Chapter 4 - The Second Coming of Christ
There is no fact in history more clearly established than the fact of the "First Coming" of Christ. But as His "First Coming" did not fulfill all the prophecies associated with His "Coming, " it is evident that there must be another "Coming" to completely fulfill them. It was because the religious leaders of Christ's day failed to distinguish between the prophecies that related to His "First Coming, " and those that related to His "Second Coming" that they rejected Him. Peter tells us (1Pet. 1:10-11) that the prophets themselves did not clearly perceive the difference between the "Sufferings" and "Glory" of Christ. '['hat is, they did not see that there was a "TIME SPACE" between the "Cross" and the "Crown, " and that the "Cross" would precede the "Crown." But we have no such excuse. We live on this side of the "Cross, " and we can readily pick out all the prophecies that were fulfilled at Christ's "First Coming" and apply the remainder to His "Second Coming." It is clear then that Christ's "First Coming, " important as it was, is not the "doctrinal centre" of the Scriptures, that is, Christ's First Coming was not the centre of a circle that contains all doctrine, but was one of the foci of an ellipse of which the other is the "SECOND COMING." This is shown on the above Chart on "The Two Comings." The chart takes in the whole Mediatorial Work of Christ, Prophetic, Priestly and Kingly. This is included in an ellipse, the foci of which are the "First" and "Second" Comings of Christ. The "Cross" represents His "First Coming" and the "Crown" His "Second Coming." Between the "Fall" and the "First Coming" we have the "ALTAR, " which points backward to the "Fall" and forward to the "Cross." Between the "Comings" we have the "TABLE" which points backward to the "Cross" and forward to the "Second Coming." Between the "Second Coming" and the surrender of the "Kingdom" we have the "THRONE, " which points backward to the "Second Coming" and forward to the surrendering of the "Kingdom." The Apostle Paul in his epistles clearly distinguishes between the "Comings" and their doctrinal signification. In his letter to the Hebrew's he classifies Christ's "appearings" as "Hath he appeared".(Heb. 9:28). In his letter to (Titus 2:11-12), he brings out the doctrinal significance of these "appearings." As a Prophet He died for our "JUSTIFICATION" as a Priest He lives at the right hand of God not only as our Advocate, but our "SANCTIFIER, " and when He comes again asa King it will be for our "GLORIFICATION."
While the First and Second Comings of Christ are separated by this Dispensation they are nevertheless not complete in themselves, the Second necessitated the First, and the First demands the Second. They are both necessary to complete the Plan of Salvation. The First Coming wafs for the salvation of my "SOUL; " the Second is for the salvation of my "BODY, " for there can be no resurrection of the body until Christ comes back.
THE SECOND COMING
I. AS TO THE FACT
1. THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS HIMSELF.
Matt. 16:27. "For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works."
Matt. 25:31-32. "When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the 'Throne of His Glory; ' and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats."
John 14:2-3. "In my father's house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
2. THE TESTIMONY OF HEAVENLY BEINGS.
John 21:22. "If I will that he tarry till I come what is that to thee? Follow thou me."
Acts 1:10-11. "And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This SAME JESUS, which is taken up from you in heaven, shall so come IN LIKE MANNER as ye have seen him to go into heaven."
This passage declares that the SAME JESUS shall return IN LIKE MANNER as He went, that is, that His return will be visible and personal. The two "men" that "stood by" were probably Moses and Elijah. They appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. They were doubtless the "two men" who testified to the women at the tomb that Jesus had risen (Luke 24:4-5), and they will be the "Two Witnesses" that shall testify during the Tribulation. Rev. 11:3-5.
3. THE TESTIMONY OF THE APOSTLES
PAUL-"For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, , according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." Phil. 3:20-21.
"Looking for that 'Blessed Hope' and the 'Glorious Appearing' of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Titus 2:13.
"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the 'Second Time' without sin unto salvation. Heb. 9:28
JAMES-"Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord." James 5:7.
PETER-"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty." 2Pet. 1:16.
Peter here refers to the Transfiguration of Christ on the Mount (Matt. 17:1-3), which was a type of His Second Coming. Moses was a type of the "resurrection saints, " and Elijah of those who shall be translated without dying. Peter, James and John were a type of the Jewish Remnant that shall see Him when He comes, and the remaining disciples at the foot of the mount, unable to cast the demon out of the boy, of those professed followers of Jesus who shall be left behind at the Rapture, and who shall be powerless to cast the demons out of the demon-possessed people of that period.
JUDE-"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoke against him." Jude 14-15.
JOHN-"And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 1John 2:28.
"Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen." Rev. 1:7.
4. THE TESTIMONY OF THE LORD'S SUPPER.
"For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come." 1 Cor. 11:26.
The Lord's Supper is not a permanent ordinance. It will be discontinued when the Lord returns. It is a Memorial Feast. It looks back to the "Cross" and forward to the "Coming." An engagement ring is not intended to be permanent. It is simply a pledge of mutual love and loyalty, and gives place to the wedding ring. So the Lord's Table may be looked upon as a betrothal pledge left to the Church during the absence of her betrothed.
Paul in all his epistles refers but 13 times to Baptism, while he speaks of the Lord's return 50 times. One verse in every 30 in the New Testament refers to Christ's Second Coming. There are 20 times as many references in the Old Testament to Christ's Second Coming as to His First Coming.
THE FIVE THEORIES
While the majority of professing Christians admit the fact of the second Coming of Christ, they are not agreed as to the "manner" or "time." There are five theories as to the Second Coming.
