I am still grieving the deaths of these young people the news has been telling us about. I am mourning for them, hurting with their hurting families. When this kind of thing happens you can hear very loudly the travail pains of a groaning creation. And it causes a groaning in me as well. How long, Lord? I remember the dark ages of my own life, and now it grieves me deeply that so many spend their lives in such peril… and for such emptiness. Yet where is the Light that would enable them to see this? I remember when the Light rescued me… and now, in an hour when the darkness is far more intense, where is the Light of the world? I feel like our churches are failing this present generation. I feel like I am failing this generation. Multitudes around us—like these young people who died so young and so tragically—they live their lives in this world as though this present world with all its pleasures and pastimes, with all its joys and toys, is all there is to live for.
And that is not so! The Bible speaks much of two ages: this age—and the age to come. The Greek word is aion, usually translated age, meaning, simply, an era or period of time.
Sometimes aion is used interchangeably with the word kosmos, the Greek for world. Kosmos means order or arrangement. We get our English words cosmos and cosmetics from it, both of which speak of an order, an adorning, an arrangement.
And so we read in Eph. 2.2 of “the age of this world,” where the two words are used together. The aion of this kosmos. “And you being dead in offences and sins, in which once ye walked according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the sons of the disobedience…”
So we see that this present order—this arrangement of things in the world as we know it—is an age. It is not going to be here forever, it is just an age: it’s called “this present evil age” (Gal. 1.4). It is ruled over by a spirit, and its dominant feature is evil. Or as we read in another place, darkness. The primary characteristic of this age is darkness. We read of “the world rulers (the cosmocrats) of the darkness of this age” (Eph. 6.12).
And we read of “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4.4). And we read of “the wisdom of this age” which God hath made foolishness, and we read of “the princes of this age,” and of another Wisdom which if the princes of this age had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2.6).
And, intertwined through all this, we read of another age to come—with another world, another order. In fact we read of ages to come (Eph. 2.7), but in the main we see these two ages — the present one, and the age to come.
And we see also—and this ought to encourage you and me, while at the same time challenging us—God is not just stoically waiting for this coming new order, the age to come. He is not just passively waiting for things to run their natural course. He is deeply pained with the evil of this present age beyond our ability to comprehend. And so even now in this present age He plants the seeds of the coming one. In this present age He births children who actually pertain to the age to come. They are here now in this present age… but living for another age. And it is actually through these children of light that the present age of evil and darkness will be completely shut down, the colossal defeat it suffered at the Cross of Christ being fully and finally executed.
When God brought His first begotten Son into the world the demons cried out in surprise, “Have you come to torment us before the time?” They knew their time, their doom, would come some inevitable day away down the ages somewhere… or so they thought. Here it was right in their face! Here suddenly in a very early hour is this Man saying, “NOW is the judgment of this world (this kosmos); now is the prince of this world cast out” (Jn. 12.31). Like the morning star before the dawning of the day, here is this Man who pertains to an entirely different age; here He is on the scene, revealing in this age the Life of that age, even eternal life. And the demons cringed in fear.
A Man from Another Age entered this present evil age some two thousand years ago, inaugurating a new age—the age of the Kingdom of God. By this Man falling into the ground and dying, God planted the Seed of that coming age in this age, and ever since it has been growing, growing, growing to fullness. That kingdom will yet come to fruition, will come in fullness. It has seen great resistance over the centuries, and at times great setbacks. But the inevitable harvest will come.
The harvest,” we read, “is the end of the age” (Mt. 13.39). I believe we are there now. In the end of the age the reapers come forth, and there is a great separation of wheat from tares, and on the threshing floor of God, much wind, and fire, and sifting of the wheat. Oh, how we need this just now! I find great comfort in this, and, in a very dark hour, great hope. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.”
Hasten this great work of Yours, dear Lord Jesus Christ, this separating, purifying work—that the Light might shine purely in the darkness again!
