Some six thousand years ago, Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the earth and placed him in the Garden of Eden where he was supplied with everything needful for everlasting life. God also gave Adam a perfect helpmate and instructed them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, and subdue it. They were also appointed to have dominion over every living thing on the earth. Indeed, so perfect and complete were the arrangements he made for mans everlasting wellbeing and happiness that the Lord reviewing the situation “saw everything that he had made and behold it was very good.” Genesis 1:26-31
Man and all his offspring (all of us) could thus have lived forever on the beautiful planet earth in perfect happiness. The only requirement the LORD imposed was that of obedience. He said to Adam “Of the tree of knowledge of Good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” (Genesis 2:17) Mislead by the serpent, Eve ate of the tree, and so did Adam, and the curse of death fell upon man and all of his offspring. It was there in that beautiful garden, the inspired Apostle Paul explains, that “by one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Romans 5:12
That single, tragic act of disobedience in the Garden of Eden, jealously contrived and planted in man’s heart by his wily adversary, the devil, in due course brought forth its inevitable, unholy harvest of sorrow. Some sixteen hundred years after the fall, mankind had become so evil the scriptures record that “God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all the flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” Genesis 6:11-13
The Lord God then sent a great flood upon the earth “to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under the heaven: and everything that is in the earth shall die.” (Genesis 6:17) But Jehovah spared righteous Noah and his wife, and Noah’s three sons and their wives. The Apostle Peter briefly describes that cataclysmic event in his second epistle, where he writes: “The heaven were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water; WHEREBY THE WORLD THAT THEN WAS, being overflowed with water, perished.” (2 Peter 3:5,6) But the planet Earth, itself was not destroyed. The apostle tells us it was that first “world,” or social order on earth, which was destroyed by God, because it had become intolerably corrupt.
Peter then calls our attention to a second heaven and earth, or world, which followed upon the destruction of that first world in the flood. This second world, or social order, continues to this day. But although the flood temporarily cleaned the planet earth of the corruption that had so defiled it, Noah’s children were still imperfect; and it was not long before sin, suffering, disease and death resumed their former sway.
During the long, dark ages which drearily followed, Jehovah God did not leave his human creation without hope. Through the words of the prophets and in illuminating types and shadows he repeatedly described a coming glorious time of everlasting joy and blessing for all his human creation. He foretold the forgiveness of sin through the provision of a Redeemer, the healing of disease, the destruction of death, with righteousness and justice to be enjoyed by all. Greed and selfishness would be forever banished from the earth, for God’s righteous law would be written in every heart, and all would have love their neighbors as themselves.
Best of all, these promised blessings would not be restricted to the few who are presently regarded as relatively righteous, but would be available to all who had ever lived on this planet Earth. To this end God would arrange for the resurrection of all who had ever gone down to the grave since the world began. These are precious promises, aren’t they. We’re given scriptures from Jeremiah 31:31-34 which speaks about the resurrection, and the new covenant of the children of Israel. “behold the days come sayeth the Lord, That I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judea. Not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, which my covenant they break, although I was a husband unto them sayeth the Lord, But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days sayeth the Lord I will put my law into their inward parts and write it on their hearts and I will be their God and they will be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor and every man his brothers saying “know the Lord” for they shall all know me from the least of them unto the greatest of them, sayeth the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more.” Also in Genesis 22:18 we have the promise given to Abraham “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” In Hos. 13:14 we read “I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death.” and in 1st Cor. 5:22 we read that “As in Adam all die, so in Christ, shall all be made alive.”
Finally, to guarantee the fulfillment of all these precious promises, Jehovah God would send a loving, wise, and powerful King to reign on earth. This would be a Wonderful Counselor, a Mightly God, an Everlasting Father, and a Prince of Peace. And his kingdom and justice and reign would be from henceforth even forever! Isa. (:6,7)
Precious promises indeed. No wonder the inspired psalmist sensing something of the perfect happiness in store for suffering mankind, was moved to exclaim, in the 103rd Psalm verse 1-6, “Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies; who satisfied thy mouth with good thing; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” What a joyous prospect was thus proclaimed to a sin-sick, dying world!
In accordance with the word of the LORD, and precisely in the LORD’s due time, the long-promised Savior and Redeemer finally came. The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world; the Anointed One; the one who would give his life for the many’ who would redeem us all from the curse of death; who would obediently lay down his perfect life that all the world might have life; the Prince of Peace he finally came! Almost two thousand years ago our dear Lord Jesus left the glory that he had with the Father and suffered death on the cross, so that sin and death might forever be banished from the face of the earth, to be replaced by the everlasting peace and joy of an Eden restored. The Savior came almost two thousand years ago!.
