Continuing our discussion of the Lords Second Advent
“It will be recalled that before our Lord’s crucifixion, he had been on familiar terms with his disciples, but after his resurrection, though he loved them nonetheless, his manner toward them was more reserved. This was doubtless to impress them more forcibly with the dignity and honor of his high exaltation, and to inspire due reverence for his person and authority.
Though as a man Jesus never lacked that dignity of deportment, which commands respect, yet a greater reserve was necessary and expedient after his change to the divine nature. Such reserve has always been maintained by Jehovah toward his creatures, and is expedient under the circumstances. This reserve marked all our Lord’s interviews with the disciples after his resurrection. They were very brief, even as he had said, “Hereafter I will not talk much with you.” John 14:30
Those who believe that our Heavenly Father is a spirit being and not a man should find no difficulty in realizing that our Lord Jesus, who is now exalted to the divine nature, and who is not only a moral likeness of God but in fact “the express image of the father’s person,” is no longer a man but a spirit being (of the highest order, the divine), whom no man hath seen nor can see without a miracle. It is just as impossible for men to see the unveiled glory of the Lord Jesus as it is for them to behold Jehovah.
“Who being (since his resurrection) the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance (the glorious body which belongs only to the divine nature), and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high…” Heb 1:3 American Standard Version
Think for a moment how even a reflection of the spiritual glory affected Moses and Israel at Sinai. (Heb. 12:21; Exod. 19; 20:19-21; 33:20-23; 34:29-35) “So terrible was the sight,” so overwhelming and fear-inspiring, “that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake.” And though Moses was supernaturally strengthened to behold the glory of the Lord, so that for forty days and forty nights, alone with God, overshadowed by his glory and without either food or drink, he received and wrote the divine law (Exod. 34:28), yet when he desired to see the Lord face to face he was told,
“Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me and live.” (Exod. 33:20)
All that Moses ever saw, therefore, was an appearance representing God, and nothing more was possible. This accords, too, with the Apostle’s statements: “No MAN (no human being) hath seen God AT ANY TIME“; he is the King immortal, invisible, whom no man hath seen nor can [ever] see. (1 Tim 6:15, 16) But that spirit beings can and do see God, who himself is a spirit being, is clearly stated. Matt. 18:10
If our Lord is still “the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6)–if being put to death in the flesh he was raised again in the flesh, and not, as the Apostle declares, a life-giving spirit–then instead of being exalted higher than angels and every name that is named in heaven as well as in earth, he is still a man. And if he retains the form of a servant, which he took for the purpose of suffering death for every man, and is still a little lower than the angels, he never can see God.
But how unreasonable such a view when fully examined in the light of apostolic testimony. Consider, too, that if our Lord’s flesh, that was pierced and wounded with nail and spear and crown of thorns, and marked with sorrow, is his glorious spiritual body, and if the scars and marred human features are part and parcel of the exalted Lord, he would be far from beautiful, even if we should love the wounds endured for us. And if he thus bears an imperfect, scarred, marred body, and if we shall be like him, would it not imply that the Apostles and saints who were crucified, beheaded, stoned to death, burned, cut to pieces and torn by beasts, as well as those who met with accidents, would each likewise bear his blemishes and scars? And in that view would not heaven present a most awful spectacle–to all eternity?
But this is not the case, and no one could long hold so unreasonable and unscriptural a view. Spirit beings are perfect in every particular, and so the Apostle reminds the Church, who are heirs of heavenly or spiritual glory and honor, that, though sown [in death] in weakness [with marks and wounds, etc.] it [the being] is raised in power; though sown in dishonor [with lines of care and sorrow, etc.] it is raised in glory; though sown a natural body [literally, “an animal body“] it will be raised a spiritual body; and that as we have borne the image of the earthly father, we shall bear the image of the heavenly Lord. (1 Cor. 15:42-51)
Our Lord Jesus for our sake took and bore the image of the earthly also, for a while, that he might redeem us. But in his resurrection he became the heavenly Lord (Rom. 14:9), and we, if faithful, shall soon bear the image of the heavenly Lord (spiritual bodies), as we now still bear the image of the earthly lord, Adam (human bodies).