1. That His Coming Again Is "SPIRITUAL" and Was Fulfilled at Pentecost.
It was not Christ but the Holy Spirit that came at Pentecost, and his coming was conditioned on Christ's absence, for Jesus said, "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter (H. S.) will not come unto you; but if I DEPART, I will SEND HIM UNTO YOU." John 16:7. If the Holy Spirit is only another manifestation of Christ, then they are identical, and that NULLIFIES THE TRINITY. The fact that the whole New Testament was written after Pentecost, and declares over 150 times that the Second Coming of Christ was still future. And more, none of the events predicted as
accompanying the Second Coming occurred at Pentecost, such as the Resurrection of the "Dead in Christ, " the Translation of the "Living Saints, " the "Binding of Satan, " etc.
2. That the "CONVERSION OF THE SINNER" is the Coming of the Lord.
This cannot be, for at conversion the sinner comes to Christ, not Christ to the sinner; and the sinner's conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit, and not the work of Christ. It is true that there is such a thing as the spiritual indwelling of Christ in the believer, but His Second Coming, - like His First Coming is to be an outward, visible, personal coming.
3. That "DEATH" is the Coming of the Lord.
The text that is used more than any other for funeral sermons is -"Watch, therefore; for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh." Matt. 25:13. The context shows that this refers to a future coming of Christ. Christ could not come to the earth every time a person dies for two reasons-
(1) A soul passes into eternity every second, and this would necessitate Christ's remaining continuously on the earth.
(2) Christ is engaged in His High Priestly functions in the Heavenlies, and could not leave them to come to the earth for the souls of the dying.
The fact is, that at death the believer goes to Christ. Christ does not come for him. Death is always spoken of as a departure. "Absent from the body, present (at home) with the Lord." 2Cor. 5:6-8.
If Jesus had meant by His Second Coming "Death, " he would, have said to His Disciples-"If I go and prepare a place for you, I will send Death to bring you to myself, "but He did not. He said-'I will come again and receive you unto myself." The last chapter of John's Gospel settles the matter. Peter said to Jesus-"Lord, and what shall this man (referring to John) do? Jesus . saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple (John) should not D 1E." John 21:21-23. We see from this that the Disciples did not think that the "Coming of the Lord" meant "death." There was a great difference between these two things in their mind. Death is an enemy (1Cor. 15:26, 1Cor. 15:55), it holds us in the grave, it robs the body of its attractiveness, it is the "Wages of Sin" (Rom. 6:23), and the result of God's wrath, while the Second Coming of Christ is a manifestation of His love. Christ is the "Prince of Life." There can be no death where He is. Death flees at His coming. When He was on earth nothing could remain dead in His presence. His coming is not death but resurrection. He is the "Resurrection' and the 'Life, " and when He Comes, He will change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His "Glorious Body." Phil. 3-:20-21.
4. That the "DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM" in A. D. 70 by the Romans Was the Second Coming of the Lord.
The Lord was not present at the destruction of Jerusalem. It was destroyed by Roman soldiers, and none of the things that are to occur at the "Second Coming" occurred at the destruction of Jerusalem, such as the resurrection of the dead, the translation of living saints, and the physical changes that are to occur at Jerusalem and in the land of Palestine at Christ's coming. Zech. 14:4-1 Zech. 14:1. Ez. 47:1-3. Christ's purpose in coming back is not to destroy Jerusalem, but to RESTORE IT. It must be trodden down of the Gentiles until the "Times of the Gentiles" are fulfilled, "then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" Luke 21:24-26. The Book of Revelation, written 26 years after the destruction of Jerusalem, speaks of the Second Coming of Christ as still future.
5. That the "DIFFUSION OF CHRISTIANITY" is the Second Coming of the Lord.
This cannot be true, for the "Diffusion of Christianity" is gradual whereas the Scriptures declare that the "Return of the Lord" shall be SUDDEN and UNEXPECTED, as a "Thief in the Night." Matt. 24: 27, 36, 42, 44. 1 Thess.. 5:2. Rev. 3:3. Again the "Diffusion of Christianity" is a process, while the Scriptures invariably speak of the "Return of the Lord" as an EVENT. The diffusion of Christianity brings Salvation to the wicked, whereas the "Return of the Lord" is said to bring not salvation but SUDDEN DESTRUCTION. 1Thes. 5:2-3; 2Thes. 1:7-9.
II. AS TO THE TIME
Of the exact time we cannot be certain. When Jesus was on the earth He said-"But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither (not yet) the Son, but the Father." Mark 13:32. After His Resurrection and before His Ascension, He refused to satisfy the curiosity of His Disciples, saying to them-"It is not for you to know the 'times' or the 'seasons' which the Father hath put in his own power." Acts 1:7. Jesus knew of Daniel's prophecy of the "Seventy Weeks" (Dan. 9:20-22), but He fixed no dates for their fulfillment. The student of prophecy is not to be a "date-setter, " but he is to watch. "Signs" are for the -few. There is nothing to prevent Christ coming for His Church at any time.While we do not know the day or the hour of Christ's Coming we know that it will be
By Pre-Millennial we mean before the Millennium. That is, before the period of a "Thousand Years" spoken of in Rev. 20:1-3. This period is spoken of in other scriptures as "The Kingdom, " and is described in glowing terms by the prophets as a time when the earth shall be blessed with a universal rule of righteousness. The passage in Rev. 20:1-3 simply tells us that the length of the period shall be 1000 years.
