A.C. Gaebelein: The Final Conflict Of The Age, And The Coming Victory Of The Lord Jesus Christ [1933]

Arno Clemens Gaebelein (1861-1945) was one of the most respected teachers of bible prophecy in Church history. Here he gives a very good and most importantly a biblically correct synopsis of the prophetic teaching concerning the "end of the age" and the subsequent return of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as recorded in Holy Scripture. Not the end of the world, but the end of the present dispensation, the 'calling' of the church, the body of Christ. There is no end of the world (Eph. 3:21). Judgment of the Christ-rejecting Jews and the Christ-rejecting world is the next thing on God's itinerary after the gathering of the church is finished. You do not want to be there. Relatively few in our day either believe or understand these things anymore. That will not change what 'is written'. Well worth the effort to studiously consider for yourself what the Word of God actually says concerning these critical issues. To follow the crowd of naysayers will prove to be disastrous.
It should be kept in mind that Gaebelein wrote this in 1933, which of course was before the Jewish people had returned to Palestine, that not happening until 1948. He deals with this subject though, identifying the Jewish Zionist movement that at that time was moving toward reclaiming the land of Israel; the Jews having been exiled by God since 70 AD as Divine retribution for crucifying the Son of God; and speaks to how this movement will fit into the final prophetic picture. All before the fact.
Seventy-five years later (2008) the very picture he describes is now coming into sharp focus. Zionism, the Jewish attempt to reclaim Jerusalem and to there establish the 'throne of David' from which their Jewish 'king' should rule the world, is now poised to make the final thrust. There is one major problem with that at this stage though, and Gaebelein deals with it. The Jews, as they were in his day, are today still in unbelief. They refuse to recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. The Zionist movement, to quote Gaebelein, "was and it is still a movement of unbelief, a political and humanitarian scheme, which has no use for the real Jewish hope, which centers in the promised Messiah King."
This brings up the question asked by the author in the eighth chapter of his book "The Conflict of the Ages". What shall be the end of these things? But there is an answer for that question, because as Gaebelein states below, "the God who knows the end from the beginning has made the future known".
The Mystery of Lawlessness: It's Origin, Historic Development And Coming Defeat (ch 8)
A.C. Gaebelein 1933
What Shall Be the End of these Things? The Final Conflict and the Coming Victory
What shall be the end of these things? This question was asked by the prophet Daniel some twenty-five hundred years ago after he had beheld the rise and fall of empires in his God-given visions. We look back over the history of almost six thousand years, a history of conflict, a history of wars and bloodshed, a history of human suffering and misery. Is this mournful history to continue? All attempts from the side of man in the past, to bring about a change, have failed. They are failing today. As we have seen, the process of an imagined evolution does not work. Civilization has failed and if the boasted remedies, socialism and communism, became universally applied, the promised Utopia would not come, but worse misery and disaster would follow. Past history and the present Russian conditions verify this fully. Is science going to give us light about a better future, about the dethronement of evil and the enthronement of righteousness? Is science going to stop the curse which is upon everything? We have seen science is unable to give us any satisfactory light on the origin of all things, and so it is unable to give us light on the future. As to the physical earth, scientists have ventured their guesses. Some say the earth will get colder and colder and finally become an icicle; another set of learned men think the earth will burn up and become a planet like the moon. So one may take his choice.
As the Bible gives us the trustworthy knowledge about creation, so it gives us knowledge about the future. The God who knows the end from the beginning has made the future known and through His chosen instruments, His prophets, has given in His Word the outcome of it all.
As the seed of the woman appeared once in humiliation for the bruising of the heel, that is to suffer and to die, so the same seed of the woman, who died and rose again must also carry out the second part of God's program, to bruise the serpent's head, that is to defeat him and gain the completest victory over the author of sin. This final defeat and coming victory is not achieved, according to the Word of God, in a spiritual way, so that gradually the overthrow of evil takes place, but it will be brought about by the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The defeat of Satan in its finality, and the complete Victory of God, can only be brought about by that glorious coming event, when the Christ, who is now bodily present at the right hand of God, returns in person. No matter what creeds of different denominations teach, no matter what good men believe, this, and this alone is the teaching of Scripture.
