THE GREAT CONFLICT OF THE AGES
Our subject to-day is THE KING. No greater or more blessed subject could occupy our hearts. It will be the subject of eternity; and embraces even now all past, present, and future time.
our thoughts are to be confined to what is predicted concerning the King. It is important to notice that Prophecy is
always associated with failure. The first great prophecy was given at the Fall. There was no
provision for Prophets and no place for them, apart from failure. In all the Divine ordinances, etc., for
The word went forth in Gen. 1: 26, Let them have dominion over all the earth. This is repeated in verse 28, to emphasize the important proclamation. But this dominion was lost in the Fall; and the sentence went forth that death should for ever shut out dominion from the first man. To him it was said that he should
Return unto the ground;
For out of it wast thou taken:
For dust thou art,
And unto dust shalt thou return.
All hope henceforth is to be centered in another: the Second Man, the Last Adam: and from him the first great Prediction is given in Gen. 3: 15. It was spoken to Satan, the old Serpent:
I will put enmity between thee and the woman,
And between thy seed and her Seed.
He shall crush thy head;
But thou shalt crush His heel.
That is, He - the Son of Man, the Seed of the woman whom thou didst deceive, He shall finally cast thee into the lake of fire (Rev. 20). But, before that, thou wilt cause Him to suffer. Thou wilt affect Him in the least vital part - the most remote from the head; but He shall crush thee in the most vital part, and deal thee a blow from which thou shalt never recover!
Man has failed: and prophecy foretells that dominion in the earth - [i.e., this earth] - is given to the Son of Man. This brings us to Psalm 8., where we first have the expression. It is a Psalm that deals specially with the earth and dominion in the earth. It begins and ends with the same words:-
O Jehovah our Adonim (or Lord),* how excellent is Thy Name in all the EARTH.
* A title specially connected with dominion in the earth.
In the centre of the Psalm we have the Son of Man made a little lower than the angels (that He might taste death, as Heb. 2: 9 tells us), and be bruised as to the heel. And then we have crowning, followed by the Proclamation concerning Him:-
Thou madest Him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands;
Thou hast* put all things under His feet.
* Heb. wilt. But in Heb. 2 it is the past tense: the sufferings being over.
All that was lost in the first man is predicted of the second.
All that was lost in the first Adam is regained in the Last Adam.
But all at present is in Prediction. For we see not yet all things put under Him.
All hope is centered and wrapped up in the first great Prediction. Satan now has dominion, while the rightful dominion is in abeyance. Satan has the power of death (Heb. 2: 14). All power is delivered unto him (Luke 4: 6); the Lord Jesus calls him the Prince of this world (John 12: 31; 14: 30). The Holy Spirit calls him the Prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2: 2), and tells us of the principalities and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world, and of wicked spirits in high places (Eph. 6: 12). But the prophetic word is sure. Satans head is to be crushed. Genesis predicts his doom. The Apocalypse records its future accomplishment. Hence Satans enmity against these two books. Hence the enmity of Satans ministers who transform themselves as the ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11: 15).
They all say that these revelations in Genesis are myths. But history is against them. It is clear that Satan does not wish his head to be crushed; and it shall not be if he can help it. All his power shall be put forth to prevent the fulfilment of this great prediction.
The dragon took his stand before the woman (Rev. 12: 4), are all-significant words, and have an all-embracing application (whatever the interpretation may be).
Hence Genesis 3: 15 is the great foundation text on which the whole Bible rests. It is the great pivot text round which all turns. The faithfulness of God is at stake. The power of God is in question. Can He fulfil His own Word? Can He accomplish His own declaration? Can He bring to pass His own prediction? Can Satan succeed in preventing its fulfilment? Can he prevent the Seed of the woman - the Son of Man from coming into the world?
These are the great questions at issue. In short, the truth and faithfulness of Jehovah to His Word is the one thing that was, and is, at stake. Shall the Son of Man have dominion over all the earth? This is the subject of
THE GREAT CONFLICT.
Like a thread it runs through the whole Bible. Starting from Gen. 3: 15 (the Prediction), it runs on to the end, in the Apocalypse, where we see the victorious and glorious Man-child caught up to God and His throne, ruling all nations with a rod of iron: and Satan cast into the lake of fire.
Let us trace this thread, and note the attempts of Satan to frustrate the truth and Word of God. There are many such attempts; but each needed Divine power to thwart the malice and subtlety of Satan. Man knew nothing of what was going on. Gods own people knew nothing of it. Satans agents and instruments knew nothing of it. They had their own purposes to serve, and Satan had his. Nothing but Divine knowledge, and infinite power could secure the fulfilment of the Divine Word.
