« PreviousContinue »
Thank God, we are never left alone. Every child of God has a guardian angel commissioned by the loving Father to watch over him. Christ said:
"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven." Matt. 18: 10.
This does not mean that trials never will come, or troubles. In the midst of the trial, the angel of the Lord will stand by to strengthen and to bring help from the God of all comfort. It was in the midst of the fiery furnace that the "form of the Fourth" appeared, walking with the three Hebrew children Jesus Himself treading the fiery way with them. And when Jesus, in the days of His flesh, was sinking under the crushing burden in Gethsemane, "there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him." Luke 22:43.
Our Saviour, who knows the comforting power of angel ministry, is the Captain of the heavenly host, and has commissioned them all as ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation.
When He comes in glory for His people, Christ will have "all the holy angels with Him." As the voice of Jesus awakens His sleeping saints and they rise immortal from the opened graves, "He shall send His angels, . . . and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Matt. 24:31.
The angels who have watched over the heirs of salvation through all the ages, know where they are, and they know how to gather them, with their loved ones, to meet the Lord.
The angels who rejoiced when the Lord laid the foundations of the earth, who mourned when man fell, who have all along been working with Christ, their leader, to rescue the lost, will yet rejoice when the Lord brings home His own. What a day will that be in heaven!
THE TIME OF THE END
"THOU, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Dan. 12: 4.
Thus the words of the angel, spoken nearly twenty-five hundred years ago, announced the opening of a new era of enlightenment when the latter days should come.
"So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed." Acts 19:20.
At the end of the long period of predicted tribulation of the church the twelve hundred and sixty years of Daniel's prophecy the world entered upon this era of "the time of the end."
"They shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days . . . And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed" Dan. 11:33-35.
In practically every outline of prophecy touching this time, the events of the last days are represented as following the end of the prophetic period of tribulation. Christ's prophecy of Matthew 24 so declares. Our Saviour showed that this period of tribulation would be shortened, "for the elect's sake," and that "immediately after the tribulation of those days" the signs of the end would begin to appear.
Thus, while the full period of the twelve hundred and sixty years ended amid the scenes of the French Revolution, which gave the papal power a deadly wound in the last decade of the eighteenth century, the shortening of the days of tribulation had begun even earlier to spread increasing knowledge and enlightenment over the earth.
The Prophecy Unsealed
The angel's words to Daniel were,
"Shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Dan. 12: 4.
"The words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end." Verse 9.
This means that as the time of the end came, men would be impelled to search diligently for light in the prophetic word. Events taking place in fulfilment of the prophecy would be recognized, and with the coming of the time there would come the opening up, or unsealing, of the prophetic scriptures, with their message for men in the last days.
As the time drew near, Bible students were led more and more to search the word of prophecy. Sir Isaac Newton, called "the greatest of philosophers," wrote of prophetic study:
"The giving ear to the prophets is a fundamental character of the true church. For God has so ordered the prophecies, that in the latter days 'the wise may understand, but the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand.' Dan. 12:9, 10."-"Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel" (London, 1733), part 1, chap. 1.
Again, this man who had delved so deeply into the laws of nature, but who bowed his heart in childlike faith to listen to the voice of Inspiration, declared his hope that the time of the end was near at hand in his day (he died in 1727). Of this prophecy of the unsealing of the book he wrote:
"Tis therefore a part of this prophecy, that it should not be understood before the last age of the world; and therefore it makes for the credit of the prophecy that it is not yet understood. But if the last age, the age of opening these things, be now approaching, as by the great successes of late interpreters it seems to be, we have more encouragement than ever to look into these things. If the general preaching of the gospel be approaching, it is to us and to our posterity that those words mainly belong: In the time of the end the wise shall understand, but none of the wicked shall understand. . . . 'Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein."""Observations on the Apocalypse" (London, 1733), chap. 1.
True to the word of the angel, the events of the ending of the twelve hundred and sixty years of papal supremacy, amid the scenes of the French Revolution, drew the attention of Bible students everywhere. It was seen that prophecy was being fulfilled before men's eyes. It gave great impetus to the study of the prophetic scriptures. The great historic prophecies began to be opened up unsealed to the understanding. An English historian of that period, John Adolphus, though writing a secular history, remarks upon this awakening interest in prophetic study:
"The downfall of the papal government [in 1798], by whatever means effected, excited perhaps less sympathy than that of any other in Europe: the errors, the oppressions, the tyranny of Rome over the whole Christian world, were remembered with bitterness; many rejoiced, through religious antipathy, in the overthrow of a church which they considered as idolatrous, though attended with the immediate triumph of infidelity; and many saw in these events the accomplishment of prophecies, and the exhibition of signs promised in the most mystical parts of the Holy Scriptures."-"History of France from 1790 to 1802" (London, 1803), Vol. II, p. 379.
From those times of fulfilling prophecy, there arose a distinct movement, reviving the teaching of the doctrine of