MANNER OF OUR
Harmony of the Manner of Our Lord’s Second
Advent with Other Features of
the Divine Plan—How and When The Church shall See Him—How and When the
Glory of the Lord shall be so Revealed that All
Flesh shall See it Together—Statements Apparently Conflicting
Shown to be Harmonious—He Comes “As a Thief”—“Not with
yet “With a Shout”—With “Voices”—And “With
the Sound of the Great Trumpet”—“He Shall be Revealed in
Flaming Fire, Taking Vengeance”—And yet, “He Shall So
Come, in Like Manner” as
He Went Away—Importance of Prophetic Time in this Connection
Shown—Harmony of Present Indications.
The view just had, of the speedy close of Gentile
Times, and the assurance that the consummation of the Church’s hope must
their close, only whets the appetite of those now waiting for the
consolation of Israel. Such
will be hungering for whatever information our Father may have supplied
through the prophets, touching the “harvest,” the end, or closing
period of this age—the separating of wheat from tares among the living
members of the nominal Church, and the time of the change of the
overcomers, to be with and like their Lord and Head.
But in order to appreciate the reasonableness of the
prophetic teaching on these deeply interesting subjects, it is absolutely
necessary that we have clear views both of the object of our Lord’s second coming, and of the manner
in which he will be revealed. That
of his coming is to reconcile “whosoever will,” of the world, to God,
by a process of ruling, and teaching, and disciplining, called judging and
blessing, we trust all present readers have been convinced in the reading
of Volume I. The manner of the Lord’s
coming B_page 104 and appearing, therefore, is of paramount importance,
before proceeding in our study of the time of the harvest, etc. The
student must hold clearly in mind the object while studying the manner of
our Lord’s return; and both of these, when he comes to study the time.
This is needful as an offset to the erroneous views, already
preoccupying many minds, based upon false ideas of both the object and the
manner of our Lord’s coming.
Grasp and hold in mind as firmly as possible the fact
already demonstrated, that God’s plan is one harmonious whole, which is
being wrought out through Christ; and that the work of the second advent
stands related to the work of the first as effect to cause: That is, that
the great work of Restitution at the second advent follows the work of
Redemption accomplished at the first advent as a logical sequence
according to the divine plan. Therefore
the Lord’s return is the
dawn of hope for the world, the time for the bestowment of the
favors secured by the redemption—the Gospel Age being merely an
intervening parenthesis, during which the bride of Christ is selected, to
be associated with her Lord in the great work of restitution which he
comes to accomplish.
And since the Church of Christ, which has been
developing during the Gospel age, is to be associated with her Lord in the
great restitution work of the Millennial age, the first work of Christ at
the second advent must be the gathering of his elect Church, to which
reference is made through the Prophet (Psa. 50:5), saying, “Gather my
saints together unto me—those that have made a covenant with me by
sacrifice.” This gathering or harvesting time is in the lapping period
of the two ages. As will be
shown, it is a period of forty years, which both ends the Gospel age and
introduces the Millennial age. (See
Vol. I, pages 219-221; B_page 105 234-237; and the Chart of the Ages.)
This harvest period not only accomplishes the separation of wheat
from tares in the nominal Gospel church, and the gathering and
glorification of the wheat class, but it is also to accomplish the burning
(destruction) of the tares (as tares, or imitation wheat—not as
individuals: the fire of destruction is symbolic as well as the tares),
and the gathering and destruction of the corrupt fruitage of “the Vine
of the earth” (human ambition, greed and selfishness), which has been
growing and ripening for centuries in the kingdoms of this world and in
the various civil and social organizations among men.
Although, when treating of the object of our Lord’s
return, we showed that it would be a personal
coming, let us again guard the student against confusion of thought in
considering the two apparently conflicting expressions of our
Lord—“Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (aionos age), and, “I
go to prepare a place for you, ...and will
come again and receive you.” (Matt. 28:20; John 14:2,3) The
following incident will serve as an illustration of the harmony of the two
promises: One friend said to another as they were about to part, Remember,
I will be with you through all your journey.
How? Certainly not in
person; for there they took trains to go in opposite directions to distant
points. The idea was that in
love, and thought, and care one for another, they would not be separated.
In a similar yet fuller sense, the Lord has always been with his
Church, his divine power enabling him to oversee, direct and assist them,
from first to last. But we
are now considering, not our Lord’s presence with us in this figurative
sense, but the manner of his second personal presence and appearing,
“when he shall come to be glorified in his saints and to be admired in
all them that believe in that day.”
The Scriptures teach that Christ comes again to
reign; that he must reign until he has put down all enemies—all
B_page 106 opponents, all things in the way of the great
restitution which he comes to accomplish—the last to be overthrown being
death (1 Cor. 15:25,26); and that he will reign for a thousand years.