Both Testaments give us the political end of our age. This is revealed in the second and seventh chapters of the Book of Daniel. In both chapters the world empires, which have dominion during the times of the Gentiles, beginning with Babylon and its king Nebuchadnezzar, are revealed. The fourth one is the Roman world empire. In its final form it is seen in the prophetic dream of the man image. This image reveals in its composition of the different metals the process of deterioration. Gold symbolizes the Babylonian empire; silver the empire which followed, the Medo-Persian. The next the Alexandrian empire is typified by brass and the fourth, the Roman empire, by iron. The two legs represent the East and West Roman divisions. Finally, the clay comes into prominence, though iron is still present in the ten toes of the feet. Clay is of the earth and does not mix with iron. Then something happens. A stone falling from above demolishes the whole man-image by striking the feet. The stone becomes a mountain after having done its demolishing work and fills the whole earth. The stone which does this work is the prophetic picture of the return of Christ, verified by His own claims (Matt, xxi: 42-44). The mountain filling the earth is the symbol of His coming kingdom, in which He reigns as King.
The same age-ending is revealed to Daniel under the symbol of four beasts, which rise out of the sea of nations (Chapter vii). The first, the lion, is the symbol of the Babylonian empire; the second, the bear, symbolizes the Medo-Persian; the third the leopard, with wings and four heads, the Alexandrian and its four-fold division and the fourth beast is a great, terrible looking nondescript with ten horns. It is the symbol of the Roman empire in its final development, the ten horns correspond to the ten toes on the image. Here again is written the same process of evolution, not upward, but downward—from the noble lion to the horrible beast with iron teeth. The same degeneracy is expressed as in the metals of the image. But here is an additional feature. Amid the ten horns arises a little horn. Of this little horn we read that it is a person. "And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the Saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws, and they (the times and laws) shall be given into his hand" (Dan. vii:25). This dreadful being is one of Satan's masterpieces through whom he will wage the final conflict. He will be the political domineering head of nations, which are once more united in the revived Roman empire. Then the scene changes. In the clouds of heaven, appears one like the Son of Man. He receives a worldwide kingdom, while the beasts and the little horn disappear and their dominion is ended. No Christian should be in doubt who this Son of Man is who receives the kingdoms of the world and through whom the evil reign of the serpent and his representatives will be forever ended. It is the same who told the high priest, when He stood before him bound as a prisoner, "Henceforth ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Matt. xxvii: 64). It is Christ in His return to this earth.
In Revelation xiii the same final political condition of the end of the times of the Gentiles is seen. And here we read that the beast, the little horn, receives his power from the dragon, from Satan. He speaks great things of blasphemy, blasphemes God, His name and His dwelling place and those who dwell in heaven. He hates all who hold on to God and His truth (Rev. xiii:1-10).
He may be in the world already; only God knows who he is and where he is.
There is a Scripture which demands our attention:
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?"
"And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (2 Thess. ii:l-10)."
This passage of Scripture reveals the final conflict of the age and shows also the final defeat of lawlessness. We must therefore examine it more closely. The Thessalonian Christians, erstwhile heathen, like all apostolic Christians, lived in the joyful expectation of the return of Christ. They waited "for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." (1 Thess. i:10).
Some one had disturbed them greatly in their simple faith and hope by circulating a rumor that the day of the Lord was then about to come. Evidently some one had used Paul's name as if he had sent them this information. Now the day of the Lord is that great day so often and so vividly described by the Old Testament prophets, on which the Lord is manifested in visible glory. In the New Testament our Lord spoke of the same day as being His day, the day of the Son of Man, when every eye shall see Him, when He receives the throne of His glory and when He judges the nations in righteousness. The Apostles also speak of that day. It is the day of the crushing of the serpent's head.
These false reports which circulated among the Thessalonians became the occasion of enlightening them, and us as well, as to the conditions which precede that day, the manifestation of lawlessness before that day comes, and how that day will end the mystery of lawlessness.
The first thing the inspired Apostle shows must precede that day is the apostasy. What is the apostasy and what is an apostate? Apostasy is the departure from professed principles. An apostate is a person who has forsaken his faith or his party. Already, as stated before, apostasy manifested itself in the beginning of the age. The beloved disciple wrote of his own times, in his high old age, "There are many antichrists" As the age advances and draws to its close there is an increase of apostasy. Our days witness this.