The first great attempt on the part of Satan is seen in Gen. 6.
1. THE CORRUPTION OF MANKIND. - Whatever may have been the cause, the great and solemn outcome was that all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth; and there was only one man and one family that was perfect (i.e., without blemish*), pure as to his pedigree. Gods judgment, put off till the last moment, prevented the total corruption of the human race; and destroyed the works of Satan.
* The word is used of the sacrifices.
Why should the two denials of Abrahams wife be singled out for the Divine Record when we might suppose there was so much in Abrahams life of more general interest?
Because they were both attempts of Satan to get rid of the Seed. All in Abrahams life had to do with the Seed. In thee and in thy Seed, which is Christ. (Gal. 3: 16). No sooner is Abraham called in Gen. 11. than we have
2. THE DENIAL OF SARAH. (Gen. 12: 1-16). What would have happened had Satans attempt succeeded we very well know!
But there was (verse 17) the Divine interposition. The Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abrahams wife. Satan was defeated.
3. Gen. 15: 1-3. Abrahams lament, childless. Will ELIEZER be mine heir? The Divine answer, No!
4. Gen. 16. No children. Another temptation, through Sarah, to make ISHMAEL the Seed. Oh! that Ishmael might live before thee (17: 18). No! Isaac.
5. Gen. 20. Another attempt. ANOTHER DENIAL OF SARAH, to Abimelech, king of Gerar. Another Divine interposition. God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a mans wife (verse 3). Abimelech takes credit to himself; but God says, suffered thee not (verse 6).
III JACOB AND HIS FAMILY.
Gen. 41. A MIGHTY FAMINE
was designed to destroy the whole family.
Man was helpless. Why do ye look one upon another (42: 1). But Divine foreknowledge anticipated the
deliverance, and provided for it. None
knew why Joseph was allowed to be sold into
IV THE NATION.
7. THE OPPRESSION OF THE EXODUS. - Pharaoh had
his own design in the oppression of
If it be a son, then ye shall kill him (verse
16). But God-given faith caused the two parents to
be not afraid of the kings commandment (Heb. 11: 23), and Moses was saved. When Pharaohs daughter opened the ark, she saw the
child: and, behold,
the babe wept. And she had compassion on him. In that tear lay the defeat of the enemy, the
preservation of the People, the certainty of Jehovahs Word, and the bringing
to naught all the wisdom of
God uses small things to accomplish His purposes. If we are not used, it may be because we are not small enough. No flesh shall glory in His presence; and in this mighty conflict man was helpless.
8. THE DESTRUCTION AT THE
Satans opportunity seemed to have come; for they were entangled in the land. the wilderness had shut them in (verse 3), they were encamped by the sea, and were sore afraid! (verses 9, 10.) Then came the Divine word, Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord The Lord shall fight for you (verses 13, 14).
V. THE ROYAL LINE.
the death of Jehoshaphat there seems to have been a most determined attempt on
the part of Satan. It had been made
known to David (2 Sam. 7.) that the seed of the
woman and the Royal line of
On the death of Jehoshaphat the determined assault was commenced.
9. JEHORAM (2 Chron. 21: 4) slew all his brethren.
10. The ARABIANS came (verses 16, 17 and 22: 1), and slew all his sons; and there was never a son left him, save Jehoahaz (Ahaziah), the youngest of his sons. By these significant words the Holy Spirit impresses on us the fact that the faithfulness of Jehovah rested at that time on two lines (those of Jehoram and Ahaziah).
11. Jehoram and Ahaziah die - and ATHALIAH arose and destroyed all the
seed royal of the house of
Imagine what would have happened but for this Divine interposition. The promise of God would have failed. The faithfulness of His Word would have fallen to the ground; and His counsels would have come to nought. All hung on one life; and that the life of an infant. So far had Satans designs succeeded that all depended on the life of one infant. Gods faithfulness and power to accomplish this prediction in Gen. 3: 15 were at stake. There was therefore a Divine interposition and preservation of that life.
the feelings of the godly in
The six years soon ran their course; the seventh year dawned; the king was manifested; the promise was fulfilled; and the faithfulness and power of Jehovah was vindicated.
VI. THE NATION AGAIN.
12. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE NATION. (Esther 3: 13.) -
The Enemys plans were again apparently succeeding when all arrangements were
completed for the destruction of the whole nation in
To accomplish this, the design for the destruction of the nation as a whole was made. Every preparation was complete. Haman had his own purpose to serve; and Satan had his. The decree of the king had been sealed; the laws of the Medes and Persians secured its being carried out; the posts were carrying the decree throughout the empire; and the day was fixed. The mourning was universal and great (Est. 4: 3).