It is therefore only as should be expected, that we find a much
larger space in prophecy devoted to the second advent and its thousand
years of triumphant reign and overthrow of evil than to the thirty-four
years of the first advent for redemption. And as we have found that prophecy touches the various
important points of those thirty-four years, from Bethlehem and Nazareth
to the gall and vinegar, the parted raiment, the cross, the tomb and the
resurrection, so we find that prophecy likewise touches various points of
the thousand years of the second presence, particularly their beginning
The second presence of our Lord will cover a much
longer period of time than the first.
The mission of his first advent was finished in less than
thirty-four years, while it will require a thousand years to accomplish
the appointed work of his second presence.
And thus it may be seen at a glance that, while the work of the
first advent was no less important than that of the second advent—yea,
though it was so
important that the work of the second advent could never have
been possible without it—yet it was not so varied, and hence
required less description than the work of the second advent.
In considering the second advent we must not, any
more than at the first advent, expect all prophecies to mark one
particularly eventful moment of our Lord’s arrival and to call the
attention of all men to the fact of his presence.
Such is not God’s usual method: such was not the case at the
first advent. The first
advent of Messiah was not marked by any sudden or surprising
demonstration, out of the usual order of things, but it was manifested and
proven by the gradual fulfilment of prophecy showing to thoughtful
observers B_page 107 that the events which should be expected were being
accomplished on time. And
thus it will be at his second advent. It is of less importance that we
discover the exact moment of his arrival than that we discern the fact of
his presence when he has arrived, even as at the first advent it was
important to be able to recognize his presence, and the sooner the better,
but much less important to know the exact date of his birth.
In considering the second advent, the act of coming and the moment
of arrival are too frequently the thought, whereas it should be thought of
as a period
of presence, as was the first advent.
The precise moment at which that presence would begin would then
seem less important, and his object and work during the period of his
presence would receive the greater consideration.
We must bear in mind, also, 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, 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.
He is no longer human in any sense or degree; for we must not
forget what we have learned (See Vol. I, Chap. 10)—that natures are
separate and distinct. 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
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
B_page 108 “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*
this passage, the words “in the” and “by the” are arbitrarily
supplied by the translators,
and are misleading. The Greek
reads simply—“Put to death
flesh, quickened spirit.” Our
Lord was put to death a fleshly or
human being, but was raised from the dead a spirit being.
And since the Church
is to be “changed” in order that
she may be like Christ, it is evident
that the change which occurred in the Head was of a kind similar
to that described as in reservation for the overcomers, who shall
be changed from human to
spiritual nature, and made like him—“partakers
of the divine nature.” Hence,
the following description of the change of
the saints is applicable also to their Lord; viz., “It is sown in
dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in
power; it is sown a natural
body, it is raised a spiritual body.”
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 B_page 109 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, 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 all the world at that time, but to
chosen witnesses who would give credible testimony of the fact to
succeeding generations. Had all the 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 that the truth might appear almost or quite
incredible. But God entrusted it only to chosen, faithful and worthy
witnesses; and as we notice the account, let each mark how
B_page 110 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. And 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, while 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.
During the three and a half years of our Lord’s
ministry, his disciples had sacrificed friends, reputation, business,
etc., to devote time and energy to heralding Messiah’s presence and the
establishment of his kingdom. But
they had necessarily crude ideas regarding the manner and time of their
Master’s exaltation, and of their promised exaltation with him.
Nor was full knowledge then necessary: it was quite sufficient that
they should faithfully take each step as it became due; hence the Master
taught them little by little as they were able to receive it.
And near the close of his ministry he said, “I have yet many
things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you
into all truth... and show you things to come, and bring all things to
your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 16:12,13; 14:26
Who can tell their great disappointment, even though
so B_page 111 far as possible they had been armed against it, when
they saw him suddenly taken from them and ignominiously crucified as a
felon—him whose kingdom and glory they had been expecting and declaring,
and which only five days before his crucifixion had seemed to them so near
a realization. (John 12:1,12-19) Though
they knew him to be falsely accused and wrongfully crucified, this did not
alter the fact that their long cherished national hopes of a Jewish king,
who would restore their nation to influence and power, together with their
own individual hopes, ambitions and air-castles of important offices and
high honors in the kingdom, were all suddenly demolished by this
unfavorable turn which matters had taken in the crucifixion of their
Well did the Master know how desolate and aimless and
perplexed they would feel; for thus it was written by the Prophet, “I
will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” (Zech. 13:7;
Mark 14:27) And during the
forty days between his resurrection and ascension, it was therefore his
chief concern to gather them again, and to re-establish their faith in him
as the long-looked-for Messiah, by proving to them the fact of his
resurrection, and that since his resurrection, though retaining the same
individuality, he was no longer human, but an exalted spirit being, having
“all power in heaven and in earth.” Matt. 28:18
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 B_page 112 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 goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him.” Matt.
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
B_page 113 angels, who said, “Woman, why weepest 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 weepest thou? whom seekest 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,
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,
B_page 114 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 2:19,21,22.]