In the passage we have quoted we read of the apostasy; that is a different thing from an apostasy. It reveals the fact that the age ends with a complete turning away from revealed truth, with the denial of God and of Christ, that this great apostasy will finally head up in the manifestation of a great godless leader, called by the apostle the man of sin, the son of perdition. It is the final antichrist whose person and work is more fully described in Daniel xi: 36 to 38, [Rev. xiii: 1-9]...he will arise from among the Jews. His manifestation will be in Israel's land, as we shall show later; he will take a prominent place in the temple, the place of worship. He will be the false Messiah and King. All this necessitates a Jewish origin.
Here we must call attention to the fact that while there is an on-sweeping apostasy in Christendom, there is also a corresponding Jewish apostasy, or rather infidelity. Any Christian will honor the orthodox Old Testament believing Jews, who still cling to the hope of a coming Messiah, and who pray for His coming and expect him. They know the promises of the kingdom and the promises of a glorious future, yet there is upon them a judicial blindness. They keep their feasts year in and year out, generation after generation, hoping for the promised day when their wanderings among the nations of the world are ended and they can get back to the promised land.
But they are becoming less. The greater part of Jewry has become reformed, or as we call it "deformed." They no longer believe in the law and in the prophets. The Messiah and the glorious future is looked upon as a delusion. One of them said years ago—the Messiah we love is the dollar— Jerusalem we do not want, Washington is our Jerusalem. Turning away from the hope of their fathers and their own Scriptures, they become infidels and finally through them reaching out after material things and power they become a menace. The lower elements become lawless. As we have shown, these infidel Jews were prominent in the revolutionary propaganda during the nineteenth century. Karl Marx, the author of the "Communist Bible" was an infidel Jew; so was Lasalle and hundreds of others active in the socialistic-anarchistic and communistic activities. Trotzsky and at least two score other leaders of the Russian revolution were apostate Jews. They make themselves felt in our country and in other civilized countries. Watching the names of those who were arrested in anti-government demonstrations we find that a large percentage are Jews. We must mention another fact. Apostate Christians, by which we mean professing Christians, who have turned against supernatural Christianity, like Drs. Sherwood Eddy, Harry Emerson Fosdick and hundreds of others, fraternize with the rationalistic Jewish elements. They are bedfellows in socialistic organizations. There is a strange coming together; infidel preachers invite infidel Jews to their "pulpits" and reformed Jewish rabbis welcome modernistic preachers to their synagogues. The Religious "Book-Club" of New York, under the leadership of several outstanding modernists has recommended books, written by rationalistic Jews, to their "Christian" club members. It is an indication that as this age ends the infidel Gentile and Jewish forces will unite to make opposition to God and to His Christ, and when finally that man of sin appears, the antichrist, he will be accepted by the apostate Gentile-Christian, for he denies the Father and the Son, just what the apostate denies. The apostate denies the Deity of Jesus Christ, and it is written "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father." And the same man of sin will be acceptable to the Jew for he will deny "that Jesus is the Christ," the Messiah (1 John ii:18-23). He will be accepted by the infidel Jews as their Messiah. Jew and Gentile will then fulfill, through satanic delusion and power, what is written in the second psalm. Gentiles rage, people imagine vain things and finally there is a confederacy "against the Lord and against His anointed (the Christ)."
Of this coming head of the apostasy it is written that he "opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." He, with his denial of the Father and the Son, and that Jesus is the Christ, takes the place of God and demands worship for himself. He proclaims himself as the Messiah mimicking Christ. Many commentaries, especially the older ones, also certain cults, like Seventh Day Adventism, teach that the man of sin is the papacy. But this is incorrect. The head of that great ritualistic system, which has corrupted the doctrine of Christ, does not deny the Father and the Son. Nor does the Pope deny that Jesus is the Christ. He claims to be the vice-regent of Christ on earth, but certainly not Christ Himself. We therefore dismiss this theory. The temple mentioned in which he appears and in which he demands worship is not at all the church, but it is a Jewish temple.
