PUBLISHED MONTHLY. 101 Fifth Ave., PITTSBURGH, PA.
|J. H. PATON||ALMONT, MICH.|
|W. I. MANN||SWISSVALE, PA.|
|B. W. KEITH||DANSVILLE, N.Y.|
|A. D. JONES||PITTSBURGH, PA.|
|L. A. ALLEN||HONEOYE, N.Y.|
When God created man, he endowed him with qualities of being like his own. Qualities of justice and judgment fitted him to be a ruler; qualities of mercy and love prepared him to be a reasonable, kind and wise ruler. Such is a brief description of earth's first king – Adam. An image of his creator, (not physically, but mentally and morally,) he is to be invested with authority over earth and its affairs, like as God is ruler over all, as we read: "In our likeness let him have dominion over the beast of the field, the fowl of heaven and the fish of the sea." [Gen. 1:26]. Thus was he installed lord of earth. He was but another form of creation, a step lower than angels, as lower and under him, came the brute creation; accordingly we read: "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands. Thou hast put all things under his feet." [Psa. 8:5-6.]
As God had foreseen, and arranged for, man disobeys his superior ruler the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This cannot be allowed to go unpunished. He had been informed from the first that disobedience to God would be sin, and that its legitimate punishment and effect is death. While man always was mortal, and therefore liable to disease and death, yet the loving Creator had made every provision necessary to his welfare, in the garden prepared for his trial. And not only had He arranged that the soul (person) that sinned should die, but also that if obedient the person should continue to live. The means for life's continuance was in "every tree of the garden," i.e., the food provided for man's sustenance was amply sufficient to meet all the wastes of his system, and would have preserved the freshness and vigor of his perfect being forever. This would be everlasting life.
When man became a sinner the penalty "death" must be executed. It mattered not so far as the penalty was concerned, whether Adam should die the same moment that he disobeyed, or the same year, or a thousand years after. He must die. The word "day" used in connection with the penalty, is the general term used now as well as in past times, for a period or epoch of time, as "The day of temptation in the wilderness – forty years;" the days of creation, etc. The marginal reading clears up the meaning: "In the day that thou eatest thereof, dying, thou shalt die." [Gen. 2:17] This was fulfilled not by God's striking Adam dead with a thunderbolt but simply by cutting off his access to the life-giving food supplied by the trees of the prepared garden. Accordingly an angel drove Adam from the garden and prevented with flaming sword, his access thereafter to the tree (trees or woods) of life. (Gen. 3:24).
Thus was the lord of creation driven out into the world which God, foreknowing his fall, had left in an unprepared or "cursed" condition. The garden which we are told was "prepared" was doubtless an illustration of what the whole earth will be when man and his perfect conditions are restored – in "The times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets."
Thus thrown upon his own resources for obtaining by sweat of face, elements to sustain life, Adam found it a hard lot, and by its effects was enabled to know what evil is, and the exceeding bitterness of sin. And oft, no doubt, he desired, perhaps prayed, that he might be permitted again to dwell in Eden, and promised that with his present knowledge of sin and evil he would more highly prize the good things there enjoyed and more fervently love and obey Him "from whom cometh every good and perfect gift." But though God's plan was no less loving than this, it was broader, wiser and more comprehensive. God's plan being to let, not only Adam, but also the entire race, learn just this same lesson of the bitterness of sin and disobedience which each must individually learn to fully appreciate. Then bringing all back to the Eden condition, sin might be forever banished, and the entire race live in harmony with God.
Toil and care told in time upon even the perfect physical form of a perfect man, resulting finally in his complete overthrow and wresting from his grasp the last shred or spark of life. He is dead. After nine hundred and thirty years of struggle with his foe – death – he is conquered. The penalty of sin was inflicted and continues, to this moment, since he still is one of the prisoners in the great charnel house of death, which has since swallowed up the race, and will hold them all until the second Adam, who ransomed the race, and who declares, "I have the keys of hell and death" [hades – the grave] (Rev. 1:18) shall take his great power and reign, releasing "the prisoners of the pit" [grave] "the captives" of sin and death.
But not only did the casting out from the life-producing fruits of the garden tend to the impairing of Adam's physical powers, but of his mental qualities also. It was not possible that he should retain perfect mental vigor, when he became physically impaired, thought being the product of the mental organism made active by the physical vitality. An injury to either one or both of these producing qualities would of necessity impair their product.
We see then that Adam's mental powers decreased with his physical deterioration and we claim that the moral qualities of his mind suffered the most. While the energy of body and mind were taxed to their utmost to take care of self, it is but reasonable to suppose that the quality of benevolence (love) which, being in God's image, must have been one of the ruling characteristics of his being, would be crowded out, and the quality of acquisitiveness [R164 : page 1] (selfishness) and combativeness developed instead. This same idea followed out would show us that all the higher, grander, nobler qualities were suffered measurably to decline, while all of the lower ones (common to the lower animals) were the more developed.
As man lost the grandeur of his being, and its powers decreased, his rulership over the lower creation, as well as over self gave way, until today we find him afraid of all wild beasts, and that they no longer recognize the rulership of their fallen lord. And the influence once exercised by our father Adam is barely discernible in the occasional man who can master and tame (partially) the ferocious beasts. Here we have a brief glance at the first dynasty of earth and its overthrow. Now we pass onward to the second ruler. That we may more clearly recognize who this is, let us notice what power conquered the first ruler. Surely it was DEATH. "By sin came death." In the expressive language of Paul,
Such a ransom and deliverance was a part of God's plan from the first; and we read "for this purpose Christ was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil" – sin and death. 1 John 3:8. And not only so, but also "him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb. 2:14), and thus release from his grasp all of the race. But as Satan and death are acting in harmony with a law of the universe, viz.: that no sinner shall be permitted to live, and that every creature shall be perfect in its own plane of existence, the one who would deliver the race from his authority must satisfy these claims of the law of the universe. This the fallen race could not do for themselves, as God had from the first foreknown and arranged for in His plan. Carrying out this plan he had already condemned the entire race on account of one man's disobedience, His purpose from the first being that He would provide another man, who, being without sin, should give himself "a ransom for all" the race. That "as by one man's disobedience [the] many [all] were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall [the] many [all] be made righteous" (justified from sin and death). Rom. 5:19.
But who is the one righteous, pure, holy, sinless, one? How could there be such an one among a race all of whom were condemned. "There is none righteous, no not one," the scriptures answer. But when mankind had learned effectually his own weakness and inability to deliver himself from death, his extremity became God's opportunity, and "God's eye pitied, and His arm brought salvation." The very chief of God's creation higher than angels and archangels [Heb. 1:5-8], [R164 : page 2] He who is called "the beginning of the creation of God" [Rev. 3:14] is selected as the one who shall undergo the labors of redeeming humanity. We are not to suppose this was an irksome or unwilling work, for we cannot suppose a being in perfect harmony with Jehovah who would not take delight in doing His will. Nor would obedience be the only motive which would actuate, partaking as all perfect beings on whatever plane they exist must, of the divine quality – love – he would love to do the work for the sake of its benefits to mankind, releasing them from death. This no doubt was a part of "the joy set before him," for which he, "endured the cross despising the shame." Heb. 12:2.
Aside from this joy at the opportunity to release the human race from death, was that of "bringing many sons to glory," i.e., a part of the race "a little flock." "To these gave he power to become sons of God." "For, as many as are led by the spirit of God, are the sons of God." These, according to God's plan, may, by intimate association with him be reckoned as the bride of Christ and as such enter the heavenly family. To these sons this mighty one would be a leader or "captain of their salvation." And yet another (though perhaps in his estimation less important) part of this
But how shall this redemptive work be accomplished? We have seen that God's plan was that, since by man came death, by man should also come the resurrection of the dead. (1 Cor. 15:21). Then to redeem man, this mighty one must become a man in every particular. He must partake of "flesh and blood," (Heb. 2:14), and consequently must have all the qualities of the fleshly race, not the sinful and depraved qualities with which we now are burdened, but he must be a perfect man standing exactly where Adam stood, except that he would know that sin had brought the wretchedness and death which he saw everywhere about him, and also for what purpose he had come. He took not the nature and form of angels, for that would not have answered, but he took the nature and form of man.