Jesus disciples believed that he would come to be the great King and Messiah of the prophecies, and that he would establish a kingdom, in Jerusalem, and which would extend its sphere of influence until it embraced the whole world. However, toward the close of Jesus’ ministry he began to say things to them which indicated that first he would go away and would return later to set up his kingdom. That he would be put to death was not clear to them, for they were much surprised and discouraged when he was taken from them and crucified.
Having these thoughts in mind, they went to Jesus on the Mount of Olives and said, “Tell us, when these things will be, and what will be the sign of thy presence, and of the consummation of the age?” (Matt. 24:3) We use the diaglot translation of the disciples questions because it properly uses the words presence and age, instead of the coming and world. They were not asking for a sign which would indicate that Jesus would soon return, but signs which would denote his actual presence. They also wanted to know about the end of the age, not the end of the world, or earth.
The age comes to an end as a result of the return of the Master; so the signs which would denote the ending of the age would at the same time indicate his presence, and it is from this standpoint that we will examine a portion of Jesus’ reply to his disciple’s questions. These disciples had recognized Jesus as the promised Messiah, not by his appearance but by certain signs which accompanied his ministry and presence. They properly expected that this would also be the case when he returned to set up his kingdom, hence their desire to know what the signs would be. Naturally they desired again to be among the favored ones who would recognize his presence. They did not know that his return was to be nearly two thousand years in the future.
In reply to his disciple’s request for signs which would indicate his second presence, Jesus preached one of his few sermons. It is recorded in the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth chapters of Matthew. Verses twenty-one and twenty-two of chapter twenty-four present a very revealing sign for us who are living today. We quote: “Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.”
Today we are living in a time of great tribulation such as the human race has never experienced before. It is ta tribulation which threatens to destroy all flesh, just as Jesus indicated in this prophetic sign of his presence and the end of the age. Never before in the experience of mankind has there been a situation like this. There was tremendous destruction of human life during the first and second World Wars, but during those years of war the total population of the earth continued to increase.
Now the situation is different, for the great powers of earth have nuclear missiles in sufficient quantites to destroy the entire population of the earth several times over, so there is no mistaking the identity of this sign and what it means. But it should be noted that Jesus did not say that all flesh WOULD be destroyed. He simply said that if this time of tribulation were allowed to continue, it would lead to the destruction of all flesh. For our encouragement he gave assurance that the tribulation would be shortened, which means that all flesh will not be destroyed.
But this does not nullify the significance of the threat of destruction which is hanging over the world today. In outlining this sign of his presence, Jesus actually foretold, nearly two thousand years in advance, what the wise men of the world are now declaring to be a reality. Thus we not only have a sign of the time in which we are living, but we have an accurate prophecy in the word of God which increases our confidence in its forecasts pertaining to events still future in the outworking of the Creator’s grand design.
Another sign which Jesus gave to his disciples pertained to the natural descendants of Abraham, the Israelites. He said, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24) Here Jesus is using Jerusalem to signify the Jewish nation. At the time Jesus spoke, the Jewish people had already been trodden down by the Gentiles for more than six hundred years, or, specifically since 606 B.C. It was then that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, destroyed Jerusalem and took the Jewish people captive to Babylon, Although seventy years later they were permitted to return to their land to rebuild Jerusalem, they did not regain their national independence.
Babylon was overthrown by the Medo-Persian Empire, which later fell to Greece. Then Greece fell before the Roman armies, and Rome became the fourth in that series of Gentile world powers. The Israelites were subject to each of these in turn, and at the time of Jesus were being trodden down by the Roman Empire. And this lack of independence, he said, would continue until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. – Luke 21:24
This expression, times of the Gentiles, does not refer to the total number of years Gentile nations would exist in the earth, but to the period during which Jerusalem would be trodden down by the Gentiles. In reality it is, or was, a period of punishment upon the Hebrew people described in the Bible as “Seven times.” This time measurement is given by Moses in a warning to Israel of what the result of continued disobedience to God’s law would be. Certain lesser punishments are mentioned, and then Moses adds: “And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I (GOD) will punish you seven times more for your sins.” Lev 26:18
This warning of seven times more of punishment is repeated four times. The scriptures indicate that this ymbolic ‘time’ period was 2,520 years. We believe that it was this period which began at 606 B.C. when Israel lost it’s nation independence. If this is correct, then it would end in A.D. 1914. This was the year in which the First World War began. Out of that conflict came the ejection of the Turks from Jerusalem and Palestine by the British Gen. Allenby, the famous Balfour Declaration, and the opening of the ancient homeland to Jewish refugees and prisoners from all lands.
