Redemption and Restitution for Man and the Earth
LIFE is sweet, with all its pains and perplexities. Natural law has endowed man with the love of life, and we are quite willing to endure great hardships and suffer many pangs and pains, wrestle with powerful enemies and meet with numerous difficulties and disappointments if we are allowed to live and given the hope of length of days.
But after all life is but a span, "an inch or two of time," hung upon a slender cord that is momentarily in danger of breaking and in the end-the inevitable end-sure to be cut asunder by the ever-busy hand of man's universal enemy, the dread of all mankind - Death, Death, pitiless, cruel and relentless Death. Sickness, sorrow, pain and death are realities alike in the experience of young and old, rich and poor, great and small, in every land and in every clime.
DOES DEATH END ALL?
In the face of such facts the questions press themselves upon every sensible man and woman, Does death end all? Is there a life beyond? Is evil eternal? Is there a remedy for the world's woes and provision for man's inmost wants? What, if any, are the possible dangers ahead? What, if any, are the blessings attainable? What mean these inmost longings of the heart, and these wellsprings of hope, these lofty aspirations of the intelligent mind whose eyes look over and beyond life's vale of tears with anxious hope and expectation of ultimate realization? Have these longings and throbbings taken hold of us to mock us? Or have they been begotten, born and nourished by promises that the evils of this troubled, sin-stricken and death-stricken world are to be eliminated and give place to a good time that's coming that shall gladden the hearts and bless the lives of those whose love of their Creator and faithfulness to their Redeemer have moulded their faith and their character into form and fitness for a life that shall know no end? In view of the power and wisdom manifest in the natural world, in "the heavens that declare the glory of God and the firmament that showeth his handiwork," surely it is wise to conclude that a better time is coming, and a glance at the only compass that is safe upon the troubled and angry sea reveals the fact that there is a
RESTITUTION OF ALL THINGS
spoken of by all the holy prophets since the world began," and in this restitution will be found the panacea for man's ills and evils, wants and woes, and by its accomplishment will be made manifest to an admiring and happy world the wisdom and might and goodness and glory of Him in whom we "live and move and have our being." When this grand end is seen in its splendid brightness to be the sun that is yet to rise and chase away the darkness and mist of present night, the evils and burdens we groan under will be viewed from the standpoint of Divine philosophy and seen to be wisely permitted, as it were, but for a moment, and utilized to sharpen our appetite and intensify our feelings for the rapturous joy of deliverance and the unspeakable happiness of eternity, unmarred by the sufferings of this transitory, preparatory, evil life.
Six thousand years of continued and increasing evils and perplexities show that the world is incurable by human agencies, and we may not hope for help from man, but when the time for the promised restitution arrives, the great Deliverer shall appear in His glory and majesty; and though dark be the clouds that precede and usher in His majestic advent, and terrible the convulsions that shall attend the mighty revolution, yet great shall be the glory that shall follow and peaceful and tranquil the repose that shall forever settle upon earth's everlasting hills.
RESTITUTION AND REDEMPTION WHERE NEEDED
Now, dear reader, shall we ask you to pause and consider fully the meaning of the words "restitution of all things." They are found in the Acts of the apostles, chap. 3: 21. Verses 20 and 21 read as follows: "And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." Words in frequent use and to be found in various parts of the Bible are, "salvation," "redemption," "reconciliation" and "restoration." What do they mean? To what do they apply? What is salvation? These are questions we may well pause over and consider their meaning in relation to the vital question they represent. The words imply that there has been a loss of something somewhere; and is it unreasonable to believe that salvation, whatever it is, will deal with that which is lost? And that restitution, restoration and redemption will meet requirements and deal with conditions arising from the loss, in accordance with the character of the loss and right where the lost condition is found?