All things are now ready. "In the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son, born of a virgin." "born not of the will of the flesh but of the will of God" – in a word as much of a specially creative act on God's part as was the creation of Adam; the difference being that the one could say, "The earth is my mother," the other was "born of a woman." Had he in any way been a descendant of Adam he would have been under the curse of death, as are all other members of that race. He would have been as unable to keep the law as other men in whom sinful dispositions and depraved human nature are born. But while of the same (human) nature he is a new being, distinct from the race. He is born, grows in wisdom and in stature but manifests powers beyond others because he is perfect, they imperfect. Now he has reached maturity (according to the law) at thirty years of age. He knows as no one else does the great work for which during those thirty years he has been coming – a body preparing – it was "for the suffering of death" – that he "should taste death for every man" – "that through death he might destroy death," and liberate a dead race – "in due time." Now he is come the second perfect sinless man, and offers this perfect life as a ransom for the race. "Lo, I come, (as) in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God." (Heb. 10:7). This was his covenant, to die, as he afterward expressed it, saying: "For this cause came I into the world." And here in type he was buried in the water and rose again, thus making the picture of that which he covenanted to do.
Now as the perfect one he has done all that he can do, given himself up to die as the Father may will, but though the death has not actually occurred (at baptism) it is so reckoned, (as with us when we covenant,) and the new nature's powers and will, which belong to the spiritual body, which he is to be when the work of death is complete; ("raised a spiritual body,") these powers and qualities were given him as soon as the human – earthly – body was consecrated. This was at his baptism when the spirit descended and a voice from heaven acknowledged His begetting again to the spiritual plane and to the Divine nature. "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." [Matt. 3:17.] Henceforth the life of Jesus is that of a dual being, the outward form being the man Christ Jesus, whose life and being were daily spent for the good of others – a body already given up to death.
The new being within – the Divine nature – was the spirit power of God. And in this he is the pattern and leader of "all who come unto God by Him," "who become partakers of the Divine nature" – the "little flock" called His bride – His body. We must surrender ourselves to God – be baptized into His death – in order to be begotten of the spirit and receive the earnest of our new spiritual being, the fullness of which will be received when we are completely delivered from this fleshly condition to our spiritual bodies.
Thenceforth he "did not his own human will" but was "led of the Spirit," and the actions now were of God, as Jesus testified: "The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's, which sent me." [John 14:24 and 17:8.] Of mine own self I can do nothing, the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works. [John 14:10.] If we as our head "are led by the spirit of God" – even unto death – we also become "the sons of God," [Rom. 8:14,] who will also "work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure." Phil. 2:13.
This dying process continued during the three and one-half years of His ministry, from the moment of His consecration and acceptance at baptism, until on the cross He cried: "It is finished." But what was finished there – the work of atonement? No, the work of atonement signifies the making at one of two parties. In this case God was one and humanity the other party. Man's sin had brought upon him God's curse, death, instead of His blessing; and by its degrading influence (as we have seen) it had so marred the mental and moral likeness of man to his maker, that he no longer took "delight in the law of God," but in sin, and it will be readily seen by all that there was much work necessary to bring about full reconciliation between God and man. First – Justice must be met, a ransom must be given for the sinner, else God could never, to all eternity, recognize him as having a right to live. Secondly – Man must be brought to his original condition of perfection – in God's image – before he can be of himself perfectly in harmony with God's perfect will and law. Now, while this work, as a whole, was Jehovah's plan from "before the creation of the world," its accomplishment only began with Jesus, and will not be completed until the end of the millennial reign, when Jesus shall deliver up all things to the Father, having put down [destroyed] all opposition to God's laws [sin.] 1 Cor. 15.
When Jesus cried "It is finished," he referred only to the first mentioned part of this work of atonement, viz: The giving of the ransom; this was now complete; the penalty of Adam's sin was now met for "Christ died for our sins according to the scripture" – "gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time." "Who is a propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:2.
Having thus "purchased us from death with his own precious blood," all the race belong to him. A race of sinners they were having no right to life; a race of ransomed beings they are against whom justice has no claim, and who may be restored to perfect life at the pleasure or will of Jesus their redeemer, who proclaimed, that in due time "all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth." And again: "I am he that liveth and was dead and behold I am alive forevermore, and have the keys of hell [hades – the grave] and of death." (Rev. 1:18.) Yes, says Paul: "For this purpose Christ was manifested, [in the flesh] that he might destroy death, and him that has the power of death, that is the devil."
But while we are thus informed of the plan of God to destroy "death" yet, nearly two thousand years have passed since the ransom was paid and still death reigns. Why does not the purchaser take possession of "the purchased possession?" Ah, he has a grand plan with regard to some of the race he has purchased – He will by trial of faith and patience develop and separate from the world "a little flock" whom he will associate with Himself as His bride. They will be a peculiar people, zealous of good works, and full of faith, who walk in his footsteps of self-sacrifice and entire giving up of their human nature – will and body – receiving instead the Divine nature – will and body.
When the church – body – of Christ is made perfect through sufferings and trials, and united with Him [which event we believe to be so close at hand,] then the great work and reign of earth's new monarch – the second Adam – begins. Though possessing the power over evil ever since He rose from the grave its victor, yet he has not exercised that power up to the present time because evil is necessary to the development of his body. But when we are complete he shall take to himself his great power and reign. (Rev. 11:17.) This statement is applied as having its fulfillment at the end of the gospel age during the sounding of the seventh (symbolic) trumpet.
Now let us inquire, how long will Christ reign – or exercise authority and rule? Answer. "He shall reign forever and ever," (Rev. 11:15,) that is, being associated with the Father, Christ (and we in him) shall always belong to the reigning and ruling power – Jesus at the Father's right hand (next in authority) and we at his right hand, consequently "above all principalities and powers." But in the especial sense of ruling over and subduing earth, the reign is limited to the period of time necessary to the restoring of all earth's people and affairs to a condition of at-one-ment or harmony with God, the Father, as Paul expresses it: "He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." For "He (the Father) hath put all things under his (Christ's) feet," but it is evident that the Father did not put himself under the control of Christ. "And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also, himself, be subject unto Him [the Father] that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." [or above all.] 1 Cor. 15:25-28.
Man having been restored to his original dominion every brute creature will recognize him as its Lord, and every human being will recognize "Christ as Lord to the glory of God the Father," (Phil. 2:11,) And thus will be completed the great work planned before our creation, commenced at the baptism of Jesus and ending with the close of the millennial reign, (Rev. 20:6,) viz: At-one-ment.
That this is God's plan, is implied in the term "Restitution," and is the [R165 : page 7] legitimate conclusion to be drawn from Paul's argument, Hebrews 2:6-9. He starts out with the original plan of God in creating man perfect – "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor and didst set him over the works of Thy hands. Thou hast put all [earthly] things in subjection under his feet." But as we have seen, sin has marred all this glory and honor, and has degraded us far below angels; taking the dominion out of our hand and permitting "Death to reign," and if we look about us we will say with Paul that it seems as though God's plan was a failure, for though six thousand years have passed, "We see not yet all things put under him" [man]. But is there any hopeful sign to indicate that man may yet be restored to this honor and glory, and set over the earthly works of God's hand? Yes, we have the assurance that all God's purposes shall be accomplished, [Isa. 14:24,] and that a "seed of the woman" should yet destroy the serpent – evil – and "bless all the families of the earth." And though this work is not yet accomplished yet we see a beginning of it. As Paul says, "we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels," [the condition of a perfect man,] for the suffering of death...that "He, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man." Thus far had the plan progressed in Paul's day, and if he were living now, he would doubtless add, as we can, that the church, as his body, is about complete; that the gospel age of suffering with Him and "filling up the measure of the afflictions of Christ, which are behind" is ending and the millennial age in which we shall "live and reign with Christ a thousand years" is dawning.
As those who expect to be of the bride – the body – of Christ and be glorified together with Him, we rejoice to think that the time is so near at hand when we shall be changed, leaving forever the human form and nature, and being made "like unto Christ's glorious body." But one thing which adds much to our interest and rejoicing is the thought of the necessity of our development and change, as the body of the great deliverer, before the present ruler of earth – death – can be destroyed and the race liberated and brought to the liberty of the sons of God, as Adam and angels – free from the bondage of corruption – death. For we know that "they without us shall not be made perfect." We must be perfected on the spiritual plane as divine beings before they can be perfected on the earthly plane as human beings.
Seeing then what high honors and glory await us, and the blessings awaiting the world through us can any one wonder that we long for the happy moment of change? Surely not, and not only we, but the world, also, are waiting and hoping [though ignorantly] for a good time coming, for "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now waiting for the manifestation of [the Church] the sons of God." (Rom. 8:22,19.) – the sun of righteousness which "arises with healing in his wings" to heal, and perfect, and restore all things to the perfect will of God.
In the second and third of these dynasties, viz.: The reigns of Satan and of Christ, the active rulers are invisible to humanity and their powers only recognizable by the effects and results. The devil is called "the prince [ruler] of this [R166 : page 7] world," – "him that has the power of death, that is, the devil." The effects of His reign and rule have been, as we have seen, to degrade man in every way. How wonderfully successful he has been is evident as we look about us. Sin, misery and death are on every hand, and yet Satan, the ruler, is invisible, seen only through his agents, and he has plenty of them, for "his servants ye are to whom you render service." We claim, then, that all persons or institutions or governments who aid in the work of death and degradation and oppression of right and truth, are Satan's agents.
