We continue now with our study of the manner of our Lords Second Advent, we were previously examining some seemingly conflicting scriptures in this regards. The scripture we had examined last was (1 Thess 4:16) in regards to the “Shout”, “The Voice of the Archangel”, and “The Trump of God”.
“IN FLAMING FIRE” The next of these symbolic statements can be readily understood, if the proper meaning of symbols were borne in mind. It reads,
“The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess 1:8)
Throughout the Scriptures, EARTH, when used symbolically, represents society; MOUNTAINS represent kingdoms; HEAVENS, the powers of spiritual control; SEAS, the restless, turbulent, dissatisfied masses of the world. FIRE represents the destruction of whatever is burned–tares, dross, earth (social organization), or whatever it may be. And when BRIMSTONE is added to FIRE in the SYMBOL, it intensifies the thought of destruction; for nothing is more deadly to all forms of life than the fumes of Sulfur.
Thus our scripture under examination, expressed literally, signifies that in his day (the millennial age) our Lord’s presence will be revealed or manifested to the world from his position of spiritual control (“heaven“), in the wrath and punishment then visited upon evil and evildoers. It will be consuming wrath, as indicated by the symbol, FIRE, and will leave neither root nor branch of evil systems, error, oppression, or willful sinners; and all the proud, and all evildoers, shall be burned up as stubble in that Millennial day.
In its beginning– in this “harvest” period–this fire will burn very fiercely, consuming pride and evil, now of such rank growth. Happy those who will surrender their pride and evil to be destroyed, that they themselves be not destroyed also (in the “second death“), as some resisters will evidently be, during the Millennial age. It is of this time that we read, “Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” (Mal. 4:1)
The “mighty angels,” (Verse 7) messengers, or agents of his power, are various, and may properly be understood as applying to and including all the various agencies, animate and inanimate, which shall be used by our Lord in the overthrow of the evil systems of the present, and in the chastisement of evildoers.
While the wrath or vengeance of the Lord is thus to be expressed in flaming fire, in consuming trouble, such as never before was known–so general and widespread, and so destructive of evil–righteousness and the righteous will begin to be favored. And as these dealings become more and more apparent, men will begin to draw the inference that a new power has taken control of human affairs; and thus the PRESENCE of our Lord as King of kings shall be revealed to the world.
“He shall be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance [both] on them that know not God [who are not really acquainted with God, but who nevertheless fail to obey the light of conscience, which all to some extent possess], and [also on those who, while knowing God, yet] obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Under the chastisements and increasing light and favorable opportunities of the Millennial day, all will be brought to such a clear knowledge of the truth and the way of righteousness as to be without the excuse of ignorance, or of inability to obey the truth; and those who persistently continue enemies of God and righteousness shall be punished with LASTING DESTRUCTION (a destruction from which there shall be no resurrection) from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power.
“IN POWER AND GREAT GLORY” The next statement is to the effect that the world will see the Son of man COMING, before his kingdom is fully set up or his joint-heirs are all gathered and exalted with him. And, seeing his coming, all the tribes of the earth will mourn–“They shall see the Son of man coming with power and great glory.”
Already the world sees THE CLOUDS OF TROUBLE gathering and darkening; they realize that a power is now at work in the affairs of men, with which they cannot cope; the near future, from the present outlook, is dark and ominous to all who have sufficient intelligence to mark the trend of events. Thinking men observe the persistency with which questions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, are forced upon their consideration, demanding an expression of their individual principles. Many recognize the GLORY AND POWER of earth’s new Ruler, yet because clouds and darkness are round about him they do not recognize the King himself.
Men see THE CLOUDS, and therefore see him coming in the clouds with power and great glory [the glory of power and justice], but they do not recognize HIM. Not until the clouds have let fall hail stones and coals of fire (Psa. 18:12, 13) to batter down men’s pride, and selfishness, and prejudices, and consume these, will the clouds disappear, and reveal the full majesty and glory of Christ’s presence.
If men would consider, and hearken to the voice of the Lord, which now directs the course of justice, and warns of impending retribution, the great disasters of the near future would be averted; but “God spoke once, yea, twice, yet man perceived it not…Then he opened the ears of men [in the thunder tones of “the day of trouble”] and seals their instruction, that he may withdraw man from his [own] purpose, and hide pride from man.”
“Behold, he cometh with clouds,” and in due time “every eye shall see [DISCERN] him,” shall recognize his presence, power and authority; and all must submit to it, whether willing or unwilling, until the loosing of Satan for a little season, in the close of the Millennium, when after full experience their willingness or unwillingness will be fully tested, and the unwilling will be destroyed—in the second death, symbolically called the lake of fire. (Rev. 21:8)
Thus seen, all of these symbolic explanations of the manner of our Lord’s coming accord perfectly with the plain statements which declare that his presence will be a secret for a time, known only to those awake and watching. (B150-153)
Continued with next post.