The very structure of the New Testament demands that Christ shall return before the Millennium. Here are a few reasons.
1. When Christ comes He will RAISE THE DEAD, but the Righteous dead are to be raised BEFORE the Millennium, that they may reign with Christ during the 1000 years, hence there can be no Millennium before Christ comes. Rev. 20:5.
2. When Christ comes He will SEPARATE THE "TARES" FROM THE "WHEAT, " but as the Millennium is a period of UNIVERSAL RIGHTEOUSNESS the separation of the "Tares" and "Wheat" must take place BEFORE the Millennium, therefore there can be no Millennium before Christ comes. Matt. 13:40-42.
3. When Christ comes Satan SHALL BE BOUND, but as Satan is to be bound during the Millennium, there can be no Millennium until Christ comes. Rev. 20:1-3.
4. When Christ comes Antichrist is to be DESTROYED, but as Antichrist is to be destroyed before the Miliennium there can be no Millennium until Christ comes. Thess. 2:8 Rev. 19:20.
5. When Christ comes the Jews are to be RESTORED TO THEIR OWN LAND, but they are to be restored to their own land BEFORE the Millennium, there can be no Millennium before Christ comes. Ez. 36:24-26; Rev. 1:7; Zech. 12:10.
6. When Christ comes it will be unexpectedly, and we are commanded to watch lest He take us unawares. Now if He is not coming Millennium, until AFTER the and the Millennium is not yet here, why command us to watch for an event that is over 1000 years off ?
III. AS TO THE MANNER
He will return in the SAME MANNER as He went. Acts 1:11. He went up BODILY and VISIBLY and He shall come in like manner. He went in a cloud, and He will return in a cloud. "Behold, He cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him."' Rev. 1:7. The only difference will be that He went up alone, He will return as a King (Luke 19:12), followed by a retinue of the angelic hosts. "For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with his angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works." Matt. 16:27. His "Return" however will be in
He will come first into the region of our atmosphere, and the "dead in Christ, " and the "living saints" shall be "caught up" to meet Him "IN THE AIR." Then after the risen and translated saints have been judged and rewarded for their works, and they, as the Church, the Bride of Christ, have been married to Him, He will come with them to the earth and land on the Mount of Olives, the place from whence He ascended. "And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south." Zech. 14:4.
The First Stage of His Return is called "THE RAPTURE; " the Second Stage-"THE REVELATION." The time between the two Stages is not less than seven years, and is occupied in the heavens by the "JUDGMENT OF BELIEVERS FOR WORKS, " and on the earth by "THE GREAT TRIBULATION." See Chart that follows, marked Chart No. 3.
FIRST STAGE-THE RAPTURE
The Rapture is described in 1Thes. 4:15-17. "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord HIMSELF shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel (Michael) and with the trump of God; and the DEAD IN CHRIST shall rise first; then we which are ALIVE AND REMAIN (saints only) shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord IN THE AIR, and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
From this we see that "The Raptue" will be twofold.
1. The Resurrection of the "DEAD IN CHRIST."
2. The Translation of the "LIVING SAINTS."
This twofold character of "The Rapture" Jesus revealed to Martha when He was about to raise her brother Lazarus. He said to her:
"I am the 'Resurrection and the Life, ' he that believeth in Me, though he were dead yet shall he LIVE (First Resurrection Saints); and whosoever LIVETH (is alive when I come back) and believeth in me shall NEVER DIE" John 11:25-26. This twofold character of the Rapture, Paul emphasizes in his immortal chapter on the resurrection.
"Behold, I show you a Mystery, we shall not all Sleep, but we shall All Be Changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised, and we shall be changed. For this Corruptible (the dead in Christ) must put on incorruption, and this mortal (the living saints) must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that. is written, DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.
O DEATH, WHERE IS THY STING?
O GRAVE, WHERE IS THY VICTORY? "
The last two lines refer only to those who are "changed without dying, " for it is only those who will not die who can shout-
"O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?
O Grave, Where Is Thy Victory? "
In 2Cor. 5:14. Paul expresses his longing, and the longing of the Saints, to be among those who should not be "unclothed" by Death, but who should be "clothed upon" by Immortality "without dying."
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle (the body) were dissolved (that is die), we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this (body) we groan, earnestly desiring to be 'clothed upon' with our house which is from heaven; if so be that being 'clothed' we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle (the body) do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be 'unclothed' (by death), but 'clothed upon' (by Immortality), that 'mortality' might be swallowed up of life."
In his letter to the Philippians, while Paul hopes that-
"If by any means he may attain unto The (out from among the dead) Resurrection, yet he pressed toward the mark for the 'prize' of the High (out and up) Calling of God in Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:11-13.
That is, while Paul would esteem it a great thing to "rise from the dead" at the First Resurrection, and be "caught up" with those who should be "changed, " yet he would esteem it a "prize" if he could be caught up "without dying, " that is, live until Jesus came back.
THE RAPTURE WILL BE A "SURPRISE"
"Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch, the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man COMETH." Matt. 24:42-44. "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." Rev. 16:15. "But of the 'times' and the 'seasons, ' brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the 'Day of the Lord' (the day of His Return), so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, 'Peace and Safety; ' then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape." This refers to the Second Stage of Christ's Coming, the "Revelation, " when He shall take vengeance upon His enemies. 2Thes. 1:7-9. But Paul adds-"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day (the day of His Return) should overtake you as a thief." 1Thes. 5:14.