God classes all present governments of earth as Satan's. "The prince – ruler – of this world" would not permit any government which would not act in harmony with him, as long as he has the control, which will be until the end of this age, when the Redeemer takes his great power and reigns. Satan has ruled among the nations for ages, except the one nation, Israel, of which God says, "You only have I known of all the [nations] families of the earth." (We have seen that they were used thus as a type of the higher spiritual Israel, the church, which was to be in the world, but not of it.) The time came, however, that God gave over even this nation as the others when they went into captivity to Babylon, and God's prophet said of the last reigning prince, "Take off the diadem, remove the crown; this shall not [continue to] be the same, I will overturn, overturn, overturn it [the kingdom] until He come whose right it is, and I will give it unto Him" [The Christ]. Ezek. 21:27.
Thus, as a glorious image, did these earthly kingdoms appear to the natural man; and as glorious they still are regarded by the world. Extolled in prose and verse, through all generations, are their deeds of blood and violence, which shock the feelings of all possessed of the spirit of love. Their history is one successive record of crime and death, each of their heroes claiming higher honor than his predecessor because he had butchered greater numbers of his fellow-beings, and made more widows and orphans and more misery. No wonder that when God pictured the same four earthly governments to the holy prophet Daniel, he gave it as a beastly picture. (Dan. 7.) They are indeed beastly governments. How perfectly they represent, in their evil and death-dealing power, their master, the devil. The picture, or likeness of the fourth (Roman power) to Satan is so strong that Jesus, when presenting it in symbol in Revelation, almost invariably calls it "the dragon," "that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan," &c., thus using the names of its prince as a name for the kingdom.
While God thus permits evil to triumph now, seemingly without restraint, and uses it as an agency for punishing sin, yet it is under an over-ruling guidance by which God "causes the wrath of man to praise Him, and the remainder He will restrain."
The inventions and arts of the last three centuries (machinery, printing, application of steam, electricity, &c.) have come about gradually, but we believe are none the less of God, and agencies now in preparation for the blessing of humanity during the coming reign of righteousness. These scientific attainments, which will so fully bless in the future, are even now exercising a powerful effect upon humanity, enlightening the understanding, and, by increasing the dependency of one upon another, it naturally tends to promote sympathy, affection and fraternity between the various members of the human family.
But all of these blessings, while they serve to lift mankind in a measure out of evil, are only temporary helps. Satan is still equal to the occasion, and though he could not now induce millions of men to follow for years a leader for his glory's sake, he can foment angry strife between nations upon pretexts of honor, etc., and though men do not now fight as incessantly as of old, yet the "arts of war" more than keep pace with those of peace, so that to-day the standing armies of earth are far larger and far better prepared for mutual destruction than ever before.
The progress of science and art fails to bring now the blessings which will result in the future, because avarice (selfishness) has crowded out love and benevolence. Capital and power combine to oppress the poor, and they in turn despise and envy the rich.
Nor can we wonder if the masses of mankind notice this condition of affairs; and that as knowledge increases among them they should seek to band themselves together for self-protection, especially if they see, as in Europe, kings, emperors, nobles and landlords rolling in wealth and luxury, while some of them barely eke out an existence on the commonest necessaries of life, without luxury or comfort. All that they can earn more than will purchase meal, potatoes and salt, with coarse fabric for clothing, is required as tax to support these corrupt governments, which, like great boils, absorb the strength and vitality of humanity. So we see that Satan is still ruling over earth. Evil may change tactics according to the necessities of the hour, but it is evil still.
God's word informs us that, by the general uprising of humanity and overthrow of governments, the new age will be introduced. In the coming struggle the two spiritual powers, Christ and his saints, and Satan and his angels, will each have earthly armies whose causes they will support and advance. Satan's will be the kings, chief captains, rich men and mighty men, [Rev. 19:19,] while Christ will espouse and bring to victory the cause of the oppressed, who, inspired by justice and right, will be used to some extent as agents to their own liberation from the thraldom of evil and oppression.
How we see the preparation for this time of trouble in the world, going on all around us, and how unconsciously each one takes his place to play his part in the closing act of the reign of sin and death. In this country less oppressed and in every way more blessed than others,
The third dynasty of earth, like the second, will be the ruling of an invisible power through seen agencies of earth. As now Satan reigns unseen, then "The Christ of God" will reign and rule unseen. As now sin abounds, so then the opposite, righteousness, will rule. As Satan now has agents in men and governments, so with Christ's reign, every man coming into harmony with truth and righteousness will be reckoned a servant of God. The kingdoms of this world being all overthrown, [Dan. 2:44,] will be re-established on principles of justice and equity based upon the golden law of love to God and men.
The chief nation of earth during that age, the word informs us, will be fleshly Israel, in glory and prominence exalted above all other nations – "The joy of the whole earth." And next in positions of favor and blessing will come other nations in proportion as they conform to the law of the Kingdom of God. Thus will the light of knowledge and truth emanating from the spiritual city – the church – the New Jerusalem, [Rev. 21.,] bless all nations and result in healing and blessing all mankind, until ultimately, having put down all opposition and brought all men to the condition of perfection and righteousness, the third empire will give place to the fourth, which is the first restored, viz: man over earth its lord and himself in perfect obedience to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Thus, "God [will be] all in all." Amen. "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
To be "forever with the Lord" has ever been an important element of the Christian's hope. This hope has cheered and strengthened the true pilgrims in all generations. This has been the case even where a very imperfect understanding has obtained. Whatever has been believed among Christians as to how, when, or where they should meet the Lord, as to the fact of being with Him, they have often said, "That will be Heaven for me."
We cannot think that only those who fully understand the subject beforehand will be accepted in His presence. In such a case, perhaps none would be accepted. But we believe it is both duty and privilege to search and learn more and more of this and all other Bible subjects. The beauty and harmony of the various parts of the word and plan is seen when each part receives due attention.
Those who have believed that the spirits of just men could be made perfect and enter into the immediate presence of God, and there meet and dwell forever with the Lord, have in consequence regarded the coming of the Lord with indifference, so far at least as their own hope is concerned. On the other hand, those who have seen the import of Jesus' word, "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am there ye may be also," have necessarily made much of the return of Christ.
While the latter class are doubtless correct as to the time of meeting the Lord, we think both may be holding extreme views as to the place of meeting. One class expects to meet Him in Heaven itself, the immediate presence of God, and the other class associate the meeting with earthly conditions, while we believe the meeting will be in a condition midway between the other two. The Lord shall descend, and we shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Comforting words! 1 Thess. 4:16-18.
It may seem strange to some, in view of the simplicity of Paul's statement, that we should raise the question, "Where shall we meet the Lord?" Is it not plainly said we shall meet Him in the air, and is not this easily understood? But Peter says that he himself and "beloved brother Paul also," when speaking of these things, said things "hard to be understood." 2 Pet. 3:15,16. And we have seen that the truth concerning the trumpet's voices and fire associated with His coming does not lie on the surface. We need not be surprised, then, if the same be true of all the circumstances attending.
By the study of the Bible we have been led to believe that as we advance from natural to spiritual things there is a corresponding advancement in the signification of words. Many examples of this are familiar to all careful readers. Take for example the terms bread, water, garment, light, heat, cold, hunger, thirst, nakedness, darkness. No one would think of giving these words the same signification, when applied to spiritual things, as when applied to natural things. A man might walk in the light of the brightest sun that ever shone, and yet be in the grossest spiritual darkness. All can apply this to the other terms.
Air and spirit are primarily the same, yet who would think of reading "air" instead of "spirit" in the sublime statement of the word, "There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration [or in-breathing] of the Almighty giveth him understanding?" Or when it is declared "God is Spirit," who but the grossest materialist would read it, "God is air?" When Jesus breathed on His disciples, and said, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit," all Christians recognize the advancement in the use of words according to the relation between natural and spiritual things.
A further application of the same principle is seen in the fact that Satan is called "the prince of the power of the air," and when his spiritual kingdom is overwhelmed by the incoming kingdom of Christ, it is said, "The powers of heaven shall be shaken." In contrast with this shaking, Paul says we are to receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken or removed. Heb. 12:27,28.
Let this same principle be kept in mind, and our being caught up to meet the Lord in the air will have the deep significance of our being exalted to power with Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven. The kingdom of the air [firmament] and "the Kingdom of Heaven" are primarily the same.
Place and distance in natural things are used to represent condition in the spiritual. No one would think of applying the expressions "coming to God," or "coming to Jesus," literally. When we sing "Nearer, my God, to Thee," or when Paul says, "Let us draw near with a true heart," literal place or distance is not thought of, but to be more and more like our great Example is the burden of the heart of the true worshiper. "He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Heb. 11:6.
