We will now examine scriptures which teach that that many in the Church, the Professing Church (the church nominal), as well as the True Church will, for a time, be ignorant of the Lord’s presence, AND of the “harvest“ and the ending of this age, while he is actually present, and the harvest work in progress.
The closing verses of Matt. 24, from Verse 42 on, are very significant. In Verse 37 our Lord had shown that the world (as well as the professing church) would not know of the PAROUSIA (presence) of the Son of man; and now he cautions his professed disciples (the True Church) that, unless on their guard they too will be similarly in darkness relative to his parousia.
He says, “Watch, therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come [“erchomai ”–arrive].” If people were expecting a thief at a definite time, they would stay awake so as not to be taken unawares: so you should be ever awake, always ready, and always watching for the first evidence of my Parousia. In reply to your question, “WHEN shall these things be?” I merely tell you to watch and be ready, and when I arrive, when I am PRESENT, I will communicate the fact to all who are watching and faithful, and they only will have any right to know. All others (i.e. the professing church) should and must be in outer darkness, and must learn with and as the world– through trouble.
“Who, THEN [in the “harvest”], is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Master shall make ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed that servant whom his Master on coming [“erchomai”–when he ARRIVES] shall find so doing. Verily, I say unto you, he shall make him ruler over all his goods“–all the vast storehouse of precious truth shall be opened to such faithful servants, to arm and supply and feed the entire household of faith.
“But if the servant’s heart is not right, he will say, ‘My master tarries [has NOT ARRIVED] and begins to smite [to oppose and contradict] his fellow servants [those who differ with him; those proclaiming the invisible presence of the Lord, that he HAS COME, is PRESENT], and to eat and drink with the drunkards [become intoxicated with the spirit of the world], the master of that servant will come [Greek, “heko”–WILL HAVE ARRIVED] in a day not expected, and in an hour in which that servant IS NOT AWARE, and will cut him off [from being one of the servants privileged to hand out meat in due season to the household of faith], and will appoint him instead his portion with the hypocrites. [Though not a hypocrite himself but a genuine servant, he must nevertheless, because unfaithful and overcharged, have his portion with the hypocrites in the perplexity and trouble coming upon Babylon.] “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth [Sorrow and disappointment].”
The foregoing, carefully examined, clearly teaches us that in the end of this age there will be one class denying that the Lord IS PRESENT (not denying that he will come sometime, but that he has come), and smiting or harshly opposing those fellow servants who must therefore be teaching the opposite–that the Lord has come.
Which is the faithful, truthful servant, and which the one in error, is clearly stated by our Lord. The faithful one whom he finds giving seasonable “meat” will be exalted and given fuller stewardship over the storehouse of truth, with increased ability to bring it forth to the household, while the unfaithful one will be gradually separated and drawn into closer and closer sympathy with the mere professors (Nominal Christians) or hypocrites.
And note the fact that the unfaithful is thus cut off, or separated, at a time of which HE IS NOT AWARE—in the harvest time–while his Lord is really PRESENT unknown to him, searching for and gathering his jewels. Matt. 13:30; Psa. 50:5; Mal. 3:17; Matt. 24:31
We particularize here, merely to show that, in answer to the question of the disciples about signs and evidences of his second PRESENCE, our Lord taught that neither the world nor the unfaithful servants (the professing church) would be aware of it, until the intense fire of trouble is at least commenced. And the faithful evidently will SEE HIM PRESENT merely by the eye of faith– through the Scriptures written aforetime for their learning, to be apprehended as they become due. Present truths on every subject are parts of “his goods” and treasures new and old which our Lord had laid up for us and now freely gives us. Matt. 24:45-47
While thus, by foretold indications, the Lord made ample preparation to enable the Church to recognize his presence when due, though they should not see him with the natural eye, he also carefully warned us against deceptions which should arise (Matt 24:24, compare 2 Thess 2:8)–deceptions which should appear so plausible as to deceive the very elect, if it were possible. But it is not possible, because all the elect give earnest heed to the warning, and studiously acquaint themselves (not only with the “manner” of his appearing, but likewise) with the foretold indications of his presence, and are watching for their fulfillment. Those otherwise minded are not of the elect class. Only the over-comers are to reign with the Lord.
