Historicism.com

Recovering the classic, Protestant interpretation of Bible prophecy.


The Second Advent: How Readest Thou?

Also see "A Thief in the Night" by J. L. Haynes

By Captain G. S. Dobbie

Introduction by Historicism.com: This article was taken from the Old-Fashioned Prophecy Magazine, ed. Eric C. Peters, July-August 1964 edition. Even then, I think, it was already an "old" article--written in a certain style and with a particular charm that remind the reader of a bygone era. It is reproduced here, unedited, and in its entirety.

 

THIS subject is approached because the writer has so often of late been brought up against it when talking with Christians: in not a few instances such are acknowledging that they are at sea because their prophetic teaching seems to have been quite upset by the last war. (web-publisher's note: World War II.)

Said Mr. X: "But, of course, you do believe in the secret rapture of the whole church, don't you?"

The writer: "I'm afraid I do not!"

Mr. X. "But all Second Advent teachers believe this."

W. "Would you think it better to take what 'Second Advent teachers' say, or what the Scripture says?"

X. "Of course, the Scriptures are the authority, but these teachers teach from them."

W. "Can you quote or point me to one passage where the Scripture tells of a secret coming of the Lord Jesus?"

X. "Well, now you challenge me, I can't very well say I can. But what do you believe then?"

W. "First of all, you know, of course, that the Greek of the N.T. has three words used of the coming again of the Lord Jesus:

1. Parousia, translated 'coming.'

2. Epiphaneia, translated 'appearing.'

3. Apocalypse, translated 'revelation.'

And all prophetic teachers agree that the word parousia, 'coming,' has reference to the Lord's coming for His people."

X. "Yes, I know that, and that is the coming which is to be secret, while the epiphany and revelation are to be visible to all."

W. "Well, let us turn in preference to what the Scripture says. Look at Matt. 24. Verse 26 is the only place where the word 'secret' in relation to the Lord's return is used (see Authorised Translation), and the Lord says, 'Believe it not'; then in the following verse, v. 27, the Lord Jesus specifically puts this right. He says in regard to His 'coming' (parousia) (quotations unless otherwise noted from the R.V.). 'As the lightning cometh forth from the east and IS SEEN even unto the west; so shall be the coming (parousia) of the Son of man.'

"The point I would stress is not its suddenness, but the fact that it is seen from East to West. No one can fail to see a flash of lightning on a dark sky.

X. "I follow that, but it reminds me, does not this very chapter suggest the secret disappearance of the Lord's people? Let me see ... Yes, there it is in verse 40. Obviously the one is taken without the other knowing it; that is the clear inference."

W. "Have you read that passage really carefully? 1 always used to read into it just what you do, until one day 1 thought it would -be as well to read it carefully. Shall we do so? Let us read from verse 37 to get the whole context and direct reference:

"v. 37. 'And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the Coming (Parousia) Of the Son of man.' (This shows us exactly to what the Lord refers; I want to stress that it is not surmise or guess, but what He says.)

"v. 38. 'For as in those days which were before the flood THEY were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark.' (We must notice there are two communities here, the one represented by 'Noah,' the other by the word 'they’. We need to keep these two separate carefully.)

"v. 39. 'And THEY knew not until the flood came.'

"Which community does this word 'they' refer to?"

X. "Why, to the lot that were 'eating and drinking, etc.’ "

W. "You are sure? I mean, I did not persuade you to say so? That is what you see is the plain reading of the Scripture?"

X. "Why, yes, certainly."

W. "Then we are ready to go on."

"v. 39. "And THEY knew not until the flood came, and took THEM all away.'

"Who does the word 'them' refer to?"

X. "Why, the same lot that the 'they' refers to; the 'eating and drinking' community."

W. "Now, we can go on, but don't forget you said that was the plain reading of the Scripture:

"v. 39. 'And THEY knew not until the flood came, and took THEM all away. So shall be the coming (parousia) of the Son of man.'

"v. 40. 'Then shall two men he in the field; one is taken ...

"Who is taken?"

X. "Why, the Christian, of course."

W. "Is that what the previous verse which the Lord used to illustrate this subject says? Who were taken? Was it 'they' or 'Noah'?"

X. "It was the 'they' community ... but ... Wait a bit, let me read it carefully again ... Yes, certainly that is what it says, but I always took it to mean the Christian."

W. "So did I until I believe the Lord caused me to read this carefully. You will notice that the Lord's parousia is not only a coming for His people, but also a coming of judgment, as was the flood for the 'they' community.

"This is exactly what the 13th chapter says in the great Harvest parable. There it says, 'Gather up FIRST THE TARES.' You, as I had for years, have read that as though it said, 'Gather up first the wheat in secret'."

