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The Second Advent, Part 11

The Second Advent, Part 11

“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)

The Second Advent, Part 10

The Second Advent, Part 10

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 theharvest 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 AWAREin 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.

Scoffing Foretold

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.

The Second Advent, Part 9

The Second Advent, Part 9

Our Lord’s Parousia in the Harvest

“The Greek is a very exact language: a fact, which greatly enhances its value in giving exact expression to truth. Thus, for instance, in our common English Bibles, the word COME is used to translate thirty-two Greek words, each of which has a fine shade of difference. Instances:

Ephistemi” signifies to overtake, as in Luke 21:34–“COME upon [overtake] you unawares“;

Sunerchomai” signifies to gather or come together, as in 1 Cor. 11:18–“COME together in the church“;

Proserchomai” signifies to approach, or come toward, as in Heb. 4:16–“Let us therefore COME [approach] boldly“;

Heko” signifies to arrive, or have come, or came, as when the action of coming is completed, as in John 2:4 –“Mine hour is not yet COME [arrived]“;

Enistemi” signifies to be present, and is so translated, except in two instances where it should be so rendered: 2 Tim. 3:1–“Perilous times SHALL COME“–be present; and 2 Thess. 2:2–“That the day of Christ IS AT HAND“–present.

Parousia”, too, signifies presence, and should never be translated coming, as in the common English Bible, where it is twice rendered properly, PRESENCE. (2 Cor. 10:10; Phil. 2:12)

The “Emphatic Diaglott” (containing the original Greek text), a very valuable translation of the New Testament, renders Parousia properly, PRESENCE, in almost every occurrence of the word.

The two Greek words,hekoandparousia”, and their use in the New Testament, are what we desire to notice at present, and particularly the latter of these; because a correct appreciation of their significance sheds light upon the manner of our Lord’s return, through passages in which they occur, while the common but erroneous translation beclouds the very point it should illuminate. *

*The word Parousia occurs twenty-four times in the Greek Testament, and is only twice in the English common version (2 Cor. 10:10; Phil. 2:12) correctly translated PRESENCE. The other occurrences, in which it is mistranslated COMING, are as follows: (Matt. 24:3,27,37,39; 1 Cor. 15:23; 16:17; 2 Cor. 7:6,7; Phil. 1:26; 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1,8,9; James 5:7,8; 2 Pet. 1:16; 3:4,12; 1 John 2:28).

With the correct thought as to the meaning of Parousia in mind–not that of COMING, as being on the way, but PRESENCE, as after arrival–let us examine some passages in which the word is used. And from these we will learn that PRESENCE does not necessarily imply sight, but that it is applicable also to things present but unseen. Thus, for instance, angels, spirit beings, can be present with us, yet unseen, as our Lord was present in the world and often with the disciples during the forty days after his resurrection, without being seen of the world, or by his disciples except on the few brief occasions already referred to. Those days were days of his Parousia (presence), as much as the preceding thirty-three and a half years had been.

In the conversation previous to the question of Matt. 24:3, our Lord had foretold the destruction of the temple and the rejection of Israel after the flesh until a time when they would gladly recognize him as their Messiah and say, “Blessed is he.” He had told his disciples that he would go away, and come again and receive them unto himself. He called their day the “harvest,” or end of that age, and he had told them of a future “harvest” at the time of his second coming. (Matt. 9:37, 38; 13:39, 40)

Doubtless remembering that few recognized him as the Christ at his first advent, they wanted to know HOW he might be surely recognized at his second advent–expecting probably that his second advent would occur in their day. Hence their inquiry,

What shall be the sign [the indication] of thy PAROUSIA [presence] and of the end of the age?

Because of their disposition to mix the closing events of the Jewish age, or harvest, in which they already were, with the then futureharvest,” or end of the Gospel dispensation, our Lord gave quite a detailed account of events which must intervene, indicating a lapse of a considerable period between, yet giving no clear idea of its length; for even he did not then know how long it would be. (Mark 13:32)

Our Lord’s reply in (Verses 1 to 14) covers the entire Gospel age; and his words in (Verses 15 to 22) have a double application –literally to the close of the Jewish age, and figuratively to the end of this Gospel age, of which the Jewish age was a shadow. (Verses 23-26) contain words of warning against false Christ’s, and in (Verse 27) he reaches their question regarding his Parousia, and declares [properly translated],

As the bright shining [the sunlight] cometh out of the east and shines even unto the west, so shall the PAROUSIA [the presence] of the Son of man be.”

The sunlight becomes present instantly, yet noiselessly; and it is first discerned by those who are first awake.

Leaving other intermediate features of our Lord’s discourse for examination in their appropriate place, we note his second reference to their question regarding his Parousia in (Verses 37 and 39). He says,

As the days of Noah, so shall also the PAROUSIA [presence] of the Son of man be.”

Notice that the comparison is not between the COMING of Noah and the COMING of our Lord, nor between the COMING of the flood and the COMING of our Lord. The COMING of Noah is not referred to at all; neither is the COMING of our Lord referred to; for, as already stated, Parousia does not mean COMING, but PRESENCE.

The contrast, then, is between the time of the presence of Noah among the people “BEFORE the flood,” and the time of the presence of Christ in the world, at his second advent, BEFORE the fire–the extreme trouble of the Day of the Lord with which this age ends.

And though the people were wicked in Noah’s day, BEFORE the flood, and will be wicked in the time of our Lord’s presence, BEFORE the hot fire of trouble comes upon them, yet THIS IS NOT the point of comparison or likeness to which our Lord refers; for wickedness has abounded in every age. The point of comparison is stated clearly, and is readily seen if we read critically: The people, except the members of Noah’s family, were IGNORANT of the coming storm and UNBELIEVING as to the testimony of Noah and his family, and hence they “KNEW NOT“; and this is the point of comparison.

SO shall also the PRESENCE of the Son of man be. None but those of the family of God will believe here: others will “know not,” until society, as at present organized, begins to melt with the fervent heat of the time of trouble now impending. This is illustrated by the words, “As in the days that were BEFORE the flood, they were eating, drinking and marrying [Luke (17:28) adds “planting and building“], until the day Noah entered into the ark, and knew not, so shall also the PAROUSIA [the presence] of the Son of man be.”

In the time of the PRESENCE of the Son of man, therefore, the world will go on with its eating, drinking, planting, building and marrying –not mentioned as sinful doings, but as indicative of their IGNORANCE OF HIS PRESENCE, and of the trouble that will prevail in the world.

This, then, is our Lord’s answer to the question of the disciples–What shall be the sign [indication] of thy [PAROUSIA] presence and of the end or harvest of the age? In substance, he says:

There will be no sign for the worldly masses (or for the professing church, the church nominal); they will not know of my presence and the new dispensational changes. Only the few will know, and they will be taught of God (in a way not here explained) before there is any SIGN (indication), which the worldly could discern.

