history, fulfilling as it does, the prophecies concerning our race, that we can prove beyond possible doubt the truth of the Scriptures, and can also show that the Second Coming of our Lord is very near; and while we do not forget our Lord’s warning “Ye know not the day nor the hour when the Son of Man cometh” Matt. 25:13 – neither do we forget His words regarding the signs of the times. In Matt. 16:23 we read: “He said unto them, When it is evening ye say, It will be fair weather, for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and lowring. O, ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky, but can ye not discern the signs of the times?”
Let us take a quick look backward. Our history as a people began when 70 of Jacob’s descendants went into Egypt. Later, under a Pharaoh “who knew not God” they were treated as slaves for many years until under pressure of a series of plagues, Pharaoh let the people go. Then he changed his mind and gathered 600 chosen chariots and all the chariots of Egypt and pursued after the children of Israel. Exodus 14: 7 & 8. All that night a strong east wind blew, and raised walls of water, between which the Israelites walked safely across the Red Sea, but when the Egyptians followed, the waters fell back, and destroyed them all. Thus began the long series of events in our history when God has intervened to protect us from our enemies and to fulfil His plan for us and for the world.
Then came the formation of the twelve tribes into the Nation of Israel, the Kingdom of God on earth, over which God Himself was to be King, and through which He could reveal Himself to the peoples of the earth. To this twelve-tribed Israel nation, and to them only, God gave His Ten Commandments, His Laws, His Statutes and His Judgments, in order to enable them to fulfil the destiny — implicit in their God-given name of Israel, “Ruling with God”.
After reaching Palestine, Israel lived as a Theocracy, for about 400 years. Then they rejected God as King, and Saul was made their king. Forty years later David became king, and ten years after that, God made a covenant with him, as we read in 2 Sam. 7:10-16, “Moreover, I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more as before time…and thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever, thy throne shall be established for ever”. Four hundred years later, by the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah (33.17) God confirms this covenant saying, “For thus saith the Lord, David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel. Has this promise been fulfilled: It has, and we have a Queen of the line of David sitting on the throne of Britain, “The appointed place,” today. It is this same throne to which the angel referred when announcing to Mary the coming birth of Jesus, he said, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end”. Luke 1;32-33.
Despite the fact that all the signs in international affairs point to the nearness of the “so-called” Battle of Armageddon, we should not forget that God has clearly promised true Israel, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper”. Isa. 54:17. And neither should we forget that “The Son of Man shall send forth his angels and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend and them which do iniquity”. Matt. 13:41.
What then should be our outlook for the next year ahead? It surely could not be better expressed than in the words of Luke 21:36, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man”.