The Official Journal of the Ensign Trust, London

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THE ENSIGN MESSAGE

THE SECOND COMING

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There appears to be much confusion about the Second Coming yet it is so very clear. ‘I will come again’ John 14:3; and again ‘This same Jesus shall so return in like manner as ye have seen Him go’ Acts 1:1; and so many many other passages that deal with that Second Coming of Our Lord. And it just cannot be spiritualised away as if it’s something that is purely personal and His Second Coming is ‘into the hearts of believers’.

That is so wrong and it is so against the teaching of the whole of Scripture, about the Coming again. He comes to execute judgement, I think the hymn writers probably got it better than our modern theologians when they said ‘He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free, to take away transgression and to rule in equity.’

Now that is the whole theme of the Second Coming: He will complete the work that He’s done and that all the prophecies relating to the ultimate victory, His victory over sin in all its forms will be a reality.

Now a lot of people have said, ‘well, that’s if we understand the Trinity, the dispensation of the Holy Spirit is the same thing as the coming of our Lord because in the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all one.’ But it is the manifestation of the second person of the Trinity, that is our Lord Himself, that is a teaching which has fallen into neglect because people have not wanted to face up to it. They spiritualise great passages away until they become a nothing and say, ‘He comes into your heart.’ But He comes to take over the Throne of His Father David. So does that mean that the Throne of His Father David is in your heart as well? On that teaching you would have to have the Throne in your heart and our Lord coming back to sit on the Throne in your heart. This sort of  wishy-washy spiritualising away of passages has brought discredit upon Bible teaching. And particularly because they either haven’t wanted to face up to it or they are afraid of the reality. Remember when He stood up and read from the Scriptures He read that phrase ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon rne.’ Isaiah 61: 1. And it ends up that when He comes He will proclaim ‘The day of vengeance of our God.’

Referring to Himself Our Lord said, ‘this scripture is fulfilled today.’ But He didn’t read the part of ‘the day of vengeance.’ He stopped short of that part of the Isaiah passage. But when He does come again, it will be the day of vengeance being fulfilled. So all of these are passages which they neither want to know nor hear about. If they do go into it further they talk about, ‘Oh, we’re in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit,’ and they use the verse about, when the comforter is come, etc. Neglecting that, although there are those passages in John 14 and 15, He has already said Himself that ‘I will come again.’ Now these aren’t contradictory but supplementary. You have this tirne of the dispensation of the Holy Spirit but you also have the fulfilment of the time when He said I will come again. Now when we think about it the dispensation of the Holy Spirit was really something very partial and selective as regards to those who yield to the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. But the promise also is given in Acts 15: 16,17  “After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, (nations) upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.”

Sorry I inserted a word there – nations. The word gentiles is not a Biblical word, it is a word the translators have put in. But the word gentiles is really nations and Paul was sent far hence unto the gentiles, but he was sent really far hence unto the nations. The nations he went to were of course Spain, and the Isles of the Sea.

So here it is, ‘And all nations upon whom my name is called.’ That doesn’t mean everybody, barbarian and everyone else, but all the nations, all the gentiles upon whom my name is called. So there is this passage that He will come again. The Holy Spirit has a limited period and a limited time to function. Then He finishes His work. Now when you think about it further, there has to have been this building again of the tabernacle, the tabernacle of Jacob, and the residue of men and all the nations should be able to seek after it. Now the Holy Spirit has His function, has His purpose. But there’s nothing that says that The Holy Spirit will ever abolish death. But the curse of disobedience is on the whole of the Adamic race. Our Lord said, ‘I am come that they might have life.’ He is the life. And we read that ‘whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’ Again this is a reference to our Lord Himself.

Now, if we take this further, nowhere in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit is it asserted that the Holy Spirit will bring immortality. He has His function, but it is only our Lord that says, believe in Me and you shall have life. ‘For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.’ That is Christ the second-person of the Trinity. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. And He also said ‘Because I live, ye shall live also.’ There’s nothing in the Scriptures that says the dispensation of the Holy Spirit will bring in the Millennium. But we do know that that is something that our Lord Himself brings in. God’s revelation of Himself to Israel was the only true and trustworthy one. He came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and He said if He goes He will return. So we have this definite assertion – that of the Son of Man’s return – and we get this in the prophecy of Daniel, where he says ‘One like unto the Son of Man appeared before the Ancient of Days to receive for Himself dominion, glory and a kingdom.’ And you read in Revelation a complimentary portion to that which says that there appeared before the Throne one like unto the Son of Man. And ‘He looked and saw a Lamb as if it had been slain’ to receive dominion and a kingdom. So Daniel and his companion volume Revelation confirm that our Lord does come and receive a kingdom for Himself. He is the one of whom it is stated in Isaiah that of the increase – not the Holy Spirit – but of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the Throne of David and upon His kingdom to order it and to establish it with judgement and with justice from hence forth even for ever.