Luke’s account of this same discourse (Luke 17:26-29), though not in the same words, is in perfect accord. Luke does not use the word Parousia, but he expresses this exact thought, saying:

As it was IN THE DAYS OF NOAH, so shall it be also IN THE DAYS OF THE SON OF MAN“–in the days of his PRESENCE. Not before his days, not after his days, but IN (DURING) his days, the world will be eating, drinking, marrying, buying, selling, planting and building.

These scriptures, then, clearly teach that our Lord will be PRESENT in the end of this age, entirely unknown to the world, and unseen by them.

Though there shall never be another flood to destroy the earth (Gen. 9:11), it is written that the whole earth shall be devoured with the fire of God’s jealousy (Zeph. 3:8)–not the literal, physical earth in either case, but the existing order of things in both cases: in the first instance accomplished by drowning all the people except Noah’s family; in the last, by burning all except the family of God in the symbolic firethe great trouble of the Day of the Lord.

The faithful children of God shall be counted worthy to escape all those things coming on the earth (Luke 21:36): not necessarily by being taken away from the earth, but possibly by being rendered fire-proof (in the symbolic sense), as in the typical illustration of the three Hebrews who walked in the midst of the fiery furnace heated seven times, on whose garments, even, was not the smell of fire; because one like unto the Son of God was present with them. Dan. 3:19-25 (B158-162)

In our next post we will examine scriptures which teach that many in the Church, theProfessing Church as well as theTrue Churchwill, for a time, be ignorant of the Lord’s presence, AND of theharvestand the ending of this age, while he is actually present, and the harvest work in progress.

The Second Advent, Part 8

The Second Advent, Part 8

In Like Manner

What, now, is taught by the statement of the angel at the time of our Lord’s departure–Acts 1:11–“This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven shall so come, in like manner, as ye have seen him go into heaven?

A careful examination of this text will manifest its harmony with the foregoing. Many seem to think the passage reads, as you SEE the Lord ascend into heaven, so, in like manner, you shall SEE him come again. Such should read it again and again, until they note the fact that it does not say that those who saw him go will SEE him come, nor that any one else will SEE him come. What it does say is that the MANNER of his coming will be LIKE the MANNER of his going.

What, then, was the manner of his going? Was it with great splendor, and with great demonstration? Was it with trumpet sound and voices and a great shout rending the air, and the Lord’s person shining in supernatural glory and brightness?

If so, we should expect his coming again to be “in like manner.” On the other hand, was it not as quietly and secretly as was possible, consistent with his purpose of having thoroughly convinced witnesses of the fact? None saw him, or knew of the fact, except his faithful followers.

His statement (John 14:19), “Yet a little while and the world sees me no more,” has never yet been disproved; for none but the brethren saw even his manifestations after his resurrection, and no others witnessed his ascension.

And in LIKE MANNER as he went away (quietly, secretly, so far as the world was concerned, and unknown except to his followers), so too, in LIKE MANNER, he comes again. And as when he went away he lifted up his hands and blessed them, so, when he comes again, it is that their joy may be full, as he said: “I will come again, and receive you unto myself “; “I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man takes from you.” Luke 24:50, 51; John 14:3; 16:22

The angel seemed also to give special emphasis to the fact that the coming again would be the coming of this very “same Jesus“–the same one who left the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, and became man– became poor that we might be made rich; the same Jesus that died on Calvary; the same Jesus that arose a quickening spirit the third day; the same Jesus that had manifested his change during the forty days–This same Jesus now ascended upon high. Yes, it is the same Jesus who has experienced two changes of nature–first from spirit to human, and then from human to divine. These changes of nature have not destroyed his individuality. His identity was preserved, as the angel thus assures us, whether the philosophy of that fact be understood or not; and though we shall know him no more after the flesh (as a man), but should remember his exaltation, that he is now of the divine, spiritual nature, and should anticipate his coming in harmony with this change and exaltation, yet we may remember that he is the same loving Jesus, and not changed in this respect.

It is “this same Jesus,” who, though present forty days after his resurrection, was seen of the disciples only, and by them but briefly, who in his second presence will be as invisible to the world as during the forty days preceding his ascension. We must remember that he does not come to give himself as a sacrifice, and hence that he has no further use for a human body prepared for sacrifice. (Heb. 10:5) That is all over now: he dies no more, but now comes to rule and bless and uplift the redeemed race.

Our Lord furnished us a most beautiful illustration of the manner in which his presence will be revealed, when he said, “As the bright-shining emerges from the east, and illuminates even unto the west, so will be the PRESENCE of the Son of man.” (Matt. 24:27)

That most translations of this verse are faulty in using the word lightning, where sunlight is meant, is evident; for lightning flashes do not come out of the east and shine unto the west. They just as frequently come from other quarters, and rarely, if ever, flash clear across the heavens. The Lord’s illustration, and the only one which will comport with his words, is the sun’s brightness, which does invariably emerge from the east and shine even unto the west. The Greek word “astrape”, here used, is thus shown to be improperly translated in this text, and also in the account of the same words by Luke (17:24). Another instance of the use of this word “astrape” by our Lord is found in Luke 11:36, where it applies to the brightness of a candle, and in the common version is rendered “bright-shining.”

Incorrect ideas of the manner of our Lord’s coming and revealing, firmly fixed in the minds of translators, led them into this error of translating “astrape” by the word “lightning.” They supposed that he would be revealed suddenly, like a flash of lightning, and not gradually, like the dawning sunlight. But how beautiful is the figure of sunrise, as illustrating the gradual dawning of truth and blessing in the day of his presence. The Lord associates the over-comers with himself in this figure, saying, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the Sun in the Kingdom of their Father.” And the Prophet, using the same figure, says, “The Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his beams.” The dawning is gradual, but finally the full, clear brightness shall thoroughly banish the darkness of evil, ignorance, superstition and sin.

An imperfect translation of the word “parousia” has further tended to obscure the sense of this passage. In the Emphatic Diaglott and in Professor Young’s translation it is rendered PRESENCE; in Rotherham’s it is ARRIVAL; while in the common version it is rendered COMING.

And though the text of the Revised Version retains this last erroneous rendering–coming— yet in the marginal reading it acknowledgesPRESENCEto be the true definition of the Greek.

The Greek word “parousia” (Strong’s # 3952), invariably signifies personal presence, as having come, having arrived; and it should never be understood as signifying to be on the way, as the English word coming is generally used. The text under consideration therefore teaches that as the SUNLIGHT gradually dawns, so shall the PRESENCE of the Son of man be gradually manifested or revealed.