Translation (or change) is a term which we believe is subject to the same law of interpretation. As words are translated or changed from one language to another, and so changed in form, and as men or things may be translated or changed from one place to another, so spiritually men may be translated or changed from one condition to another. Thus, when men come over from the devil to the Lord's side, they are said to be delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son. Col. 1:13. All will agree that this translation is a change not of place, but of condition. If this principle holds good as to the begetting of the Spirit, may it not also hold good as to the birth of the Spirit.
In view of this so common principle of the word, we cannot regard with favor the idea that the saints are to be caught away in the flesh (however perfect that flesh may be) to meet Christ in any locality. The translation, in our mind, can mean no less than a change from the natural condition to the spiritual condition. The ascent of Aaron, the saint, to meet Moses in the Mount of God, is clearly a type of the saints going up to meet Christ. The mountain is a type of the mountain or Kingdom of God, in which we shall meet Christ. From that time forward, Moses and Aaron were manifested in power and great glory. So from the time the saints are exalted, they will be manifested or made to appear in power and great glory.
That the saints are not to be in an earthly condition at that time seems clear from Paul's statement that we are not come (or coming) to Mount Sinai, a mount that could be touched, that burned with fire, &c., "but ye are come [or coming] to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem," &c. Heb. 12:18-22.
If it were an earthly mountain, it could be touched. Paul says this one can not be touched; hence it is a heavenly or spiritual mountain – a very high spiritual condition. When the Deliverer comes out of Zion, we may safely conclude that it is not an earthly army with guns and broadswords, but a heavenly army, wielding the sword of the Spirit, which sword proceeds out of His mouth, i.e., "The Word of God." The victory of that army will surely be a blessing to the nations. Oh, that we may be prepared to meet Christ in His Kingdom!
"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. And they (the disciples) answered and said unto Him, "When, Lord?" (that is, when will they be taken). And He said unto them, "Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together." Luke 17:34-37.
The above verses, in connection with others of a similar nature, have received special attention for several months. Believing, as we do, that we are drawing very near the time when this will be fulfilled, it is important that we try to arrive at a correct solution of the matter. Further, as the light shines more and more, we also believe that when due, this, like other things, will be understood by those in the shining way; hence, if we can now understand how or in what manner this will be fulfilled, it is evidence that we are near the event spoken of. Like other portions of God's word, this has to be taken in connection with other scriptures in order to arrive at the whole truth. So now, by comparing scripture with scripture, we shall endeavor to set forth the manner in which this will be fulfilled. First; we do not think that the scriptures teach that those who are taken will be taken to any locality (not Mt. Zion, or any definite point), neither do we think that those when taken, and for some time afterward, will be invisible to those around them. No, we believe, after they are taken, they will be visible and to all appearances just the same, but in reality, they will not be the same as before taken, for if they were, then to be taken would not mean anything. Some may ask, how can they appear the same, and yet not be.
We find angels have appeared as men, yet they are not men, but are spiritual bodies. When Jesus was raised from the dead, He was born of the spirit, and hence a spiritual body, for that which is born of the spirit is spirit, and hence is not flesh. John 3:6. Though he was a spiritual body, yet he appeared (only appeared) [R168 : page 3] as a man. Now, could He not have remained under the vail of flesh all of those forty days after the time He rose? We think so, for if He could appear as a man (because of the vail) for a short time, He could have remained so all the time He was on earth after His resurrection. This being true then, one can be a spiritual body and yet appear as a natural fleshly body. Again, if Jesus did so, and we are to be made like Him, then we could be taken or changed to spiritual bodies, and yet remain under the vail and to all appearances the same, and yet not be the same in reality. The fact that when we are changed we will be seen, is proven by the taking of Elijah.
If you will read (2 Kings 2:10), you will notice a conditional promise to Elisha. He had asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit, and Elijah says, "Thou hast asked a hard thing, but if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee, but if not [that is, if you do not see me], it shall not be so." Verse 15 informs us that the spirit of Elijah did rest on Elisha. Then we know he must have seen Elijah when taken, for this was the condition on which he would receive the spirit. In Verse 11 there are two statements, viz.: Elijah and Elisha were parted asunder by a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. This last event was after they were parted, but how long after we are not informed. Elisha saw the first act, but not the latter. Now, what we want to consider, is the separation, or first act, for this, I believe, shows the change or taking of the saints, and what I now want to prove is that we will be taken (changed to spiritual bodies) and yet be seen, just as Elijah was seen, when he was taken from Elisha. Elijah has been a perfect type of the church, as all our readers know, from Pentecost down; hence, when he was taken, it must have been a type of our change, for the church is not complete until we, the living, are taken. Then the manner of Elijah's change, is important, if we would understand how we shall be changed. We now leave this type and look at another, which, seems to teach the same thing. I refer to Moses and Aaron. We understand Moses to be a type of Christ, and Aaron a type of the overcomers. Aaron is mentioned as going forth to meet Moses as we go forth to meet Jesus; "And when he (Aaron) seeth thee (Moses), he will be glad in his heart." So will we be glad when we "see (Jesus) as he is." Verse 27 informs us that Aaron met Moses in the Mount of God, and kissed him. This meeting of Moses and Aaron, as also the parting of Elijah and Elisha, we understand to typify our change. We think so, for this reason, viz.: It was after they (Moses and Aaron) met in the mount that Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord, who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him. Verse 28. This instruction, seems to show the increase of knowledge [R168 : page 4] that will be acquired by the change to the spiritual condition and yet that they will be seen afterward and remain, to all appearances, the same, is proven by the work of Aaron after he met Moses. Verse 16 reads, "He (Aaron) shall be thy spokesman unto the people,...and he shall be to thee (Moses) instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God." This proves clearly that there is a difference between the condition of Moses and Aaron, at least so far as teaching the people is concerned, and if Aaron represents the church, and we were (when changed, or when meeting Jesus) to go into the invisible condition as He is, how then could we be the spokesman unto the people? Here is a point worthy of notice. The main difference between Moses and Aaron after they met seems to have been that Aaron was the active agent in communicating to Pharaoh (the world), so the only difference between us (when changed) and Jesus will be that we will be under the vail, and hence visible – the active agents or representatives of the unseen kingdom of God. "The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation" (outward show). Luke 17:20.
After the meeting of Moses and Aaron in the Mount, they went and gathered together the elders of Israel, and Aaron spake all the words... and did the signs, and the people believed. Verses 29-31. This would represent that Jesus and the saints were in a sense together, and yet the saints only would be seen by the world, for Aaron spake the words, did the signs, and the people believed.
After the meeting of Moses and Aaron, there were ten plagues. During the first three, Moses does the work through Aaron. We read: "Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh,...and Aaron cast down his rod." Ex. 7:10. Again, "The Lord spake unto Moses, say unto Aaron, take they rod,... and Moses and Aaron did so, and he (that is, Aaron) lifted up the rod and smote the waters...in the sight of Pharaoh."...Verses 19,20. Again, "The Lord spake unto Moses, say unto Aaron, stretch forth thine hand, and Aaron did so,... and the frogs came." Ex. 8:5,6. Verse 16 informs us that Aaron acted as prophet, and did the work connected with the third plague. We believe that those whom Aaron represents (the little flock) will be really spiritual bodies, but during the three first plagues will be under the vail, and hence appear as prophets (teachers) unto the people, and in this condition will be the prophet or mouth-piece of the Christ, as Aaron was of Moses after meeting him.
This company of changed saints it appears are those brought to view in Rev. 15:1-4, standing on, as it were, a sea of glass; the sea mingled with fire (people in the midst of judgments); these have the harps of God; these are they who had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name the overcomers. These sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb. Not the song sung by Moses and the Children of Israel after the overthrow of the Egyptians, but the song of Moses, when the elders of the tribes were gathered together. See Deut. 31:28-32:1-4. Moses sang: Ascribe ye greatness unto our God,...for all His ways are judgment....A God of truth,... just and right is He." The company on the sea of glass sing: "Great and marvelous are thy works,...just and true are thy ways,...for all nations shall come and worship before thee, for thy judgments are made manifest." We find the words are nearly identical, and hence the same song. This company on the sea of glass are before the throne (not on the throne). Rev. 4:6.
This picture is given, however, after the throne was set, and one sat on the throne (verse 2), and out of the throne proceed lightnings and thunderings (judgments). So in Rev. 15 we have those on a sea of glass making a proclamation during troublous times, mingled with fire. It would also appear that this same company of changed ones are among the number mentioned in Rev. 14:1-5, viz.: "A Lamb stood on the Mount Zion, and with him are one hundred and forty-four thousand. These are in the Mount, as Moses and Aaron met in the Mount. These harp with their harps (like those on the sea of glass). These sing a new song "before the throne;" these are virgins; these follow the Lamb, and in their mouth was found no guile; "for they are without fault before the throne of God. Notice, these are before the throne – not on it. This is likely the position referred to in Luke 21:36, viz.: "that ye may be accounted worthy to escape,... and stand before the Son of Man." But some one says, "When changed are we not exalted to the throne?" Not necessarily so. Jesus was a spiritual body, and at times appeared under the vail before He ascended to the Father's throne. (See Acts 2:22-36.)
