Eschatology and Human History – Part 3
4.3 Signs of the Restoration of the Third Blessing
Once Adam and Eve had attained perfection, they were to fulfill God’s third blessing by gaining dominion over the natural world. Dominion over the natural world has two aspects: internal and external. Both these aspects of dominion were lost to humankind at the Fall, but we witness their restoration in the present era. This also suggests that the present era is the Last Days.
Internal dominion denotes dominion of the heart. A person who reaches perfection and comes fully to resonate with God in heart will experience God’s Heart as his own reality. Hence, he will be able to love the creation with the same love as that which emanates from God’s Heart and appreciate its beauty with the same delight as God. This is the meaning of dominion of the heart. However, when human beings fell and could no longer experience God’s Heart as a reality, they also could no longer relate to the creation with the same love as that which flows from God’s Heart. God’s providence of restoration through religion, philosophy, ethics and so forth, has gradually elevated the spirituality of fallen people toward God. In the modern world, there is evidence that people are regaining the worthiness to govern the creation through heart.
External dominion denotes proper mastery of the creation through science and technology. Had our first ancestors reached perfection and attained internal dominion over the creation, able to love it with the same heart as God, then their sensibility to the spiritual dimension of creation would have developed to the highest degree. This would have stimulated the rapid advancement of science, giving them external dominion over everything in the natural world. Humankind would have reached the stars long ago and harnessed the full potential of the universe. Economic progress would have accompanied the development of science and technology, creating a comfortable and pleasant living environment.
However, due to the Fall, people’s spirituality declined, and they lost internal dominion over the natural world. Their spiritual sensibility became as dull as those of animals, and they descended to the level of primitive man. Consequently, they also lost external dominion over the natural world. Through God’s providence of restoration, people’s spirituality is being elevated and their internal dominion over the creation is being restored. As a result, their external dominion is also being renewed, leading to today’s highly advanced science. Modern people have built an extremely comfortable and pleasant living environment through the economic progress that has accompanied scientific development. Fallen people have thus been restoring their dominion over the universe, advancing toward the re-establishment of God’s third blessing. Observing this, we are assured that the present era is the Last Days.
To summarize, the world’s cultural spheres are converging toward one global cultural sphere based on one religion. Concurrently, nations are moving toward forming an apparatus for international governance, having progressed from the League of Nations to the United Nations. Today, people are envisioning plans for a world government. In the sphere of economics, the world is moving in the direction of establishing one international market. Highly developed transportation and communication technology have overcome the separation of time and space. People today can travel and communicate with each other almost as if they were all living in the same village. People of all races, from East and West, can meet with one another as easily as if they were members of a large family. People on all six continents are crossing the oceans seeking friendship and brotherly love. However, a family can be formed only when there is a father and a mother; only then can true brotherly love arise. Only when Christ comes again as the Parent of humanity will all people join together in one great family and live harmoniously in the global village.
As these events unfold, we may know that today is surely the Last Days. There is yet one final gift that history must present to humanity: it is the cosmic teaching which can bind together all the strangers of the global village into one family through the love and guidance of the same parents.
The Last Days, the New Truth and Our Attitude
Fallen people have been overcoming their internal ignorance by enlightening their spirituality and intellect with “spirit and truth”79(John 4:23)CEV|KJ|NI through religion. “Truth” may be divided into two types: internal truth as taught by religion, which helps people overcome internal ignorance, and external truth as obtained through science, which helps people overcome external ignorance. Accordingly, we can discern two aspects within the intellect: the internal intellect, awakened by internal truth, and the external intellect, awakened by external truth. Religions develop as the internal intellect pursues internal truth, while science advances as the external intellect pursues external truth.
“Spirit” in this context denotes the inspiration of Heaven. Cognition of a spiritual reality begins when it is perceived through the five senses of the spirit self. These perceptions resonate through the five physical senses and are felt physiologically. Cognition of truth, on the other hand, arises from the knowledge gleaned from the physical world as it is perceived directly through our physiological sense organs. Cognition thus takes place through both spiritual and physical processes.