This is very sad news to hear. What a waste of lives. It breaks me. Somones sons and daughters. I hear what is coming from your heart Allan. Today, this word from the Bible came to me although I am not a great Biblical scholar. Its about being wary of the yeast of the Pharisees. There must be something not good in this yeast that was part of their religion and had seeped into their heart condition. Uncompassionate and hardened. Formulaic. Jesus said to us “Follow me”. To follow him and not some religion or man-made structure or programme is to open ourselves up to having his heart and his burdens. We are closer to the Kingdom of God when we know in our hearts that pouring the oil on his feet and kissing his feet is where we find mercy and not judgement. The heart of the law is mercy. Give us your heart Lord Jesus that we will love all those you bring into our lives.
Amen. I have heard that the revival in the Hebrides (around 1948) began with just a few people crying out to God. They were grieved to the quick about their spiritual condition. One young man cried out, “Surely the Lord Jesus Christ can do better than this.” And the heavens opened, and the only way they could describe what happened was to say, “God came down.”
It is true, Martin. The Lord Jesus Christ CAN do better than what we see in our churches in this hour. Why, then, are we so willing to settle for less? It has to be this insidious leaven (this yeast) of the Pharisees working in our lives when our world around us is in black darkness, and we are content with the little light we have.
I understand the feeling you expressed of some disconnect bewteen the church and the world and particularly the young generation. I have heard it said that this generation has formed its own trinity within their lives which consists of career, family and friends. As someone who has been a part of a church and also not a part of church I have thought about this and analysed it quite a bit. Ultimately with my own personal battles and insecurities in life I have found that there is no one like Jesus and he has shown me his love. This is what I desire for this generation. Not that they would come necessarily to a church meeting etc. As I come deeper into this love I want others to know it. Not to know about Jesus but to know him. Ultimately when you scratch beneath the surface there is, particularly with the young people of today, alot of suppressed insecurity and competition, jealousy etc. There are different types of pressures today that are on them. In all this I find that I go back to a realisation that we need more of his presence to make the difference. I note that Evan Roberts also prayed “Bend me Lord”. I do not note in the church today any realisation that we even need bending. We are too often over-indulged saints with a cruise ship mentality. A burden speaks of a more faithful manifestation of the heart of God.
I would add the word “fun” to your trinity, too. What an idol that is.
…What you said–“there is no one like Jesus”– reminds me of the lines of an old poem:
What has stripped the seeming beauty from the idols of the earth?
Not the sense of right or duty but the sight of peerless worth…
This is the need, Martin– the beauty of the Lord shining forth. Surely if people could see Him it would bring many to a broken repentance– ourselves included.
Seeing him only in part with a desire to go deeper into him is becoming an ache within as this world gets darker. There is so little that attracts. Yesterday I heard the Christmas song “Hark the herald angels sing” which has some really powerful words. One verse says that at last our eyes shall see him through his own redeeming blood. This broke me to tears I have to say. Even now as the truth of this hits me its too much for me to take in. And today a wonderful surprise of a package of books which I am so delighted and grateful to have. This is spirtual feeding for me at this time. Thank the Lord that he looked down on us and he “remembered his covenant”. He owes us nothing, we owe him it all. We must decrease, he must increase.
I too love that hymn, Martin. Which verse did you have in mind?
Here is one beautiful verse not often sung with the traditional ones:
Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place;
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.
You can find it on Cyber hymnal.
My mistake; the carol I was listening to is Once In Royal David’s City, and it’s “redeeming love” not blood as I said. But it’s His love that made Him give His blood. Here is the verse:
And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love,
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in Heav’n above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.
Sometimes when the Spirit of the Lord moves in your heart He just takes you to a different place and it’s not your head it’s your heart; our core. I can see why David was a man after God’s heart. This verse just broke open the flood gates for me. To see Jesus…its overwhelming…to see him now in His majesty. I see that this Presence that he carries is going to show us, like you said, our true state….the holiness of God is an awesome thing. Wow. It’s only a glimpse and makes clear why they had to put a rope on them to pull them out of the Holy of holy places.
This world’s systems and the kings of the earth do not have God in the dock… He is not the one on trial, He has nothing to prove and His back is not against the wall… let the kingdoms of earth become the kingdoms of our God….when the Presence steps in, the words cease… another realm and reality which we only now see in part, has arrived and all things become new… the Dagons of this world will fall on their faces… all the vain philosophies of man, in that instant, come to nothing… Royalty has stepped into the room and true authority has entered our realms…
That’s very moving, Martin.
“And our eyes at last shall see Him
Through His own redeeming love.”
I love that.