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
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 fulfil
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 meat 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 meat 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
Then the two surprised and overjoyed disciples arose
that same hour and returned to Jerusalem, saying to each other, “Did not
our hearts burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and while he
opened to us the Scriptures?” Arriving in Jerusalem they found the
others rejoicing also, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath
appeared to Simon.” And
they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them
in breaking of bread. Probably
they were nearly all there that evening, homes, business and everything
else forgotten—Mary Magdalene with her tears of joy, saying, I knew him
the moment he called my name—I could not credit the angel’s assurance
of his resurrection until then; and the other women telling their
wonderful experience of the morning, and how they had met him in the way.
Then Simon had his story to tell; and now here were two other
witnesses from Emmaus. What
an eventful day! No wonder
they desired to meet together on the first day of every week after that,
to talk the matter over and to call to mind all the circumstances
connected with this wonderful event of the Lord’s resurrection, and to
have their hearts “burn” again and again.
While the excited and overjoyed little company were
thus met and relating to each other their several experiences, the Lord
Jesus himself suddenly stood in their midst (Luke 24:36-49) and said,
“Peace be unto you!” From where had he come?
All such meetings were held secretly with closed doors, for fear of
the Jews (John 20:19,26), but here was a sudden appearance without any
visible B_page 116 approach; and they were terrified, and supposed they
had seen a spirit. Then he
comforted them, told them to calm their fears, and showed them his hands
and his feet, saying, “It is I, myself; handle me and see; for a spirit
hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”
And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto
them, “Have ye here any meat?” and they gave him a piece of a broiled
fish, and he took it and did eat before them.
Then he opened their understanding,
their mental eyes, and expounded the Scriptures to them, showing from the
law and the prophets that these things had come to pass exactly as
foretold. But Thomas was
absent (John 20:24); and when the other disciples told him that they had
seen the Lord, he would not believe it, but said, “Except I shall see in
his hands the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will
Eight days passed without further manifestations, and
they had time calmly to think and talk over the experiences of that
wonderful day, when, the disciples being again assembled as before, Jesus
stood in their midst, just as on the first evening, saying, “Peace be
unto you.” (John 20:26) This time Thomas was present, and the Lord
addressed him, saying, “Thomas, reach hither thy finger, and behold my
hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not
faithless, but believing.” He
thus showed that he knew what Thomas had said without being told, and he
gave that proof of his resurrection which Thomas had said would satisfy
him; and with joy Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God!”
After this, there must have been quite a long
interval before there was any further manifestation of the Lord’s
presence, and the disciples who were Galileans began to think of home and
the future; and remembering the Lord’s message by the women, that he
would go before them into Galilee, B_page 117 they went thither.
Probably on their way, the Lord met them, as Matthew relates, in a
mountain. They were
perplexed; they no longer felt the same familiarity they once had toward
him; he seemed so greatly changed since his crucifixion from what he used
to be—he appeared and disappeared in such peculiar times and places; he
no longer seemed like “the man Christ Jesus”; so Matthew says “they
worshiped him—but some doubted.”
After a few words with them the Lord “vanished” from their
sight, and left them to wonder what next would happen.
For some time after their return to Galilee nothing unusual
occurred, and there was no further indication of the Lord’s presence.
Doubtless they met together and talked over the situation, and wondered
why he did not appear to them more frequently.
As they waited, the days and the weeks seemed long.
They had long ago given up the ordinary pursuits of life, to follow the
Lord from place to place, learning of him, and preaching to others, “The
kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 10:5-7)
They did not now wish to go back to the old pursuits; and yet, how
should they proceed with the Lord’s work?
They comprehended the situation clearly enough to know that they
could no longer preach as formerly the kingdom at hand; for all the people
knew that their Master and King had been crucified, and none but
themselves knew of his resurrection. While all of the eleven were thus perplexed and anxious,
waiting for something, they knew not what, Peter said, Well, it will not
do to remain idle: I will go back to my old fishing business; and six of
the others said, We will do the same: we will go with you. (John 21:3) And
probably the rest also turned again to their old employments.
Who can doubt that the Lord was invisibly present
with them many times as they talked together, overruling and
B_page 118 directing the course of circumstances, etc., for
their highest good? If they
should have great success and become swallowed up by interest in business,
they would soon be unfit for the higher service; yet if they should have
no success, it would seem like forcing them; so the Lord adopted a plan
which taught them a lesson such as he often teaches his followers, viz.:
that the success or failure of their efforts, in any direction, he can
control if he please.
The old firm of fishermen reorganized: got together
their boats, nets, etc., and went out for their first catch.
But they toiled all night and caught no fish, and began to feel
disheartened. In the morning a stranger on shore calls to them to know of
their success. Poor success! We have caught nothing, they answer. Try again, said the stranger.
Now cast your net on the other side of the boat.
No use, stranger, we have tried both sides all night long, and if
there were fish on one side, there would be on the other.
However, we will try again and let you see.
They did so, and got an immense haul.
How strange! said some; but the quick and impressible John at once
got the correct idea, and said, Brethren, the Lord only could do this.
Don’t you remember the feeding of the multitudes, etc?
That must be the Lord on shore, and this is another way that he has
chosen to manifest himself to us. Don’t
you remember that it was just so when the Lord first called us?