Then we might be changed to spiritual bodies, and remain under the vail of flesh for a time, before we are exalted to our Lord's throne. But some one says, "Is not a spiritual body a glorified body?" No. Jesus was a spiritual body before He was glorified (exalted to power). John 7:39. Then we might be spiritual bodies before we are glorified. We, the living ones, when changed to spiritual bodies, and while yet under the vail of flesh and before we are glorified, are probably those who are spoken of in Isa. 52:7-8, viz.: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him (The feet represent the taken ones under the vail and are said to be of Him because in the spiritual condition as He is) that bringeth good tidings, ...that publisheth salvation; that sayeth unto Zion, thy God reigneth; thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing, for they shall see eye to eye (Now they do not) when the Lord shall bring again Zion. The above description would seem to indicate a different condition of the watchmen than that now held; also the work here is for Israel, just as the first work of Aaron, after meeting Moses, was among the elders of Israel. Israel, or my people, in the type (Ex. 8:23), primarily refers to the servant company down here and are spoken of as my people in Rev. 18:4. The servant company here will be separated from Babylon by the three first plagues, or during the time that the proclamation of Rev. 14:6-10 is being made by the taken but vailed saints, just as Aaron was spokesman to the people during the three plagues that caused the division between Pharaoh's people and the people of God.
We suppose that any who have a mind to apprehend spiritual things can see how, by the evidence already given, we could be changed to spiritual bodies, and yet remain under the vail of flesh and at the same time see Jesus without His coming in the flesh or appearing under that vail to us. Any one who will use Moses and Aaron as a type must give up the idea of Jesus appearing to us in the flesh. Notice, Aaron went up to meet Moses in the mount. Yes, the church goes up toward the condition of Jesus, but Jesus does not come [R169 : page 4] down to the condition of the church. If Jesus were to come in the flesh, as some teach, then He could be the prophet Himself, and the very fact that Aaron was still prophet after they met proves that we will be under the vail, and hence in a condition to speak to the people, while Jesus will not so appear, and hence could not be prophet (teacher) even as Moses was not. We being in the spiritual condition Jesus will be our God as Moses was to Aaron. The fact that Aaron met and saw Moses in the mount, indicates that we must go up, or into the spiritual condition before we can meet and see Jesus. When He shall appear we shall be like Him and see Him as He is?" [1 John 3:2.] The change comes to us not to Him, "we shall be like Him." "We shall see Him as He is," a spiritual body; not as he was, in flesh.
The fact that we will see Jesus after our change, though still under the vail, is proven by another type, viz.: that of Isaac and Rebecca: "And Rebecca lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she lighted off the camel, therefore she took a vail and covered herself." (Gen. 24:64-65.) When she saw Isaac represents one change. Then the putting on of the vail would show that we will remain vailed for a time after our change. The reason she is said to put on the vail is because when she saw Isaac she was changed, and hence the vail is no longer her real condition, but the assumed. Just so when we see Jesus we will have been changed and though under the vail it will only be put on, so to speak, and only because of this vail (the flesh) will we appear the same to the world. We will have additional power of utterance and knowledge, and perhaps certain miraculous powers which will be demonstrated, as was the case with Aaron after meeting Moses. We believe that the change we have been considering is near, much nearer, perhaps, than many are aware of. Let us be careful for nothing. Let us be Holy, for without Holiness shall no man see the Lord. Let all strive to enter in, ere the Master shuts too the door, for then there will be no more admission to the little flock, who shall finally sit with Jesus on the throne. Yes we shall soon be in the Kingdom.
"For since we believe that Jesus died and rose, so also, we believe that God, through Jesus, will lead forth with him those who fell asleep. For this we affirm to you by the Lord's word, that we, the living, who are left over to the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who fell asleep." (1 Thess. 4:14-15. Diaglott.) In the article in page 4 which we considered how we, the living would be changed to spiritual bodies and yet remain for a time under the vail, it will be noticed that there is no mention made of the dead in Christ. From the above text we find that our changes cannot come until the dead are raised, "for we shall not precede them." In order to understand this, we must look at several scriptures.
1st. We will notice our pattern, Jesus. We find that after He was raised from the dead, (a spiritual body, born of the spirit) He was not seen by any one except when He showed Himself. This being true then, He could have been present [as He was 40 days. Acts 1:3], and not have been seen at all; just so we now think He is actually present, [R170 : page 4] but not seen. And if Jesus can be present, and not seen, the dead in Christ could be raised and not seen, because when raised they will be like Jesus. Our understanding of the matter is this, viz: that the dead in Christ, will be raised spiritual bodies; then we, the living, changed to spiritual bodies, the only difference being, that they will not be seen; that is, will not appear under the vail, [the flesh] while we remain for a time vailed, yet our real condition will be the same. The type of Moses and Aaron teaches the resurrection of the dead before we meet Jesus. Before they met [Ex. 4:27,] you will notice that the angel of the Lord appeared unto him [Moses] in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush [Ex. 3:2-6]; here God seems to introduce the idea of the resurrection. We find that Jesus gives the key in Luke 20:29-38. We know that it is the resurrection of the dead in Christ He is talking about, for He says: they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection from the dead...these cannot die any more...[because the first resurrection, the second death hath no power over them, they cannot die again. [Rev. 20:6.] Now that the dead [viz: this class of the dead] are raised, even Moses showed at the bush...that is, the dead in Christ are raised at this point of time, which we find is before Aaron went to meet Moses and hence, before any one of the ten plagues were poured out. Then if [as has been shown] the meeting of Aaron and Moses represents our change and the dead must first be raised, this transaction at the bush is in the right place and harmonizes with the statement by Paul. "The dead in Christ rise first."
In Rev. 15 we find a company on the sea of glass, making a proclamation. This sea of glass condition is before the throne, [Rev. 4:6.] we notice in verse 5, that there are seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, (which are the seven congregations, Rev. 1:20, E.D.) these seven lamps bring to mind the complete gospel church. And as they are before the throne, and the sea of glass, is also before the throne and there is a company on the sea of glass, we conclude it must be the overcomers in that position. We then conclude as follows, viz: "that this scene is, after the dead in Christ are raised and we the living changed and though all can sing the same song, they could remain invisible and yet we under the vail, might be visible. The seven lamps of fire might be burning [the church complete] because we are all in the spiritual condition, they would be visible to us and we to them. They [R170 : page 5] will not be visible to the world, neither would we, were it not for the vail. With this understanding of the matter we will now look at another point, viz: (Rev. 14:1-5.) ...A lamb stood on the Mount Zion, and with Him are 144,000; this company represents to our mind the complete church, and hence, the resurrected saints as well as the changed living saints; these harp with their harps...[like those on the sea of glass] these sing as it were a new song...these are the first fruits [overcomers] unto God and the Lamb and these are without fault before the throne of God...just as the company on the sea of glass are before the throne. Now we think the evidence is conclusive, that these are the overcomers, for the following reasons: 1st. We know of no more exalted position before the throne than the sea of glass. 2d. We know not who else should be the first fruits unto God and stand on the Mount Zion with the Lamb [Moses and Aaron met in the Mount.] 3d. We know not who the seven burning lamps could represent, if not the little flock. 4th. Neither do we know who the 144,000 could be if not those.
Both "the one hundred and forty-four thousand," and the ones "as it were, on the sea of glass," are said to be "before the throne," which is the location of the sea of glass. Should we not conclude, therefore, that they are the same – the bride – "before the throne" signifying before the exaltation to the glory of power? The song sung is after they are seen on the Mount Zion with the Lamb, and this is in harmony with the type. After Moses and Aaron met in the Mount, Aaron did his work. So these are represented making a proclamation after the meeting with the Lamb. Our position then would be this, viz.: All the dead in Christ raised; we, the living, changed. All these would be in the spiritual condition. All remain before the throne until the proclamation to be made is completed by us who remain under the vail. The fact that they are raised but not seen, while we are changed but seen, seems to be shown by Isa. 52:7-8, viz.: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him?" The thought is this: Jesus, the Head (of the body), is beyond the vail and is not seen; the dead in Christ are raised, and they are beyond the vail – not seen. We, the living (the feet), are changed, but we are seen for a time, while a work is being done. The feet (so to speak) walk the earth, and they publish peace,...bring good tidings,...that saith unto Zion, "Thy God reigneth, and we shall see eye to eye (because we are changed), when the Lord shall bring again Zion. The types of Elijah and Rebecca, we know, have represented the living phase of the gospel church from Pentecost down, but when we come to the closing work, viz.: when Elijah was taken, and when Rebecca saw Isaac, it proves the previous resurrection of the dead in Christ, for in this matter we cannot precede those who sleep; hence, when we see Him, the dead must have been previously raised, and so those two are in harmony with that of Moses and Aaron and Paul's statement. While they meet Jesus beyond the vail, we can be changed and meet both them and Jesus and yet remain under the vail, and we can all [resurrected and changed] remain on the sea of glass position for a time before the throne and not interfere with our being finally exalted to the throne. We shall consider this again. The spiritual body condition of both dead and living will obtain before any are glorified [or sit on the throne]. Let us lay aside every weight that we, being in Him, may be accounted worthy to escape – be changed – and the glory will follow in God's due season.