Together with this illustration, our Lord coupled words of caution to guard us against certain errors, which would be advanced about the time of his second advent, calculated to lead his Church astray.

Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore, 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 the bright shining [sun] cometh out of the east and [gradually] shines even unto the west so shall be the PRESENCE of the Son of man.” Matt 24:25-27

Thus does our Lord put us on guard against TWO ERRORS RAPIDLY GROWING IN OUR DAY.

One is the claim that our Lord will come in the flesh, in the wilderness or desert of Palestine; and, so believing, many have gone thither, and are waiting to see Jesus in the flesh. Expecting him as he was, and not “as he is,” they seriously err, and blind themselves to the truth, as did the Jews at the first advent. These false expectations lead this class to interpret literally the statement of the prophet (Zech. 14:4), “His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives,” etc. Blinded by false expectations, they do not see that the “feet” in this passage are figurative, as truly as in Psa. 91:12; Isa. 52:7; Psa. 8:6; 110:1; Eph. 6:15; Deut. 33:3; and in many other passages. If they knew WHAT to expect, they would know not to go to Jerusalem (or for that matter anywhere) to look (with their literal eyes) for THE MAN Christ Jesus; for the highly exalted king comes as the sunlight, making his Presence and influence felt the world over. Wherefore, “Go not forth.”

The other error,

If they shall say, Behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” SPIRITUALISM, ever ready to deceive by counterfeits, and ever ready to use advanced truths as a garment of light (2 Cor. 11:13, 14), has not hesitated to claim that we are in a period of dispensational change, the dawning of a glorious age. Among other such things, some of them even teach that Christ is present, and, we doubt not, ere long they will give séances at which time they will claim to show him in the SECRET CHAMBERS.

Should the error present itself in this form, or any other, let us remember our Lord’s words and repudiate all such claims as false, knowing that not thus will he reveal his presence, but “as the sunlight,” emerging gradually–” the Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his beams.” (B153-158)

Once again we will continue shortly.

The Second Advent, Part 7

The Second Advent, Part 7

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.

The Second Advent, Part 6

The Second Advent, Part 6

Seemingly Conflicting Scriptures

“There are some statements of Scripture with reference to the manner of the Lord’s return and appearing which, until critically examined, appear to be contradictory of each other. And no doubt they have for centuries served the divine purpose of concealing the truth until the due time for it to be understood; and even then, from all except the special class of consecrated ones for whom it was intended.

For instance, our Lord said,

“Behold, I come as a thief“; and, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man [the days of his PRESENCE]: They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage,” “and knew not until the flood came.” “And when Jesus was questioned of the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The Kingdom of God comes not with observation” [marginal reading, “not with outward demonstration and show“]. Rev. 16:15; Luke 17:26, 27, 20; Matt. 24:38, 39

These scriptures plainly state and illustrate the manner of the Lord’s coming. They show that he will be present unseen, doing a work of which the world for a time will be entirely unaware. His arrival must therefore be in a quiet manner, unobserved, and entirely unknown to the world, just “as a thief” would come, without noise or other demonstration to attract attention.

As in the days of Noah the world went on with its affairs as usual, not in the least disconcerted, and without the slightest faith in the preaching of Noah with reference to the coming flood, so in the early part of the Day of the Lord, the world (as well as the professing church), having no faith in the announcement of his presence and of the impending trouble, will go on as usual, giving no heed whatever to any such preaching until, in the great flood of trouble, the old world–the old order of things–goes down, passes away, preparatory to the full establishment of the new order, the Kingdom of God under the whole heavens–“As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days [of the PRESENCE] of the Son of man.”

On the other hand, we find scriptures which at first sight seem to be in direct conflict with these; as, for instance:

“The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a SHOUT, with the VOICE of the Archangel, and with the TRUMP of God.” “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty messengers, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “They [the world] shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and Great glory.” “Behold, he comes with clouds, and every eye shall see him.” 1 Thess. 4:16; 2 Thess. 1:7, 8; Matt. 24:30; Rev. 1:7

IMPORTANT: As seekers after truth, it will not do for us to say, in view of these passages, that the majority of them seem to favor whatever view we incline to prefer, and then to ignore the others. Until we have a view of the matter in which every Bible statement finds a reasonable representation, we should not feel sure that we have the truth on the subject. One statement of God is as true, and as firm a foundation for faith, as a hundred. And it would be wiser to seek for a harmonious understanding than to arrive at a conclusion or adopt a theory based on a one-sided interpretation, and thus to deceive others and ourselves.

Christians generally make no effort to harmonize these statements, and therefore their ideas are one-sided and incorrect. The last group of statements is just as positive as the first, and apparently teaches the very reverse of a quiet, unobserved, thief-like manner in the Lord’s coming and presence. In addition to these statements, we are referred to two other illustrations of the manner of his coming, viz.: “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven,” and, “As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shines even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Acts 1:11; Matt. 24:27) To reach a correct conclusion, these also must be given due weight.

In our examination of the subject we should note that while our Lord stated, as a positive fact, that his kingdom would be established without outward show, and that his coming, his presence, would be AS a thief, requiring close, attentive watching to apprehend and discern it, all of the above texts generally cited as proof of an outward, visible manifestation are in highly figurative language, except the one which says that he will come in like manner as he went away.

The symbolic must always bend in interpretation to the plainer, more literal statements, as soon as their symbolic character is recognized. Whenever a literal interpretation would do violence to reason, and also place the passage in direct antagonism to plain statements of Scripture, such passage should be considered figurative, and its interpretation as a symbol should be sought in harmony with obviously plain and literal passages, and with the general character and object of the revealed plan. By recognizing and thus interpreting the symbols in this case, the beautiful harmony of all the statements is manifest. Let us now examine them and see how perfectly they agree with the statements, which are not symbolic.

“The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a SHOUT, with the VOICE of the archangel, and with the TRUMP of God.” (1 Thess. 4:16) The voice and the trumpet here mentioned correspond in every way with the same figures used in Rev. 11:15-19–“The seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever…. and the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged,” etc.

The same events are referred to in Daniel’s prophecy: “And at that time shall Michael [Christ] stand up [assume control], the great Prince…and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation…and many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.” And Paul adds to his mention of the voices and the trumpet the statement, “And the dead in Christ shall rise first.” In 2 Tim. 4:1 he further states that Christ shall judge the quick (the living) and the dead, at this time of his appearing and kingdom; and the beginning of this judgment of the living nations is everywhere described as the greatest time of trouble the world has ever known. Dan. 12:1

Thus Paul, John and Daniel evidently refer to the same time, the time of our Lord’s appearing, and the establishment of his kingdom in the midst of a great time of trouble, and to the events preceding and introducing it. The same result is shown by each writer to follow the standing up of Michael, the voices and the trumpet: namely, trouble and wrath upon the nations and the resurrection of the dead. Next, mark the figure used:

WITH A SHOUT” The Greek word here translated “shout” is “keleusma”, which signifies a shout of encouragement. A shout implies a public message designed for the ears, not of a few, but of a mixed multitude. It is generally designed either to alarm and terrify or to assist and encourage. Or it may have the one effect upon one class, and the reverse effect upon another, according to circumstances and conditions.