Then, too, we had toiled all night and caught nothing until he
called to us, saying, “Let down your nets for a draught.” (Luke
5:4-11) Yes, surely that is
the Lord, though, since his resurrection, we cannot recognize him by his
appearance. He now appears in
a variety of forms; but we know each time that it is he by some peculiar
circumstance like this calling to mind some marked incident of our past
acquaintance with him.
And when they got to shore they found that Jesus had
bread as well as fish, and they learned the lesson, that under
B_page 119 his direction and care and in his service they would
not be left to starve. (Luke 12:29,30)
They did not ask him if he were the Lord; for on this as on other
occasions, the eyes of their
understanding being opened, they knew him, not by physical sight,
but by the miracle. Then
followed the instructions of that delightful hour, reassuring Peter of his
continued acceptance notwithstanding his denial of the Lord, for which he
repented and wept. He now
learned afresh of his Master’s love, and of his continued privilege of
feeding the sheep and the lambs. We
seem to hear the Lord say, You need not go back to the fishing business,
Peter: I called you once to be a fisher of men, and, knowing your heart to
be still loyal and zealous, I renew your commission as a fisher of
“And, eating together with them, he commanded them
that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of
the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with
the holy Spirit not many days hence.” (Acts 1:4—margin)
So they came to Jerusalem as instructed, and here it was, forty
days after his resurrection, that he met with them for the last time and
talked with them. They
summoned courage this time to question him about the kingdom he had
promised them, saying, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom
to Israel?” This thought of
the kingdom was the one uppermost in the mind of every Jew.
Israel, they understood, was to be chief among the nations under
Messiah, and they knew not of the long Times of the Gentiles, and saw not
yet that the chief blessing had been taken from fleshly Israel (Matt.
21:43; Rom. 11:7), and that they themselves were to be members of the new
(spiritual) Israel, the royal priesthood and holy nation, through whom, as
the body of Christ, the blessing of the world would come.
They as yet understood none of these
B_page 120 things. How
could they? They had not yet
received the holy Spirit of adoption as sons, but were still under
condemnation; because, though the ransom-sacrifice had been made by the
Redeemer, it had not yet been formally presented on our behalf in the Most
Holy, even Heaven itself. (John 7:39)
Hence our Lord did not attempt any explanatory answer to their
question, but merely said, “It is not for you
[now] to know the times and seasons which the Father hath put in his own
power. But ye shall receive power*
after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses
unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the
uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:7,8
promised power to know and to understand times and seasons, and
all things pertaining to a proper witnessing,
applies to the whole Church from
first to last; and under the guidance and power of the holy Spirit,
meat in due season concerning every feature of the plan is
provided, in order that we
may be his witnesses, even to the end of this age. Compare John
Then the Lord, who was walking with them, when they
reached the Mount of Olives, lifted his hands and blessed them, and he was
parted from them and went upward; and a cloud received him out of their
sight. (Luke 24:48-52; Acts 1:6-15) They
began to see something more of God’s plan now.
The Lord who came down from heaven had returned to the Father, as
he had told them before he died—had gone to prepare a place for them and
would come again and receive them—had gone afar to receive the promised
kingdom, and to return (Luke 19:12); and meantime they were to be his witnesses in all the earth to call and make ready a people to
receive him when he would come to be glorified in his saints, and to reign
King of kings and Lord of lords. They
saw their new mission, of proclaiming to every creature a coming king from
heaven, “with all B_page 121 power in heaven and in earth,” to be a much more
important work than that of the preceding years, when they heralded “the
man Christ Jesus,” and followed him who was “despised and rejected of
men.” 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 seeth 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 Israelites, 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 the “brethren
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,” 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 B_page 122 furnished to the early Church, although of a
That our Lord at his second advent could
assume the 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 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. B_page 123
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
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
the disciples, B_page 124 and made them witnesses
to others, not by their natural sight and touch, but by reasoning with
them out of the Scriptures: “Then opened he their understanding, that
they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is
written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead
the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be
preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
And ye are witnesses of
these things.” (Luke 24:45-48)
Peter also states this object clearly, saying, “Him God raised up
the third day, and permitted him to become manifest—NOT TO ALL THE PEOPLE, but to
those witnesses previously chosen of God, to us, who did eat and drink
with him after he arose from the dead. And he commanded us to proclaim to
the people that this [the resurrected Jesus] is he who has been appointed
by God the judge of the living and the dead.” Acts 10:40-42. Diaglott translation.
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
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
B_page 125 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 St. 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
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. B_page 126
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.*
occurrence recorded by Luke (4:30) should not be regarded as a case
parallel to his appearing and vanishing after his resurrection.
That was not a
disappearance in the sense of becoming invisible to the people.
