2010 Greenville PCRT - Michael Horton "This Present Evil Age"
The first talk on Saturday morning at the Greenville PCRT Conference was given by Dr. Michael Horton. In keeping with the theme of eschatology the title of the talk was "This Present Evil Age."
If an individual's view of the end times is not focused on Jesus Christ, His Person and work, we ought to become suspicious of that approach. One of the questions that arises today is, "Are we living in the last days?" There is a peculiar temptation to watch the news and conclude that we are certainly living in the last days. The fact of the matter is that we have been living in the Last Days. According to the apostles Paul and Peter (2 Tim. 3:1, 1 Cor. 10:11, Gal. 3:1-5, etc.) the last days (end of the ages) were ushered in with the coming of Jesus Christ.Â 33 AD is the date that changed everything. We are now living in the last days of this present evil age.This was what time was moving toward from the moment that Adam fell and the Lord promised redemption.
Our first father, Adam, had a calling to subdue and rule the earth in the name of God. If he had obeyed and fulfilled his task he would have entered into eternal life for himself and all his posterity. Instead of obeying and living, Adam sinned and was exiled from Eden. God in His mercy came, and in His curse on the serpent (Gen. 3:15), gave the promise of the Gospel for mankind. In response to the promise, Eve cried out, â€œI have acquired a man from the LORDâ€ (v.1).Â She even names him, â€œHere He Is!â€Â Out of her womb will come the new heavens and the new earth, or so she thought.Â Eve had an over-realized eschatology! She has not given birth to the Messiah at all, but to the Antichrist, the first persecutor of the Church of Christ.
We see a description of the spiritual warfare at work in the very first descendants of Adam and Eve. Cain and Abel both appear before God in worship. Cain brought the fruit of the ground (a non-bloodly sacrifice) while Abel brought the best of the sheep that he tended. The writer of Hebrews tells us that it was by faith that Abel offered to God and better sacrifice. The LORD had required a blood sacrifice for the remission of sins. Abel shows his faith by offering the sacrifice that God required.
The boundary between the city of God and the city of man was drawn, first of all, between individuals in families--and not between nation and nation, as it would be throughout Israel's history until the coming of Christ.Â Cain manifests his wickedness by an act of fratricide. Evil is not something that we evolved into. It is not something that we learn. We are capable of all sorts of evil. If the first son ofÂ Adam and Eve could commit fratricide, what are we capable of?
Cain is allowed to flee to a city of refuge, perhaps like the cities of refuge we find in the book of Dueteronomy. God does not completely destroy everything east of Eden. In fact, Cain founds a city, representative of the city of man, where he and his offspring become the originators of art and music and culture. Because of His common grace, God shows goodness to all His creatures, and works through.
As Eve thought she had given birth to the Messiah in the person of Cain, so Satan thought he had ruined God's plan of redemption by destroying the seed of the woman that would bring redemption. But God provided a replacement for Abel. Often, the sacred line is so diminished that only one person is left (like the boy Joash) and if Satan can destroy that one person, he can thwart God's plan.Â This warfare is brought all the way to the victim's of Herod's bloody massacre, which was in truth Satan's massacre, in an attempt to find and destroy the "Abel" who will crush his head.Â Eve says Seth was given to replace Abel, not Cain.Â She now believes and understands where her hope lies, not in rebuilding Paradise on earth through our own efforts, religious or cultural, but by setting her hopes on that One who will make all things new.Â She names him "Seth," meaning "Elect" or "Appointed."
In Cain's line you have the father of metal, music, art, and culture. The church wants to be proud in the culture, and yet we have this humble line in Seth's children. We are not told that they are the founders of anything spectacular. It is not until the consummation that the kingdoms of this world will become the cities of our God and His Christ. We work in this world in all sorts of vocations, but what distinguished Seth's line from Cain's was not in the contributions to society, rather it was then that "men began to call on the name of the LORD." Instead of making a name for themselves and building a tower to heaven, they trusted the God who descends to us and raises us up to His tower--Jesus Christ.