We see from this that when Christ comes back it will be when we are not expecting Him. He will come as a thief comes. A thief does not announce his coming. He comes for a certain purpose. He does not take everything there is in the house. He takes only the precious things. The jewels, the gold, the silver and fine wearing apparel. He does not come to stay. As soon as he secures what he is after he departs. So Jesus at the Rapture will come and take away the saints only. The thief leaves much more than he takes. He leaves the house and the furniture and the household utensils. So the Lord at the Rapture will leave the wicked and the great mass of the heathen behind, for those who will be taken will be comparatively few.
The Two Stages of His Coming
THE RAPTURE: WILL BE "ELECTIVE"
It will not only separate the saints from unbelievers, but it will separate husbands from wives, brothers from sisters, friends from friends.
"I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. " Luke 17:34-36. The words "men" and "women" in this passage are in italics. That means that they are not in the original, and so the passage should read there shall be "two in one bed, " husband and wife, or two brothers, or two sisters, or two friends. Two in "bed" indicates night; two grinding at the mill, morning or evening; two in the field mid-noon. This shows that the Rapture will happen all over the earth at the same time or as the Apostle describes it in a "moment, " or the "twinkling of an eye." "As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; also the coming of the Son of Man Be" (Matt. 24:27) is the way Jesus puts it.
The "Rapture" will be the most startling "event" of this Age and Dispensation. As it is to occur in the "twinkling of an eye" and -all over the earth at the same time, that part of the world that is not asleep will witness the event. As to the "Shout of the Lord, " the "Voice of the Archangel, " and the "Trump of God" we do not know whether their sound will be heard and distinguished by others than the "dead in Christ" and the "living saints." We know that one day the Father spoke to Christ in a voice that He understood, but the people who stood by mistook it for "thunder." ' John 12:28-29. When the Lord appeared to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus and spoke to him, the men that journeyed with him stood speechless, "hearing a voice, " but seeing no man, and not understanding what was said. Acts 9:3-5. We know however that the "dead in Christ" will hear the sound, for it will be "intensely penetrating." There will be no graves so deep, no catacombs so rock covered, no pyramids or mausoleums so thick, but what the sound shall reach their depths and the "dead in Christ" shall hear the cry-"awake ye sleeping saints and arise from the dead, it is MORNING, the morning of the FIRST RESURRECTION."
On the morning of that glorious day the air will be filled with the "spirits" of the "Dead in Christ, " come back to earth to get their bodies, raised and glorified. Whether. the cemeteries and country church yards will look like ploughed fields, and monuments and grave slabs be overturned and vaults and places of sepulture be shattered by the exodus of those who found their last resting place there, and thus testify to the fact of the literal bodily resurrection of the dead, or whether the sainted dead shall slip out of their sepulchres without disturbing them. as Christ arose and left the tomb without breaking the seal, the angel rolling away the stone simply to show that the tomb was empty, we are not told, only the event itself will disclose the manner of the First Resurrection.
If the dead slip out of their places of sepulture without disturbing them, the First Resurrection will be secret and probably unknown to the world, but it will not be so with the "Living Saints" who are translated. If it is night on our side of the globe when the Rapture occurs the community will wake up in the morning to find all the real Christians gone, disappeared in the night. Many may hear the sound of the "Midnight cry'--
"BEHOLD THE BRIDEGROOM COMETH, "
but thinking it only thunder, will turn over for another nap, but in the morning they will find the bedroom door locked, with the key on the inside, just as they locked it before retiring, and the clothes of the loved one 'who occupied the room with them lying where they were placed when taken off the night before, but that loved one, who was a Christian, missing. Husbands will wake up to find that Christian wives are gone, and wives will wake up to find Christian husbands gone. Brothers and sisters will be missed, and dear children absent, and not an infant will be left behind. Many faithful servants and employees will not report for duty, and the world will awake to the fact that the Bible is true, and the much despised doctrine of the PreMillennial Coming of the Lord to gather out His saints is no fanciful interpretation of Scripture.
If it be day with us when the Rapture occurs, the "EVENT" will be startling. As it was in the days of Noah (Matt. 24:36-38), the people will be eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, buying and selling, planting and building.
If it be a pleasant time of year, the boats, the cars, and the parks will be filled with shoppers and the mills with toilers, and the streets of the cities lined with men and women and children on pleasure and business bent. Suddenly a noise from heaven will be heard like a great peal of thunder. The people will rush to doors and windows, and those on the streets and in the fields will look up to see what has happened. To the vast majority it will be but a startling and alarming sound, but to many it will be the
"VOICE OF THE LORD."
But when the people recover from their surprised and affrighted condition they will discover that a great many people are missing, and that the missing were the best people in the community. The large Department Stores, Banking Institutions, Manufacturing Plants, and other places of business will find their working force depleted by the loss of faithful employees. People walking on the streets will find their companions gone, and the street car lines will be blocked because of absent motormen, conductors and teamsters. Railroad and steamboat lines will be crippled, and confusion will reign everywhere. In many homes the servants will be missing and members of the family will come home to find loved ones gone.
At first the whole thing will be a Mystery, until some one who had heard or read about the "Rapture of-the Saints, " realizing what has happened, will explain the situation.