It was merely an
adroit, prompt movement, by which he eluded the murderous
design of his enemies. Before
they had executed their plans for his
death he turned about, and, passing through their midst, no man had courage or power to molest him, because his hour had not yet
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.+
As a human being he could not come into the room B_page 127 without opening the door, but as a spirit being he
could, and there he instantly created and assumed such a body of flesh and
such clothing as he saw fit for the purpose intended.
no one hastily suppose that we are here following Spiritism,
Swedenborgianism or any other ism. We are simply following and logically connecting the apostolic account. The vast difference between the Bible teaching and that counterfeit of it promulgated by Satan,
known as Spiritualism, we
distinctly discern and shall examine in a succeeding volume.
Suffice it here to point out that Spiritism affects to communicate
between dead men and living men,
while the Bible condemns this (Isa. 8:19),
and teaches that such communications as were true have been made only
by spirit beings, such as angels, and by our Lord; and not by our
Lord while he was “the man
Christ Jesus,” nor while he was dead, but after his
resurrection change, when he had become a life-giving or
Nor can we for a moment admit the suggestion offered
by some, that our Lord opened the doors without being observed; for the
record is plain and clear that he came and stood in their midst while
the doors were shut—probably very carefully barred and bolted
too—“for fear of the Jews.” John 20:19,26
The lesson of his changed nature was still further
emphasized by his manner of leaving their sight: “He vanished
out of their sight.” The
human body of flesh and bones, etc., and its clothing, which appeared suddenly while the doors were shut, did not go out of
the door, but simply disappeared
or dissolved into the same elements from which he had created them a few
moments before. He vanished
out of their sight,
and was no longer seen of them when the flesh and bones and clothing in which he
had manifested himself were dissolved, though doubtless he was still with
them—invisibly present; and so also much of the time during those forty
On special occasions, for special instruction, God
has granted similar power to other spirit beings, angels, enabling them to
appear as men, in bodies of flesh and bones which ate and talked to those
they instructed, just as our Lord did.
See Gen. 18; Judges 6:11-22; 13:3-20; and the comments on these in
Vol. I, pages 178 to 184.
The power manifested by our Lord, and the angels
referred to, to create and dissolve the clothing in which they appeared,
was just as superhuman as the creating and dissolving of their assumed
human bodies; and the bodies were no more their glorious spiritual bodies
than were the clothes they wore. It
will be remembered that the seamless
B_page 128 robe and other clothing which our Redeemer wore
before his crucifixion had been divided among the Roman soldiers, and that
the grave clothes were left folded away in the sepulcher (John 19:23,24;
20:5-7), so that the clothing in which he appeared on the occasions
mentioned must have been specially created, and probably was the most
appropriate for each occasion. For
instance, when he appeared as a gardener to Mary, it was probably in such
apparel as a gardener would wear.
That the bodies in which our Lord appeared were real
human bodies, and not mere delusions, 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 B_page 129 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, that 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
B_page 130 necessary. That
God did miraculously hide the body of Moses, we are assured (Deut. 34:6;
Jude 9); and that as a memorial
God did miraculously preserve from corruption the manna in the golden
bowl, which was placed in the Ark under the Mercy Seat in the Tabernacle,
and that it was a symbol of our Lord’s flesh, the bread from heaven, we
also know. (Exod. 16:20,33; Heb. 9:4; John 6:51-58)
Hence it will not surprise us if, in the Kingdom, God shall show to
the world the body of flesh, crucified for all in giving the ransom on
their behalf—not permitted to corrupt, but preserved as an everlasting
testimony of infinite love and perfect obedience.
It is at least possible that John 19:37 and Zech. 12:10 may have
such a fulfilment. Those who
cried, “Crucify him!” may yet, as witnesses, identify the very body
pierced by the spear and torn by the nails and thorns.
To regard our Lord’s glorious body as a body of
flesh would not in the least account for his peculiar and sudden
appearings during those forty days prior to his ascension. How could he so
suddenly appear and then vanish? How
was it that he kept himself almost constantly invisible during those forty
days? And why was it that his
appearance each time was so changed as not to be recognized as the same
one seen on any former occasion, or as the one so well known and loved by
all, before his crucifixion, only a few days previous?
It will not do merely to say that these were
miracles, for then some use or necessity for the miracles should be named.
If his body after his resurrection were flesh and bones, and the
same body that was crucified, with all the features and scars, why did he perform
miracles which not only did not establish that fact, but which were
likely, we see, to teach the opposite?—that he himself was no longer
human—flesh and bones—but a spirit being who could go and come as the
wind, so that none could tell whence he
B_page 131 came or whither he went, but who, for the purpose of
instructing them, appeared as
a man in various bodies of flesh
and bones which he created and dissolved as occasion required.
Before our Lord’s crucifixion, he had been on
familiar terms with his disciples, but after his resurrection, though he
loved them none the less, 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 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, 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. 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
B_page 132 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
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 B_page 133 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 sakes 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
B_page 134 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 veil, 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 Law-giver 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
As we give the matter careful study, we come more and
more to recognize the divine wisdom displayed in the manner of revealing
the resurrection of our Lord to the apostles, that they should be
thoroughly satisfied and reliable witnesses, and that the meek of the
world might be able to receive their testimony and believe that God raised
our Lord from the dead—that they might recognize him as the one that was
dead, but is now alive forevermore, and, believing, might come unto God by
him. And as we consider him
under the leadings of the holy Spirit of truth, our minds expand and we
see him no longer the man Christ Jesus, but the Lord of glory and power,
partaker of the divine nature. And thus we know him, for whose coming and
kingdom the Church has so earnestly prayed and longed.