The aspect of affairs in the world at present very strikingly corresponds with this symbol, in the outbursts of world-wide encouragement for all men to wake up to a sense of their rights and privileges as men, and to consider their mutual relationships, the principles upon which they are based and the ends which they should accomplish.

Where on the face of the earth is the civilized nation that has not heard the shout, and is not influenced by it! The entire civilized world has, in the past few years been studying political economy, civil rights and social liberties as never before in the annals of history; and men are encouraging each other, and being encouraged, as never before, to probe these subjects to the very foundation. The shout of encouragement started by the increase of knowledge among men has already encircled the earth, and under its influence men are banding themselves together, encouraged and assisted by men of brain and genius, to contend and strive for both real and fancied rights and liberties; and as their organizations increase and multiply, the shout grows louder and longer, and will by and by result as foretold, in the great time of trouble and tumult of angry nations. The Prophet graphically describes this result–

The noise of a multitude in the mountains [kingdoms] like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the Lord of hosts mustered the host of battle.” Isa. 13:4

THE VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL” is another striking symbol of similar import. The name “archangel” signifies chief messenger; and our anointed Lord himself is Jehovah’s Chief Messenger–the “Messenger of the Covenant.” (Mal. 3:1) Daniel refers to the same personage, calling him Michael, which name signifies WHO AS GOD–an appropriate name for him who is “the express image of the Father’s person,” and the representative of his authority and power. The voice of the Archangel represents Christ’s authority and command. This symbol, then, represents Christ as taking control, or beginning his reign and issuing his commands, his official orders, announcing the change of dispensation by the enforcement of the laws of his kingdom.

The same thought is differently expressed by Daniel, when he says, Then shall Michael, the great Prince, “STAND UP.” To stand up signifies to assume authority, to give commands. (See “ARISETH,” Isa. 2:19, 21) Another illustration of this symbol is from David, who says of Christ prophetically, “He uttered his voice; the earth melted.” The great time of trouble will be precipitated, and the earth (organized society) will melt, or disintegrate, under the change of administration going into effect when the new King utters his voice of command. At his command, systems of error, civil, social and religious, must go down, however old or firmly entrenched and fortified they may be. The sword out of his mouth shall cause the havoc: The truth on every subject, and in all its varied aspects, shall judge men, and, under his power and overruling, shall cause the overturning of evil and error in all their thousand forms.

THE TRUMP OF GOD” Many seem thoughtlessly to entertain the idea that this trumpet will be a literal sound on the air. But this will be seen to be an unreasonable expectation, when it is noticed that Paul here refers to what the Revelator designates “The Seventh Trumpet,” the “Last Trumpin a series of symbolic trumpets. (Rev. 11:15; 1 Cor. 15:52) The proof that these references are to the same trumpet is found in the record of the events connected with each. Paul mentions the resurrection, and the establishment of the Lord’s Kingdom, as connected with “the trump of God,” and the Revelator mentions the same with even greater minuteness. The propriety of calling the “seventh,” or “last trump,” the “trump of God,” is evident, too, when we remember that the events mentioned under the preceding six trumpets of Revelation refer to humanity’s doings, while the seventh refers specially to the Lord’s work, and covers the “Day of the Lord.”

Since the six preceding trumpets were symbols–and this is generally admitted by commentators and students who make any claim as expositors of Revelation–it would be a violation of reason and common sense to expect the seventh, the last of the series, to be a literal, audible sound on the air. And not only so, but it would be out of harmony with the Lord’s general methods, as well as with those statements of Scripture indicating the secrecy of his coming; for a thief never sounds a trumpet to announce his arrival.

The seven trumpets of Revelation are all symbolic, and represent seven great periods of time and their events. We find ourselves today in the midst of the very events, which mark the sounding of the seventh trumpet. The great voices, the increase of knowledge, the angry nations, etc., taken in connection with time prophecies, establish this as a fact. Many events are yet to transpire before this seventh or last trumpet ceases to sound; as, for instance, the rewarding of the saints and prophets, the resurrection of all the dead, etc. In fact, it covers the entire period of the Millennial reign of Christ, as indicated by the events, which are to transpire under it. Rev. 10:7; 11:15, 18

Thus we find the “SHOUT,” the VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL” and “THE TRUMP OF GOD” all symbols, and now in process of fulfillment. Note carefully, too, the fact that each of the three prophecies just referred to (Dan. 12:1; Rev. 11:15; 1 Thess. 4:16) declares the Lord’s PRESENCE at the time when the events mentioned transpire.

They were foretold for the very purpose of indicating the manner in which his INVISIBLE PRESENCE would be manifested (made known) to those who have faith in the word of prophecy. Paul says, “The Lord shall descend with [literally in, or during] a shout,” voice, trumpet, etc.; John says that the kingdoms of this world become his, during the time of these events; and Daniel says, “At that time shall Michael, the great Prince [Christ], stand up” (BE PRESENT) and take to himself his great power.

If, therefore, we can recognize the shout, the voices and the sounding of the great trumpet, we should accept them as indications, not that the Lord will come soon, but rather that he HAS COME AND IS NOW PRESENT, and that the harvest work of gathering the wheat and burning the tares is already under way. This we shall soon see is abundantly proved by time prophecies.

Yet it is not to the natural vision, but only to the eye of faith, through the sure word of prophecy, the written testimony, that his presence and work can be discerned.

Just here another fact should not be overlooked, namely, that the “Shout,” the “Voice of the Archangel,” and the “Trump of God,” as above explained, are all instrumentalities for the accomplishment of the harvest work of the Gospel age. If, therefore, we see not only the meaning of these symbols, but the foretold results actually taking place, we have additional proof both that we have rightly interpreted the symbols, and that we are now in this period called the “harvest,” in which the Gospel age and the Millennial age lap–the one closing and the other opening. Many will need no aid in tracing a separating work now going on between the truly consecrated and the merely nominal Christians. Many can see the symbolic fire already under way, and can discern the “shout” of the people, the command of the new King Immanuel and the events called the “seventh trumpet,” and the “clouds” of trouble, in which the Lord comes, and from and in which his power is to be manifested–subduing all things unto himself.