X. "But that is rather upsetting to all one's understanding of the prophetic Scriptures."

W. "Isn't it better to have that upset if it doesn't bear the test of examination by the Scriptures?" X. "Well, yes; but it makes one wonder. And yet, what do you make of the passage Acts 1:11, where the angel gave a message to the disciples; and then, of course, 1 Cor. 15:51, 52, where we are told that the change at the rapture is a secret (mystery)."

W. 'Let us take these one at a time. The angel spoke of the Lord Jesus’ return being as the disciples had seen Him go, i.e., on a cloud. I don't think there is any doubt that as He ascended a cloud formed under His feet, and as He ascended higher this became thicker, until finally it hid Him from their view. A reference to Rev. 1:7 gives us the Scripture explanation, 'Behold, He cometh with the clouds,' and it says there ‘and every eye shall see Him, and they which pierced Him.' I was once talking of this to someone, and he said, 'Oh, but that is, of course, the Jews, as Zechariah tells us.' I submit the Scripture does not read 'and every eye shall see Him of them which pierced Him,' but and they which pierced Him.' In fact, the Authorised Version brings it out perhaps even more strikingly by its translation 'they ALSO which pierced Him.' When I referred to Acts 1:11, my friend said, 'Yes, of course, they were all Jews that were gathered there!' Of course, there is no escape, is there, from the fact that in Acts 1:11 it was the whole church.

"His whole church will likewise see Him return, but so will 'they that pierced Him,' and 'all the tribes of the earth.' For these surely it will be a coming of judgment, as was the flood, while for the church, as with Noah, a deliverance into a new earth."

X. "I must say I do follow you, though I have never heard things put like this before."

W. "I want to stress that it is not that I am saying anything; I have simply insisted on what the Scripture says.

"Let us look now at the other passage to which you referred, I Cor. 15:51, 52. First of all, Paul did not say by the Holy Ghost that the change was to be 'in secret,' but that he was, as it were, letting them into a secret.

"But this passage brings up another matter; you will notice when the change is to take place. 'In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye’--sudden, very sudden; and then it says when 'at the last trump.’

"Have you noticed that three times the Lord tells us that His coming (parousia) is to be connected with the sounding of a Trumpet--Matt. 24:31 and 1 Thess. 4:16, the latter so evidently to do with His coming for His Own. Not till we read this passage (1 Cor. 15:52) are we told which trump. But here the Lord by Paul announces that it is to be the LAST trump. Perhaps that is as much the secret, He is letting us into, as the fact that we are to be clothed with our bodies of glory."

X. "But I do not see what the point is, which you are trying to make?"

W. "I suppose you hold what may be called the popular interpretation of prophecy? "This interpretation puts the Book of the Revelation, that is, the part which is the course of history told beforehand (i.e. from chapter 6 onwards) as subsequent to the Lord's coming for His people. Well, take it so, and see what we have.

"The Lord has come, and we have been changed and caught up with all His church (1 Cor. 15:51), and this is 'at the last trump' (1 Cor. 15:52).

"Now commences the story of the tribulation period, and we start reading through it. We arrive at chapter 8, and are amazed to find that there are seven trumpets to he sounded! But when we were caught up, and before the tribulation proper started, the last trump sounded.

"I once put this discrepancy to one who was a great student and teacher of the Scriptures. He said, 'There are two kinds of trumpets spoken of in the Book of Numbers, the one is a trumpet of Assembly, the other the trumpet of Alarm.' He said the one summoning us to the Lord's presence was clearly the Trumpet of Assembly, while those of the Revelation were Trumpets of Alarm. But whether they be trumpets of assembly or alarm, we are told that the one which concerns the Lord's parousia is the LAST trump. And I submit last means there are no more thereafter--at least, if last still means last.

"If, on the other hand, we are ready to leave man-made guesses, and theories alone and cleave to the Scripture, as we read on we find that the first mention of the Lord's return in this section of the Revelation is in the last part of the last Trumpet, in Rev. 16:15. This will upset many theories as to 'the great tribulation'."

X. "I was going to ask what you did with that, and how it fits in with your prophetic programme?"

W. "It would take too long to explain in detail here, but may I say The Great Tribulation started with the sacking of Jerusalem by the armies of Titus, to which the Lord manifestly referred in Matt. 24; this was in A.D. 70. Thenceforward its course has been running as depicted in the historical section of the Revelation, from chapter 6 onwards. This is borne out in chapter 7:14, 'These are they which come out of the great tribulation,' the R.V. has this accurately, for the Greek has the definite article. Of course, there may be many ‘great tribulations,' but there can only be one 'THE great tribulation."