In the end of the age, while the manifestation of the author of sin in lawlessness and God opposition is world-wide, the final manifestation is narrowed down to Israel's land. It is there where the once rejected Christ will re-appear. He left from the Mount of Olives and to the same place will He come back (Zech. xiv:4). Jerusalem will come into prominence, for there the forces of lawlessness will gather under Satanic control and leadership. In Israel's land the real battle of Armageddon will take place. There the nations are gathered once more (Rev. xvi:16). The serpent knowing that his conqueror will appear in Israel's land with His heavenly army, will marshal his hosts, his seed, for the final conflict. John tells us, "I saw the beast (the little horn of Daniel, chapter vii) and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against Him that sat upon the horse, and against His army" (Rev. xix:19). Then He appears in His majesty and glory. The symbolic stone of Nebuchadnezzar's dream vision strikes and the demolition takes place. The victorious Christ will then lay hold on the serpent, Satan, the dragon, the devil and he will be stripped of his power, so that he can no longer deceive the nations (Rev. xx:l-3).
Preceding these attacks upon Jerusalem, when the last siege takes place (see Zech. xiv) the man of sin, the Antichrist, will do his pernicious work in Jerusalem itself. There the last page of the ending age will be written. Jerusalem will be the great storm center of that predicted "great tribulation" with its horrors.
Some forty years ago there began in Judaism a significant national revival. Orthodox Jews always had in their hearts a homesickness for the land of their fathers, and sporadic efforts of colonization were made from time to time. Then arose a great leader, Dr. Theodore Herzl. He formulated a plan to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. Zionism was born and as a result there has been for many years a revival of the Jewish national hope. But the Zionistic movement was not the product of faith in God's oath-bound covenants. It is not the result of a spiritual revival, a return to God. It was and it is still a movement of unbelief, a political and humanitarian scheme, which has no use for the real Jewish hope, which centers in the promised Messiah King.
Herzl died quite young, but the national hope did not die with him. Then came the world war. One of the greatest results was the ending of the Turk's rule, or rather, misrule, of Palestine. Jerusalem was captured by General Allenby and put under British mandate. Since that time an astonishing progress has been made in Israel's land. Thousands of Jews have gathered from the four corners of the earth, so that today over 200,000 are living in Palestine, more than ever before since the destruction of Jerusalem 70 A.D., and thousands more are waiting to settle there. Great agricultural schemes, irrigation and other improvements, have been brought about. New industries are being established, a university is now located there and the Hebrew language is revived, and is once more a living language. As Ezekiel saw in his great prophetic vision, there is a stir among the dry bones of the house of Israel (Ezek. xxxvii) An organization is effected, but the life-giving Spirit is lacking. He is not there because all the schemes and plans do not come from faith in God's Word. The whole movement is one of unbelief, which is displeasing to God, and finally results in new judgments upon Israel's land.
One of the schemes now advocated is the restoration of the temple worship as demanded by the levitical code. They speak of building a temple, and it is said that young men, who trace their descent from Levi, are being instructed in the different ceremonials. One can readily see, that, in order to consummate the restoration plans, another temple is needed. It will come to pass some day, and when it does it will be the culmination of Jewish unbelief, and will bring upon them the indignation of Jehovah, the God of Israel.
This is strikingly indicated in the last chapter of the Prophet Isaiah, which deals with the days of the Jews restoration in unbelief. We must glance at it. The chapter begins with the statement of building a house for the Lord. "Where is the house that ye build unto Me? and where is the place of My rest?" In the third verse the future sacrifices are anticipated. In the places of worship during Old Testament times, lambs, bulls and goats were brought as sacrifices, because the new and living way into God's holy presence was not yet made. All the sacrifices and offerings were prophecies of the true sacrifice and that precious blood which the holy Son of God was to shed as the Lamb of God. To reject Him and His sacrificial work is now the crowning sin, and for Jews to turn back to these sacrifices, which have no more meaning, is doubly obnoxious in the sight of God. We hear Him speak in this prophecy about this consummating act of Jewish unbelief. "He that killeth an ox (in sacrifice) is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations" (Isa. lxvi:4). Read on in this chapter and find how, when this abomination is in Jerusalem, the Lord will come and by His sudden manifestation end this false worship.
