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!