And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no man was able to enter into the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled. [Rev. 15:8.] In two articles preceding we have endeavored to set forth the manner in which we will be taken, or changed to spiritual bodies, and yet for a time remain under the vail, while the dead in Christ will at some time be spiritual bodies, and not under the vail. In this position we understand they are before the throne, but believing that we shall finally sit with Jesus on the throne, let us see if there is anything to throw light on this point, though the saints, after they are taken, will be seen for a time. It is also clear that we will finally pass beyond the vail and be seen no more.
We found in looking at the taking of Elijah, who is one type, that there were two events. He was first parted from Elisha by a chariot of fire and horses of fire, but he went up into heaven by a whirlwind. The first we expressed as showing our change, and that we would then be seen as was Elijah, but the latter we understand to show, when we will leave the vail and be seen no more, and this is in harmony with the statement in 2 Kings 2:12. I also find there were two changes in the movements of Aaron, who is also a type. You will remember that during the three first plagues he was represented as the prophet of Moses and as spokesman unto the people. We explained this as teaching that we, after our change, would under the vail of flesh be as prophets (teachers) to the people here, but we find that after the third plague Aaron is never spoken of as the prophet of Moses or as spokesman unto the people. Notice Ex. 9:8. The Lord said unto Moses and unto Aaron, (Previous to this the Lord said unto Moses; Say unto Aaron), take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh, and they (Moses and Aaron) did so. At this point there seems to be some difference in Aaron. The Lord now speaks to him direct, as He had done to Moses. At this point, when Aaron is no longer the mouthpiece, his leaving the vailed condition seems to be typified. Now, at the same point, when Elijah went up into heaven and the Lord speaks face to face with him he is no longer seen.
When we cease to appear under the vail is when the glorification of all takes place, and this is in harmony with Jesus, our forerunner. He was a spiritual body, and for forty days appeared at times under the vail, but when He ascended into heaven, (Acts 1:11), and was seen no more, then He was glorified. In our text we come to a time when the temple is to be filled with smoke from the glory of God. We find this takes place just before the pouring out of the seven plagues, and is a parallel to the time when Aaron changes his position. After that he was no longer prophet. Neither will we be after our glorification. This glorification of all, I understand to be, the marriage of the Lamb. We are to be changed, that we may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, (Phil. 3:21), and if so be that we suffer with Him, then we may also be glorified together with Him. (Rom. 8:17.)
This glorifying together we believe is the making one with Him in the fullest sense, and this follows the spiritual body condition. This will be when we shall be exalted to His throne and sit with Him. Jesus cannot appear with us in glory until we are glorified with Him. We find in Matt. 25:31-40 that 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. We are with Him on the throne, hence the glory and our being on the throne are associated, but we can be spiritual bodies without the glory, and be before the throne. This same thought, viz.: first the change and then the glorification, or marriage, is also shown in the type of Isaac and Rebecca. When she lifted up her eyes and saw Isaac seems to show our change. We see Him when like him, but when he took her into his mother Sarah's tent, and she became his wife, [Gen. 24:67], which was after they met, seems to bring us to the point when the temple would be glorified and we become His wife.
The thought that the glorification is the marriage and not the change to spiritual bodies is further proven by the following: Jesus ascended unglorified. [John 7:39]. He was to come in like manner, [Acts 1:11], then when we see Him it will be when He is unglorified, represented by Rebecca's seeing Isaac, but when we are glorified together with Him, would be shown by Isaac's taking Rebecca and making her his wife. Hence we go in with Him to the marriage. This is progressive: first, into a condition for the change; second, from that into glory with Him.
We find in our text that just when the temple is filled with glory, is just before the pouring out of the seven plagues, and that is when the church is called the bride, viz.: when glorified. [See Rev. 21:9-11]. Then came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, [Full? yes,] saying, come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. He showed me the Holy Jerusalem. Having the glory of God, etc., here when glorified the church is called the bride. Hence this must be at or after the temple is filled with glory. The glorification and exaltation of the bride to the throne seems to be the main difference between the little flock and the great multitude, [the servants]. They certainly get spiritual life but apparently do not have the glory of the bride. The city was lighted by the temple for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it, and the glory of those [the temple] did lighten it [the city]. [Rev. 21:22-23]. Then the city is the light of the nation. [Verse 24]. In order to fully understand this matter and harmonize the various scriptures, it seems necessary to recognize the difference between one change [when we are made spiritual bodies] and the glorification of those spiritual bodies. This thought seems suggested by the building of the temple by Solomon. The getting out of the stones and timbers seems to be the work done during the gospel age, from Pentecost down. [1 Kings 3:18]. The building of the temple we apprehend is something different. It was built of stone made ready before brought thither to place of building, so that there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building. [1 Kings 6:7]. This shows the noiseless resurrection of the dead in Christ and change of the living, both classes changed to spiritual bodies. It was, however, after the temple was built that the glory of the Lord filled the House of the Lord. [1 Kings, 8:11]. Hence, if the building shows the change of dead and living to spiritual bodies, then the glorification must be something different from the change. Again, the fact that the temple was built and then glorified rather proves that all, dead and [R170 : page 5] living, will be made spiritual bodies before any are glorified. This would be in harmony with [Rev. 15:1-8]. The seven angels, clothed in pure and white linen [righteousness of the saints, Rev. 19:8] and having their breasts girded with golden girdles, [verse 6], seem to represent the overcoming church complete, dead raised, and living changed. If so, we find these on the sea of glass condition, [before the throne], singing a song [making a proclamation] before they are glorified – exalted to the throne. When on the sea of glass they are spiritual bodies, hence the temple is built before it is filled with glory. This sea of glass or spiritual body condition, we believe, will obtain before long, while the glorification or final exaltation of the saints will not take place for some time afterwards. Let us watch and be sober. Let us assemble ourselves together, and so much the more, as we see the day [time] approaching. The time seems short.
"Then if any man shall say unto you; lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 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." Matt. 24:23-26.
We have reason for believing that after 1881, there will be wonderful spiritual manifestations. The prince of the power of the air...[Devil and his angels, Eph. 2:2.] – The rulers of the darkness of this world [wicked spirits – 6:12 margin] will now make a last great effort previous to their binding, at which time these powers will be subdued. [Rev. 20:2.] Those angels which kept not their first estate God hath reserved in everlasting [age-lasting] chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Jude 6. They were cast down to hell. ("Tartarus" lower atmosphere – our air.) 2 Pet. 2:4. For 6000 years these spiritual powers have been deceiving and misleading [R170 : page 6] mankind. These like the good angels, have also had power to appear as men, but they must always appear in the dark, for God had placed them under darkness. This fact recognized would explain many of the spiritualistic manifestations of to-day, which otherwise cannot be accounted for. Of late years many have been deceived into believing that they saw some of their dead friends.
Which will you believe, God or the Devil? Notice: "Ye shall not [R171 : page 6] surely die." Gen. 3:4. Now in his various manifestations and in personating dead people and appearing to their friends, is not the Devil carrying out and trying to corroborate the lie he started in Eden? Surely he is. Jesus well said of him: He is a liar and the father of it. John 8:44. If the Devil has succeeded in keeping up this lie for so long a time, and to-day has nearly all the world believing what he said; if he has done so much, and by manifestations in darkness has caused many to fall, what will be the result when he thus carries on in the light? For remember, that he was only to be confined in darkness unto the judgment of the great day, and as we have now entered upon that time or day, we expect much of his work to be carried on in the light. And spiritualists now claim that they can materialize in broad daylight. We would advise that all believe what God said, viz.: "Ye shall die, hence, ye can not see dead friends until raised from the dead." And the Devil does not do that work.