Into this temple of unbelief and abomination the man of sin will come to take his place there, claiming that he is the Messiah-King, and then demand in his blasphemous exaltation the worship which is due to God and Christ. In the first part of His prophetic Olivet Discourse our Lord gives the picture of the last seven years of this age and what will happen in Jerusalem. He speaks of the abomination of desolation and warns the godly remnant of His earthly people Israel.
"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains" (Matt. xxiv:15-16). The passage to which our Lord refers is found in Daniel xi:36-37. "And the king (the false Messiah—antichrist) shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers (his Jewish fathers), nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all." This fully harmonizes with the text in 2 Thessalonians ii :4: "Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." Satan's masterpiece sits there, endowed with all his powers. He works lying miracles (as he does already in certain anti-Christian cults).
["Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders" ii Thes. 2:9.]
It is the working of Satan. A strong delusion has come and those who did not receive the love of the truth for their salvation will readily accept the final lie of the serpent. Infidel Jews and apostate Christians are included for Satan's strong delusion will then be heralded all over the world.
All this shows that Satan and his angels will manifest their power at the very close of the age. The mystery of lawlessness, which has worked from the very beginning of man's history, is reaching its consummation in the final seven years of our age. The reader perhaps would like to know why we mention seven years. The answer is found in the Book of Daniel and in Revelation. The seven years constitute the last prophetic week of the prophecy which Gabriel brought to Daniel ix: 24-27
We have to examine next another great statement in the Thessalonian text. Twice the Spirit of God speaks of something which restrains [letteth -KJV; ed.], which keeps back the full manifestation of this mystery of lawlessness. We read "that which restrains" and "there is He who restrains now until He be gone, and then that lawless one shall be revealed." In other words the final phase of the conflict of the ages, the manifestation of the lawless one, who is the incarnation of Satan, all the prophecies concerning that final conflict, such as the great tribulation, the judgments which will be executed on the earth, cannot take place till the restraining power, the restraining one (a person) is removed ['taken out of the way' -KJV; ed.].
Who has the power to keep back the final, horrible scenes of God-defiance, atheism and the destruction of human government? Who restrains the serpent from making its final, last strike at God and His Christ?
We believe the history of the past gives us an answer. Who has curbed evil in its various forms? What power was it, which preserved the Church of Jesus Christ during the Roman persecutions? Who brought the truth back from the Romish superstitions? Who instituted the reformation so that Satan was checked in his aims? Why did Satan not succeed through the Illuminati and through the French revolution? Who curbed the serpent's attempt to head up all these things in the final onslaught? Why have his repeated attempts to destroy the Church and the Truth of God miscarried? How is it that with all the hate expressed against the Church, the Church instead of being weakened, grows? What is the explanation of all this? We answer, the presence of the Holy Spirit on Earth.
The true Church of Jesus Christ, composed of all true believers, is a divine organism, which had its beginning on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit of God came to earth. With His coming the great spiritual work of this age was inaugurated. The apostles with all other believers were by Him united into the body of Christ, the Church, each member being possessed and filled with the Spirit. The Church became thus the "habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephes. ii:22). This work is continued by the Spirit of God during this age. The great message of the Gospel is preached in every continent and through that message the members of the body of Christ are gathered and added to that body. So long as this work of the Holy Spirit is unfinished, so long as the great purpose of God in this age is unaccomplished, the mystery of lawlessness cannot have its culmination in the apostasy and in the manifestation of the lawless one. The Holy Spirit has throughout this age been the restrainer. The power which has restrained the serpent's power is the power of the Spirit of God.
Whenever the forces of evil attempted to reach their full manifestation the Spirit of God restrained them from reaching the goal. The entire history of the Church bears witness to this supernatural power.
But this work of the Spirit in gathering the body of Christ through the preaching of the Gospel message will not continue ad infinitum. It will come to an end. The Spirit of God will finish the work He came to do, for the body of Christ is an elect body, and some day it will be completed. What will happen then?
