The Golden Age
Micah 4:1.---' But in the latter days it shall come to pass.' Maranatha
The prophet lifts his eyes away to the latter days to gain refreshment in his present toil. He feasts his soul upon the golden age which is to be, in order that he may nerve himself in his immediate service. Without the anticipation of a golden age he would lose his buoyancy, and the spirit of endeavor would go out of his work. Our visions always determine the quality of our tasks. Our dominant thought regulates our activities. What pattern are we working by? What golden age have we in mind? What vision of possibility is helping us to shape the actual? In our work and service are we dealing with the "might-be" or only with the thing that is? Look at Christ's way. He is calling the thing that is by the name of its "might-be." He looks at Simon---impulsive, unstable Simon---and He sees in him a sure foundation stone: 'Thou shalt be called Peter,' a rock. To the woman of sin, the outcast child of the city, He addressed the gracious word 'daughter,' and spoke to her as if she were already a child of the Kingdom; and her weary heart leapt to the welcome speech. We must make Christ's way our way. We must come to our work and our problems with the vision of the "might-be" in them.
The great reformers and all men and women who have profoundly influenced the life and thought of their day have been visionaries, having a clear sight of things as they might be, feeling the cheery glow of the light and heat of the golden age. Abraham, amid the idolatrous cities of his own day, had a vision of the latter days, and, while laboring in the present, 'looked for the city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God.' The Apostle John, in the Island of Patmos, while impressed with the iniquity of Rome seated on her seven hills, and drunk with the blood of saints, saw into the future to what "might be" on earth, 'The holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.' And so it has been, this vision through all the changing centuries right down to our own time.
What are the characteristics of the golden age to which the prophet was looking with hungry and aspiring spirit?
'It shall come to pass, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills.' That is to say, the dominant peak in the reconstructed landscape is to be spiritual religion. Man's relationship to God is to be the supreme relation overtopping and overseeing everything else. The biggest thing in life is to be the yearning for the Divine communion, the craving for fellowship in the heavenly quest. That is how the prophet's vision is to begin to be fulfilled---in the recovery of vital worship, in the revival of spiritual religion.
'And many nations shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the Lord of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.' Then the second characteristic of the golden age is that peoples are to find their confluence and unity in common worship. Brotherhood is to be discovered in spiritual communion. Pleasure is more frequently divisive than cohesive. At the present time we have abundant evidence that commerce may be serving ministry among the peoples of the earth. And certainly we do not find union in common armaments. Two nations may fight side by side today, and may confront each other tomorrow. No, it is in the mountain of the Lord's house that the peoples will discover their unity and kinship. It is in the common worship of the one Lord, in united adoration of the God revealed in Christ that our brotherhood will be attained, and we shall realize how rich is our oneness in Him.
'And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks.' The third characteristic of the golden age is to be the conversion of merely destructive force into positive and constructive ministries. No energy is to be destroyed; it is all to be transfigured. The instruments which desolated the world are to be turned into instruments which will make it fair and fruitful. It is not enough that men learn war no more, they must go on to learn the higher arts of peace. The ideal life or society does not consist in negations; it deals with its material in a constructive and transforming spirit. It delights to see the pruning-hook in the spear, and it hastens to transform the one into the other.
A great and far-reaching principle this is! Nothing need be lost; all things may be transformed. The powers and energies which were dedicated to the cause of evil, if only they be touched and consecrated by a new sense of the meaning of life, will be equally mighty when thrown upon the side of God and good.
'They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree.' It is a picture of contentment. There is to be a distribution of comforts. Life's monotony is to be broken up. Sweet and beautiful things are to be brought into the common life; and dinginess and want are both to be banished. There is to be a little beauty for everybody, something of the vine and the fig-tree. There is to be a little ease for everybody, time to sit down and rest. To every mortal man there is to be given a little treasure, a little leisure and a little pleasure. 'And none shall make them afraid.' They are not only to have comfort but the added glory of peace. The gift of the vine and the fig-tree would be nothing if peace remained in exile. There are many people who have both the vine and the fig-tree, but their life is haunted and disturbed by fears. In the golden age peace is to be the attendant of comfort, and both are to be quests in every man's dwelling.
In Christ, timothy.
Micah 4:1.---' But in the latter days it shall come to pass.'