We read again in chapter 9 of Isaiah ‘The government shall be upon His shoulder, (that’s not the Holy Spirit, it’s the second person of the Trinity our Lord Himself), and His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. One of the very last persons in the last book of the Bible – Revelation – has sald ‘Now is come salvation, (that can only mean our Lord Himself, Salvation). Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God and the power of His Christ. And again in Revelation, ‘The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.’

So there are these definite passages, and the last thing said at our Lord’s ascension was ‘This same Jesus shall so return in like manner as ye have seen Him go.’ Now there is so much about this, from people who have studied the Scriptures, they really fall into three different schools:

1 Praetorist School. And they say that all the prophecies regarding the Second Coming in Revelation were all fulfilled by AD 70 and there’s nothing more to be done. Well obviously there are not many people who follow that although there may be some around. But that means that all the Book of Revelation – and the main portion of the Book of Daniel as well – just doesn’t have any relation to the present day. So I think we can dismiss that as not being recognised and followed to any great extent by Bible scholars.

 

2 The second one unfortunately is one that probably has the largest following today and yet it shouldn’t have any following at all because of its own blunders. There was a man named Blackstone who wrote a book called ‘Jesus is Coming’ and he was of this Futurist School and he said that when Jesus comes again, His second coming will be heralded by two things; one is the return of Israel to Palestine, and the other is the Rapture of the Saints. Now that is the school called Futurism and it was really propagated largely by Dr Scofield. But he was a great disaster as well because so many people were caught up in this following. Now the Futurist school says that prophecy is dormant at the present time. Prophecy is just lying in a sort of comatose condition and prophecy is waiting until a time when it can start again and God’s time clock can start ticking. They say that it starts again at one of these signs of the Second Coming. Now that means that every thing in Revelation largely is to be fulfilled in a matter of seven years. Because this teaching, I’rn trying to be fair to them, says that at this time there would be a period of ushering in what they call the 70th week of Daniel. And that we are in the period now of the 69th & 70th week of Daniel. They build it, if you want to follow it in your Bibles, on Daniel 9:24:

‘Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the cornmandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood …’

Now they say that this is a reference to an antichrist. (v 27)

‘And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.’

This Futurist school maintains that the Antichrist is going to come along and he’s going to make a covenant with the Jews for a week or seven years. That’s what they call the division between the 69th and the 70th week ‘he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.’ They say this is the Antichrist making the covenant with the Jews for seven years. But this whole teaching can be destroyed by the identification of one little pronoun and that’s the pronoun he. ‘And he shall confirm the covenant’. They say that that ‘he’ is antichrist. But there’s nothing in the Bible that’s referred to antichrist up to this time, and they have to say make a covenant whereas the scriptures make it quite clear that he’s going to confirm a covenant that is already in existence. And this of course is what our Lord did, He came to confirm the promises made by God unto the Fathers. For one week, and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. Our Lord had a ministry of about three years, half a week, and here it says in the midst of the week He caused the sacrifice and the oblation to cease and He did! Because once in the end He appeared to be our sacrifice. He caused all the ritualistic sacrifices, etc. to cease because He became the one and only perfect sacrifice. And then it says ‘And for the overspreading of abominations, He shall make it desolate.’ That’s not the antichrist making things desolate for the Jews, our Lord, who said ‘Your house is left unto you desolate.’ Mt.23:38.