But one of the surprises of that day will be that so many professing Christians, and among them many ministers and Christian workers, will be left behind, while some who were not known to be Christians will be missing. The next day's papers will be full of what happened the day before, and many of them will be swelled to twice their ordinary size by the pressure on their advertising columns for information as to missing ones, and for help to fill important vacancies and positions of trust. For a few days the excitement will be intense. Then the people will settle down to the inevitable. With the exception of a few who will repent and turn to God, the mass of the people will become more hardened and wicked than before, and some who lost loved ones will be embittered. As the Holy Spirit will have gone back with the "Raptured Ones, " and the "Saints, " the SALT of the earth, been taken out, there will be nothing to prevent the rapid degeneration and "Moral Putrefaction" of those who are "left, " and sin and iniquity and all manner of crime and worldliness will increase and pave the way for the manifestation of Antichrist, under whose Administration the world will rapidly ripen for judgment.
WHO ARE TO BE TAKEN
Some claim that "all" the Church are to pass through the Tribulation; others that "all", the Church are to be caught out before the Tribulation, while some claim that only the "Waiting" and "Watching" Saints shall be caught out before the Tribulation, and that the rest must pass through it. The latter base their claim on Heb. 9:28, where it says-"Unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." While this might apply to the living when He appears, it certainly cannot apply to the dead. 'I'here are tens and hundreds of thousands who "fell asleep in Jesus" who never heard of the Premillennial Coming of the Lord, or at least never grasped its meaning, and who therefore never "watched" and "waited" and "looked" for His Appearing. They surely are "In Christ"; and the "Dead in Christ" are to rise at the Rapture. Paul does not say in 1Thes. 4:16-17, that it will be the "dead" who "watched" and "waited" and "looked, " and those who are 'alive" and
Time Element of the First and Second Comings
"watch" and "wait" and "look" for His Appearing that shall be "caught out, " but the dead "In Christ, " and we who "Are Alive And Remain."
Then there is another fact that we must not forget, and that is, the Unity of the Church.
"For as the Body Is One, and hath many members, and ALL the Members Of That One Body, Being Many, ARE ONE BODY; so also is Christ. For by One Spirit are we ALL Baptized Into One Body." 1 Cor., 12:12-13.
All then who have been "born again" (John 3:3-5) are part of Christ's "Body, " and we cannot conceive of Christ's "Body being divided; part of it remaining "asleep" in the grave, and part of it "raised in glory; " part of it left to pass through the Tribulation, and part of it "changed" and caught up to meet Him in the air.
If "all" the Church are to pass through the Tribulation, then instead of waiting and watching "for the Lord, " we should be waiting and watching "for the Tribulation, " which is contrary to the teaching of Christ Himself. Matt. 24:42-44.
The Tribulation is not for the perfecting "of the Saints." It has nothing to do with the Church. It is the time of "Jacob's Trouble" (Jer. 30:7), and is the "Judgment of Israel, " and it is God's purpose to keep the Church out of it. Rev. 3:10. The Book of Revelation is written in chronological order. After the fourth chapter the Church is seen no more upon the earth until she appears in the nineteenth chapter coming with the Bridegroom "from" Heaven. The entire time between these two chapters is filled with appalling judgments that fall upon those that "dwell on the earth, " and as the Church is not of the earth, but is supposed to " sit together in 'Heavenly Places' in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6), she will not be among those who "dwell on the earth" in those days.
The confusion is largely due to the fact that students of Prophetic Truth do not distinguish between Christ's coming FOR His Saints, and WITH His Saints. The former is called the "Rapture, " the later the "Revelation."
Numerous passages in scripture speak of Christ coming "with" His Saints (Zech. 14:5, Col. 3:4, 1Thes. 3:13, 1Thes. 4:14, Jude 14), but it is evident that they cannot come "with" Him, if they had not been previously caught out "to" Him. All such passages refer therefore to the "Revelation" and not the "Rapture."
The typical teaching of the Scriptures demand that the Church be caught out "before" the Tribulation. Joseph was a type of Christ and he was espoused to, and married Asenath, a Gentile bride, during the time of his "rejection by his brethren, " and "before the famine, " which typified the Tribulation, because it was the time of "Judgment of his Brethren." This is the time of Christ's rejection by "His Brethren– the Jew, and to complete type He must get His Bride the church, "before" the Tribulation.
Moses, who is also a type of Christ, got his bride, and. she a Gentile, "after" his rejection by his brethren, and "before" they passed through the Tribulation under Pharoah. Ex. 2:23-25.
Enoch, a type of the "Translation Saints, " was caught out "before" the Flood, and the Flood is a type of the Tribulation, and Noah and his family of the "Jewish Remnant" or 144, 000 sealed ones of Rev. 7:1-3, who will be preserved through the Tribulation.
How thrilling the thought that some of us shall not die, that in a moment, in the "twinkling of an eye" without being unclothed by the ghastly hands of Death, and instead of the winding sheet of the grave, we shall be instantly changed and clothed with the glorious garments of immortality. What a transport of joy will fill our being as we suddenly feel the thrill of immortality throbbing through our veins, and find ourselves being transported through the air in the company of fellow Christians and of our loved ones who fell asleep in Jesus. What welcome recognitions and greetings there will be as we journey up with them to the "Bridal Halls of Heaven, " where we shall join in the new and triumphal song of Moses and the Lamb. Rev. 5:9-10.