Many of the deceptions, which were prophesied are already in existence, and are deceiving many. Most of those who are falling under these deceptions are of the Professing Church. The deceptions mentioned are designed with the intention of stumbling believers, the mere professing or nominal Christian, not non-believers, the heathen and etc.; the world could not stumble over that which they had no faith in in the first place. No! The only ones who could fall for these deceptions are professed believers. But, thank God, the elect are forewarned and forearmed, and shall neither be deceived nor disheartened. Though clouds and darkness (the impending great time of trouble) are round about him, they recognize his presence, and rejoice that their deliverance draws nigh.
The most prominent deceptions as alluded to in our previous posts are the following,
If any man should say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there [in any particular PLACE], believe it not. And if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert, go not forth: behold he is in the secret chambers, believe it not; for as [like] the bright shining sunlight, which gradually dawns upon and fills the earth, SO SHALL HIS PRESENCE BE. (Matt. 24:23, 26, 27) It will be manifested as foretold, by the dawning light of truth—truth on every subject, as we now see it so rapidly and gloriously unfolding. A few years more, and the Sun of righteousness will have fully risen with healing in its beams to bless and raise up the death-stricken world.
In view of the evidences presented thus far (Parts 1-9), concerning the “Manner of our Lords Second Advent”, we have no hesitation in announcing the heart-cheering intelligence, that the HARVEST of the Gospel age IS UPON US, and that THE MASTER IS AGAIN PRESENT AS THE CHIEF REAPER –(NOT IN THE FLESH), as in the Jewish harvest, but in power and great glory, as the “highly exalted,” divine Christ whose glorious body is now “the express image of the Father’s person,” though his glorious person is graciously veiled from human sight. He is inaugurating his reign of righteousness; his sickle of truth is separating; he is gathering together into oneness of heart and mind the ripe first-fruits of spiritual Israel; and soon that elect “body” complete shall rule and bless the world.
The time prophecies contained in the Bible indicate, that the harvest, and all its attendant events, are NOW chronologically due, and coming to pass as foretold. These time prophecies and all this particularity of instruction with reference to the manner and the attending circumstances of the Lord’s appearing were not given to alarm the world, nor to satisfy idle curiosity, nor to awaken a sleeping nominal church; but they were given in order that those who are not asleep, and not of the world, but who are awake, consecrated and faithful, and earnest students of their Father’s plan, may be informed of the significance of transpiring events, and not be in darkness on this subject as well as to all EVENTS IN NO OTHER WAY DISCERNIBLE WITH CERTAINTY–the harvest, the presence of the great Reaper, the threshing and sifting of the true wheat, the bundling and burning of the tares in the time of trouble, and etc.
The Apostle Peter describes how some of the unfaithful servants and hypocrites (of the professing church) will scoff DURING the PRESENCE of the Lord, even as they scoffed in the days of Noah. (2 Pet. 3:3, 4, 10, 12) Notice that the Apostle wrote to the Church and that the scoffers he describes are IN the nominal church and professedly interested in the Lord’s work and plan, and believers, therefore, that he will come some time.
The scoffing described is on the very subject here noticed, and such as we hear and shall hear from professed Christians, whenever the subject of the Lord’s presence and harvest work, etc., is presented. Christians generally, until they investigate the subject, have such ideas of literal manifestations of fire, trumpets, voices, etc., and of seeing the Lord descending through the air, a shining body of flesh, that when they hear of his INVISIBLE PRESENCE, without taking time to investigate a subject upon which they feel so sure, busied with worldly plans, and intoxicated with the spirit of the world, they will dismiss the matter quickly as unworthy of investigation, to their own loss.
It is to this class of professed Christians that the Apostle refers, saying,
“In the last days [in the closing years of the Gospel age–in the “harvest”] shall come scoffers, walking after their own desires [plans, theories, etc.], asking, WHERE is the promise of his PRESENCE [parousia]? For ever since the fathers fell asleep (the Apostles), all things continue as at present from the beginning of creation.”