The Jews were on their way back to independence, and while there were temporary setbacks, the rehabilitation of Palestine by the Jews and their migration to their ancient homeland continues. Out of this came the birth of the new state of Israel, in 1948. Thus seen, it was in 1914, after 2,520 years of subjugation, that the chain of events began to unfold which led to nation independence for this Biblical and historic people, proving that the prophetic times of the Gentiles had been fulfilled.
The nation of Israel today is a free nation. No longer are the Israelites without their own government Israel is a nation among the nations of the world, no longer a vessel to Rome or to any other Gentile power. The new state of Israel is not without its difficulties, but these are the common problems of being free in a topsy-turvy world, Israel is not only free but it is a full-fledged member of the United Nation She is no longer trodden down by the Gentiles. Thus we have another outstanding sign of the Master’s presence.
In the second chapter of the prophecy of Daniel there is an account of some of the circumstances surrounding the beginning of the period of the Gentile supremacy during which the Jewish people were to be trodden down. Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon at that time, and the LORD used a very dramitic way to indicate that with Him began the period referred to by Jesus as the times of the Gentiles, which, as we have seen terminated in A.D> 1914
Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which, upon awakening, he could not remember. He was induced to send for Daniel,, a Jewish captive, who was able not only to remind the king of his dream but to interpret it for him. Daniel explained that in his dream the king had seen a human-like image. This image had a head of gold, breast of silver, thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet and toes of iron mixed with clay. As the dream progressed, the king saw a stone cut out of the mountain without hands; and this stone smote the image on its feet, causing it to fall. After the image fell, it was ground to powder, and the wind blew it away as the chaff from a summer threshing floor. Then the stone that smote the image grew until it became a great mountain which filled the earth.
Daniel’s interpretation of this dream is remarkable, in that it gives an accurate preview of Gentile history beginning with the new Babylonian supremacy, and continuing on down through the centuries even to the present day. In this divine interpretation Daniel identifies the Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar as being represented by the head of gold. To the King Daniel said: “Thou, O king, art a king of kings; for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresover the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.” Dan. 2:37,38.
Prior to this, God has recognized and favored none but the Jewish nation. He (GOD) had said “You only have I known for all of the families of the earth.” And now the Jews had been made subjects of Babylon and the king of Babylon was recognized by God as representing the first of that long line of Gentile powers who for 2520 years were to hold the Jews under their control as a subject people. This was the beginning of the times of the gentiles. But Daniel did not close his prophecy with his identification of Babylon as the head of gold. He explained further to Nebuchadnezzar that with the downfall of his kingdom there would arise another, an empire represented by the arms and breast of the image, which were of silver. This proved to be the MedoPersian Empire, which conquered Babylon a few years later. Daniel also told of a third empire which would arise, conquering the Medes and Persians. This was the Alexander the Great and was represented in the image picture by the thighs of brass.
Nor did Daniel stop there. He went on, and foretold the rise of the great military power of Rome. This kingdom, or empire, was represented by the legs of iron, and truly Rome was an iron kingdom. But Daniel did not make the mistake of mentioning a fifth world empire to supplant Rome. Instead, he called attention to the deterioration and divisions of the old Roman Empire, This being represented by the feet and toes of the image, which were part of iron and part of clay. The last remnants of the Roman Empire, as represented in the various states of Europe, and continued down to 1914, or to the end of the times of the Gentiles, as mentioned by Jesus in Luke 21:24.
In the king’s dream he saw a stone cut out of the mountain without hands, indicating a divine intervention in the affairs of these particular Gentile kingdoms, for this stone was seen to smite the feet of the image, causing it to fall. After it fell it was ground to powder, and the wind carried it away. Then the stone grew into a great mountain that filled the whole earth. Daniel explained this to mean that “in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom” – that is, in the days of the kings depicted by the toes of the image–the pre-1914 European monarchies.
Since the various divisions of the old roman empire continued until the First World War, it was natural that the ideology of the divine right of kings which began with Nebuchadnezzar should remain alive. Prior to the end of the times of the Gentiles, the kings of Europe did claim to rule by divine right. But this viewpoint is no longer accepted. In place of the divine-right of kings there are either godless dictators or rulers who are elected by the people. True, there are few kings left, but they are powerless in the world today and are no longer flaunting the claim of divine right to rule. It was, I think, King Farok, of Egypt who said there were only four kings left in the world when he left his throne. The king of hearts, the king of diamonds, the king of spades and the king of clubs. Of course we know there is still the queen of England, and other royalty, but they are just figureheads. Thus not only did 1914, the end of the times of the Gentiles, see circumstances arise which led in a few short years to the liberation of the Israelites as a people, but it also witnessed the turn of events which led to the downfall of that system of rulership which had subjected the Jewish people throughout the centuries.