SECOND STAGE-THE REVELATION
At the "Second Stage" of Christ's Second Coming, the "Revelation, " we shall behold His "Glory." When Jesus came the first time He was disguised in the flesh. The "Incarnation" was the hiding of His Power, the veiling of His Deity. Now and then gleams of glory shot forth as on the Mt. of transfiguration; but when He comes the Second Time we shall behold Him clothed with the glory He had with the Father before the world was. The "Revelation" will be as sudden and as unexpected as was the "Rapture." The sun will rise on that day strong and clear. Gentle breezes will waft themselves over the earth. There will be no signs of a storm or of the coming judgment. The people will be buying and selling, building and planting, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. The statesmen will be revolving in their minds new plans for the world's betterment. The philanthropic will be devising new ways to help the people. The pleasure-loving will be seeking new sources of pleasure. The wicked will be plotting dark deeds; and the unbelieving will be proving to their own satisfaction that there is no God, no heaven, no hell, no coming judgment, when suddenly there will be a change. In the distant heaven there will appear a
"POINT OF LIGHT, "
outshining the sun. It will be seen descending toward the earth. As it descends it will assume the form of a bright cloud, out of which shall stream dazzling beams of light, and flashes of lightning. It will descend apace as if on wings of the whirlwind, and when it reaches its destination over the brow of the Mt. of Olives it will stop and unfold itself to the terrified and awestricken beholders, and there will be revealed to them Jesus seated on a "White Horse" (Rev. 19:16) and accompanied with His Saints and the armies of Heaven. Then shall be fulfilled what Jesus foretold in His Olivet Discourse-"Then shall appear the sign (a cloud) of the Son of Man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven WITH POWER AND GREAT GLORY." Matt. 24:30.
THE IMMINENCY OF THE SECOND COMING
One of the objections to the Doctrine of the "Second Coming of Christ" is the claim that He may come backat any time. Post-millennialists tell us that the writers of the New Testament looked forHim to come back in their day, and that He did not do so, is proof that they were mistaken, and that Paul in his later writings modified his statements as to the imminency of Christ's return. It is a fact that while Jesus said: "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. . . . Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matt. 24:42-44), He did not in these passages teach that He would return during the lifetime of those who listened to Him. In fact, in His Parables He intimated that His return would be delayed, as in the Parable of The Talents, where it is said: "After a long time the Lord of those servants cometh. Matt. 25:19. What Jesus wanted to teach was the sudden and unexpected character of His return. As to the Apostles, while they exhorted their followers to be ready, for the "night is far spent, the day is at hand, " and the "coming of the Lord draweth nigh, " their language simply implied "imminency, " but not necessarily "IMMEDIATENESS." And the use of the word "WE" in 1Cor. 15:5 1Cor. 15:1, "WE" shall not all sleep, but WE shall all be changed, " is not a declaration that the Lord would return in Paul's day and some would not die but be translated, for the Apostle is talking about the Rapture and he means by "WE" a certain class of persons, the saints that shall be alive when that event occurs, whether in his day or at some later time.
It was clearly known to our Lord that certain events must come to pass before His Return, but to have disclosed that fact would have nullified the command to "Watch, " therefore He in "mystery form, ' as in the seven parables of Matt. 13, hid the fact that His Return would be delayed. It would take time for the "Sowing of the Seed, " the growth of the "Wheat" and "Tares, " the growth of the "Mustard Tree, " and the "Leavening of the Meal." So rapid was the spread of the Gospel in the first century that the followers of Christ were warranted in looking for the speedy Return of the Lord, but it was true then, as in every century since, that we do not know what the extent of the "Harvest' is to be, and when it will be ripe, so the Lord can return. Matt. 13:30. Uncertainty then as to the "time" of the Lord's return is necessary to promote the "watchful" spirit. If the early Church had known that the Lord's Return would have been delayed for 20 centuries, the incentive to watchfulness would have been wanting.
By "Imminency" we mean "may happen at any time." For illustration, you hurry to the railroad station to catch a train. You find the train has not arrived, though it is past the hour. Though it is late it is on the way, and it would not be safe for you to leave the station, for it may arrive any minute, but as a matter of fact, it does not come for half an hour. Now if you had known that it would not arrive for half an hour you would have used the time in some other way than "waiting" and "watching." So we see that "Imminency" does not necessarily imply "IMMEDIATENESS, " but does demand "Watchfulness."
It is the firm conviction of the writer that there has been unnecessary delay in the Return of the Lord, caused by the failure of the Church to obey the "Divine Commission" to evangelize the world (Matt. 28:19-20), and it is past the time when He should have returned. Of course, this was foreseen by God, and His foreknowledge has held back the development of the forces of evil, etc., until the "Fulness of the Gentiles" should be gathered in, and the "Harvest" is ripe for the gathering. Rev. 14:14-16. At no time in the history of the Christian Church have the conditions necessary to the Lord's Return been so completely fulfilled as at the present time; therefore, His Coming is IMMINENT, and will not probably be long delayed. Let us be ready and watching.
While the writer, as stated, is disposed to believe that the Return of the Lord is "past due, " and while he is no "time setter, " yet there is a "theory" that may throw some light on the long
IMMINENCY OF HIS RETURN
that it might be well to examine. It is called
THE GREAT WEEK OF HUMAN HISTORY,
and is based on the "Seven Days" of the "Creative Week, " and the declaration of Scripture (2Pet. 3:8), "That one day is with the Lord as a THOUSAND YEARS, and a thousand years as ONE DAY." The Millennium in the Old Testament is described as a "Sabbath Keeping" period of rest, and is referred to as such in Heb. 4:4-1 Heb. 4:1, where it is associated with the "Seventh Day" of the "Creative Week." Now we know that the length of the Millennium is 1000 YEARS (Rev. 20:1-3), and if it corresponds with the "Seventh Day" of the 'Creative Week, " why should not the remaining six days be of the same length? If so, and those days correspond with the past of human history, then from the date of the "Creative Week" up to the beginning of the Millennium should be 6000 years of human history. In confirmation of this we have the fact that a careful study of the genealogical tables and history of the Old Testament seem to show that from Adam to Christ was about 4000 years, or four days of a thousand years each, corresponding to the first four days of the "Creative Week, " and from Christ down to the present time we have over 1900 years, or nearly 2 days of 1000 years each, thus making nearly 6 days of 1000 years each of human history, and as Christ is to come back before the Millennium, and all signs point to His Speedy return, then the "theory" that the "Seven Days" of the "Creative Week" are typical of Seven "One Thousand Year Periods" is not unwarranted in Scripture.