Human beings become complete only when their spirit self and physical self are unified. Hence, the experience of divine inspiration gained through spiritual cognition and the knowledge of truth obtained through physical cognition should become fully harmonized and awaken the spirituality and intellect together. It is only when the spiritual and physical dimensions of cognition resonate together that we can thoroughly comprehend God and the universe.
God thus assists ignorant, fallen people to elevate their spirituality and enlighten their intellect through spirit and truth. By these means, God conducts His providence to restore people to the original state before the Fall. In the course of history, people’s spiritual and intellectual levels have gradually been elevated due to the merit of the age in the providence of restoration. Hence, the quality of spiritual experience and the depth of religious and scientific knowledge have risen accordingly.
Spirit and truth are unique, eternal and unchanging. However, the degree and scope of their teaching and the means of their expression will vary from one age to another as they restore humankind from a state of utter ignorance. For example, in the age prior to the Old Testament, when people were still unenlightened and could not directly receive the Word of truth, God commanded them to make sacrificial offerings as a substitute for the Word.80(cf. Restoration 3.1) In the course of time, the spirituality and intellect of human beings were elevated to the point when, in Moses’ day, God granted them the Law, and at the time of Jesus He gave the Gospel. Jesus made it clear that his words were not the truth itself; rather, he declared that he himself was “the way, the truth, and the life.”81(John 14:6)CEV|KJ|NI Jesus was the incarnation of the truth. His words were just a means by which he expressed himself. Thus, the scope and depth of Jesus’ words and the method of his teaching varied according to whom he was speaking.
In this sense, we must understand that the verses in the Bible are only one means of expressing the truth and are not the truth itself. The New Testament is but an interim textbook given to enlighten the people of two thousand years ago, whose spiritual and intellectual levels were far lower than today. The modern, scientific-minded thirst for the truth cannot be satisfied by expressions of truth which are limited in scope and couched in symbols and parables aimed specifically at instructing the people of an earlier age. For modern, intellectual people to be enlightened in the truth, there must appear another textbook of higher and richer content, with a more scientific method of expression. We call this the new truth. This truth, as discussed previously,82(cf. Introduction) must be able to reconcile science and religion as one united undertaking in order to overcome the internal and external aspects of people’s ignorance.
Let us examine some other reasons a new expression of truth must appear. The Bible, as was noted, is not the truth itself, but rather is a textbook teaching the truth. It renders important parts of the truth in symbols and in parables. Since these are open to various interpretations, there have arisen numerous disagreements among believers, causing them to divide into many denominations. The primary cause of denominational divisions lies in the character of the Bible, not in the people. The strife between denominations will only grow more intractable unless a new truth emerges which can elucidate the symbols and parables obscuring the essential truths of the Bible. Without this new truth, God’s providence, which comes through the unification of Christianity, can never reach its goal. This is why Jesus promised that in the Last Days he will give us the new Word of truth:
Due to the disbelief of the people of his time, Jesus died on the cross without being able to teach all that was in his heart. As he said, “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”83(John 3:12)CEV|KJ|NI What is more, Jesus added, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now,”84(John 16:12)CEV|KJ|NIdisclosing how sorrowful he was about the inability of even his closest disciples to receive all that he wanted to share.
Nevertheless, the words that Jesus left unspoken will not remain forever a secret, but one day will be divulged through the Holy Spirit as a new expression of truth. As Jesus said:
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. -John 16:13CEV|KJ|NI
Moreover, it is written:
The words that Jesus wanted to give us are written down and sealed in this very scroll. When John wept because he could not find anyone worthy to open the scroll and read it in heaven, on earth or under the earth, one of the elders said, “Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”85(Rev. 5:3-5)CEV|KJ|NIThe Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, signifies Christ. The day must come when Christ will open the seven seals of the scroll, whose contents have long remained secret to humankind, and reveal to the faithful the words of the new truth. This is why it is written, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.”86(Rev. 10:11)CEV|KJ|NIIt is also prophesied that in the Last Days:
For all these reasons, we can expect the appearance of a new expression of truth in the Last Days.