It is well to remember that the time prophecies of the Bible point out the dates for the beginning of events which they forecast, not the completion of these events. This process of fulfillment is indicated in Daniel’s description of what happened to the image which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream when it was smitten by a stone, cut out of the mountain without hands. First it fell, but this was not the full end, for after that it was ground to powder, and subsequently the powdered bits were blown away like the chaff of the summer threshing floors. We suggest that this is an apt illustration of the gradual disintegration of the pre-1914 social order, and the end os not yet.
Another aspect of the great tribulation mentioned by Jesus is foretold in Zephaniah 3:8. This text reads, “Wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my zeal.” Here is something that is unique to the end of the age. The war in 1914 saw the first global gathering of nations for military purposes. This is what made it a “world” war. Following that war there came the league of Nations – another gathering, but for peaceful purposes. It was hoped that this association of nations could maintain lasting peace, but it failed.
Then came another gathering of nations for military purposes, and like the first one, it was worldwide. It was World War Two. It was followed by the formation of the United Nations. And today there are little associations of nations, with interests criss-crossing each other. The LORD foretold that eventually this would lead to the devouring of the symbolic earth with the fire of his zeal. Following this, the Lord will turn to the people a “pure language” that they may all call upon him to serve him with one consent. Zeph. 3:9
The fire of God’s zeal is in reality the great time of trouble, or tribulation, with which the present social order is even now being destroyed. It does not indicate that God is vindictive, but it does mean that before the long-promised messianic kingdom can be set up in the earth, Satan’s social order must be swept away; and this is accomplished by God’s zeal, which will brook no interference, now that the due time in his grand design has arrived for the establishment of Christ’s kingdom.
In a prophecy of the birth of Jesus and the purpose of his birth, recorded in Isaiah 9:6,7 Jesus is depicted in his role of the Prince of Peace. This prophecy declares that “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,” and then the prophecy concludes with these reassurring words, “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” It is the zeal of the Lord of hosts that is accomplishing every detail of his grand design, and we rejoice to know that there will be no miscarriage of his plans and purposes.
What Jesus spoke of as a great tribulation with which the age would end and Daniel described as “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.” (Dan. 12:1) in the fourth verse of this same chapter we are informed that in “the time of the end,” that is, the end of the age, many would run to and fro in the earth, and knowledge would be increased. It has been given to our generation also to witness the fulfillment of this prophecy. We have suddenly become a world of travelers, because there has come an unprecedented increase of new modes of travel.
We mention only briefly the foretold increase of knowledge and rapid travel. The facts themselves as they unfold before us worldwide speak louder and more convincingly than words. it is just another sign of Lord’s presence and the end of the age. How thankful we are that the end of the present age or of Satan’s world signals the incoming of a new age of peace and blessings for the world.
But today as we observe the world about us we see very little of the promised peace. We see rather a world that is well-nigh overwhelmed with a multitude of virtually unsolvable problems. A single day’s issue of the morning paper reports worldwide fears of nuclear devastation, of widespread runaway inflation, of wars and threats of wars and revolutions in a dozen parts of the world simultaneously. Not a week passes without accounts of corruption in high places, or world-spreading pollution of air and water, of the decline in morality and decency, of terrorism, robberies and murders. Their having quite a bit of trouble with the stock market these days. Their also having trouble finding qualified people to run for presidency of the U.S. and also people to be appointed onto the supreme court. Sincere men throughout the world want to limit the nuclear arsenal only to find that it may bring more problems because we would have to remember that it has been the threat of nuclear war that has kept us from complete destruction for the last 40 years. Right today we have problems in the Persian Gulf. There are problems in S. America and Philippians and in all of these different problems there appears to be no way out. Almost wherever one turns in this present world of trouble one finds problems that human wisdom cannot solve. Consider China with its teaming millions. China problems are overwhelming, perhaps they are unsolvable. The problem is simply what to do with so many people. And China has a problem now that the rest of the world is worried about because they know they know they will have the same problem in the future. The government recognizes that China holds too many people and the figures are grim. No one knows what can be done about it. Again they find no way out!