When referred to our Lord’s statement (Matt. 24:37-39; Luke 17:26) that in HIS DAYS, in the days of his PRESENCE, things would indeed continue as before; and that, as in Noah’s day, men would be eating, drinking, marrying, planting and building; and that, as then, the world would KNOW NOT of his presence, and read not the signs of the speedy and great changes just at hand, they are too busy to consider the testimony carefully, and only continue to scoff.
Ah! Says Peter; they forget the great change which occurred in the days of Noah; and then, under the symbol of fire, he describes the overwhelming flood of trouble which shall shortly overtake the whole world, utterly overthrowing all civil and ecclesiastical rule [the heavens] and melting the entire social fabric [the earth]–producing anarchy and social chaos until the new heavens [ruling powers– the Kingdom of God] shall be fully established, as well as a new earth [society organized on a new and better basis, of love, equality and righteousness]. The Apostle then reminds us (Verse 8) that this Day of the Lord’s PRESENCE, for which the Church has long hoped and looked, is a thousand-year day–the Millennium of Christ’s reign.
In Verse 10 he assures us that “the Day of the Lord will ARRIVE [Greek, “heko”] AS A THIEF” [unobserved, quietly: it will be present, while some are scoffing and smiting those fellow-servants who declare the truth]. The Apostle then exhorts the saints to separateness from the world; that they be not swallowed up by politics, moneymaking, social and moral issues, and etc., but that they set their affections on higher things. He says, Seeing that in God’s plan present earthly conditions are only temporary and will soon give place to the better order, what manner of persons ought we to be, in respect to holy conduct and piety? –“LOOKING FOR THE PRESENCE [parousia] of the Day of God“–watching for the evidences (signs) to prove that it has come.
And, thanks be to God, his provision is so abundant that all those of piety, who are LOOKING for that day, will know of it before the full bursting forth of the fire of wrath.
Through Paul he assures us that none of the children of the light will be left in darkness, that that day should come upon them unawares. (1 Thess. 5:4)
What of you, have you been made aware of the Lord’s presence, are you one of the faithful servants proclaiming this truth, or are you one of the un-faithful servants scoffing and smiting your fellow servants who are proclaim this truth?
Hence, though we are already IN the day of the Lord’s PRESENCE, and in the beginning of the great fire of trouble, we see that it is even as shown us in symbol (Rev. 7:1,2)–the storm is held in check until the faithful servants of God are “sealed in their foreheads:” i.e., until such are given an intellectual appreciation of the TIME, PRESENCE, etc., which will not only comfort them, and shield them, but also be a MARK, seal or evidence of their son-ship, as indicated by our Lord when he promised that the holy Spirit should show to the faithful “things to COME.” (John 16:13)
“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:15)
Some take Peter’s statement literally, that “the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved and pass away with a great noise“; and also the Revelator’s description of the same events, by a very similar symbol, “The heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together.” It would seem, however, that one glance upward at the myriad gems of night shining through millions of miles of space, with nothing between to roll away, or to take fire, should be argument enough in one moment to convince such that they had erred in supposing these statements to be literal—should convince them that their expectation of a literal fulfillment is absurd in the extreme.
So, then, God veiled from mankind under figures of trumpets, voices, fire, etc., information (which was not for the worldly to know i.e. the worldly church, but only for the “little flock” of consecrated saints) regarding the harvest, the Lord’s presence, his spiritual kingdom, etc.; and yet he arranged them so that, in due time, they would speak clearly and emphatically to the class for whom he intended the information.
As at the first advent, so to a similar consecrated class it may now be said, in the time of the second advent–“Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables” –in figures and dark sayings–in order that, even though having the Bible before them, others than the consecrated may not really see and understand. Mark 4:11,12
The world is not ignorant of the unprecedented events and circumstances of the present time, and their increasing noteworthiness with every passing year; but not perceiving the grand outcome, these only fill their minds with dark forebodings of evil. As foretold, they are in fear, looking forward to those things that are coming on the earth; for already the powers of the heaven (the present ruling powers) are being shaken.” (B163-170)
With the hope that some of Gods TRUE CHILDREN, i.e. “those who have an ear to hear” have been awaken by this discussion.