We look again at the quoted words from the Thessalonian epistle. Paul wrote, "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him," What gathering together unto Him does Paul mean? The Church of Jesus Christ is not a permanent institution on this earth. Her destiny is not here, but in the heavenlies. The Head, the risen Christ is in glory, and all the members of His body must be united to the Head; the Bridegroom is in the Father's house, and some day the Bride must be brought to Him for the heavenly nuptuals, when she will become the Lamb's wife (Rev. xix :6-9) . When Paul speaks of the gathering together unto Him, he means the home gathering of all the redeemed. Of this great event this man of God received a special revelation. Well has it been termed "that blessed hope." We find it in the first Thessalonian epistle.
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (1 Thess.v :15-17).
This is the gathering together unto Him. It will happen some day, literally as it is written. This is the end of true Christianity on the earth; the end of Christendom is something entirely different. This is the future of the true Church of Christ. The Holy Spirit who indwells the Church will be needed for this coming event. By His power the bodies of the saints of God, who died in Christ will be quickened, and His power will change living believers in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. This we find written in Romans viii:ll, "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken (make alive) your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." He is also needed with His power to carry the redeemed hosts through the heavens and bring them face to face with Christ, the Lord. The Spirit's work being finished, He holds His ascension when the Saints of God are gathered unto Him.
"Only he who now letteth [restrains] will let, until he be taken out of the way." The meaning is clear, with the completed Church brought into the presence of the Lord, the Restrainer will be gone—and then the apostasy and the lawless one, and then the full manifestation of the mystery of lawlessness, and then the serpent's wrath, the serpent's final hiss and final work, for he knows his time is short (Rev. xii:12).
What it will mean when the Restrainer is no longer here, what it will mean when God's children no longer pray and witness, no longer reach out for the unsaved, we cannot even imagine.
All this is revealed in the last book of the New Testament, in the Patmos vision of the aged John. The removal of the true Church from earth to heaven is symbolically seen in the beginning of the fourth chapter, followed by the worship scenes in glory. After the Saints are in His presence the seven sealed book is opened and beginning with the sixth chapter we have a description of what will happen on the earth in the days when the lawless one is here. There will be judgments from above and the last three years and a half will be the great tribulation, which Daniel mentions (Dan. xii: l-3), which our Lord says will be sweeping the earth immediately before His visible return.
This exposition of the Restrainer and His restraining power in the removal of the Church, is questioned by some. The argument against it is on account of the Saints, who are mentioned during the time of trouble and tribulation, who are suffering in the coming world-revolution and world-chaos, whom the lawless one hates and tries to exterminate. If the true Church is removed from the earth, who are these suffering Saints? Are the modernists being converted? Are the evolutionists turning to Christ? That a multitude of people will come out of the great tribulation and be saved is verified by the Scriptures, but they are not those who rejected the Gospel, nor are they added to the Church, for the Church, as the body of Christ is completed.
During those days of Satanic manifestation and power, before the end of the age comes, "this Gospel of the kingdom (that the King is about to return to earth with His power as Judge) shall be preached in all the world as a witness unto all nations" (Matt. xxiv). So there will be a great witness given during the final years, during the days when the mystery of lawlessness has reached its goal. The nations which never heard the Gospel of Grace will hear the witness about the coming King and with it the call to repent. But this brings other questions. If the true Church is gone who is going to do the preaching? Who is going to give the message? Certainly not the modernistic-socialistic-communistic preachers. Who is going to give the witness? And if the Holy Spirit is gone ['out of the way' -KJV], how can these witnesses have success with their message and how can people repent and believe the final call?
The witnesses will be Israelites of the different tribes. They are the sealed company in Revelation vii. Here again we must be clear as to their identity. They will not be the international Jews, the political-financial schemers, the lawless elements, who ridicule and hate religion of any kind and are atheists. These Jews will worship the beast. They reject the true Christ and accept the false Messiah. Our Lord predicted this. "I am come in My Father's name, and ye receive me not, if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive" (John v:43).
The orthodox Jews, who have held on to the faith of their fathers, who pray for the coming of the Messiah-King, whose eyes are blinded that they cannot see, from them the veil will be removed.
