“Many Christians today are waiting for Jesus’ coming. A similar class lived at the first advent that, nevertheless, when he had come, could not believe it. They received him not, but rejected and slew him, because he came not in accordance with their earthly ideas.
Similar earthly ideas blind the eyes of most Christians today. They, like the Jews, are looking for an earthly (fleshly) king, (and thus a visible appearance). It seems strange that they cannot realize that, since his resurrection, he is “the express image of the Father’s person” –“whom no man hath seen nor can see“–for “God is a Spirit,” (spiritual being) and “a spirit hath not flesh and bones.” As you cannot see an angel though present, unseen, without a miracle, why then is it so hard for some to imagine Jesus present, yet unseen?
The difficulty arises from the confused ideas held on the subject of animal (human) and spiritual bodies. “If there is an animal body, there is also a spiritual body,” says Paul (1 Cor. 15:44–Diaglott), and we wish that all could realize this. They are distinct and separate. You cannot have both at the same time; they belong to two different natures. The one body and nature is the earthly; the other, the heavenly, is promised to the over-comers; and the promise of it is properly called a “heavenly calling.” (Heb. 3:1.) We do know what the earthly is, while we do not know what a heavenly, or spiritual body, is. “It doth not yet appear what we shall be“–hence it must be very different from our present animal body. (1 Cor. 15:38-44; and 1 John 3:2.) Jesus and angels are spiritual beings, and it is by reason of the difference between their nature and ours that we cannot see them with our natural eyes unless they appear to us (manifest their presence by a miracle.).” R454
Natures Separate and Distinct
“The Bible indicates there can be no direct interaction between the divine and the human. The earthly creation is not compatible with the environs in which God dwells, as God told Moses, “Thou canst not see my face; for man shall not see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). This statement implies that the very nature of human beings precludes the literal seeing of God. This, of course, is beyond our understanding. Our experience is limited to our four dimensional cosmos (space plus time). The Creator of all things exists outside those dimensions.
God’s cosmos is spiritual where, apparently, there is no time. Otherwise how do we explain God having no beginning and no end? If there is no time, movement as we understand it in our physical cosmos, distance divided by time, has no meaning since it results in division by zero.
The promised return of God cannot be understood in a literal sense. It does not involve his movement in the physical cosmos nor any visual personal appearance. Rather, it speaks of his intervention in earthly affairs, the use of his Holy Spirit (Zech 4:6) to accomplish his purpose. This understanding of the “return” of God has a direct bearing on the “return” of Jesus, the Son, who is the “express image” of the Father (Heb 1:3). What is true for the Father is now true for the Son.”
As is per the usual with most beliefs the pendulum tends to swing a bit too far one way or another, as there are those who advocate an actual visible appearance of our returned Lord, whether in spirit or flesh so too there are those of the other extreme who claim that our Lord’s Second Advent does not involve his actual presence here on earth at all, but rather as was alluded to in the paragraph above, he simply intervenes in the affairs of earth, that is to say he turns his face or attention earthward to finish the work appointed. He himself remains in heaven sitting upon his throne even as the Father sits upon his throne, and from there he employs various agencies at his disposal whether human or angelic, animate or inanimate to accomplish the work.
The scriptures however contradict this idea altogether, three of noteworthy are the following,
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence (face) of the Lord (GOD), and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive (retain) until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-21)
Here we have the Word of the Lord which clearly states that at the time appointed God will send his Son once more to accomplish his will.
“This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
This “same Jesus” howbeit now highly exalted, (a spirit being of the very same nature as that of the Father) will come again in like manner as he left, quietly, secretly, without great show or fanfare known (seen) only by his faithful and watchful servants, but of prime importance here is the fact that he will come again.
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thess 4:16, 17)
Here once again a physical appearance of the Lord is prophesied. Although this particular text uses highly figurative language it nevertheless depicts the Lord as descending from the heavens which heretofore had retained him until the appointed time. Here the last members of the body, the “feet of him” are joined with him in the air, not in heaven (at least not right away), but in the air, in the earth’s atmosphere.
Nevertheless when we think of our Lord, we should remind ourselves that the man Christ Jesus died some 2000 years ago. He was raised a divine being and that is how we should think of him.