Paul says: "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." 2 Cor. 11:14. If so, and if he has the power to appear as an angel of light is he not liable to deceive? How significant then is our text, viz.: "There shall arise false Christs and shall show signs and wonders...and if any shall say to you...he (Jesus) is in the desert or secret chambers...believe it not." Notice that this takes place during the presence of Jesus. Vs. 27, E.D. It would seem then from our text that there will false Christs arise and show themselves as Jesus did after his resurrection, and many will be saying, lo, here or there. If Satan is transformed into an angel of light and is to appear thus, and if we look for Jesus to appear to us or come to us in the flesh, would it not be an easy matter for us to be deceived? We think so. We think that this warning of our Saviour is absolute proof that neither he nor any of the resurrected saints will so appear; hence, of any manifestations there may be, we will conclude that it is neither Jesus nor resurrected saints. Let no man deceive you; remember Jesus has foretold you, that it will not be so. The Devil will certainly try to take advantage of those who are so looking for Jesus, for he could not deceive those who believe in his presence as the lightning – invisible, who do not believe that He will appear in the flesh. The danger lies in our being led away from the truth so as to look for Jesus in that way, for we feel sure that those who still retain the truth, will, at the time the appearances take place, be in a safe condition. Our text says: "that if possible they shall deceive the very elect. Notice, it is not possible. We understand that the elect are at the time referred to in the spiritual body condition, though under the vail.
For this there is proof. We find Paul speaking in this way (1 Tim. 4:1): "Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines [teachings] of devils. Also (2 Tim. 3:1-9), "This know also, that in the last days, perilous times shall come....Men shall be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness ...[must be professed Christians] ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so also do these resist the truth." Here is the key. If we will now go back and look at the time referred to, we will get some light. (See Ex. 7:10-12). Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and his servants and it [the rod] became a serpent....Now the magicians of Egypt,...they did in like manner with their enchantments, ...and their rods became serpents,...but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods. When Aaron smote the waters of the river with his rod, they became blood [verse 20], but also did the magicians of Egypt [verse 22]. Also, when Aaron stretched forth his rod, frogs came upon the land of Egypt, and likewise did the magicians. Ex. 8:5-7. Now you will notice that all this opposition took place after Moses and Aaron met in the Mount (Ex. 4:27), and yet it was while Aaron was spokesman unto the people and acted as prophet of Moses to Pharaoh. Verse 16.
As the meeting of Moses and Aaron represents the change of the saints, then we know that the resistance spoken of by Paul (2 Tim. 3:8) is due after our change, and while we are yet here under the vail. These did deceive Pharaoh, but not Aaron, for Aaron had greater power than they. So, now, these false Christs (magicians of Egypt – the world) will deceive many, but they cannot possibly deceive us, for we (as represented by Aaron) will have been previously changed. The next plague following that of the frogs, was Aaron's bringing up lice on the land of Egypt. Ex. 8:16. But when the magicians tried, they could not do this,...and they say to Pharaoh, this is the finger of God. Verses 18-19. Yes, there will be a time, and not far distant, when the world shall realize that there is a higher power, and though Satan and his angels will in the next few years do wonders, yet they shall proceed no further, for their folly shall be made manifest to all as was the folly of Jannes and Jambres. It will be noticed that it was only during two plagues that the magicians could stand before and do as Aaron did. They were not able to stand quite all the time that Aaron was spokesman unto the people. God says unto Moses and unto Aaron, take to you handfuls of ashes,...and they did so, and it became a boil upon the Egyptians and magicians. Ex. 9:8-10. This we understand to be where Aaron enters into the glory of Moses, and God says unto Aaron as unto Moses. This apparent change in the condition of Aaron is just the time that the seven plagues commenced, and there we believe the power of Satan will begin to be curtailed. We believe the same order will obtain here, viz.: while the saints are under the vail and acting as teachers unto the people, and during the three plagues, Satan will manifest great power, but when the church is glorified (Rev. 15:8,) which is just before the seven plagues, Satan cannot longer stand, and by the time all the plagues are poured out He will be completely bound and deceive the nations no more for a thousand years. Rev. 20:2,3. We find this event takes place when the saints are represented as seated on thrones. Verse 4. We found that the position on the throne and the glory were associated (Matt. 25:31-40), hence this takes place when the temple is glorified. Rev. 15:8. This harmonizes with the point where Aaron changes his position in the type.
But before this, we believe, the saints will have been changed, and though here under the vail, while there are great signs and wonders wrought by these false Christs, it will not be possible to deceive us. We, in this condition, will be in the secret place of the Most High and shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. [Psalm 91:1]. This is the position before the throne. But while we are safe, as was Aaron, there will be those who are mentioned in the type as "my people." [Ex. 8:23], and who evidently represent the "great company" upon whom the first three plagues come, effecting their deliverance from Babylon. [Rev. 18:4.] As the people of Israel were separated from the people of Pharaoh by the three first plagues, while Aaron was prophet, and they believed his words and signs, so here God's people will come out of Babylon [a worldly church] by the proclamation – "Fear God and give glory to Him, the hour of His judgment is come," [Rev. 14:6-9], made manifest by the vailed saints. And because they heed and believe the truth, they will be protected during the seven last plagues. God says to them; come my people, enter thou into thy chambers and shut thy doors. Hide thyself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation be over-past, for behold the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. [Isa. 26:20-21]. These [the great company] will doubtless be severely tried during the first three plagues. "Delivered over to Satan [opponents] for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." They evidently get free from Babylon because of the judgments which cause her fall, and therefore escape the seven last plagues and cease to partake of her sins and receive not further of her plagues, [Rev. 18:4], for "my people shall be willing in the day of my power." The above language seems due just prior to the pouring out of the seven plagues; and here commences the binding of Satan. So we read, [Isa. 27:1], "In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish Leviathan, the piercing serpent, even Leviathan, that crooked serpent, and he shall slay the dragon, [that old serpent, the Devil and Satan, Rev. 12:9], that is in the midst of the sea [people]."
We have reasons for believing that those who are represented by Aaron will soon be changed, and soon now, we say, "Come out of Babylon, my people." Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of his judgment is come. [Rev. 14:7.] We trust that all who have ears to hear will obey the call. Those who will still continue to worship the beast and his image and will still support a worldly church [Babylon], [now being spewed out of God's mouth, Rev. 3:16], upon these shall not only come the first three plagues but also the seven – hence separate yourselves, for if any man worship the beast and his image, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture, into the cup of his indignation. [Rev. 14:9-10.] Let us who are already separated quietly wait for our change and gathering together unto Jesus. Be holy, for without holiness none shall see the Lord.
D. W. McLaughlin in "Free Methodist" says: "The Babylonish church has the outward body, or form of religion, but not the inward spirit of vital piety; consequently the Babylonish church is spiritually dead.
All fallen sects, from which the inward spirit of vital religion has departed (or is departing), bear upon their foreheads the likeness or semblance of the "mother of harlots," and of all abominations. It is admitted that the Papal church is the first in the transgression, consequently the designation, "mother of harlots," applies only to her. Hence, the symbolic description of the great harlot will apply to every apostate sect that bears her likeness, or semblance. Let us note carefully the marks of apostasy in the Babylonish church. She is proud, haughty, high-minded, seeks worldly power and greatness; says in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. She is artificially and gaudily attired, arrayed in gold and pearls. She is rich, lives deliciously, and makes rich the merchants because of her costliness. She despises and persecutes the true saints of God. She seeks the friendship of the world, and is guilty of spiritual fornication. She fellowships the world, provides carnal entertainments for them, invites them to God's holy temple to engage in festivals, lotteries, fairs, and carnal devices, thus making of God's house a den of thieves. These are the marks of apostasy, and wherever they bear away and predominate, be it in Roman or Protestant countries, there is the mark of the "beast," and the spirit of mystic Babylon; and the command of God is, "Come out of her my people, &c." Rev. 18:4.
SOME one has beautifully said: "You have noticed that all evening shadows point to the East, where the dawn will appear. So every shadow made by the descending sun of earthly prosperity, points with sure prophecy to the better hopes which are kindled by the glowing promises of God."
ACCUSTOM yourself to think vigorously. Mental capital, like pecuniary, to be worth anything, must be well invested – must be rightly adjusted and applied, and to this end, careful, deep and intense thought is necessary if great results are looked for. [R285 : page 6]
As the Tabernacle of the wilderness, a moveable tent, represented God's dwelling-place – the church – in its present imperfect state, the fleshly condition, so the Temple built by Solomon is, we believe, also a type of the dwelling-place of God. A permanent structure, it is a fit illustration of the church when it shall reach the perfect spiritual condition.
The tabernacle was pitched hither and thither in the "wilderness of sin" (Ex. 16.) and had no continuing place, while the temple was permanently established not only in Canaan, the land of promise, in Jerusalem, the holy city, but in the top of the mountain. So Paul says of us, "Here we have no continuing city [we journey through the wilderness of sin], but we seek one to come" (Heb. 13:14) – the New Jerusalem – and "the Lord God and the Lamb are the Temple of it" (Rev. 21:22), and it shall be established in the tops of the mountains also. Isa. 2:2.