X. "That means you put the Revelation from chapter 6 on as more or less the story of the church age?"

W. "I think that is what the Scripture puts it as being."

X. "Then you do not--or do you?--believe in a two-stage coming?"

W. "Frankly, I have great difficulty in finding a two-stage coming in the Scripture."

X. "But what about the Judgment Seat of Christ, then?"

W. "You touch on another point which to me finally negatives the generally accepted theory of the second advent. The Judgment Seat of Christ is set according to that as being somewhere in the skies. Who are to be present there?"

X. "All believers (1 Cor. 15:51)."

W. "Quite so. And who will be left behind?"

W. "Those who have rejected the call of Christ's Gospel--unbelievers."

W. "I want to bring this point into relief--will there be any believer left who will not be at the Judgment Seat of Christ?"

X. "Emphatically No; I Cor. 15:51 says ‘all’."

W. "Now, after the Judgment Seat of Christ is over, Christ with His Own will return to the earth, and then will be set the Judgment of the Nations. That is the accepted plan, is it not?"

X. "Yes, that is what I have always heard. This is pictured in Matt. 25:31, etc."

W. "Have you ever read that carefully, weighing its implications?"

X. "I've read it often enough, but what do you mean?"

W. "As you said, those appearing here are those who were not rapt, and so were not at the Judgment Seat of Christ-- they were unbelievers. Here at the Judgment of the Nations they are judged on what they did to the Jews during the Tribulation period, v. 40, for the 'My brethren' cannot be Christians--they have all been 'caught up' to be 'with the Lord.' Now, notice their sentence - (a) eternal life; (b) eternal punishment.

"Do you not see the implications?"

X. "I don't quite see what you are seeking to bring out."

W. "Well, these (according to this theory) were left behind because they did not have faith in the Lord Jesus. But during the Tribulation they have treated the Jews well, and for this they are to be rewarded with what the believer received by faith in the atoning death of Christ. That means if you hold this interpretation you thereby proclaim in fact that you 'believe:

"(a) That there is another way of obtaining eternal life, viz., by kindness to Jews, and not alone by faith in a crucified risen and exalted Saviour.

" (b) That there is a SECOND CHANCE for those who fail to obtain life in the 'acceptable time,' and that this will be given them in the Tribulation period.

" (c) Salvation is by faith NOW, but will be by works later on if you fail to come to believing now."

,X. "But this is tremendous! No, I do not believe there is any way but by faith in the Lord Jesus; and I certainly do not believe there will ever be a second chance for those who spurn God's day of grace."

W. "That may be your conviction, but your acceptance and proclamation of this theory of prophetic interpretation declares what I have tried to show you--that is, if you do proclaim it."

X. "Well, you have given me something to think about--but what do you make of the prophetic position today?"

W. "We haven't time for an exhaustive discussion now; but it ought not to be difficult to see where we are.

"Kings that come from the sun-rising Rev. 16:12 that suggests that the EAST is to be prominent, you have seen I suppose that Japan and China have the sun as the emblem on their flags, today these peoples have to be reckoned with."

"And what would you say is the distinctive characteristic of these days?" Verse 17 of that chapter speaks of the air, would that be of our time above all others? Well, does it suggest to you our particular whereabouts in the prophetic preview? Would you say this is more accurate than some- where in chapter 3?"

X. "You are making me feel more and more how I have been deluded on this subject, but what lies ahead?"

W. "Well, it seems that God's people were to have a strange assurance given them that the end of this age is at hand. 'It is done.' This was to accompany an earthquake of unparalleled dimensions, political upheaval, could that symbolise the Communist upheaval? Perhaps. Then, it tells us that 'Babylon the Great’--the Roman Catholic System would be up for God's judgments. When God deals with that master deception of Satan it will have been finalised. Chapters 17 and 18 show beyond cavil to any unbiased reader with even a meager knowledge of history that Babylon is this Roman Counterfeit System. Then Chapter 19 tells of the marriage supper of the Lamp. Will you be ready? Meanwhile note Rev. 16:15."

X. "Then you agree the Lord IS at hand?"

W. "Certainly, but that is because I know where we are in the unveiling the Lord Jesus has given. Not because He might come at any moment. One view gives certainty, the other a vague guess."

"Now, God bless you. Goodbye; stick to the Book."

Captain G. S. Dobbie

BOX 45, Claremont, C.P., South Africa.

Taken from the Old-Fashioned Prophecy Magazine, ed. Eric C. Peters, July-August 1964 edition.

A Historicism.com Feature Section: Matthew 24 and the Prophecies of Jesus

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Historicism.com is owned and operated by me, Joe Haynes, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I serve as a pastor in a church plant in Victoria since 2013. My wife, Heather, and I have five kids. In 2011, I completed a Master of Arts in Christian Studies from Northwest Baptist Seminary at the Associated Canadian Theological Seminaries of Trinity Western University. Feel free to visit my blog at Keruxai.com.
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