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foundations of this second world were laid in Eden, when God planted a garden there, and "made to grow in it every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil; . . . and the Lord God took the man whom he had formed and put him in the garden of Eden, to dress it and to keep it; and the Lord God commanded the man saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest of it, thou shalt surely die.” The serpent beguiled Eve and she did eat; Eve gave also to her husband with her, and he did eat, and the eyes of them both were opened, and God then pronounced sentence first, upon the serpent, second, upon the woman, and third, upon the man. The oracles contained in these sentences constitute not only the foundation of the world that terminated at the flood, but also the foundation of what is known as the old heavens and earth which were laid under the old covenant at Mount Sinai, and also of the new heavens and new earth which are to arise out of the new covenant at Mount Zion in the latter days. Therefore Peter says (II Pet. 3:5), “By the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water ”; that is, by the word of God as contained in the statutes and judgments set forth in the Eden law (for Paul calls it “the law," saying, “Woman must be in subjection, as also saith the law," — the law that he refers to being contained in the sentence pronounced upon the woman).
The heavens and earth constituting the antediluvian world were founded by the word of God as pronounced in Eden. After this sentence was uttered, the Lord said to the others that were with him, “Behold the man is become as one of us to know good and evil, and now lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever; therefore the Lord God sent him forth to till the ground from which he was taken. So he drove out the man, and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” Adam, therefore, and his posterity, would now have to seek for life and immortality, not through the eating of the tree of life which grew in the garden of Eden, but through the seed of the woman, the second Adam, that as by the disobedience of one, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one many might be made righteous.” Their salvation must now through Christ. Adam's expulsion, therefore, finished the foundations of the heavens and earth which constituted the world which continued for about 1650 years. Now from these facts we learn that aside and apart from the natural heavens and earth, and all things contained therein, God created another world in Eden, that ran its course and ended in the flood.
Now we inquire and call special attention to these considerations: when the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished, we demand to know of this multitude of modern sectarian religious teachers and writers, What were the things which perished in the flood ? for be it understood that whatever they were, they formed a world which had heavens and earth. Were the sun, moon and stars at all affected by the flood? No! Was the firmament injured by the flood ? No! Was the earth itself damaged by the food ? No! When the waters were dried, there were the same sun,
moon, and stars that shone in the heavens dividing the light from the darkness as before. The firmament dividing the waters from the waters was there also, the same solid ground upon which Noah built his ark remained there still when the waters were dried, and the ark descended and rested upon the same earth that had been submerged and had passed through the flood.
Here then was a world that came to an end in that day that did not comprehend the original creation at all, but consisted entirely of what perished in the mighty waters, and what was that? It was man. It was the sons of God, called also “the angels that sinned," " that kept not their first estate," but mingled with the vagabond posterity of Cain, and intermarried with them. It was the works and institutions of men, their wealth and whatever they had of flocks of sheep, or herds of cattle. It consisted of every living thing that was in the earth.
Therefore when Peter afterwards speaks and says, “But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word, are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men,” Peter in these words has no more reference to the original, natural creation than he did when he spoke of the heavens and earth which perished in the flood, and they who apply these words of Peter to the natural heavens and earth, and construe them literally, are the very persons that the apostle refers to, who, he says, wrested Paul's words and the other Scriptures to their own destruction.
Peter here is treating of the world established by the word of God at Mount Sinai, which word is called the fiery law; and the wrath of God that is to burn against the rebellious house of Israel who broke that law, is called fire. The Mosaic world, with all things contained in it, is to be burned up, including the heavens of Israel, with their kings, priests, and prophets, called in figurative language sun, moon, and stars, and with the inhabitants, called earth, together with all the institutions set up by the law; and all the ordinances and elements of that world under the old covenant are to pass away with war, and garments rolled in blood, and by the sword, by famine, and pestilence, and so be burned up in the fire of God's wrath. A good illustration of this is found in the words of Ezekiel as follows (22: 17-21): "The word of the Lord came unto me saying, Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross; all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even as the dross of silver. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem, as they gather silver, and brass, and lead, and tin into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you. Yea I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof, as silver is melted in the midst thereof, and ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out my fury upon you."
This is the world, and these are the heavens and the earth that are to be burned up, and these are the elements that are to melt in fervent heat. This, moreover, is the place where they are to be melted, for the Lord says elsewhere, that his fire is in Zion and his furnace is in Jerusalem. There, in the land of Israel, the institutions set up and established by the law of Moses
are to be melted down and burned up. And when their people and their city and their beautiful house where their fathers praised the Lord are destroyed, leaving only a remnant, then will be fulfilled the words of Jeremiah the prophet saying (4:23-27), “I beheld the (Jewish) earth, and, lo, it was without form and void, and the (Mosaic) heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains (great men of distinction), and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills (lesser dignitaries of state) moved lightly. I beheld, and lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were Aed. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by his fierce anger."