[Important to keep in mind here that none are ever saved for any personal piousness; Eph. 2:8 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God"; but rather, as always, it is only by the sovereign election of God: "And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there." Isaiah 65:9; cf. Matt. 24:31. No orthodox Jew alive today has any guarantee that he will be included in the 'elect' of that day, nor that he will even be alive at that time. Not to mention unimaginable tribulation and an Antichrist to overcome for those who are. That 'Jesus is Christ' (Acts 17:3; 18:5,28) is to be unflinchingly preached to the Jew today just as it was in the first century by the apostles. This truth is the heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1) of the Jew in this dispensation. Ed]
The Holy Spirit after having finished His work in connection with the body of Christ, begins His work with the remnant of Israel. Their eyes are opened. It dawns upon them that the long-expected King is about to come. The fulness of the Gentiles has come in and their blindness is ended (Rom. xi:26). They receive the knowledge that the rejected One, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the coming King. They begin to pray prayers prewritten by the Spirit of God (See Psa. lxxx:17-19; Isa. lxiii:15-lxiv:l-8). When the man of sin appears they refuse his lying signs and wonders, they refuse him worship, as Mordecai refused to bow the knee before Haman. They have to suffer persecution and many of them will be killed. The twelfth chapter in Revelation tells us about this. "And the dragon (the devil) was wroth with the woman (Israel) and went to make war with the remnant of her seed (the God-fearing Jews and Israelites), which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus" (Rev, xii:17). The seed of the woman faces for the last time the serpent and his seed. And this remnant sealed will give the witness to all the nations, the witness of the coming King. They are well fitted to do this, for they are found among all nations and speak their languages.
And the Holy Spirit, the Restrainer will, as He did in Old Testament times, be with this godly remnant of Jews, sustain them in their work and those of the Gentile nations who believe their witness will also be under His power and guidance, so that they can overcome. On the other hand He will permit the power of the serpent to do its utmost in God-defiance and lawlessness till the hour of defeat arrives.
In our text the defeat is expressed in these words—"whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming". Needless to say the One who will defeat the serpent and his seed is the Lord Jesus Christ. The crushing defeat comes when He returns in great power and glory. How vividly this is revealed in numerous prophecies. We quote but one, the Second Psalm. The raging nations, raging under Satanic control, the confederacies of rulers, raving against God and against His Christ, trying to break their bands and get rid of their cords, give a prophetic picture of the final conflict. Heaven is silently looking on; God above it all holds them in derision. But the scene changes. "Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure. Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree; the Lord has said unto Me, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me and I will give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."
The most glorious vision of His return is recorded in the nineteenth chapter of Revelation (verses ii-16). The white horse He rides is the symbol of victory; the names He bears are telling out His majestic greatness. He has a name written, which is known only to Him—the Name of His Deity; in incarnation His name is the "Word of God" and the future name, which He claims with His return is "King of kings and Lord of lords." Then follows the complete dethronement of the powers of evil and lawlessness. Satan is bound to deceive the nations no more.
His victorious return will mean much more besides the defeat of the serpent and its seed. It will end all infidelity; it will be a complete vindication of His Person as it will be a vindication of the Bible as the infallible revelation of God; it will demonstrate that His Word is true from the beginning. And more than that the victorious Seed of the woman, the Son of Man coming in His glory, will solve all the problems with which humanity is wrestling today; He will institute the government of righteousness and peace; He will bring to the nations the true liberty, fraternity and equality; He will end conflict between capital and labor for "He shall judge the poor with righteousness" and "He shall save the poor and the needy" (Psa. Ixxii). He will bring universal disarmament, "and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth." (Zech. ix:10). He will bring deliverance for groaning creation for "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them" (Isa. xi:6). He who bore the crown of thorns on His bleeding brow, the thorns, the emblem of the curse, will take away the curse and "as it was in the beginning so it shall be."
Enthroned as King, He will have with Him His seed, His glorified Saints who reign and rule with Him in the new creation, when finally there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Reader—will you be there?
"He who testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen! Even so Come Lord Jesus" (Rev. xxii:20).
related studies:

The Tribulation by H.A. Ironside (1876-1951)
The Midnight Cry by C.H. Mackintosh (1820-1896)
Olivet Discourse Mt 24-25 and Christians by A.C.G. (1861-1945)
The Rapture by Hamilton Smith (1862-1943)
The Stone which the builders rejected; from Daniel ch. 2
The Lie of Dominionism