What is it that has gone wrong, and where is the wrong that needs rectifying? Salvation, whatever it is, redemption, whatever it is, restitution, whatever it is, surely ought to be understood to remedy the wrong where the wrong is, and deal with it practically whatever it is. Now we do not know that things have gone wrong on other planets. We know not whether salvation, redemption and restitution are needed on any of them; and we may be sure from what is revealed of the character of God that there are no wrongs to right in heaven, His holy habitation. With the healing balm contained in the words salvation, restitution, etc., we should seek for the wounds and sores it is intended to soothe and heal. The plaster surely is made for the wound and it ought to fit and be adapted to the nature of the wound. What is it that has received the wound? Where are the diseases to be cured, the lost to be gained, the wrongs to be righted, the captives to be redeemed? They are not in the moon, in the stars nor in the sky; neither are they 'beyond the bounds of time and space." They are here, right here in this world of ours; on this earth, in the very ground; on man universally, in man. They are real. They are to be seen, to he heard, to be felt, and all this right here, and we need look no farther, no higher, no lower. It is our world and we ourselves that are lost, and it is our world and we ourselves that need salvation and restitution. There would be no restitution were we, a few of us, transported to another planet and the rest dragged down into regions eternal and infernal, and our earth, beautiful, notwithstanding all its blightings and cursings through sin, were burnt up and dissolved into smoke. Can you, dear reader, bring yourself to believe that the wisdom whose marvelous works strike us with awe and admiration as we behold them in the shining starry heavens above and in the wonders of creation in the earth beneath-can you I ask, bring yourself to believe that He whose wisdom and power you behold has created this terrestrial sphere to be desecrated by sin, blighted by curse, tortured by sickness, darkened by death, devasted by war and blood-shed, and after all to end in conflagration that shall send it up in smoke or precipitate it into the irrecoverable depths of oblivion? In such a sad end where would he the glory and honor of the Creator? Dream not then of ghostly flights to worlds unknown, where Elysium fields are supposed to bloom with flowers of endless beauty. Look no deeper for sufferings and terrors than you behold upon a sin-stricken earth, groaning beneath its burdens of sinful suffering humanity. But look for salvation where it is needed to "heal the broken-hearted, to bring deliverance to the captive, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised" (Luke 4: 18); and look for restitution in the world and upon the earth of which it was said, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground, for out of it wast thou taken, for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen. 3: 17-19).
THE FIRST PROMISE
The very first promise we have, involving salvation, was made immediately upon the entrance of the evil it was intended to deal with, and it meets the real requirements in the case. Figuratively speaking, the serpent had pierced man with a fatal sting, whose poison was destined to affect the entire race, the earth and all that is in it. This is met by the promise contained in the words, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and he; seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3: 15).
When the work of creation was completed “God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1: 31). Of man and woman it was said, “so God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth" (Gen. 1: 26-28).
MAN GIVEN DOMINION
The Psalmist, referring to this part of the work of creation. says, "When I consider the heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou host made him a little lower than the angels and host crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea. O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth" (Psa. 8: 3-9)! While this doubtless has a prophetic significance as well as historic, the latter is what we are particularly concerned about now. Still it will be seen that the prophetic aspect is in strict agreement with the thought of the restitution of all things. Commenting upon this passage the Apostle Paul, after quoting the passage to prove that all things had been put under man, and that all things would be put under him again, says, "But now we see not yet all things put under him" (Heb. 2: 8). This raises the question. If all things were put under man's dominion in the beginning, and now "we see not all things put under him," what was the cause of this loss of power and dominion? In the answer to this question we shall discover what the loss is that salvation and restitution are intended to remedy.
MAN ENDOWED WITH THE POWER OF FREE VOLITION
With creation "very good," every creature happy and the first human pair enthroned and given dominion over a world that was an honor to its Creator and possessed of every thing conducive to happiness and well-being man is placed under a law that would test his fidelity to his Creator He is endowed with the power of free volition and this is what makes him a responsible creature, higher in the scale of intellectuality than all others and possessed of a moral nature capable of maintaining a moral image accept able or of falling under the condemnation of his Lawgiver what gives man his superiority and his divine right to " have dominion" is this moral element of his nature and the power of free volition arising therefrom, crowned with a noble intellect. By this it was possible to place upon him a responsibility that was inapplicable to other creatures of lower grades or intellectual power Those who would find fault with this procedure and claim that it would have been better if man had been left without a law that could test his faithfulness and fidelity seem to forget that this is the essential thing to constitute him a man This is why he is a man and to deprive him of the opportunity of exercising at first the latent mental and moral possibilities of his nature under the guidance of law to reduce him to a level with the creatures over whom he is given dominion. If it was wise to endow man with this latent moral power, it was only the next step in the way of wisdom to give scope for its exercise under law.