If our inference is correct, then it follows that the Return of the Lord will take place before the close of this present century. How much before is uncertain. If the Millennium-is to be ushered in in A, D. 2000, then the "Rapture" must take place at least 7 years before that.
The Seven Thousand Years of Human History
But right here we must sound a note of caution. There is too much confusion in Biblical Chronology to fix any dates with certainty. Doubtless God has ordered it so, so as to keep us in doubt as to the exact date of the Lord's Return. It may have been 4075 years, instead of 4004 (as generally given), from Adam to Christ. In that case we are living in the year 5993 from the creation of Adam, or on the eve of the Rapture. Again we must not forget that God uses in "Prophetical Chronology" the Calendar Year of 360 days toa year, while we use the Julian or Astronomical Year of 365 1/4 days, and it would be necessary for us to find out what kind of year is used reduce it to the Calendar year. Thus we might find that we are er the end of the six thousandth year than we are aware, and that return of the Lord is IMMINENT. However, while we may upon the above theory as suggestive and in a way confirmatory of the near coming of the Lord, it is not conclusive, and we are not warranted in fixing any date based upon it. And further, we must not forget that the "Rapture" may take place some time before the 'Tribulation Period" begins and Antichrist is revealed. So if we could fix he exact date when this century will close, and count back 7 years, the Rapture might occur 5, 10 or even 25 years before that, so as to give time for the rebuilding of Babylon and other events that are to occur before the Tribulation Period can begin, otherwise the Rapture would not be a surprise. It is not for the Christian to look for"Time and "Seasons" and "Signs." To do so will put him in the class of those who say: "My Lord delayeth His Coming" (Luke 12:42-44), and he will become preoccupied with other things and neglect to be watchful. Let us live as if we expected the Return of our Lord at any moment.
A PRACTICAL DOCTRINE
But why, you ask, should we put so much emphasis on the "Second Coming of Christ"? Why not talk and preach about the practical affairs of life? About the social and commercial problems of the world and their solution through the Gospel? The answer is that the only way to solve these problems is for Christ to return, and the longer His "Return" is delayed, the longer it will be before these problems are solved.
1. AS TO THE JEWS.
The Jews are a downtrodden people. Their only hope is the Return of the Lord. When He comes back they shall be restored to their own land and become a nation again. "Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the Children of Israel out of the Land of Egypt; but the Lord liveth that brought up the Children of Israel from the land of the NORTH (Russia) and from ALL THE LANDS whither He had driven them; and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers." Jer. 16:14-15; Isa. 43:5-7. And they shall never again be dispersed. "For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up." Jer. 24:6. This has never as yet been fulfilled.
2. AS TO JERUSALEM AND PALESTINE.
"Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; in the day that I will cleanse you from all your iniquities I will cause the cities (of Palestine) to be inhabited, - and the waste places shall be builded. And the land that was desolate shall be tilled. . . . And they shall say, this land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden." Ez. 36:33-35. Joel 3:18. Joel 2:24-26. "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts; there shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and ever man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof., ' Zech. 8:4-5. Zech. 14:20-21.
3. AS TO THE NATIONS.
When the Lord Jesus Christ returns He will sit upon the "Throne of His Glory" at Jerusalem, and shall separate the "Sheep Nations" from the goat and only the "Sheep Nations" will survive as nations and be permitted to become part of the Millennial Kingdom. Matt. 25:31-33. These nations will become righteous. "And it shall come to pass that every one that is left of all the nations which come against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the 'Feast of Tabernacles.", Zech. 14:16. As the result of all this the nations "shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid." Micah 4:3-4. Isa. 2:4. The only way then to stop wars and labor troubles and all socialistic and anarchistic movements is for Christ to return and set up His Millennial Kingdom.
4. AS TO SATAN.
The only way to get rid of Satan and all his evil influences and powers is for Christ to come back, for when He comes back Satan will be bound and cast into the Bottomless Pit for 1000 years. Rev. 20:1-3.
5. AS TO THE EARTH.
Since the Fall of Man the earth has been cursed with thorns and thistles and all kinds of insect pests and disease germs, and man by the sweat of his face has been compelled to earn his daily bread. Even the brute creation became carnivorous and learned to prey upon each other, and the "whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." Rom. 8:22. But all this will be changed when Christ comes back, for then "the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose." Isa. 35:1. "Then shall the earth yield her increase." Psa. 67:6. And the ploughman will "overtake the reaper, " and the treader of grapes him that "soweth seed." Amos 9:13.
