BY C. T. RUSSELL Pastor Brooklyn Tabernacle
THE SECOND Coming of Messiah is extremely unpopular for three reasons:
1. It is supposed to mark the end of all hope of salvation.
2. It appears needless, because of the general opinion that all mankind go to Christ at death—to be adjudged for eternal life or eternal torment.
3. It seems inconsistent to the degree of absurdity that Christ should ever sit upon an earthly throne and exercise thus an earthly dominion.
Without fear of successful contradiction we assert that all three of these objections are based upon fallacious views and misunderstandings of the Divine Program. On the contrary, we hold, not only that the Second Coming of Messiah is well attested by the Scriptures, but that it is every way logical, reasonable and consistent with the Divine Program, as outlined. Let us consider the objections in the order given:
1. We have already shown that instead of Messiah’s Advent being the end of the world, it is really the beginning of the glorious epoch of Millennial blessings, which shall bring opportunities of uplift, mental, moral and physical, which will, if responded to, result in eternal life in Paradise. The entire theological fabric became so twisted during "the dark ages" that practically its entire teaching was one of long Purgatorial torture, and later we Protestants made a bad matter worse, by throwing away Purgatory, and assigning all except the saintly to eternal torture. St. Paul worthily named these errors "Doctrines of devils."—#1Ti 4:1.
Not only was the Millennial hope taken away and mankind told that at the moment of death they would be launched into torments, except the few but additionally the Scripture references to a Second Coming of the Lord and a resurrection of the dead were made a still further terror to mankind. Poor humanity was told that, after suffering untold agonies in some kind of a bodyless condition, the Second Coming of Christ would mean a resurrection of their bodies and the means whereby their tortures would be increased, the bodies being left with all their present nerves and sensitiveness, but made fireproof. No wonder, from this standpoint, the Second Coming of Messiah would be feared, would be dreaded! No wonder poor humanity would shrink from it, and wish that it would never be!
2. When rightly studied, the Bible distinctly contradicts popular theories that mankind at death become more alive than when they were alive. As already shown, the Bible teaching is that death is death; that "the dead know not anything;" that "their sons come to honor and they know it not; and to dishonor and they perceive it not of them;" that "there is neither wisdom nor knowledge nor device in sheol (the grave—hell) whither all go;" that the Scriptural hope is "the resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust." Hence, as our Lord said, "The hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man and come forth"—the well-doers to eternal life and those who have done evil to a resurrection by judgments, by disciplines, by which all the willing and obedient may ultimately be lifted up to life by the close of the Millennial Age. How strange that we all of us misunderstood these Scriptures and prophecies and accepted theories which are inconsistent with our reasonable concepts and thoroughly out of harmony with God!
3. We agree that it is thoroughly inconsistent and thoroughly absurd to suppose that our Lord should return to earth
OV56 for the purpose of assuming an earthly throne with an earthly court and courtiers and earthly dominion! This would be coming from a higher dominion to a lower one, and is consequently inconceivable to reason. But this is not the kingdom which the Bible informs us Messiah shall establish in the earth. On the contrary, the clear teaching of the Scripture is that our Lord will never more be known as a man. He took upon him the form of a servant, and the nature of a man that he, "by the grace of God, might taste death for every man." This was because a perfect man had sinned, and a perfect man’s life must be substituted for his to meet the demands of Divine Justice. Since our Lord arose from the dead, he is no longer a man, but a spirit being; as the Scriptures declare, "He was put to death flesh, but was quickened (made alive) spirit." "Now the Lord is that spirit"—"highly exalted, far above angels, principalities and powers, and every name that is named—glorified and "made partaker of the divine nature." In harmony with this, the Scriptures show that our Lord’s appearances after his resurrection were different entirely from his presence with his disciples before his death. Before his death he was the man Christ Jesus, and after his resurrection he was a spirit being, and manifested himself in various fleshly bodies—as a gardener; as a stranger; in a body similar to the one in which he was crucified, etc. These manifestations convinced the apostles:
(a) that he was no longer dead, but alive;
(b) that he was no longer a man, but "changed," invisible to them most of the time; seen during forty days only a few times at intervals. It is the glorified Messiah who is to come a second time, "in power and great glory"—heavenly glory. His Kingdom will be an invisible one as far as mankind are concerned. As our Lord said to the Jews: "A little while and the world seeth me no more." The reason for this invisibility is plain to all Bible students. All spirit beings are invisible to mortals. "No man hath seen God at any time." We are told that "the angel of the Lord encampeth around about those that are his and delivereth them," and that they are "all ministering spirits, sent to minister to those who are to be heirs of salvation." We see them not, because they are on one plane of existence and we on another. The time was that more faith was required to believe in invisible things than is now necessary. Can we not now hear one another speak at a distance of hundreds of miles by telephone? Have we not wireless telegraphy and the X-Ray?