The recognition of the harvest work in actual process is proof of the Lord’s presence, since he declared that he would be the chief reaper and director of the entire work, and that this would be his first work–“Behold, a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle…. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.” “In the time of the harvest I (being the Lord of the Harvest, being present) will say to the reapers, gather” etc. (Rev. 14:14,16; Matt. 13:30) The various features of the harvest work will be accomplished gradually, but all of its days are “days of the Son of Man“–days of our Lord’s presence and power–recognized in the end by all, but at first only by the class specified by the Apostle–“Ye, brethren –not in darkness.” (B142-150)

We continue with our next post.

The Second Advent, Part 5

The Second Advent, Part 5

“It has long been generally believed that distress and trouble come as punishments for evil doing, upon the wicked. This seeming to be a natural and proper law, people in general have accepted it, thinking that it should be so, even if it is not; yet the hard facts of experience agree with the Bible, that in the past it has been the godly who have oftenest suffered afflictions and persecutions. (2 Tim. 3:12)

But in the “Day of Trouble,” introducing Messiah’s reign, this order will begin to be reversed. In that day, evil powers are to be overthrown, and righteousness, established by a gradual process, shall speedily work out a corresponding retribution to evildoers, and blessings to them that do good–“Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil,…but glory, honor and peace to every man that works good“–in that “day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds.” (Rom. 2:9, 10, 6, 5)

And since there is so much that is wrong now, the retribution will be very heavy at first, making a “time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation.” Thus, in vengeance, and trouble, and wrath upon the nations, will the Lord reveal to the world the fact of the change of dispensations (i.e. the Gospel age to the Millennial age), and the change of rulers. And thus, “When the judgments of the Lord are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” (Isa. 26:5-11)

They will learn that under the new order of things right-doers are to be exalted and evildoers restrained and punished. For clear prophetic testimony relative to this kingdom and its operation on behalf of the humble, the upright, the poor, the needy and the oppressed, and its overthrow of monopolies and every system of injustice and oppression, and the general equalization of human affairs, read carefully Psalm 72:1-19; 37:1-14.

Our King will thus reveal himself gradually: some (i.e. those presently enlightened through the scriptures) will discern the new Ruler sooner than others, but ultimatelyevery eye shall see [“horao”–DISCERN] him.” (Rev. 1:7) NOT by their physical sight, but by theEYES OF THEIR UNDERSTANDING

But “he cometh with clouds“; and while the clouds of trouble are heavy and dark, when the mountains (kingdoms of this world) are trembling and falling, and the earth (organized society) is being shaken, disintegrated, melted, some will begin to realize what we now proclaim as already at hand– that the great day of Jehovah has come; that the foretold day of trouble and wrath upon the nations is beginning; and that Jehovah’s Anointed is taking to himself his great power and beginning his work, of laying justice to the line and righteousness to the plummet. (Isa. 28:17) And “he must reign until” he shall have put down all authorities and laws on earth, contrary to those which control in heaven.

As the trouble increases, men will seek, but in vain, for protection in thedensand caves, the great rocks and fortresses of society (Alliances, treaties, trusts, institutions, all the various societies both secular and ecclesiastical), and in the mountains (governments) of earth; saying, “Fall on (over) [cover, protect] and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come.” Rev 6:15-17

The idolatry of money in which the whole world has gone mad, and which is to have so prominent a place in the trouble, causing not only anxiety for its accumulation, but also for its preservation, is to be completely overthrown, as shown in Isa. 2:8-21; Ezek. 7:17-19.

The great day of trouble will be recognized, and from its storm all will seek protection, though few will recognize the judgments of the Lord then abroad in the world as the result of his PRESENCE, the setting up of his authority, and the enforcement of his laws. In the end, however, all shall [“SEE“] i.e. recognize the presence of the King of glory that he has come, howbeit invisible to the physical eye; and all who then love righteousness will rejoice to obey him and conform themselves fully to his just requirements.

That will be a time of retribution upon all whom by fraud or force, sometimes in the name of the law and under its sanction, have un-righteously grasped the rights or property of others. The retribution, as we have seen, will come FROM the Lord, THROUGH the uprising of the masses of the people. In their distress, loathe to part with a dollar or an acre, or an assumed right or dignity long enjoyed and long undisputed, yet seeing the approaching retribution, many will seek the covering of the hitherto powerful organizations–civil, social and ecclesiastical (religious)–to promote and shield their interests, feeling that alone they must fall. But these shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s anger. The approaching conflict and retribution shall cause all the families of the earth to wail; for it will be a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation–no, nor ever shall be again.

It will be “because of him” that they will wail; because of his judgments producing in a natural way the great trouble; because the Lord arises to shake terribly the earth, and to destroy its corruptions. (Isa. 2:21) So far-reaching will be the judgments and the trouble that none shall escape. Ultimately every eye shall discern the change, and recognize that the Lord reigns. The trouble might be greatly lessened could men see and promptly act upon principles of equity, ignoring and relinquishing all unjust privileges of the past, even though legalized; but this, selfishness will not permit until the trouble shall break and overthrow the proud, humble the powerful and exalt the meek.

But not until the great day of trouble is about closing– not until the Gentile kingdoms are ground to powder and utterly removed, no place being found for them, not until great Babylon is utterly overthrown and her influence over the world broken–will the great mass of mankind come to realize the true state of the case. Then they will see that the great trouble through which they will have passed was that symbolically termed “The battle of the great day of God Almighty” (Rev. 16:14); that in proportion as they have aided error and wrong, they have been battling against the law and forces of the new empire and the new Ruler of earth; and that in proportion as their tongues, and pens, and hands, and influence, and means, were used to support the right and the truth on any subject, they had been to that extent fighting on the Lord’s side.

Some will learn the significance of the trouble more quickly than others, because more (meek) teachable. And during all the trouble there will be in the world those (of the Great Company class) who will bear witness to its cause, declaring the Lord’s presence and the setting up of his kingdom which is in opposition to the powers of darkness to be the real cause of the trouble and shaking and overturning of society, showing that all who oppose truth and righteousness are the enemies of the new kingdom, and that unless they quickly surrender they must soon suffer ignominious defeat. Yet the masses will be heedless of wise counsel, as they have always been, until completely humbled under the iron rule of the new kingdom, only at last realizing the folly of their course.

The true teacher and light bearer (Matt. 5:14), THE TRUE CHURCH, the body of Christ, is not to be left in darkness to learn of her Lord’s presence by the manifestations of his wrath and power, as the world will learn of it.