THE BLESSED HOPE
The Second Coming of Christ is "The Blessed Hope." Writing to Titus Paul said-"Looking for that 'Blessed Hope, ' and the 'Glorious Appearing' of the Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Titus 2:13. Most Christians when speaking of their "Hope" mean their "Hope of Salvation, " but we cannot "hope" for a thing we have and salvation is a present possession if we are trusting in Christ as our Saviour. The Christian's "Hope" then is the "Return of His Lord." Man is a three-fold being, he has a body, a soul, and a spirit; for him to die is to lose his "body." Now he knows that he cannot get his body back until the Resurrection and he also knows that there can be no Resurrection until Christ comes back. Therefore to him Christ's return is "The Blessed Hope, " not only that if he dies he will then be raised, but it is to him the "Hope" that Christ will come back before he dies and he shall be "caught up" to meet Him in the air without dying. 1Thes. 4:13-15.
"The Blessed Hope" is also a "Purifying Hope." "And every man that hath this hope in him PURIFIETH HIMSELF.' 1John 3:1-3. That is, every one who is looking for the Lord's return will try to keep himself pure. It will make us "Patient." "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the Coming of the Lord. . . . Be ye also patient; establish your hearts; for the Coming of the Lord draweth nigh." James 5:7-8. It will make us "Watchful." "Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning; lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all WATCH." Mark 13:35-37. If we are watching for the Lord we
Rightly Dividing The Word Of Truth
will be careful of our conduct. We will not want Him to come and find us doing questionable things, or in questionable places. We will not want to hoard money, nor spend our money in an extravagant manner, we will want to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven by contributing to missions. We will see to it that in our homes there is no kind of literature, or art, or pictures, or anything that we would not like His pure eyes to see if He were to be a visitor in our home. In short, "The Blessed Hope" helps us to cling lightly to this world. It will not make us idle and negligent, but will fill us with zeal to be found a faithful servant at His return. For this reason it is a noteworthy fact and a witness to the power of the doctrine, that those who believe it are the most consecrated, unselfish, and strenuous workers in the Master's service.
This "Hope" will also keep us from being "ASHAMED" at His Coming. "And now, little children, abide in Him; that when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ASHAMED before Him at His Coming." 1John 2:28. If we are watching for Him and our house is in order, and we are ready to give a faithful account of our Stewardship we shall not be ashamed before Him at His coming. Matt. 25:14-16.
The "Hope" of the Lord's Pre-Millennial Return fills the heart of those who believe it with joy. In Luke 24:52 we read that when Jesus was parted from His Disciples and ascended into Heaven, "They returned to Jerusalem with GREAT JOY, and were continually in the Temple, PRAISING and BLESSING God." That seems strange conduct on their part, for naturally we would suppose that His Departure would have filled them with sadness. But when we recall that, when He Ascended, two men stood by in white apparel and told them that Jesus would come back again, we can understand their joyfulness. Acts 1:11.
It has often been said in opposition to the doctrine of the Second Coming, "If Christian people believe that Jesus is soon coming back why do they build houses and churches and make investments and plan for the education of their children and so on? " The answer is that Jesus' coming back will not do away with the need for houses and churches and education. The world moved on just as before after His First Coming, and it will do the same after His Second Coming. People will need homes and churches. Business will go on as before, and the unconverted children of Christian believers will be left behind and need homes and education and means to live on. The prosperity of the world will be greater during the Millennium than ever before. So there is no occasion for those who are looking for the Lord's Return to neglect the affairs of this life. What we as Christians hope for is that the Lord will come back and take us out of the world before the awful days of the "Tribulation Period" come, and then when they are over and Jesus comes back to reign we shall come back with Him as glorified beings to rule and reign over the Millennial earth, and probably visit churches where once we worshiped, and institutions that our money built.
The preacher of the Doctrine of the Pre-Millennial Coming of Christ wields a "two-edged sword." The unbeliever when urged to become a Christian may say I am young and there is plenty of time and so may put off the time of decision, but when he is told that it is not a question of time, or the mere salvation of his soul, but that may be back at any time and it is a question of being ready to Him, then he sees the importance of immediate decision.
Dear reader, are you a Christian, and as a Christian are you believer in the "Blessed Hope, " and are you looking for the speedy coming of the Lord, and doing all you can to hasten His Return, and thus bring back THE KING? If not, I beseech you to drop everything and settle the question of whether you will be "caught up to meet the Lord in the air when He comes, and thus escape the awful days that are coming on the earth-days in which no one can buy or sell unless he has the "Mark of the Beast, " and all those who have that "Mark" are eternally doomed. Rev. 13:15-17,
By Warren M. Smith.
Oh, the glory fast approaching, of Ascension's happy morn,
When the watchful servants quickly to His bosom shall be borne;
When the dear ones left behind us, shall for us oft seek in vain,
But our spirits shall have risen to the Lamb for sinners slain.
Caught up in the air to meet Him, oh! the heights and depths of joy,
Lengths and breadths of love surpassing, purest bliss wi ' thout alloy;
Now we see with darkened vision, then we'll see Him face to face,
And we will, through countless ages, sing the glories of His grace.
Two shall at a mill be grinding, one be taken, one be left,
Two shall in a bed be sleeping, one of these shall be bereft;
Oh, what wonder and amazement, shall the ones on earth, possess,
They shall pass through tribulation, pain, and sorrow and distress.
We shall live with Him forever, in the sunshine of His love,
We shall meet to part, no never, with th' angelic host above;
There we'll hear our Father's welcome, as He calls us, one by one,
Saying to each one in person, "Faithful servant, 'tis well done."
Let us, then, our lamps keep burning, and our wedding garments on,
Ready to go forth to meet Him, when we hear Him say, "I come;
There will be no time to slumber, lest He come whil'st we're asleep
And the door be shut between us; let us then our vigil keep.