The same predicament arises in connection with the production of food in the mass of manufactured goods that are required to feed, clothe and supply the swelling world population with the necessities of life. Present-day farming methods use fertilizers and herbicides that contaminate the world’s water supplies. Some industrial processes result in contamination of the air, earth and rivers of the world and additionally may be largely responsible for the acid rain that destroys forests and life in lakes and streams. But the world needs food! And the world needs manufactured goods! And so again we have the same, seemingly insoluble situation which way to turn?
Let’s briefly look back at what we have covered. Our scripture texts says “when we see these things come to pass; know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand” Now, at the present time we know that the powers of the earth have the means to destroy all flesh as was prophesied. We also see that Israel has been restored as a nation. No longer under the Gentile rule. And looking at Daniels prophecy we see that there have been four universal world empires. The Apostle Paul told us that the trouble would come as travaileth on a woman , that is, in spasms. We’ve seen the spasms. First they tell us peace and safety and then BAM!! we have a period of trouble. It’s been this way ever since 1914. 1913 was a year designated as a year for world peace and it was followed immediately by the great world War. In this 1920’s everything was going fine here in this country. It just looked like it would never end then BANG!! came trouble. The 30’s was a deep depression. Then in the late 30’s when they were saying there would be peace at all cost in Europe we were struck with the second great World War. I might remind you at the present time that they’re going to have a summit meeting and they are going to put away all the big weapons and then we’re supposed to have a period of peace and safety so LOOK OUT!! The trouble is going to come. We see that the nations are gathered together and the trouble is worldwide. And there doesn’t seem to be any way out.
But what about all those promises by God’s holy prophets of a better world that was to come – a world of peace, of health and happiness, of justice and righteousness, of love for one’s neighbor, of everlasting life? Has man’s inability to solve the world’s problem rendered those glorious promises null and void?
No, not by any means! Never for a moment has God closed his eyes or shut his ears to events taking place on this planet Earth! Never for an instant has he forgotten his after-stated purposes to bless al the families of the earth! Never at any time since the world began was it God’s plan or purpose that imperfect man would or could be the means of bringing those precious promises to pass!
It is Jehovah God himself who will bring them to fruition! It is the Lord himself who said through the prophet, “I will ransom them form the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I wil be thy destruction.” (Hos. 13:14) It was God himself who said “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” (Joel 2:28) “I will write my law in man’s heart. I will make all things plain, so that all may call upon me.” It is God who loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish. It is the Lord God who will wipe away all tears. And it was the Lord God himself who promised that all these things would surely come to pass. – Revelation 21:5
But why the seeming delay? The Scriptures reveal that the continuance of the reign of sin and death during this Gospel Age since our Savior died on the cross has been wisely permitted by Jehovah God in order to accomplish other important parts of his grand design. It will conclusively prove to imperfect man that, even if allowed additional untold millennia, he would never be able to solve the world’s problems by his own efforts.
Mankind will also learn the all-important, lasting lesson of the destructive nature of sin. In speaking of the divine purpose of the law, the Apostle Paul explains that “Sin (was thereby) shown clearly to be sin, that the immeasurable sinfulness of sin might plainly appear.” (Rom. 7:13) Furthermore, it is during the specially trying times of this evil world since Jesus died that the Lord God of heaven has been choosing out of the world and perfecting those who shall live and reign with their Lord Jesus in the kingdom, for the blessing of all the people.
Ah, but when? When will this all come to pass? True, the Lord seems not to have given us any precise time. But he has graciously given us unquestionable signs of the near approach of the kingdom. And one of these hope-inspiring, clearly indicated signs of the nearness of the kingdom is revealed to the Lord’s watching people in the very perplexity and futility of man to solve the problems presently afflicting the world in which he lives!
In Luke 21:25,26 we are given additional significant information concerning this time. Luke said “at that time there would be upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.
Could there possibly be more precise description than here given by Luke of the confusion, futility, and fear that are filling the hearts of the people today, as they consider the possible awful consequences of human error or human selfishness? It is almost as if the Lord had permitted the Gospel writer to look down the long corridors of time to the present, and to catch a glimpse of the universal helplessness gripping the hearts of the world’s great leaders, and to record his vision of what he saw for the instruction and comfort of the Lord’s people who are alive and watching during this time of trouble. And what Luke reveals to us clearly shows that the world is, indeed, in the foretold Time of Trouble which Jesus said would mark his presence and the end of the Gospel Age.
That is not all! In this same prophecy of the Time of Trouble, Luke gives us additional important information that is not contained in the other Gospel accounts. After reciting a number of events that would identify the Time of Trouble, and which clearly would require the passage of some time for their accomplishment, he says, Luke 21:31 “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh….” Luke 21:31 “So likewise, when ye see these things coming to pass, know ye that the king of God is nigh at hand.”