When we examine the progress of history in the providence of restoration, we find that a new dispensation begins when the old dispensation is about to end. Accordingly, the beginning of the new overlaps the conclusion of the old; as darkness falls on the old history, the new history is already dawning. At such a time, the good and evil sovereignties, which had their origins at the same point yet pursued contrary purposes and have each borne their fruits on the world level, come to the point of intersection. Hence, those who live in this period suffer internally from anxiety, fear and confusion due to the absence of a guiding ideology or philosophy. They suffer externally from strife and battles fought with fearsome weapons. In the Last Days, disasters and devastation will abound, as Jesus spoke, “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.”87(Matt. 24:7)CEV|KJ|NI
In the Last Days, it is inevitable that such devastation take place in order to vanquish the power of evil and erect the rule of good. In the midst of such wretchedness, God without fail will establish the center of the emerging good sovereignty in order to usher in a new age. Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus were among those whom God raised up as the central figures of their respective new eras. Today, at this historical transition period, we must find the person whom God has designated as the central figure of the new dispensation in order that we might participate in this new age and give honor to God’s wishes.
The providence of the new age does not begin on the ashes of the old age. On the contrary, the new age sprouts and grows amidst the final phases of the old age and comes into conflict with that age. Accordingly, it is difficult for a person steeped in the old tradition to understand or accept the new providence. This is why the saints and sages leading the dispensation of a new age were often persecuted and martyred as victims of the old age. Jesus, for example, who inaugurated the New Testament Age, came at the close of the Old Testament Age in such a way as to bewilder the faithful adherents of the Mosaic Law. He was ostracized by the Jewish people and eventually crucified. This is why Jesus said, “New wine must be put into fresh wineskins.”88(Luke 5:38)CEV|KJ|NI
Jesus is to come again at the close of the New Testament Age. He will give us the new truth with which to found a new age, signified by the Bible’s vision of a new heaven and new earth.89(Rev. 21:1-7)CEV|KJ|NI Just as Jesus at his first coming was derided by the Jews as one possessed by Beelzebul,90(Matt. 12:24)CEV|KJ|NI he will similarly be persecuted by the Christians when he comes again. Jesus therefore prophesied that at his Second Advent, “he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”91(Luke 17:25)CEV|KJ|NI At this historical transition period, those who are comfortably entrenched in the ways of the old age will surely face judgment, along with the old age.
Fallen people’s spiritual sensibility is extremely dull. Hence, they generally tend to adhere strictly to the letter of the truth in their efforts to follow God’s providence. Such people cannot readily adjust themselves to the dispensation of the new age, even though the providence of restoration is moving toward it. They are generally too strongly attached to the outdated perspective provided by the doctrines of the old age. This is well illustrated by the case of the Jewish people of Jesus’ day who were so attached to the Old Testament that they could not respond to Jesus’ call to open a new chapter of the providence. On the other hand, those believers who receive divine inspiration through prayer are able to grasp spiritually the providence of the new age. Even though this may put them at odds with the doctrines of the old age, they will still respond to the promptings of the spirit and follow the calling of the new providence. Among the disciples of Jesus, there was not one who was overly attached to the Old Testament Scriptures. Rather, they all responded to the spiritual experiences which they could sense through their inner minds. In the Last Days, people who lead an ardent life of prayer or who live by their conscience will feel intense anxiety in their hearts. This is because in their hearts they vaguely sense a spiritual calling and want to follow the providence of the new age, yet they have not come in contact with the new truth which can guide them to act accordingly. These are the chosen ones who, once they hear the new truth, will be awakened simultaneously in their spirits and intellects by spirit and truth. They will then fully understand God’s providential needs concerning the new age and will volunteer with great enthusiasm and delight.
We who are alive today are living in the Last Days. We should cultivate a humble heart and make the utmost effort to receive divine inspiration through prayer. We should not be strongly attached to conventional concepts, but rather should direct ourselves to be receptive to the spirit, in order that we may find the new truth which can guide us to the providence of the new age. When we come across this truth, we should ascertain whether it leads us to become one with Heaven’s guidance. We should examine ourselves as to whether or not genuine, heavenly bliss springs forth abundantly from the depths of our soul. Only in this way can we, the seekers in the Last Days, discover the path to true salvation.