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The Kingdom of God Is at Hand
"JESUS came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The
time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the
gospel." Mark 1:14, 15.
The Messiah's coming had been first announced in Judea. In the temple at Jerusalem the
birth of the forerunner had been foretold to Zacharias as he ministered before the altar.
On the hills of Bethlehem the angels had proclaimed the birth of Jesus. To Jerusalem the
magi had come in search of Him. In the temple Simeon and Anna had testified to His
divinity. "Jerusalem, and all Judea" had listened to the preaching of John the
Baptist; and the deputation from the Sanhedrin, with the multitude, had heard his
testimony concerning Jesus. In Judea, Christ had received His first disciples. Here much
of His early ministry had been spent. The flashing forth of His divinity in the cleansing
of the temple, His miracles of healing, and the lessons of divine truth that fell from His
lips, all proclaimed that which after the healing at Bethesda He had declared before the
Sanhedrin,--His Sonship to the Eternal.
If the leaders in Israel had received Christ, He would have honored them as His messengers
to carry the gospel to the world. To them first was given the opportunity to become
heralds of the kingdom and grace
of God. But Israel knew not the time of her visitation. The jealousy and distrust of the
Jewish leaders had ripened into open hatred, and the hearts of the people were turned away
The Sanhedrin had rejected Christ's message and was bent upon His death; therefore Jesus
departed from Jerusalem, from the priests, the temple, the religious leaders, the people
who had been instructed in the law, and turned to another class to proclaim His message,
and to gather out those who should carry the gospel to all nations.
As the light and life of men was rejected by the ecclesiastical authorities in the days of
Christ, so it has been rejected in every succeeding generation. Again and again the
history of Christ's withdrawal from Judea has been repeated. When the Reformers preached
the word of God, they had no thought of separating themselves from the established church;
but the religious leaders would not tolerate the light, and those that bore it were forced
to seek another class, who were longing for the truth. In our day few of the professed
followers of the Reformers are actuated by their spirit. Few are listening for the voice
of God, and ready to accept truth in whatever guise it may be presented. Often those who
follow in the steps of the Reformers are forced to turn away from the churches they love,
in order to declare the plain teaching of the word of God. And many times those who are
seeking for light are by the same teaching obliged to leave the church of their fathers,
that they may render obedience.
The people of Galilee were despised by the rabbis of Jerusalem as rude and unlearned, yet
they presented a more favorable field for the Saviour's work. They were more earnest and
sincere; less under the control of bigotry; their minds were more open for the reception
of truth. In going to Galilee, Jesus was not seeking seclusion or isolation. The province
was at this time the home of a crowded population, with a much larger admixture of people
of other nations than was found in Judea.
As Jesus traveled through Galilee, teaching and healing, multitudes flocked to Him from
the cities and villages. Many came even from Judea and the adjoining provinces. Often He
was obliged to hide Himself from the people. The enthusiasm ran so high that it was
necessary to take precautions lest the Roman authorities should be aroused to fear an
insurrection. Never before had there been such a period as this for the world. Heaven was
brought down to men. Hungering and thirsting souls that had waited long for the redemption
of Israel now feasted upon the grace of a merciful Saviour.
The burden of Christ's preaching was, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God
is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel." Thus the gospel message, as given by
the Saviour Himself, was based on the prophecies. The "time" which He declared
to be fulfilled was the period made known by the angel Gabriel to Daniel. "Seventy
weeks," said the angel, "are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city,
to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for
iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and
prophecy, and to anoint the most holy." Dan. 9:24. A day in prophecy stands for a
year. See Num. 14:34; Ezek. 4:6. The seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety days,
represent four hundred and ninety years. A starting point for this period is given:
"Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to
restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and
threescore and two weeks," sixty-nine weeks, or four hundred and eighty-three years.
Dan. 9:25. The commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, as completed by the decree of
Artaxerxes Longimanus (see Ezra 6:14; 7:1, 9, margin), went into effect in the autumn of
B. C. 457. From this time four hundred and eighty-three years extend to the autumn of A.
D. 27. According to the prophecy, this period was to reach to the Messiah, the Anointed
One. In A. D. 27, Jesus at His baptism received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and soon
afterward began His ministry. Then the message was proclaimed. "The time is
Then, said the angel, "He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [seven
years]." For seven years after the Saviour entered on His ministry, the gospel was to
be preached especially to the Jews; for three and a half years by Christ Himself; and
afterward by the apostles. "In the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and
the oblation to cease." Dan. 9:27. In the spring of A. D. 31, Christ the true
sacrifice was offered on Calvary. Then the veil of the temple was rent in twain, showing
that the sacredness and significance of the sacrificial service had departed. The time had
come for the earthly sacrifice and oblation to cease.
The one week--seven years--ended in A. D. 34. Then by the stoning of Stephen the Jews
finally sealed their rejection of the gospel; the disciples who were scattered abroad by
persecution "went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:4); and shortly after,
Saul the persecutor was converted, and became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.
The time of Christ's coming, His anointing by the Holy Spirit, His death, and the giving
of the gospel to the Gentiles, were definitely pointed out. It was the privilege of the
Jewish people to understand these prophecies, and to recognize their fulfillment in the
mission of Jesus. Christ urged upon His disciples the importance of prophetic study.
Referring to the prophecy given to Daniel in regard to their time, He said, "Whoso
readeth, let him understand." Matt. 24:15. After His resurrection He explained to the
disciples in "all the prophets" "the things concerning Himself." Luke
24:27. The Saviour had spoken through all the prophets. "The Spirit of Christ which
was in them" "testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that
should follow." 1 Peter 1:11.
It was Gabriel, the angel next in rank to the Son of God, who came with the divine message
to Daniel. It was Gabriel, "His angel," whom Christ sent to open the future to
the beloved John; and a blessing is pronounced on those who read and hear the words of the
prophecy, and keep the things written therein. Rev. 1:3.
"The Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants and
prophets." While "the secret things belong unto the Lord our God,"
"those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever."
Amos 3:7; Deut. 29:29. God has given these things to us, and His blessing will attend the
reverent, prayerful study of the prophetic scriptures.
As the message of Christ's first advent announced the kingdom of His grace, so the message
of His second advent announces the kingdom of His glory. And the second message, like the
first, is based on the prophecies. The words of the angel to Daniel relating to the last
days were to be understood in the time of the end. At that time, "many shall run to
and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." "The wicked shall do wickedly: and
none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand." Dan. 12:4, 10.
The Saviour Himself has given signs of His coming, and He says, "When ye see these
things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand." "And take
heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and
drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares."
"Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all
these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." Luke
21:31, 34, 36.
We have reached the period foretold in these scriptures. The time of the end is come, the
visions of the prophets are unsealed, and their solemn warnings point us to our Lord's
coming in glory as near at hand.
The Jews misinterpreted and misapplied the word of God, and they knew not the time of
their visitation. The years of the ministry of Christ and His apostles,--the precious last
years of grace to the chosen people,--they spent in plotting the destruction of the Lord's
messengers. Earthly ambitions absorbed them, and the offer of the spiritual kingdom came
to them in vain. So today the kingdom of this world absorbs men's thoughts, and they take
no note of the rapidly fulfilling prophecies and the tokens of the swift-coming kingdom of
"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night,
nor of darkness." While we are not to know the hour of our Lord's return, we may know
when it is near. "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be
sober." 1 Thess. 5:4-6.
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