PLACED UNDER LAW
To this intellectual capable man, then, the law is given as follows: "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 thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen 2:16, 17). At this time nothing had been lost. Everything was as God in His wisdom had created it. The words salvation, redemption and restitution were useless words there was nothing to be saved or redeemed, because there was nothing lost. It is so arranged by the wise law of the Creator that if a loss occurs it shall be by man's breach of law and his unfaithfulness to his Benefactor. The machinery of this world was given into the hands of man in perfect order. If ever a cog slip or a belt fly off, it shall be the fault of him who is given the responsibility of the dominion. If ever joy give place to sorrow, happiness to woe, health to sickness, life to death and the very good" condition is turned into a very bad one, man shall be the cause and not God. The change is made dependent upon man's honoring and obeying a righteous law, which his Creator had a right to place over him; and when the fall, the crash, the loss, the curse comes it shall come justly, and man will have one to blame but himself.
It came. Yes it came and that, too, by man's breach of the divine law. Here is how it was brought about:
Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman. Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, we may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God bath said, Ye shall not eat of it neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall he opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, arid gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat'' Gen. 3: 1-6.
THE FAR REACHING EFFECTS OF THE TRANGRESSION
Here is the first sin committed and here is the cause of the fall man and his kingdom which God had given into his hands. Sin brings sorrow, sickness, pain and death, and its far-reaching effects are seen in a lost world, with its once ruling monarch stricken with shame and remorse, hiding himself from the face of the Elohim and, when called to account, trying to excuse his unfaithfulness with the cowardly answer. "I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. * * * The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat" (Gen. 3: 10-12). In the sentence passed upon our first parents for thus transgressing God's law is to be seen the world-wide results of man's first act of unfaithfulness to God, results which are not confined to the man and the woman, but which blight and curse their entire domain. To the serpent, the woman and to the man it is said,
And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle. and above every beast of the field: upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. * * * Unto the woman he said, I wilt greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall he to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast harkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee, and thou shalt eat of the herbs of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return" - Gen. 3: 14-19.
Now, dear reader, we have before us the root of all the world's evils, and by careful consideration of the nature of the loss, and an understanding of what is lost, we shall be helped toward a correct understanding of what salvation is and what the restitution is "which God hath spoken of by all his holy prophets since the world began." Subsequently to the pronouncing of the sentence man is driven out of the garden of Eden and access is guarded by a "flaming sword " which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life (Verse 24).
The earth, so far as its primitive very good condition is concerned, is lost, Paradise is lost, dominion is lost, life is lost, man is lost - the whole creation is lost, until sin, for the time being has made every thing vanitv, vanity, all is vanity, and, as the prophet Isaiah says, “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate" (Isa. 24: 5, 6). The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together (Rom. ).
WHAT FITS THE SITUATION
Now salvation for fallen lost man and restitution for a cursed earth are provisions made by the God of heaven to remove the evils and bring goodness and blessing here yes here in the very place it is needed, and in which a sin wrecked creation groans. The wise plan of salvation revealed in the Scriptures is not one that leaves a lost Paradise forever lost and transports man to the sky. It is not a plan that retreats foiled and frustrated by sin and leaves this sin-wrecked and sin ruined planet of God's handiwork to be carried down to an ignominious oblivion. While God has permitted the sad results of sin for a time to mar the beauty and dim the splendor and darken the light of His grand and marvelous work, think not that He has retreated and forsaken the work of His Almighty hand. In this we may safely "trust Him for His grace," and know that "behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face;" and when His good time comes salvation and restitution shall be realities here, to take the place of the evils that are here now; for He has declared in burning words that never can be quenched, "As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord" (Numb. 14: 21).