And no one properly recognizing his great exaltation can expect at
his second coming the man Christ Jesus in the body of flesh prepared for
sacrifice and wounded and given in death as our ransom.
Nor should we expect that at his second coming he would
“appear,” or manifest
himself, in various flesh and bone forms to the world—that was needful
for those early witnesses, but not so now.
He will, as we shall see, manifest his second presence very
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
B_page 136 nature and form.
As neither would seem to be necessary or advisable now, we cannot
presume that either of these methods will be adopted.
On the contrary, we should expect that the Christ
would be manifest in the flesh of mankind in the same manner as when the
Lord was “made flesh” and dwelt
among men, God was manifest in his flesh.
Human nature, when perfect and in harmony with God, is a likeness
of God in the flesh; hence the originally perfect Adam was a
likeness of God, and the perfect man Christ Jesus was also; so that he
could say to the disciple Philip, who asked to see
the Father, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father”—he hath seen
the likeness of God in the flesh, “God manifest in the flesh.”
So, too, mankind in general, as its members come
gradually back to the long-lost image of God, will be fleshly images and
likenesses of the Father and of the Christ.
At the very beginning of the Millennium, as we have seen, there
will be samples of perfect manhood before the world (Vol. I, pages
287-293): Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the holy prophets, already tried
and approved, will be the “princes” among men, the exponents and
representatives of the spiritual, invisible kingdom.
In these Christ will be manifested—in their
flesh—even as the Father was manifested in his flesh. And as
“whosoever will” reaches perfection and comes into full harmony with
the will of Christ, every such one will be an image of God and of Christ,
and in each of these Christ will be manifested.
Because created in God’s moral image, the perfect
man, fully consecrated, will be able to appreciate perfectly the holy
Spirit and Word of God; and the glorified Church will direct him.
No doubt, too, visions and direct revelations, and general
communications between the spiritual kingdom and its earthly
representatives and exponents, will be much more free and general than
similar communications B_page 137 ever were before—more after the order of the
communions of Eden, before sin brought condemnation and separation from
God’s favor and communion.
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. 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
The Christ “changed,” made partakers of the
divine nature, shall be spirit beings as truly as is Satan, and equally
invisible to men. Their operations will be similar in manner, though directly
opposite in character and results; their honored agents, not bound and
made slaves by ignorance and weakness, as are most of the servants of
Satan, but made perfect, and “free indeed,” will act intelligently and
harmoniously, from choice and from love; and their appointments will be
rewards of righteousness.
Our Lord’s presence will be manifested to the world
by exhibitions of “power and great glory,” not, however, merely to the
natural sight, but to the eyes of their understanding, as they shall open
to an appreciation of the great changes which the new Ruler shall effect.
His presence and righteous authority will be recognized in both the
punishments and the blessings that will flow to mankind from his
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 B_page 138 have oftenest suffered afflictions and persecutions.
(2 Tim. 3:12) But in the “Day of Trouble,” the period of forty years
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 worketh 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, 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
will discern the new Ruler sooner than others, but ultimately “every eye
shall see [horao—discern] him.”
(Rev. 1:7) 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 B_page 139 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 the “dens” and caves, the great rocks and fortresses
of society (Free Masonry, Odd Fellowship, and Trades Unions, Guilds,
Trusts, and all societies secular and ecclesiastical), and in the
mountains (governments) of earth; saying, “Fall over*
[cover, protect] and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the
throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is
come.” Rev. 6:15-17
Greek word epi,
here used, is generally translated on,
but has also the significance
of over and about,
and is so translated many times in the
common version. The
thought is that of protection, not of destruction.
The common view of
this passage, that it teaches that wicked men will get
faith enough to pray for literal mountains to fall, is absurd.
The real fulfilment is
already beginning: the great, the rich, and no less the poor, are
seeking to the mountains and rocks and caves for shelter from the
darkening storm of trouble
which all see is gathering.
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;
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 B_page 140 enforcement of his laws. In the end, however, all shall recognize [“see”] the King of glory;
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 who by
fraud or force, sometimes in the name of the law and under its sanction,
have unrighteously 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—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 will 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 ariseth 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 reigneth.
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 (A.D.
B_page 141 1915, as shown in the preceding chapter)—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 teachable.
And during all the trouble there will be in the world those 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, B_page 142 she is clearly and definitely informed 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 the “feet,” or last members of the
Church, who will declare upon the mountains (kingdoms) the reign of Christ
begun, that Isaiah 52:7 refers.
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
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 cometh
not with observation” [marginal
reading, B_page 143 “not with outward 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, 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 cometh with clouds, and every eye shall
see him.” 1 Thess. 4:16; 2 Thess. 1:7,8; Matt. 24:30; Rev.
