No other subject has so captivated the minds of Christians like this one; it has been made the focal point of many of the Lord’s people with vast volumes of commentary written upon the subject, and yet no other subject has been so totally misunderstood and misinterpreted by the professing church. As to when precisely it is to take place, well that depends upon whom you consult, some believe that this event is imminent, even at the doors (that is within our life time), while others still believe it’s a long ways off (that is, they say until the church has finished converting the world).
Some sighting the scriptures say that when he comes he will arrive on clouds of great glory and that every eye will see him as he sets his foot upon the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Others likewise sighting the scriptures say that he comes as a thief in the night to rapture away his church, later to return again to punish the wicked. To some he comes as spirit, others as flesh. To some the expectation is one of joy and jubilation to others it is a day of dread and foreboding as they foresee the Day of Judgment coming.
What do we think? Well that’s the subject of this study.
In this study we will be following along pretty much with Volume 2 of the Studies in the Scriptures series, “The Time is at Hand”, as we find that the facts could not be stated any better than as the Pastor has already stated them. (Note: we will only be taking extracts from the study ourselves, but should you desire to read the complete study for yourself follow the link above). As always any personal thoughts or comments which we might add will be in italics.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks God’s professed people make in their attempts to understanding this matter is that they put far too much emphasis on attempting to decipher the specific time of the Lord’s second advent and neglect to study just how and in what manner the Lord is going to reveal himself.
Therefore in order to understand the “how” and the “when” of our Lords second advent properly it is necessary that we have clear views both of the OBJECT of our Lord’s second coming, and of the MANNER in which he will be revealed.
What may be asked is the Lords object or (work) to be accomplished at his second advent?
The common view held out by the professing church is that he comes to render judgment, the good (believers) will be taken to heaven to live there, the bad (the heathen and the non-believer) will be punished. Of course based upon what particular branch of the professing church one might consult there are various degrees of punishment to be rendered, nevertheless once these have received their punishment the earth is to be destroyed in order to make way for a new earth. Who exactly is to occupy this new earth has yet to be determined especially seeing as all believers are supposedly now spirit beings living in heaven with God. Anyways enough with the vain babblings of men, what say the scriptures as to the true object of the Lord’s return, we know he comes to gather his elect, but is there more?
The answer is stated in the following text.
“And He shall send Jesus Christ, which [who] before was preached unto you; whom the heaven must retain until the times of restitution (restoring) of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:20, 21
If you have had the opportunity to look over our pages entitled “The Restitution of All Things” and or the “Ransom and Restitution” then you will have already gathered what precisely the OBJECT of our Lord’s second advent is, what it is to accomplish.
“Grasp and hold in mind as firmly as possible the fact that God’s plan is one harmonious whole, which is being worked out through Christ; and that the work of the second advent stands related to the work of the first as effect to cause: That is to say the great work of Restitution at the second advent follows the work of Redemption accomplished at the first advent as a logical sequence according to the divine plan. Therefore the Lord’s return is the dawn of hope for the world, the time for the bestowment of the favors secured by the redemption–the Gospel Age being merely an intervening parenthesis, during which the bride of Christ is selected, to be associated with her Lord in the great work of restitution which he comes to accomplish.
And since the Church of Christ, which has been developing during the Gospel age, is to be associated with her Lord in the great restitution work of the millennial age, the FIRST WORK of Christ at the second advent must naturally be the gathering of his elect Church, to which reference is made through the Prophet (Psa. 50:5), saying, “Gather my saints together unto me–those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
This gathering or harvesting time is in the lapping period of the two ages. (i.e. the Gospel age and the Millennial or Messianic age as depicted on the Chart of the Ages above). Just as there was an overlapping of the Jewish Age and the Gospel Age in which a harvest took place so too here. At that time various feature of the harvest took place chief among them the separation of the wheat from the chaff, Israelite’s indeed from the mere nominal professors of that nation so too now at the end of this age a harvest only this time the separation of the wheat from the tares.
This harvest period not only accomplishes the separation of wheat from tares in the nominal Gospel church, and the gathering and glorification of the wheat class, but it is also to accomplish the burning (the destruction) of the tares (as tares, or imitation wheat, professed Christians—NOT as individuals: the fire of destruction is SYMBOLIC as well as the tares), and the gathering and destruction of the corrupt fruitage of “the Vine of the earth“ (human ambition, greed and selfishness), which has been growing and ripening for centuries in the kingdoms of this world and in the various civil and social organizations among men. (Rev 14:18-20)
The OBJECT of his coming is to reconcile “whosoever will,” (Rev 22:17) of the world, to God, by a process of ruling, and teaching, and disciplining, called judging and blessing, we trust all understand (If not please see “The Day of Judgement”).
The MANNER of the Lord’s coming and appearing, therefore, is of paramount importance, before proceeding in any study of the time of that event.
The student must hold clearly in mind the OBJECT while studying the MANNER of our Lord’s return; and both of these, when he comes to study the TIME. This is needful as an offset to the erroneous views, already preoccupying many minds, based upon false ideas of both the object and the manner of our Lord’s coming.
The second presence of our Lord will cover a much longer period of time than the first. The mission of his first Advent was finished in less than thirty-four years, while it will require a thousand years to accomplish the appointed work of his second presence. And thus it may be seen at a glance that, while the work of the first advent was no less important than that of the second advent–yea, though it was SO IMPORTANT that the work of the second advent could never have been possible without it–yet it was not so varied, and hence required less description than the work of the Second Advent.
In considering the Second Advent we must not, any more than at the first advent; expect all prophecies to mark one particularly eventful moment of our Lord’s arrival and to call the attention of all men to the fact of his presence. Such is not God’s usual method: such was not the case at the first advent. The first advent of Messiah was not marked by any sudden or surprising demonstration, out of the usual order of things, but it was manifested and proven by the gradual fulfillment of prophecy showing to THOUGHTFUL OBSERVERS that the events, which should be expected, were being accomplished on time.
And thus it will be at his second advent. It is of less importance that we discover the exact moment of his arrival than that we discern the fact of his presence when he has arrived, even as at the first advent it was important to be able to recognize his presence, and the sooner the better, but much less important to know the exact date of his birth.
In considering the Second Advent, the act of coming and the moment of arrival are too frequently the thought, whereas it should be thought of as a period (time) of presence, as was the first advent. The precise moment at which that presence would begin would then seem less important, and his object and work during the period of his presence would receive the greater consideration.” (B103-107)
We will continue with our next post.