Remember Paul’s case–In order that he might be one of the apostles, he must be a witness–must see the Lord after his resurrection. He was not one of those who saw the manifestations of resurrection and presence during the forty days; hence he was given a special glimpse of the Lord. But he saw him, not as did the others–not veiled in flesh and garments of various forms. And the merest glance at the unveiled glorious person of our Lord caused him to fall to the ground blinded with a glory far “above the brightness of the sun at noon-day“: from which blindness, to restore him to even partial sight required a miracle. (Acts 9:17, 18)
Did not Paul see the Lord as he IS–a spiritual being? And did not our Lord during the forty days appear as he was, i.e., as he had been previously, for the special purposes and reasons already pointed out? There is no room to doubt this. But the Lord had an object in appearing to Paul thus, just as he had, and served another object by appearing differently to the others. This object Paul shows, saying: “Last of all he was seen of me also–as by one BORN BEFORE THE DUE TIME.” (1 Cor. 15:8–literal rendering)
As the resurrection of our Lord was his birth from the dead, to the full perfection of spiritual being (Col. 1:18; Rom. 8:29), so the resurrection of the Church, the body of Christ, is here and elsewhere referred to as a birth. In our birth or resurrection as spirit beings, we shall see the Lord as he is, just as Paul saw him; but we, being changed or born then, as spirit beings, will not be stricken down nor blinded with the sight of our Lord’s glorious person. Paul’s statement means that he saw him as we shall see him–“as he is“: he saw him as all the body of Christ shall see him, but BEFORE THE DUE TIME, before he was born from the dead, and therefore before able to endure it–yet “as” each one so born shall in due time see him.
Moses, coming down from the mount to communicate to Israel the Law Covenant, was a type of the greater Lawgiver and Mediator of the New Covenant, who at his second advent shall come forth to rule and bless the world. Moses typified, therefore, the entire Church, of which our Lord is the Head. Moses’ face was caused to shine, so that the people could not look at him, and he must thereafter wear a vail, as a type of the spiritual glory of Christ, an illustration of the point we are now examining.
Christ has the real glory and brightness, the express image of the Father’s person, and we shall be like him, and no man can behold that glory; hence whatever manifestation of the Lawgiver there will be to the world when the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, THE GLORY OF THE SPIRITUAL PERSONS CANNOT BE SEEN. They will speak through the veil–under the cover. This, as well as more, was meant by Moses’ veil. (Exod. 34:30-33)
From what we have seen regarding spirit beings and their manifestations in times past, it is evident that if our Lord were to manifest himself at his second advent either by opening men’s eyes to behold his glory, as he did with Paul and Daniel, or by assuming a human body, it would be detrimental to the plan revealed in his Word. The effect of appearing in glory to the world, their eyes being miraculously wrought upon to enable them to see him, would be almost to paralyze them with the overwhelming sight, while to appear as a man would be to lower the standard of dignity and give a lower than the true estimate of the divine nature and form. As neither would seem to be necessary or advisable now, we cannot presume that neither of these methods will be adopted.
Nothing, then, either in reason or in Scripture, demands that our Lord shall at his second advent appear in various bodies of flesh and bones either. That such a procedure is not essential is evident from the success of Satan’s kingdom, which operates through human beings as agents. Those who partake of the spirit of evil and error represent the great-unseen prince, most fully. He is thus manifest in their flesh though himself a spirit being, invisible to men.
The Christ (Head and Body)“changed,” made partakers of the divine nature, shall be spirit beings as truly as is Satan, and equally invisible to men. Their operations will be similar in manner, though directly opposite in character and results; their honored agents, not bound and made slaves by ignorance and weakness, as are most of the servants of Satan, but made perfect, and “free indeed,” will act intelligently and harmoniously, from choice and from love; and their appointments will be rewards of righteousness.
Our Lord’s presence will be manifested to the WORLD by exhibitions of “power and great glory,” not, however, merely to the natural sight, but to the eyes of their understanding, as they shall open to an appreciation of the great changes, which the new Ruler shall effect. His presence and righteous authority will be recognized in both the punishments (judgment), and the blessings that will flow to mankind from his reign. (B131-137)
Continued with next post.