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
B_page 144 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 ourselves and others.
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,
“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 shineth 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
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 B_page 145 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
B_page 146 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 for the past
fifteen years 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. This result is graphically described by the
“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 mustereth the host of
battle.” Isa. 13:4
“THE VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL” is another striking
symbol of similar import. The
name “archangel” signifies chief
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
To stand up signifies to assume authority, to give commands. See
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 B_page 148 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 Trump” in 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
The seven trumpets of Revelation are all symbolic,
and represent seven great periods of time and their events.
The examination of these we leave for a subsequent volume. Suffice
it here to say that 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
B_page 149 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.
Thus we find the “shout,” the “voice
of the Archangel” and “the
trump of God” all symbols, and now in process of fulfilment.
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 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, 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 B_page 150 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.
We have already (Vol. I, p. 237) called attention to
the fact, that 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
time of the harvest I
will say to the reapers, gather” etc. (Rev. 14:14,16; Matt. 13:30)
The harvest work will occupy forty years for its full
accomplishment, ending with A.D. 1914. Its various features 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.”
“IN FLAMING FIRE.”
The next of these symbolic statements can be readily understood, if
the meaning of the symbols, fire, etc., already explained (Vol. I, p.
317), be borne in mind. It
reads, “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty
angels, in flaming fire, taking B_page 151 vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey
not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thess. 1:8
Expressed literally, we understand this to signify
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 wilful
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.
The “mighty angels,” 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 B_page 152 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
“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 B_page 153 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 speaketh
once, yea, twice, yet man perceiveth it not....Then he openeth the ears of
men [in the thunder tones of “the day of trouble”] and sealeth 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—the second death, symbolically called the lake of fire. Rev.
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
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 B_page 154 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
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
seeth 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
as he went away (quietly, secretly, so far as the world was concerned, and
unknown except to his followers), so,
in this 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 taketh 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
B_page 155 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
B_page 156 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
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 overcomers 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 Prof. Young’s translation it is
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 acknowledges “presence”
to be the true definition of the Greek.
The Greek word parousia
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 B_page 157 presence of the Son of man be gradually manifested or
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] shineth even unto the west, so shall be the presence
of the Son of man.” 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, with the scars, as
when crucified. 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,”
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 to look 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.”
leave the examination of this prophecy for another occasion.
“If they shall say, Behold, he is in the secret
chambers; believe it not.” Spiritism,
ever ready to deceive by counterfeits, B_page 158 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 seances at which 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.”
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
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
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”; 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,” a
very B_page 159 valuable translation of the New Testament, renders parousia
properly, PRESENCE, in almost every occurrence of the word.
The two Greek words, heko and parousia,
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.*
occurs twenty-four times in the Greek Testament, and is only twice in the English com. ver. (2 Cor. 10:10; Phil.
2:12) correctly translated presence.
The other occurrences, in which it is mistranslated
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
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
B_page 160 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 [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 future “harvest,” 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 Christs, 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 shineth even unto the west, so shall
[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,
B_page 161 that the comparison is not between the coming
of Noah and the coming of our Lord, nor between the coming of the flood and
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,
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
and this is the point of comparison.
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 B_page 162 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; 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
the days of Noe, 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
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 fire—the 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, 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
Next we will notice scriptures which teach that many
in the Church will, for a time, be ignorant of the Lord’s presence, and
of the “harvest” and the ending of this age, while he is actually
present, and the harvest work in progress.
The closing verses of Matt. 24, from verse 42 on, are
very significant. In verse 37
our Lord had shown that the world would not know of the parousia
of the Son of man; and now he cautions his professed disciples that,
unless on their guard they will be similarly in darkness relative to his parousia.
He says, “Watch, therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth
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 should and must be in outer darkness, and must learn with and as
the world—through trouble.
[in the “harvest”], is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Master
ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed that servant whom his Master on coming [erchomai—when
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.
and Vatican MSS read “shall make.”
But if the servant’s heart is not right, he will
say, My Master tarries [has not
arrived], and may smite [oppose and contradict] his fellow
servants [those who differ with him; B_page 164 those, therefore, who are declaring the opposite—My
Lord does not tarry, but has
come, is present].
Such may eat and drink with the intemperate [become intoxicated
with the spirit of the world], but the Master of that servant will come
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 meat in due
season to the household], and will appoint him his portion with the
hypocrites. [Though not a
hypocrite but a genuine servant, he must, 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.”
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 or hypocrites. And
note the fact that the unfaithful is thus cut off, or separated, at a time
of which he is not aware—in the
harvest time—while his Lord is really present
unknown to him, searching for and gathering his jewels. Matt. 13:30; Psa.
50:5; Mal. 3:17; Matt. 24:31
We particularize here, merely to show that, in answer
to the question of the disciples about signs and evidences of his second presence, our Lord taught
that neither the world nor B_page 165 the unfaithful servants 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—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 with the foretold indications
of his presence, and are watching for their fulfilment.
Those otherwise minded are not of the elect class.