Note our Lord’s description of his own Kingdom. We read that when it was demanded of the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would appear, he answered and said unto them that it would not appear at all. His words were: "The Kingdom of God doth not come with observation (outward show, visibility); neither shall ye say, Lo, here! or Lo, there! for the Kingdom of God shall be in your midst"—ruling, everywhere present, invisible, except as the eyes of understanding shall recognize the operation of its laws through its earthly channels and servants. Nor should this be difficult to be grasped by any who believe the Scripture records; because is not Satan now such an invisible prince, and are not his angels equally invisible, and does he not exercise a great power directly and through his agents, the fallen angels, or demons, and through deceived earthly agents? "His servants ye are to whom ye render service." Likewise the spiritual empire of Christ and the Church will have spiritual agents operating amongst men, and human agents also—the Ancient worthies—Abraham, Isaac and all the prophets, declared of the Lord to be worthy of eternal life, perfection. These will constitute the earthly phase of the spiritual Kingdom, executing the will of the King immortal and invisible. —#Heb 11:39,40; Psalm 45:16; #Lu 13:28.
From this, the Scriptural standpoint, the Second Coming of our Lord, Messiah, is most consistent. He came at his First Advent to lay down the redemption price and to start in operation the blessed conditions of grace, by which, during this Gospel Age, he has been gathering his "elect class," his Bride, out of every nation, kindred and tongue. It was thoroughly consistent with this that he should come a second time, as promised, to receive his church to himself, to seat her as his Bride
OV57 in his throne, and to accomplish through her and through the Ancient worthies, representing Israel in the flesh, the great promise of God made to Abraham and confirmed to Isaac and Jacob, namely, "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." To count out of our hopes Messiah’s Second Coming and the Millennial Kingdom would be to destroy all the glorious prospect set before us in the Scriptures. He who redeemed the world with the sacrifice of his life; he who has gathered the Church during this Gospel Age; he will surely not fail to fulfill the gracious promise of God to bless the world—granting Millennial opportunities to the redeemed world of mankind. "He (Christ) shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied." The church, his Joint-Heirs, who now share his travails, will also share in his glory, and in his blessed work of uplifting the world of mankind. It is not necessary for us to present the Scripture testimony, respecting the fact of our Lord’s Second Coming. The Scriptures on the subject are well-known to all Bible students.
The celebrated evangelist, D. L. Moody, after studying the subject, declared that no other subject is so extensively treated in the Bible. However this may be, all who take the Scriptural viewpoint must admit that without the Second Coming of Christ the entire Divine Program would come to naught—would fail to bring the blessings needed. Our Lord came the first time to redeem. He comes the second time to deliver the redeemed ones. "Every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him," is a statement not inconsistent with our Lord’s declaration that "the world seeth me no more." There are two ways of seeing: For instance, the blind sometimes say, "I see."
There are eyes of understanding, as well as eyes of physical sight. Many who have the latter have not the former. "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into their hearts."—(#2Co 4:4.) The world in general is blind.
"Darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the heathen." Only the Lord’s saints see in the true sense of the word, with the eyes of their understanding. Thus it is written, "Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear." (#Mt 13:16.)
The Apostle writes to the Church, I pray God for you that, the eyes of your understanding opening, ye may be able to comprehend, with all saints, the length and breadth and height and depth and to know the love of God which passeth all understanding. (#Eph 3:17,18.) The promise is that "all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears be unstopped." (#Isa 35:5.) This will be during the Millennial Kingdom; and the result will be that all shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest. Not seeing with the natural sight, but clearly seeing with the eyes of understanding, all will appreciate his character and rejoice therein. We sometimes express this thought poetically in the words, "Sun of my soul, my Father dear, I know no night when thou art near. O! may no earth-born cloud arise, To hide thee from thy servant’s eyes."
LORD JESUS, make Thyself to me A living, bright reality!
More present to faith’s vision keen, Than any outward object seen; More dear, more intimately nigh, Than e’en the sweetest earthly tie.