THE EARTH TO ABIDE
The earth, then, is not to be the scene of six thousand years of trouble in its thousands of forms, and at last to be destroyed. It is to abide forever:
Eccle. 1: 4 - One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever.
Psa. 104: 1-5 - Blessed be the Lord, * * * who laid the foundation of the earth, that it shall not be removed forever.
Psa. 119: 90 - Thy faithfulness is unto all generations, thou hast establislied the earth, and it abideth.
Since the wisdom of Solomon could see the earth and all that is in it as in a state of vanity, and since we learn from the above testimonies that the earth is to abide forever, we may safely conclude that God has in store better days for this our habitation. He has assured us that He has not created it in vain in the beautiful words of the prophet Isaiah: "For thus saith the Lord, that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it he created it not in vain. He formed it to be inhabited; I am the Lord; and there is none else (Isa. 45: 18). When the vanity of the present is removed and the earth restored to the very good" state that was lost through man's fall, the following promises will find joyful realization:
Numb. - But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.
Psa. 72: 17-l9 - His name shall endure forever; his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall he blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel. who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name forever; and let the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Isa. 11: 9 - They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holly mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
Hab. 2: l4 -For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
Matt. 6: 6, 10 - After this manner pray Ye: * * * Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.
Luke 2: 14 - Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Isa 55: 10-13 - For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth bud, * * * so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace, the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you in to singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree and instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle tree and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
THE EARTH TO BE THE EVERLASTING INHERITANCE OF THE RIGHTEOUS
It is when the earth is thus blessed, and man redeemed that it will become the everlasting inheritance of the righteous, who will have been saved from the lost state and exalted to glory and honor with the second Adam, whose righteousness and faithfulness shall have undone and eliminated the evils resulting from the transgression of our first parents. Hence in God's plan of salvation the earth is promised as our everlasting inheritance, as the following Scriptures will clearly show:
Gen. 13: 15 - For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed forever.
Rom. - For the promsise that he (Abraham) should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham, or to his seed through the law but (it was) through the righteousness of faith.
Psa. 37:9 - For evil doers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.
Verse 11 - But the meek shall inherit the earth and shall delight them selves in the abundance of peace.
Verse 22 – For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.
Verse 29 - The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell therein forever.
Verse 34 - Wait on the Lord and keep his way and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land when the wicked are cut off thou shalt see it.
Psa 115: 16 - The Heaven, even the heavens are the Lord’s, but the earth hath he given to the children of men.
Prov. - Behold the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth; much more than the wicked and the sinner.
Dan - And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the most high.
Matt. 5: 5 - Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
Rev. 5: 9, 10 - And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.
Here we have clear testimony, that the
earth is to be the everlasting inheritance of the righteous, and do not be
alarmed, dear reader, when we assert that nowhere in the Scriptures are we
promised that we shall go to heaven when we die or at any other time. You will
now begin to see clearly from the many
testimonies given that the great plan of salvaition
is very different thing from that taught in the popular religion of our times
According to the creeds of so called “Orthodoxy” this earth is to be the habitation of man in
its present evil state for a time perhaps six thousand years, during which
comparatively a few will at death be transported to heaven and countless
millions will be dragged to a place they call hell to be indescribably
tormented eternally, and then, without any restitution the earth which has
borne the curse of sin, is to be burned up and pass away in fire and smoke. You
will readily see that with this view restitution or restoration is out of the
question, and the
Bible must be snatched out of this burning fire of the depraved and savage
passions of degraded men, and we must cry out amid the noise and confusion of
Jesus shall reign wher'er the sun
Doth his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till sin shall curse the earth no more.
For him shall endless prayer be made,
And praises throng to crown his bead,
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice.
People and realms of every tongue
Dwell on his love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on his name.
Blessings abound where'er he reigns,
The pris'ner leaps to loose his chains,
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blest.
Where he displays his healing power,
Sorrow and pain are known no more;
In him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.