For her enlightenment special provision has been made. By the sure word of prophecy, which shines as a light in a dark place, she is clearly and definitely informed (not only of the Lord’s invisible presence hidden from the world and the professing church), but likewise just what to expect. (2 Pet. 1:19) Through the prophetic word, she shall not only be shielded from discouragement, and enabled to overcome the besetments, snares and stumbling stones so prevalent in “the evil day,” and thus to stand approved of God, but she becomes the light-bearer and instructor of the world.

The Church is thus enabled to point out to the world the cause of the trouble, to announce the presence of the New Ruler, to declare the policy, plan and object of the new dispensation, and to instruct the world as to the wisest course to pursue in view of these things. And though men will not give heed to the instruction until the lesson of submission has been forced upon them by the trouble, it will greatly aid them then in learning the lesson. It is to this mission of thefeet,” or last members of the Church, who will declare upon the mountains (kingdoms) the REIGN OF CHRIST BEGUN, that Isaiah 52:7 refers. (B137-142)

Continued with next post.

The Second Advent, Part 4

The Second Advent, Part 4

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 ofpower 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.

The Second Advent, Part 3

The Second Advent, Part 3

THE SECOND ADVENT, Part 3

This is the third part of our discussion concerning the second advent of our Lord. In the first part we discussed the OBJECT or work of our Lord’s second advent, and in the second we examined the manner or way in which the Lord reveled himself after his resurrection to his followers, at his first advent thus hoping to shed some light on the manner of his second advent.

Let us now continue with our discussion, where we left off.

“That our Lord at his second advent could assume human form, and thus appear to men, as he did to his disciples after his resurrection, there can be no question; not only because he thus appeared in human form during those forty days, but because spirit beings have in the past manifested the power to appear as men in flesh and in various forms. But such a manifestation (during the Second Advent) would be out of harmony with the general tenor of God’s plan, as well as out of harmony with the Scriptural indications given, relative to the manner of his manifestations, as we shall see. Instead, it is the Lord’s plan that his spiritual kingdom shall communicate, operate, and manifest its presence and power THROUGH human, earthly agencies. Just as the prince of this world, Satan, though unseen by men, exercises a wide influence in the world through those subject to him, and possessed of and controlled by his spirit, so the new Prince of Peace, the Lord, will chiefly operate in, and manifest his presence and power through, human beings, subject to him and possessed of and controlled by his spirit.

Seeing with the natural eye and hearing with the natural ear are not all there is of seeing and hearing. “No man hath seen God at any time” thus, yet all God’s children have seen him, and known him, and held communion with him. (John 1:18; 5:37; 14:7) We hear God’s call, our “high calling,” we hear the voice of our Shepherd, and are constantly looking unto Jesus, and see the prize, the crown of life which he promises–not by natural sight and hearing, but by our understanding. Far more precious is the sight we have of our glorified Lord as the spiritual, highly exalted King of glory, our Redeemer as well as our King, by the eyes of our understanding and faith, than the sight afforded to the natural eye before Pentecost.

There was a necessity for our Lord’s appearing in the manner he did to his disciples, after his resurrection, which will not exist at his second advent. His object then will be better served in a different way. In fact, to appear so at his second advent would be detrimental to the purpose then to be accomplished. His object in appearing to his disciples after his resurrection was to convince them that he who was dead is alive forevermore, that they might go forth as witnesses to the fact of his resurrection (Luke 24:48), and that their testimony might be a sure foundation for the faith of coming generations. Since no man can come to God acceptably, to receive the Holy Spirit of adoption, without faith in Christ, it became necessary; not only for the sake of the disciples then, but for all since, that the evidences of his resurrection and change should be such as natural men could grasp and appreciate.

After they had become partakers of the Holy Spirit and understood spiritual things (See 1 Cor. 2:12-16), they could have believed the angels at the sepulcher, that he had risen from the dead condition, even if they had seen the fleshly body of the man Christ Jesus still lying in the tomb; but not so before–the body must be away to make faith in his resurrection possible to them. After the holy Spirit had enabled them to discern spiritual things they could have believed the testimony of the prophets that he must needs die, and would rise from the dead, and that he would be highly exalted as King of glory, without its being needful for him to appear as a man, and assume various bodies of flesh as a garment, so that they could handle him and see him ascend. But all this was needful for them and for all natural men. By believing, we come to God by him and receive forgiveness of sins and the Spirit of adoption, to understand spiritual things.

Even while removing the natural obstacles to faith, by assuming human form, etc., our Lord convinced the disciples, and made them witnesses to others, not by their natural sight and touch, but by reasoning with them out of the Scriptures…

With our Lord, after his resurrection, it was simply a question of expediency as to which way of appearing to his disciples would best accomplish his object, of making known his resurrection and change of nature. Had he appeared as a flame of fire, as the angel appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Exod. 3:2), he might indeed have conversed with them, but the evidence thus given would have been far from being as convincing as the method he did adopt, both to the apostles and to the world at large to whom they witnessed.

If he had appeared in the glory of the spirit form, as the angel did to Daniel (Dan. 10:5-8), the glory would have been greater than the witnesses could have borne. They would probably have been so alarmed as to be unable to receive instructions from him. To none except Paul did the Lord ever thus show himself; and Paul was so overcome by that glimpse of his glory that he fell to the ground and was blinded by its brightness, which was above that of the sun at noonday.

In our examination of the method of manifestation adopted by our Lord during those forty days, we saw that he “permitted” himself to become manifest even to the chosen witnesses only a few times, and then but briefly. The entire time that he was manifest to them, had it all been crowded into one day instead of being at intervals during the forty days, would probably have been less than twelve hours, or one eightieth of that entire time. This being true, it is evident that he was present with them unseen about seventy-nine eightieths of that period of forty days. And even when they did have manifestations, they were not (except once, repeated to Thomas) in a form exactly like the one they had known so intimately for three years, and had seen but a few days before. It is not once intimated that they knew him by the familiar features of his face, nor even that he was recognized by the same appearance as in other manifestations.

Mary supposed him to be “the gardener.” To the two on their way to Emmaus he was “a stranger.” He was also a stranger to the fishermen on the Sea of Galilee, and to the eleven in the upper room. On every occasion he was recognized by his actions, his words, or the familiar tones of his voice.

When Thomas declared that only the proof, which addressed his natural sight and touch, would be acceptable to him, the Lord, though he granted that demand, gently reproved him, saying, Because thou has seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are those who believe, not having seen. (John 20:27-29) The stronger evidence was that which was not addressed to natural sight, and more blessed are those who hold themselves in readiness to receive the truth through whatsoever proofs God is pleased to substantiate it.