Only the overcomers are to reign with the Lord. These deceptions,
as will be shown in a succeeding chapter, are already in existence, and
are deceiving many. But,
thank God, the elect are forewarned and forearmed, and shall neither be
deceived nor disheartened. Though
clouds and darkness are round about him, they recognize his presence, and
rejoice that their deliverance draweth nigh.
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 B_page 166 will have fully risen with healing in its beams to
bless and raise up the death-stricken world.
In view of the evidences presented in this and the
preceding and following chapters, 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.
This announcement is here made, in order that as we
proceed the reader may have the clearer idea of what the time prophecies
most particularly indicate, when it shall be shown that the harvest, and
all its attendant events, are now
chronologically due, and coming to pass as foretold.
Thus seen, 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 a subject and with regard to
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, etc. B_page 167
The Apostle Peter describes how some of the
unfaithful servants and hypocrites 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.
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, 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
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
B_page 168 of the speedy and great changes just at hand, they
are too busy to consider the testimony carefully, and only continue to
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]
[unobservedly, 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, money-getting, 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
Manuscripts omit here the words, “in
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 B_page 169 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) 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 sonship, as indicated by our Lord when he promised that the holy
Spirit should show to the faithful “things to come.”
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 fulfilment is absurd in
So, then, God veiled from mankind under figures of
trumpets, voices, fire, etc., information (which was not for the worldly
to know, 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
B_page 170 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.
Connecting The Prophetic Chain
In the preceding chapter we presented evidence
showing that the “Times of the Gentiles,” or their lease of dominion,
will run fully out with the year A.D. 1914, and that at that time they
will be overturned* and Christ’s Kingdom fully
established. That the Lord
must be present, and set up his Kingdom, and exercise his great power so
as to dash the nations to pieces as a potter’s vessel, is then clearly
fixed; for it is “in the days of these kings”—before their
overthrow—i.e., before A.D. 1914—that the God of heaven shall set up
his Kingdom. And IT shall break in pieces and consume all these. (Dan. 2:44)
And in harmony with this, we see all about us evidence of the
beginning of the smiting, shaking, and overturning of the present powers,
preparatory to the establishment of the kingdom “which cannot be
moved”—the strong government.
long it will require to accomplish this overturning we are not informed,
but have reason to believe the period will be “short.”
The next chapter will present Bible evidence that
1874 A.D. was the exact date of the beginning of the “Times of B_page 171 Restitution,” and hence of our Lord’s return.
Since that date he has been verifying his promise to those in
proper attitude of watchfulness—“Blessed are those servants whom the
Lord when he cometh shall find watching: Verily, I say unto you, that he
shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth
and serve them.” (Luke 12:37) Even so, he has opened unto us the
Scriptures, showing us truth concerning his present glorious nature, the
object, manner, and time of his coming, and the character of his
manifestations to the household of faith and to the world.
He has drawn our attention to the prophecies which definitely
locate us on the stream of time, and has shown us the order of his plan of
operations in this harvest time. He
has shown us, first of all, that it is a harvest of the saints, a time for
their full ripening, and for their separation from the tares; and
secondly, that it is a time for the world to reap its whirlwind
harvest—for the reaping of the vine of the earth, and the treading of
its fruitage in the winepress of the wrath of Almighty God.
He has shown us that both of these ripenings (Rev. 14:1-4,18-20)
will be completed in a period of forty years, ending with the year A.D.
But while the reader is thus informed of what will be
proved in succeeding chapters, he must not expect to have passages of
Scripture pointed out in which these matters and these dates are plainly
written. On the contrary, he must bear in mind that all these things
have been hidden
by the Lord, in such manner that they could not be understood or
appreciated until the due time had come, and then only by his earnest,
faithful children, who esteem truth as more precious than rubies, and who
are willing to seek it as men search for silver.
Truth, like silver, must be not only mined, but also refined,
separated from dross, before its value can be appreciated.
The things here stated in few
words will be proved point by point; and while many
may prefer to take a statement without the trouble of verifying it from
the Scriptures, this will not be the case with the real truth-seeker.
He must, so far as possible, make every point, argument and proof
his own, direct from God’s Word, by tracing all the connections and thus
convincing himself of the truthfulness of the account presented.
Lord provides it, and the servants bring forth the “meat in due season
for the household,” yet each, to be strengthened thereby, must eat for
eyes can see the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the winepress where His grapes of wrath are
I see the flaming tempest of His swift-descending sword.
Our King is marching on.”
can see His coming judgments, as they circle all the earth,
The signs and groanings promised, to precede a second birth;
I read His righteous sentence in the crumbling thrones of
Our King is
‘Gentile Times’ are closing; for their kings have had their day;
And with them sin and sorrow will forever pass away;
For the tribe of Judah’s ‘Lion’
now comes to hold the sway.
Our King is
seventh trump is sounding, and our King knows no defeat:
He will sift out the hearts of men before His Judgment Seat.
Oh, be swift, my soul, to welcome Him, be jubilant, my feet.
Our King is