In a certain sense, we may be spoken of even now as God's temple. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you?" 1 Cor. 3:16. But this is only in a limited sense that we are now said to be the temple. In the spirit of our minds we are "risen with Christ and seated with him in heavenly places," speaking of things future as though they now existed, because now commenced.
Really, we, as living stones, are now being taken out of the quarry of humanity, fitted, shaped, trimmed and polished for our positions in the glorious temple of God, and this is the work of this gospel age. Ye are "built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the spirit." Eph. 2:20-22. Solomon, the peaceful and wise king, built the pattern, so a wiser and "a greater than Solomon," called "the Prince of Peace," is to build the antitypical temple. As the building of the temple required seven years (1 Kings 6:38), and much or nearly all of the materials used were made ready before the work of construction began, so with the building of this antitypical temple. We believe that the seven years ("harvest") from the autumn of 1874 to 1881, is the time for the construction of this temple, i.e., the bringing of all the members – fruit-bearing branches of the Vine – into the perfect spiritual condition. And the living stones for this temple selected and prepared during this gospel age, were nearly all ready before the construction commenced (1874), and must all be ready before the temple is completed, and it must be completed before "the glory of the Lord" fills it. 2 Chron. 5:1-13, and Rev. 15:8.
The ending of the 1,335 symbolic days of Daniel, just at the beginning of this seven years (1874), seems to corroborate this, since Daniel was to stand in his lot at the end of the days. (He belongs to the order of prophets who are first mentioned in the order of giving rewards. Rev. 11:18.) And we believe that this constructing of the temple began by bringing into the spiritual condition (like unto Christ's glorious body) the prophets. If we are correct in this matter, it proves, in harmony with the parallelism of the Jewish and Gospel ages, not only that the door of favor to the "high calling" – to be the bride – the temple, will end in the autumn of 1881, but it also proves, as that parallelism does, the presence of Christ. The first proves his presence as the reaper in this harvest, gathering dead and living "into his barn," away from the tares, &c., and this last proves his presence as the constructor of the temple, typified by Solomon. Jesus indicates that he is not only the overseer and director in our quarrying and preparation, but also that He will be the "master builder" in constructing the temple. He has promised "him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God." Rev. 3:12.
Our change from natural to spiritual bodies we at one time supposed to be the marriage, but we now see that the change precedes, as making us ready for the marriage. We still believe that the change is our full deliverance from fleshly conditions and frailties into the perfections of our new being, from weakness to power; from corruption to incorruption; from dishonor to glory; from a natural to a spiritual body; from the image of the earthly to the image of the heavenly (1 Cor. 15:42-48); "made like unto Christ's glorious body." But we are thus changed to His glorious likeness in order that our installment in official power with Him may follow (symbolically called marriage). This was true of Jesus, our pattern and forerunner: He was quickened of the Spirit – "raised a spiritual body" – ("that which is born [quickened] of the Spirit is Spirit." Jno. 3:6), though like all spiritual bodies, He must have been "a glorious body" (vailed under flesh forty days), yet the glorifying, in the sense of exalting to official dignity, did not occur until He had ascended up on high and become associated with the Father – "set down with [His] Father in His throne." So we must be changed before we sit with Christ "on His throne," or are united (married) with Him in the glory of power.
When "the body," "the bride," "the temple," is completed, all will have been thus changed, yet there are scriptures which seem to teach that we that are alive (the feet of the body), will, for a time after our change, appear under the vail of flesh [as Jesus did after his change] before the temple is glorified, and that the work to be done then is much the same as that we are now doing, though doubtless more ably done and more successful in results, viz.: Proclaiming to all Christians – the second "great company" (Rev. 7:9-15) – and to the world, during the three plagues which precede the "seven last:" "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come." Rev. 14:7. "Babylon is fallen; come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues" [the seven last]. Rev. 18:1-4.
Though now we "sing the song of Moses and the Lamb," proclaiming restitution – using "the harps [the word] of God." [See article "Having the Harps of God," in August number], yet doubtless all of these proclamations will be emphasized under our new conditions. Then many – "a great company" – will hear and heed – come into harmony with our proclamation.
This work of proclaiming, &c., is shown in the type when the priests took their trumpets and sounded the notes, the Levites took their position as singers to sing in harmony with the trumpets of the priests. We have already seen that the priests represent the "little flock" and the Levites the "great company." The practicing continued, doubtless, for some time before perfect harmony was obtained. So in the future, when these proclamations are made, it will be some time before the second company – Elisha class – come into full harmony – apparently not until the end of the first three plagues. We read, "It came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord,... For He is good, for his mercy endureth forever, that then the house (temple) was filled with a cloud,... for the glory of the Lord had filled the house." 2 Chron. 5:13. This glorifying shows the marriage; after which fleshly priests could no longer remain in the temple – representing the fact that we will no longer be even under the vail of flesh.
That the "great company" learn the song, is shown also by Rev. 19, when they say, verses 1 and 2, "True and righteous are His judgments, &c." Then the enthroned company say: "Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear Him, both small and great." The answer shows that they have reached the condition of complete harmony with God – they can sing in harmony in every note – "I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude... saying, 'Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth, let us be glad and rejoice and give honor to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come." (Verse 5-7.) They will realize that the "body" or "bride" is complete, and that they can have no share in that high calling, as the door to that position will then be closed; yet they rejoice to see [as we do] God's great loving plan as it embraces the sin destroyed race, and they are filled with God's praise. Verse 9 contains a promise written specially for this "great multitude," viz.: "Write, 'Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" It is then too late for them to share the honors of the bride – the marriage being over, but the supper, or feast of rejoicings is postponed until this "great company" shall have "washed their robes and made them white" – coming through great tribulation." Rev. 7:14.
Dearly beloved, if we believe these things, our works will attest our faith. If you and I believe that the door to the "high calling" closes in less than a year, should we not increase our efforts to bring all Christians into the light of present truth – the knowledge of the bridegroom's presence – that they and we may be more fully separated from the world.
Does some one say: Ah, you make a test then of knowing of the bridegroom's presence! We reply, that we understand the necessary conditions upon which any one may become a part of the bride of Christ are first that they accept of forgiveness of their sins and justification in God's sight as accomplished not by any works of their own but by the death of Christ Jesus our Lord – our ransom. Second, that they become his followers – walking "in his footsteps" to the crucifying of the fleshly will. These are the only conditions. But we might not be able to discern who are of this company as we know not men's hearts, but are especially instructed of the spirit through the word that He will lead all who will follow, into any and all needed light on the way. And we are further told that in this time of His presence, all whose hearts the Lord sees to be in a right condition will come to a knowledge of His presence. Some of the virgins [Christians] will be away seeking oil [light] in other directions when He is present, and the wise are going "in with Him," (Matt. 25,) others, whom the Lord calls servants, (but unfaithful, hence evil,) will in the days of His presence smite their fellow servants who are proclaiming the presence as "meat in due season to the household" of faith. (Matt. 24:45-51) "Saying, my Lord delayeth his coming" – these servants shall have their portion in the time of trouble with the hypocrites and doubtless constitute a part of the great multitude referred to above.
But of those who will constitute part of the bride it is said: "Ye brethren are not in darkness that that day (the day of the Lord) should come upon you as a thief. Ye are all children of the light;.... Therefore let us not sleep as do others." (1 Thes. 5:4-6.) We cannot be too much awake on this subject, and if we see fellow Christians whose lives seem to mark them as ones who have taken Christ for their leader and example, let us spare ourselves neither pain nor trouble in calling to their attention these wonderful things which have so refreshed and strengthened our hearts – the centre of all which is that the Bridegroom has come, and they that are ready are going in to the marriage. (Matt. 25:10.) If you cannot tell the story well tell it the best you can. To him that made use of his talents more were given. You can at least interest some and lend them reading matter. Be awake, and keep active, lest you become drowsy with the lethargy which pervades all around you.
Bro. A. D. Jones purposes another eastern trip to New York city. Any friends en route who would like to have him stop and meet with them should address him at once. He will be glad to meet with either the few or many, and hold either public or private meetings, as you may deem advisable. Those within seventy-five miles of the main line may address him – Pittsburgh, Pa.
We have been somewhat disappointed with regard to the tracts but hope to be able to send you samples of several within a month. They will be free to all who agree to use them wisely. We advise that you make a list of all Christian people whom you may have any hope of interesting, and send them the tracts in rotation, as numbered, so that they will get hold of the subjects in a connected manner. Make out your lists at once.
OUR trip northward was a very pleasant one. In four places we held meetings, and stopped to visit a few here and there en route. The dear ones expressed themselves as strengthened and encouraged. – EDITOR.