He thus showed them, not only that he now had the power to appear in a variety of ways and forms, but also that no one of those bodies which they saw was his spiritual, glorious body, though the facts of his resurrection and presence were thus manifested to them. The different forms, and the long intervals of invisible presence with no outward manifestation, made evident the fact that though their Lord and teacher was alive and not yet ascended to the Father, he was now a spirit being, really invisible to human sight, but with ability to manifest his presence and power in a variety of ways at pleasure.

The creating of the body and clothing in which he appeared to them, in the very room in which they were gathered, was proof unquestionable that Christ was no longer a human being, though he assured his disciples that the body which they saw, and which Thomas handled, was a veritable flesh and bone body, and not a mere vision or appearance… this he gave them clearly to understand when he ate before them, and invited them to handle him and see that the body was real flesh and bones, saying, “Why are ye troubled?…Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”

Some Christians draw very absurd conclusions from this expression of our Lord as to the verity of his assumed flesh and bone body. They regard the assumed body as his spirit body, and declare that a spirit body is flesh and bones, and just like a human body, excepting that an indefinable something, which they call spirit, flows through its veins instead of blood. They seem to disregard the statement of our Lord that this was not a spirit body–that a spirit being has not flesh and bones. Do they also forget John’s statement, that “It doth not yet appear” what a spirit body is, and that we shall not know until we are changed and made like him and see him, not as he was, but as he is? (1 John 3:2) Do they also forget the Apostle Paul’s express statement that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God“–and his further assurance that therefore all the heirs with Christ must also “be changed?1 Cor. 15:50, 51

Many Christians have the idea that our Lord’s glorious spiritual body is the very same body that was crucified and laid away in Joseph’s tomb: they expect, when they see the Lord in glory, to identify him by the scars he received on Calvary. This is a great mistake, which a very little consideration should make manifest–Firstly, It would prove that his resurrection body is not glorious or perfect, but scarred and disfigured: Secondly, It would prove that we do know what a spirit body is, notwithstanding the Apostle’s statement to the contrary: Thirdly, It would prove that our redemption price was taken back; for Jesus said, “My flesh I will give for the life of the world.” It was his flesh, his life as a man, his humanity, which was sacrificed for our redemption. And when he was raised to life again by the power of the Father, it was not to human existence; because that was sacrificed as our purchase price. And if that price had been taken back, we would still be under the condemnation of death, and without hope.

We have no more reason to suppose that our Lord’s spirit body since his resurrection is a human body than we have for supposing that his spirit body prior to his first advent was human, or that other spirit beings have human bodies; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones; and, says the Apostle Peter, our Lord was “put to death in the flesh but made alive in spirit.”

Our Lord’s human body was, however, supernaturally removed from the tomb; because had it remained there it would have been an insurmountable obstacle to the faith of the disciples, who were not yet instructed in spiritual things–for “the spirit was not yet given.” (John 7:39) We know nothing about what became of it, except that it did not decay or corrupt. (Acts 2:27, 31) Whether it was dissolved into gases or whether it is still preserved somewhere as the grand memorial of God’s love, of Christ’s obedience, and of our redemption, no one knows–nor is such knowledge necessary. (B122-129)

We will continue once again with our next post.

The Second Advent, Part 2

The Second Advent, Part 2

THE SECOND ADVENT, Part 2

In part one of our study we looked briefly at the OBJECT of our Lords second advent, i.e. the purpose or work to which he comes to accomplish this second time. We will now examine in what manner our Lord made his resurrection known to his disciples. The importance in how the Lord manifested himself to the Apostles following his resurrection is essential to our understanding of how he is to be manifest at his second advent.

“We must bear in mind, that our Lord is no longer a human being; that as a human being he gave himself a ransom for men, having become a man for that very purpose. (1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 10:4, 5; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22) He is now highly exalted, to the divine nature. Therefore Paul said, “Though we have known Christ after the flesh (in the flesh), yet now, henceforth, know we him [so] no more.” (2 Cor. 5:16) He was raised from the dead a life-giving SPIRIT BEING (1 Cor. 15:45), and not a MAN, of the earth earthy (flesh and blood).

Since he is no longer in any sense or degree a human being, we must not expect him to come again as a human being, as at the first advent. His second coming is to be in a different manner, as well as for a different purpose.

Noting the fact that our Lord’s change from human to divine nature at his resurrection was even a greater change than the one which occurred some thirty-four years previously, when he laid aside the glory of spiritual being and “was made flesh,” we may with great profit consider very minutely his every action during the forty days after his resurrection before he went “to the Father“; because it is the resurrected Jesus of those forty days who is to come again, and not the MAN Christ Jesus who gave himself as our ransom, in death. He who was put to death a flesh being was also in his resurrection quickened [made alive] a spirit being. 1 Pet. 3:18

At his SECOND ADVENT he does not come to be subject to the powers that be, to pay tribute to Caesar and to suffer humiliation, injustice and violence; but he comes to reign, exercising all power in heaven and in earth. He does not come in the body of his humiliation, a human body, which he took for the suffering of death, inferior to his former glorious body (Heb. 2:9); but in his glorious spiritual body, which is “the express image of the Father’s person” (Heb. 1:3); for, because of his obedience even unto death, he is now highly exalted to the divine nature and likeness, and given a name above every name–the Father’s name only excepted.  (Phil. 2:9; 1 Cor. 15:27)

The Apostle shows that it “doth not yet appear” to our human understanding what he is now like; hence we know not what we shall be like when made like him, but we (the Church) may rejoice in the assurance that we shall one day be with him, and like him, and see him as he is (1 John 3:2)–not as he was at his first advent in humiliation (in flesh), when he had laid aside his former glory and for our sakes had become poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich.

If we consider the wisdom and prudence of our Lord’s methods of manifesting his presence to his disciples after his resurrection, as well as previously, it may help us to remember that the same wisdom will be displayed in his methods of revealing himself at his second advent, both to the Church and to the world–methods not necessarily similar, but in each case well suited to his object, which never is to alarm or excite men, but to convince their cool, calm judgments of the great truths to be impressed upon them. Our Lord’s first advent was not a startling, exciting or alarming event. How quietly and unobtrusively he came! So much so that only those who had faith and humility were enabled to recognize in the infant of humble birth, in the man of sorrows, in the friend of the humble and poor, and finally in the crucified one, the long-looked-for Messiah.

After his resurrection, the manifestation of his presence would in the nature of the case be a more astounding fact, particularly when his changed nature is taken into consideration. Yet the fact of his resurrection, together with the fact of his changed nature, had to be fully manifested, not to the entire world at that time, but to chosen witnesses who would give credible testimony of the fact to succeeding generations.