But the interposition of God was at hand. A small event was used to frustrate the whole plan, and bring the counsels of the enemy to nought. On that night could not the king sleep (6: 1). That was all that was needed to accomplish the Divine purpose and reverse the letters devised by Haman (8: 5). You know the chain of events. The Chronicles were read to the king. What had been done for Mordecia? Nothing. Who is in the court? Haman had just arrived to speak with the king about the hanging of Mordecia; and all ended, as you know, in the hanging of the Jews enemy (3: 10; 7: 6; 8: 1; 9: 10-24); and, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them it was turned to the contrary (9: 1).
VII. THE SEED HIMSELF
At length the moment had come for the fulfilment of the first great prophecy, or rather for the fulfilment of the first part of it. The Seed of the woman was about to appear. The fulness of time had come (Gal. 4: 4). The two lines of Solomon and Nathan (Davids sons) met in Joseph and Mary - and the betrothal was made.
13. THE FEAR OF JOSEPH. Joseph, as you know, found himself in a great difficulty. Without doubt he was the victim of Satans assaults. He was in great fear. What to do he knew not. He did not wish to expose her (Matt. 1: 19), for that would have led to her being stoned to death (Deut. 22: 21). For they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her fathers house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die. Joseph, therefore, did not wish (for that is the meaning of the word willing here) for that result. So he determined (that is the meaning of the word minded) to put her away; i.e., to divorce her according to the law of Deut. 24: 1. No wonder Joseph was in great fear.
Imagine the consequences of either of these alternatives. Without doubt Satan was busy, taking the greatest advantage of this difficulty, in order to work out Josephs fear. so as to accomplish one of these two events. Either would have been fatal. Either would have frustrated the Word of God, and have made it of none effect. Either would have caused Jehovahs Word to fail, and effectually prevented the Seed of the woman from coming into the world.
Now, if ever, there must be direct and Divine interposition: and it must be effectual if the prophecy is to be fulfilled. And so it was. For we read that While he thought on these things, behold an Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying: Joseph, thou son of David, FEAR NOT to take unto thee Mary thy wife; etc.
Thus was the enemy defeated, and the Word of God established. The Seed of the woman - The Son of Man - was born into the world, made a little lower than the Angels that He might taste death, not merely for Israel, but for every man (without distinction). (Heb. 2: 9.)
But this led immediately to a more opened and determined attempt to slay the Seed who had been born as King of the Jews.
14. HEROD (Matt. 2: 3) was troubled, and all
the result if God had not again interfered!
None but He knew of the coming attempt on the life of the King who had
just been born. All seemed to favour the
plot: when Behold the Angel of the Lord appeareth to
Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young
child and his mother, and flee into
Thus, again, was the enemy defeated; and the promise preserved.
15. THE TEMPTATION (Matt. 4: 6) was another assault:- Cast thyself down, and the attempt to make it appear a justifiable act by (mis) quoting the Scripture. (Ps. 91: 11, 12.) It was defeated by the proclamation of His Deity:- Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God (Deut. 6: 16).
17. THE FIRST STORM ON THE
18. THE SECOND STORM (Luke 8: 22-25) was a more serious attempt, for they were in great jeopardy. This storm was after the calling of the Twelve. It was caused by a squall. It was an open boat, for it was getting filled with water. The danger was greater; so He rebuked, first the storm, and then the disciples fears.
Thus all these attempts on the Son of Man were miraculously defeated.
19. The hour, however, was drawing near when the Scripture must be fulfilled, that the heel of the Son of Man should be bruised. Nothing could be done without Divine permission. Hence we read (John 13: 26, 27) that Jesus said, in answer to the question as to who should betray Him: He it is, to whom I shall give the sop (morsel) when I have dipped it. And when He had dipped the sop Satan entered into him. There was Divine interposition here: but this time it was to permit the attempt of Satan, and not to prevent. It was so with the next and last attempt.
20. THE CROSS - At length the crisis came. The bruising of the heel was to be permitted. Even here the Enemy was not allowed to command the time or the occasion.
Mine hour is not yet come.
I lay down my life of myself.
No man taketh it from me.
They spake (on the mount of Transfiguration) of His decease WHICH HE SHOULD ACCOMPLISH.
He accomplished it Himself.
Satan doubtless thought, when he saw the Son of Man on the Cross, that now, at length, his purpose was to be accomplished.