“Yet a little while, and the world beholds (sees) me no more; but ye behold me: because I live, ye shall live also.”—John 14:19, ASV
“Wherefore we henceforth know no man after the flesh: even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so no more.”—2 Cor 5:16, ASV
We must not allow the confused teachings of Christendom to befuddle our minds. We must remove from our thinking the totally inappropriate mental pictures we have as a result of all the false representations we have been exposed to (i.e. Renaissance paintings, movies, television shows and such). Jesus is divine, therefore he is like God. God is invisible and, as Paul declared to Timothy, “no man hath seen, nor can see [him]” (1Tim 6:16).
“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared (interpreted, represented) him.”—John 1:18, ASV
“God is spirit; and those worshiping him must worship in spirit and truth.”—John 4:24, Diaglott
“And the Father that sent me, he hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his form (his spiritual body).”—John 5:37, ASV
Note very closely our Lords statement in this last scripture; you have never seen his form (his true spiritual nature).
“No man hath beheld God at any time.”—1 John 4:12, ASV
What is true of the Father is true of the glorified Son. Again, we have the lesson of John—”we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2, KJV). To see Jesus, now a divine being, it is necessary to be “like him.” Only beings that are like Jesus will see him. This would rule out any physical manifestation on his part to the earthly creation. What is true for the glorified Jesus would also be true for the glorified Church. (“The Return of Jesus Christ”, Page 2, 3)
The Church (all its members) when completed and glorified will never be seen by man again, but will, similar to the case with our Lord in the past when he represented the Father, so they shall be represented to mankind through various agencies, specifically the Ancient Worthies, and possibly by manifestations of members of the Great Company Class.
The Presence of the Lord
“We know of his presence, not by the light of human science, but by the light of God’s Word. We know of his presence, not as men recognizing a man, but as new creatures recognizing our Head, our Captain, and our Bridegroom. We see him not by human sight, but the eyes of our understanding, being opened and enlightened by the light of our lamp (the Word of God), we see him, whom we love and adore, present to test those who claim to be his, and to select his “faithful,” “undefiled,” “chaste virgin“–to “make up his jewels“: those who are accounted worthy to “follow the Lamb wheresoever he goes,” and to be his joint-heirs, glorified together with him “the Bride, the Lamb’s wife.” (Comp. Rev. 14:4, 5 and 21:9.)
He is present, not only to establish his kingdom and glorify his saints, but also to break in pieces and consume all earthly kingdoms, and to bind Satan by overthrowing his power. Thus he will liberate mankind–the Jew first and also the Gentile—and bless all the families of the earth. None, familiar with Scriptures, will question that this is the order of the Lord’s work as therein revealed. By a parable he showed that he would first reward his faithful ones, and then proceed to deal with the world.
In the establishment of his kingdom he first comes, secondly organizes his own kingdom, and third uses his kingdom power to overthrow evil and error and present kingdoms of earth, at the same time beginning the restitution of Israel as a first step in “the restitution of all things spoken.” But while this is plainly the Scriptural order of Christ’s work, and while we see Israel’s restitution commencing, and the nations on the brink of overthrow, while the nominal Church has been passing through the time of trial and testing, which is rapidly sifting out the true and ripe wheat, gathering the jewels– the virgin of Christ–yet many are hoping that Jesus will come soon.
“Ye fools and blind,” can ye not discern his presence by these things transpiring all around you? These are the signs (the evidences, the indications) of the Son of man. They indicate that he has already come and has already commenced his work. Though the signs of the times add increased light, yet, by the light of the Word, we discerned his presence years before any of these outward signs corroborated its teachings.
Unlike the professing church who are falling prey to the deceptions spoken of by our Lord in Matt 24:25-27 who look to the sky with the natural eye or toward the desert or wilderness of Palestine, hoping for the fleshly return of our Lord or who seek in some mythical sense “in the secret chambers”, to catch a glimpse of his return, we prefer to rely upon a more sure source, the Word of God. We look not with the natural eye, but with the eye of faith, the eyes of our understanding having been enlightened. We have the more sure word of prophecy (surer than any outward sign), whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp that shines in a dark place (this present evil world), until the day dawn. (2 Pet. 1:19.) R454
“But concerning the times and the seasons (a.k.a. the Second Advent, the harvest, the destruction of the present order and etc.), brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night (Quietly, stealthily, and after it comes many for some time will not even know they are already in it). For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction (liken to the Day of Noah) comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But YOU, brethren (those who are truly awake), are not in darkness (having taken heed to the more sure word of prophecy), so that this Day (the day of the Lord, the Second Advent) should overtake you as a thief.” (1 Thess 5:1-4)