Had the entire world been made acquainted with the fact then, the testimony coming down to our day would probably have been much less trustworthy, being colored and warped by men’s ideas and mixed with their traditions so much so that the truth might appear almost or quite incredible (unbelievable). But God entrusted it only to chosen, faithful and worthy witnesses; and as we notice the account, let each mark how perfectly the object was accomplished, and how clear, positive and convincing was the proof of Christ’s resurrection and change offered to them. Mark, too, the carefulness with which he guarded against alarming or unduly exciting them while making manifest and emphasizing these great truths.

Be assured that the same wisdom, prudence and skill will be displayed in his methods of making known the fact of his glorious presence at his second advent. The cool, calm judgment will be convinced in every case, though the world in general will need to be brought by severe discipline to the proper attitude to receive the testimony, those whose hearts are right will have the blessed intelligence sooner. All the proofs of his resurrection and change to spiritual nature were not given to his disciples at once, but as they were able to bear them and in the manner calculated to make the deepest impression.

He broke the news of his resurrection gradually to them– first, through the women (Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, Mary the mother of James and Salome, and others with them–Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1, 10), who came early to the sepulcher to anoint his dead body with sweet spices.

While they wondered whom they should get to roll away the stone from the door of the sepulcher, behold, there was an earthquake, and when they came they found the stone rolled away, and an angel of the Lord sat upon it, who addressed them, saying, “Fear not, for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified. He is not here; for he is risen, AS HE SAID. Come; see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and behold, he goes before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him.” Matt. 28:5-7

It seems that Mary Magdalene separated from the other women and ran to tell Peter and John (John 20:1, 2), while the others went to tell the rest of the disciples, and that after she had left them Jesus appeared to the other women on the way, saying (Matt. 28:9,10), “All hail.” And they came and held him by the feet and worshiped him. Then said Jesus unto them, “Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee [their home], and there shall they see me.” And with fear and joy they ran to tell the other disciples. In their mingled feelings of surprise, perplexity, joy and fear, and their general bewilderment, they scarcely knew how to report their strange and wonderful experience. When Mary met Peter and John she said sadly, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher and we know not where they have laid him.” (John 20:2) The other women told how at the sepulcher they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive (Luke 24:22, 23), and then how they afterward met the Lord in the way. Matt. 28:8, 10

The majority of the disciples evidently regarded their story merely as superstitious excitement, but Peter and John said, we will go and see for ourselves; and Mary returned to the sepulcher with them. All that Peter and John saw was that the body was gone, that the grave clothes were carefully folded and laid by, and that the stone was rolled away from the door. So in perplexity they turned away, though Mary still remained there weeping. As she wept she stooped down and looked into the sepulcher and saw two angels, who said, “Woman, why weeps thou?” She answered, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.”

And as she turned about she saw Jesus standing, but did not know him. He inquired, “Woman, why weeps thou? Whom seeks thou?” And she, supposing him to be the gardener, answered, “Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.” Then, in the old familiar tone which she quickly recognized, the Lord said, “Mary!

That was enough to establish her faith in the statement of the angel, that he had risen, which until now had seemed like a dream or an idle tale; and in her joy she exclaimed, “MASTER!” Her first impulse was to embrace him, and to tarry in his presence. But Jesus gently informed her that there was a very important mission for her to perform now, in bearing witness to the fact of his resurrection, and that she should be in haste to carry the message and establish the faith of the other disciples, still in perplexity and uncertainty, saying,

Touch [Greek, “haptomai”, embrace] me not [do not tarry for further demonstration of your affection now]; for I am not yet ascended to my Father [I will be with you for a short time yet]: but go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God.” (John 20:17) Through the other women also he had sent them word that he would meet them in Galilee.

Next, he overtook two of the sad and perplexed disciples as they walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus, and inquired the cause of their sadness and despondency. (Luke 24:13-35) And one of them answered: “Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and besides all this, today is the third day since these things were done. [Here they were probably calling to mind John 2:19, 21, and 22.] Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulcher. And when they found not his body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulcher, and found it even so as the women had said; but him they saw not.”

No wonder they were perplexed; how strange it all seemed! How peculiar and thrilling had been the events of the past few days!

Then the stranger preached them a stirring sermon from the prophecies, showing them that the very things which had so disheartened them were the things which the prophets had foretold concerning the true Messiah: that before he could rule and bless and lift up Israel and all the world, he must first redeem them with his own life from the curse of death, which came upon all through Adam, and that afterward, raised to life and glory by Jehovah, their Master would fulfill all that was written by the prophets concerning his future glory and honor, as truly as he had fulfilled those prophecies which foretold his sufferings, humiliation and death. A wonderful preacher! And a wonderful sermon was that! It started new ideas and opened new expectations and hopes.

As they drew near the village they constrained him to tarry with them, as it was toward evening and the day was far spent. He went in to tarry with them; and as he sat at meal with them, he took bread and brake and gave it to them. THEN THEIR EYES WERE OPENED; and he vanished out of their sight. Not until that moment did they recognize him, though they had walked, and talked and sat at meal together. He was known to them not by face, but in the simple act of blessing and breaking bread in the old familiar way, thus assuring their faith in what they had already heard—that he had risen, and would see them again.”

The Lord would appear several more times to his followers, and in each case he would appeared in a different form, nor was it necessary that they should ask him if he were the Lord; for on each occasion they would recognize him, not by physical sight, but by some familiar act or gesture, through the EYES OF THEIR UNDERSTANDING.

“Their risen Lord was changed indeed, not only in his personal appearance—appearing sometimes in one way and place, and again in a different way and place, manifesting his “all power“—but he was changed in condition or nature also. No longer did he appeal to the Jews, nor show himself to them; for since his resurrection none saw him in any sense except his friends and followers. His words,Yet a little while, and the world sees me NO MORE,” were thus verified.

Thus was the faith of the apostles and of the early Church established in the fact of the Lord’s resurrection. Their doubts were scattered, and their hearts rejoiced; and they returned to Jerusalem and continued in prayer and supplication and study of the Scriptures, waiting for the adoption promised by the Father, and their endowment with spiritual understanding, and with special miraculous gifts of power, to enable them to convince true Israelite’s, and to establish the Gospel Church, at the day of Pentecost. Acts 1:14; 2:1

Though our Lord at his second advent will not manifest his presence in the same way that he did during those forty days after his resurrection, yet we have his assurance that thebrethren shall not be in darkness.” Nay, more: we shall have an aid which they could not and did not have to help them during those forty days, viz.,power from on high,” (the Holy Spirit) to guide us into the understanding of every truth due to be understood, and, even as promised, to show us things to come. Hence in due season we shall have full understanding of the MANNER, TIME and attendant circumstances of his appearing, which, if carefully watched for and marked, will be no less convincing than were the evidences of our Lord’s resurrection furnished to the early Church, although of a different kind.” (B107-122)

We will continue with our next post.