And when the stone was rolled to the door of the Sepulchre, and the seal put upon it, and the watch set, it seemed that his object was at length attained. But. NO! Again there was the greatest of all the Divine Interpositions (Acts 13: 30). BUT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD. And now He is seated at the Right Hand of God; from henceforth expecting, till His enemies be placed as a footstool for His feet (Heb. 10: 13).
He is seated - for His work is accomplished. His heel has been bruised. He is henceforth expecting; for the time is coming to make good the first great prophecy - when He shall finally crush the head of the old serpent.
And now, as he is, so are we in the world (John 4: 17). We, too, are seated, and at rest, as to our [eternal] salvation, and our security in Him, and in His finished work. But we, too, are also henceforth expecting the King to me manifested.
Jehoshabeath, our hearts are occupied with the glorious person of the
King. Our life is hid, not in one of the chambers of an
Like Jehoiada, too, we are going forth among the people, initiating many into the blessed secret that the King is not dead: He is coming again [to lay claim to His inheritance here (Ps. 2: 8); and reign, in the midst of His enemies, during the DAY of His power, (Ps. 110: 2, 3.)]* The six years shall soon run their course. The seventh year will come, and Behold, the Kings son shall reign,
AS THE LORD HATH SAID.
[* See FOOTNOTE.]
Our faith rests on this sure word of prophecy. And while we rest with Jehoshabeath, seated in the heavenlies with the king, we are going forth; and today we witness to the faithful Word on which He has caused us to hope. The promise is, in part, fulfilled: the Seed of the woman has been born. The Son of Man has come: His heel has been bruised. So surely shall He, who, when He came as the Son of Man had not where to lay His head (Matt. 8: 20)* be seen coming in the clouds of heaven having on His head a golden crown (Rev. 14: 14).**
* The first occurrence of the title Son of Man in the New Testament.
** The last occurrence of that title.
Then shall the primal purpose of Gen. 3: 15 be fulfilled; and the faithful word of our God be established for ever and ever.
1. There are certain features of the messianic future which are very clearly reminiscent of the Edenic state: for convenience we group them under the two headings of prosperity (Am. 9: 13; Is. 4: 2; 32: 15-20; 55: 13; Ps. 72: 16) and peace (the harmony of the world of living creatures: Is. 11: 6-9; and of the world of human relations: Is. 32: 1-8). Viewing the fall in its effects purely upon this world, these were the things lost as Gods curse took effect. When the curse is reversed and Gods Man [our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ] restores all things the Edenic scene reappears. This is not merely wishful thinking, but a logical and proper extension of the doctrine of creation by a holy God. All the passages cited above concern the messianic King and the nature of His rule and [millennial] kingdom. Here is the real recapitulation of the first man, for he had dominion over the rest of created things (Gn. 1: 28, 2: 19, 20), but fell when he allowed his dominion to be usurped (cf. Gn. 3: 13). Dominion will be restored in the Messiah. (The New Bible Dictionary, pp. 812.)
The promise of God to Abraham, that in him and his descendants all the world
was to be blessed (Gen. 12: 1-3, 15: 1f.). created the
expectancy of a
The conviction grew that the Kingdom of God, in which the Abrahamic covenant would be consummated, would be a kingdom like that of David, and its ruler would be a son of David, a king like David, only greater (Isa. 9: 2-7; Jer. 23: 5-8; Ezek. 34: 20-31; cf. Ps. 80: 3, 19-37, 132: 1-18).
If the promise of Abraham were to be fulfilled, someone must deliver the people of God from their enemies. Hence the important meaning of the word save in the O.T. notably in the Psalms (28: 9, 69: 35, 72: 13f., 106: 47), and in Isaiah (25: 9, 33: 22, 35: 4, 37: 20, 63: 1-5; cf. Jer 42: 11). Often the salvation or deliverance desired and promised was from enemies, especially from threatening world powers. A person who could thus save or deliver would be a king indeed. Sometimes only God Himself would suffice; otherwise it must be the anointed one of God, a veritable Messiah. Ps. 72 is believed by many to express the sentiments of the group that supported the reformations of the young King Josiah (2 Kings 22: 1 23: 25); but in due time the psalm was used and cherished, as it still is, for its Messianic significance
his [Jesus the Christs] address
in the synagogue at
Howbeit that which ye have, hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and he that keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give authority over the nations: and he shall rule them with a
rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to shivers; as I also have received
of my Father: (Rev. 25-27, R.V.). He that overcometh, I will give to him
to sit down with me IN MY THRONE, as I also overcame,
and sat down with my Father in his throne.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what
the Spirit saith to the
(Rev. 3: 21, 22, R.V.).