Doubtless the Church is to reign over the earth, the bright witness of the Father’s love; for the world shall then know that He loves her as He loves His Son, both being displayed in the same glory (Jhn 17:22). How blessed the ministry of the Church in that day serving the gladsome earth according to the grace which has called, kept (Jude 1:24) and glorified herself on high, the Bride, the Lamb’s wife!
We shall judge the world and, angels too in that administration of the fullness of times (1Co 6:2, 3; by example and authority, as only Christ is judge—NC), when all things shall be gathered together in one in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; even in Him in whom we also thus obtained an inheritance (the inheritance of son-ship—NC).
Joint heirs with Him, we shall share all He will rule as the Exalted Man. God hath put all things under His feet. Though we do “not yet see all things put under Him” (Heb 2:8 - e.g. Satan unbound—NC), we do see Himself exalted; and when the day arrives for Him to take the dominion (Rev 20:3), it will be manifested that He is “Head over all things to the Church”; Which is His Body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all (Eph 1:22, 23).
The Old Testament prophecies, it cannot be denied, are full of earthly glory. In the New Testament, via Paul, we have the mystery of God’s will made known to us, involving the inheritance of things in heaven as well as things on earth, and the Church co-heirs with the Lord Jesus, as His Body (Eph 1:9-14). No prophets of ancient times had ever uttered such thoughts. It is not merely that such a portion was not understood; but it was not even revealed. It was kept hid in God, and is now revealed, we are told, “to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Eph 3:5).
The old prophets had spoken of times of refreshing from the presence of Jehovah, when Israel, or at least a Jewish remnant, repent and are converted (during the Millennium—NC); they had largely depicted “the times of the restitution of all things,” (Acts 3:21), when Messiah comes from the heavens which now receive Him. No doubt they foretold the rule of the heavens (Dan 4), and anticipated the joy and peace of the world under that kingdom.
But the Old Testament prophets, however inspired, never predicted, much less did any know, that Christ will have her who is His Body and spouse associated with Him, and enjoying all His love and gory in the heavenly places; though they did celebrate the time when the “land shall be married” (Isa 62:4), and Jehovah shall make Jerusalem a “praise in the earth” (Isa 62:7). The bride they sing of, in the Song of Solomon and the Psalms, is an earthly bride. Very different the “marriage of the Lamb,” of which John tells in Rev 19, as far above the espousal of the Old Testament as the heavenly glory of Christ exceeds His earthly glory, though all be perfect it its place (New Heaven and Earth as it should be—NC).
Further, be it noted, whether it be deliverance in mount Zion and Jerusalem (Joel 2), whether it be judgement of the Gentiles in the valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3), with both we find “wonders displayed in the heavens, and in the earth, blood, fire, and pillars of smoke; the sun turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come (Joe 2:30, 31).
Nothing of the kind is ever connected in Scripture with the catching up (translation—NC) of the Church (Elijah’s and Enoch’s translation was not connected to the translation of the Church—NC); whose only sign is the descent of the Lord Jesus to summon her into His presence “in the air” (1Th 4:16, 17). His descent, and the saint’s consequent rapture, are nowhere described as events which the world is to behold. To them that look for Him Christ appears, but to none else, so far as Scripture shows, until He is revealed “in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know no God and those that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2Th 1:8 - when “every eye shall see Him” (Rev 1:7—NC).
His public revelation, in order to judge, is called “the day of the Lord,” “the appearing,” etc.; and it is certain that many signs will precede that day, and His manifestation to every eye. The apostasy must be ripe, and the lawless one be without hindrance; and the great tribulation be, out of which comes the innumerable Gentile multitude of Rev 7, as well as the future unparalleled tribulation of Judah.
But this is not all. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with great power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet; and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Mat 24:29-31).
But I would not dwell further upon these points of contrast between Israel and the Church, only praying that we may remember day by day, that our place, the Church’s only right and befitting place is to wait for the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven. It is not judgments that we expect to be in; it is not “the hour of temptation” we have to dread for ourselves (Rev 3:10). Our responsibility is to wait, as a heavenly Bride, for our heavenly Bridegroom. Those who link the Church with earthly circumstances must be miserably disappointed: not so the hearts which the Spirit directs, animates and sustains in the longing cry, “Come Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20). May it be so with each of us, increasingly as the moment, unknown to us, draws nearer!
—Wm Kelly (1821-1906)
MJS daily devotional excerpt for Aug 31
“It is a wonderful moment for the believer when we by faith occupy our standing in the favor of the Father—when we know that we are received by Him in all the acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“We do not then think of ourselves, of our worthiness or unworthiness, at all. We think of the Lord Jesus—His perfections, His suitability to divine favor, His infinite acceptance with the Father—and by faith, we have access into the favor of which He is so worthy.” -Charles Andrew Coates (1862-1945) http://www.abideabove.com/hungry-heart/