This language which occurs in connection with what goes before, and with what follows after, will show to any careful reader what the apostle Peter referred to in his strong and highly figurative language touching these same things. For before he ventures upon this subject, he cautions his brethren to be mindful of the words spoken before by the holy prophets, for prophets and apoștles treat of the same things, using similar language. We will cite one more instance from the many which are contained in the words of the prophets, and proceed with another branch of our treatise.
Moses wrote a song for a witness against the rebellious house of Israel, as it is recorded in the thirty-second chapter of Deuteronomy (verses 22-25) where the Lord says, “A fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap mischiefs upon them, I will spend mine arrows upon them. They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction; I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs."
We have written more at length upon these things from the fact that the clerical misinterpretation of Peter's prophecy concerning the end of the world renders void and destroys a large proportion of both the Old and New Testament prophecies. These men may have indeed a zeal of God in those matters but not according to knowledge, for they have fallen into the error of the wicked, against which Peter warns his brethren among the last words of this very letter, after telling them plainly that what Paul had written of these same things contained some things hard to be understood, thus indicating that what he had said, as well as other Scriptures treating of the same matters, were hard to be understood. But as his brethren had been instructed in these things and knew them correctly, he says to them, “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness."
THE HIDDEN AGE
Two periods of Israel's existence as a nation - Former days — Latter days — Evils that befall them in latter days — Relation of Book of Revelation to law and prophets as seen in, first, four series of judgments - Second,
Israel's sin Third, the spot, mark, or seal - Fourth, sealed up treasures of the Lord — Fifth, Cry of peace and safety.
We now enter upon the presentation of one of the most important, among the many important subjects brought to view in the Holy Scriptures, which is nothing less than an age which will arise and be manifested between the present time and the second coming of Christ, - an age that will be characterized by the same miraculous works and events that were witnessed in the past history of the house of Israel, beginning with their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt down to the time of Christ's first appearing in the world; and many of the great things which were brought to pass in their former history will be greatly exceeded by those that are to come.
We have spoken of this as the hidden age from the fact that the Scriptures relating thereto have been misinterpreted and misapplied, insomuch that the age to which they refer, and wherein these remarkable prophecies are to find their fulfillment, has been almost, if not entirely lost sight of and left out of the calculations, writings, and teachings of the leading commentators and writers of the sectarian world in modern times.
Now to illustrate what we say: many persons from the apostolic times up to the present day have been teaching and expecting that the second coming of Christ might transpire in, or somewhere about, the days wherein they were living, and many, yea, very many, of these mistaken and misguided people have set times and published dates, when they expected that Christ would come. Luther said that he believed that Christ would come within a period of about three hundred years from his times, to destroy what he regarded as antichrist, the Papal power; and both before and since his day, there have been multitudes fixing upon times, and they are just as busily employed at the present day in this same thing as they have been in the past. And the ignominious failures of all that have preceded them appear to teach them nothing. Now all these persons, by their faith and works, manifest their utter ignorance of this age which is coming, and which must precede the second coming of Christ, or the Scriptures would be broken, which Jesus himself said cannot be.
TWO PERIODS OF ISRAEL'S EXISTENCE AS A NATION We shall therefore enter upon our task by first calling attention to the fact that the law of Moses was given to Israel in two parts; in fact these parts are spoken of as though they were two separate covenants. The first part, Moses says, was made in Horeb, whereas the second part was made in the land of Moab after they had finished their forty years' sojourn in the wilderness, and after the children of Israel, under the leadership of Moses, had conquered and destroyed Sihon King of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan.
The title of the book which contains the record of this second covenant or second part of the law, is significantly and properly called Deuteronomy, which, being interpreted, signifies second law, and so the book begins as follows: “These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan, in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red Sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Disahab. There are eleven days' journey from Horeb, by the way of Mount Seir, unto Kadesh-barnea. And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the Lord had given him in commandment unto them. After he had slain Sihon the king of the Amorites, which dwelt in Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, which dwelt at Ataroth in Edrei, on this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law, saying ..."
Again Moses speaks to Israel concerning these two covenants into which the law is divided (5:1-3) saying, “ And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, ... The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.” The greater portion of those with whom he made the first covenant in Horeb had fallen in the wilderness, because of unbelief, but their children which they said would be a prey were still alive and present to enter into this covenant, and then to cross over Jordan and enter the land of promise. This very important feature in the law is brought distinctly before the reader again in the first verse of the twenty-ninth chapter of this book, saying, “These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.”
This book of Deuteronomy when completed was given into the hands of the priests, who were directed to put it into the ark to be preserved as a witness against them when they should corrupt themselves, as Moses says (31:24-27), "And it came to pass when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee, for I know thy rebellion and thy stiffneck; behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord, and how much more after my death?” (31:24-27). This book of Deuteronomy was also required to be brought forth out of the ark every seventh year, and to be read to all Israel in the year of release, as it is contained in this same chapter (verses 9-13), saying, “And Moses wrote this law and delivered it unto the priests, the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all