So the whole of this futurist teaching falls on this identification of ‘he’ in Daniel 9: 27. In this teaching the futurists put everything on the line when they adopted this book and said that Mussolini was the antichrist, that antichrist was to make a covenant with the Jews and then he’s going to break it. Well, with the coming in the midst of the week, wherever you want to start Mussolini from, from his birth or his coming to power, or from his death. One week doesn’t work because it has been a good long time since Mussolini departed this world. So that couldn’t be. Then another chap says well it’s not with that, it’s the sign of the Jews returning to Palestine. Well they have been there since 1935 and that’s more than seven years ago. So that cannot be the explanation either. So this whole theory of Futurism falls to bits because they were foolish enough to make precise terminal and beginning dates of this seventieth week of seven years.

Now this is what the majority of people are taught when they fall into this futurist teaching. And of course they came unstuck when these things just didn’t happen. That whole teaching falls to the ground. There hasn’t been a rapture of the saints to trigger it off, so futurism has failed.

So that leaves only the third interpretation of prophecy, the Historicist teaching. And that says that prophecy, Daniel’s prophecies, Old Testament prophecies and particularly the prophecies of Revelation were being fulfilled in history. Some one very cryptically said that prophecy is pre-written history and history largely fulfilled prophecy. But we are at a time when nearly all those prophecies have been fulfilled; there is only about 1 % yet to be fulfilled. So we reach the conclusion that we must be at the end of the ‘Times of the Gentiles’. And the great proponent of that was our Lord Himself when He said Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the Times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. In 1917 when Jerusalem was delivered, about ten or more leading theologians signed a manifesto saying that the deliverance of Jerusalem should come as ‘a trumpet blast to all of Christendom announcing that the times of the gentiles were over and the time of Israel’s restoration is at hand.’

Now they based that on a teaching of a wonderful dedicated man of God in his Bible studies. He was building largely on the work of a Frenchman in Switzerland, who wrote this book about prophecy and time measurements. The man I am referring to is Dr Gratten Guinness. He wrote two outstanding books. One called The Approaching End of the Age and the other Light for the Last Days. Now this man was a clergyman and a brilliant scholar and he worked out the times of the days in a calendar year as 360, the days of the solar year 3651/4 and the days of the lunar year being 354. Now he gave the calendar year 360 as the mean between solar and lunar and that was the best for reckoning figures. The Bible says that Israel would be punished 7 times for their sins, and 7 times would be 7 x 360 or 2520. Now that is divided in the Book of Daniel by 1260, which is half of it. Or in Revelation 1260, which is the other half, the two halves make up 2520. Now from the tirne that Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar, that began the times of the gentiles, took them into punishment from 604BC and Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar: Thou 0 King art this head of gold, and another after shall arise. And they will have dominion until the times are over. Now 2520 from 604BC takes you to 1917 and that was what was regarded by those theologians as ending the Times of the Gentiles, when General Allenby leading British Forces delivered the city.

So 1917 established the times of the gentiles as a time factor. It established fulfilment in history and it established by our own studies as well as these theologians that the times of the gentiles were over and Israel’s restoration is here. So that is the Historicist school.

Now one of the principal people in the Historicist School was a man named E.B.Elliot. He wrote a book in about 1860 and he said that we would see this end of the times of the gentiles. He predicted by applying this 2520 from the beginning date of Nebuchadnezzar that it would run out in 1917. If that is true we realise that he is also establishing the fact that significant verses in Daniel and in Revelation such as the seals, the vials, the trumpets, the woes and the different symbolic language in Revelation particularly, had marked events in history. He did a very brilliant job of associating with the rise of the Turkish power and the Ottoman power and the different events, and the Reformation period. He showed that these various passages in Revelation were fulfilled in history. In 1854 he quotes Bishop Latimer in these words ‘St Paul saith the Lord will not come till the swerving from the faith cometh which thing is already done and past. Antichrist is known throughout the world wherefore the day is not far of.’ He also takes the chronological view that the worlds’ endurance is 6000 years, and he says there is now left but 448. This is Latimer now, and even those days shall be shortened for the elect’s sake. So that we find in doing that the Second Advent may come ‘in my days old as I am or in my children’s days.’ But that was still 448 years from the end of the 6000 period when he said that the days should be shortened. So they knew this period of establishing it from 4000BC right up to this time. Now that was taken from Elliott’s Horae Apocalypticae. Which as I say has been the textbook of the Historicist throughout history and it is wonderful if you can ever get a copy. However it is not much you can rely on now because it was written so long ago. But the principle is right of prophecy being fulfilled in history and he gives this instance. But if he wrote it in 1850 or so there was a lot of revelation yet to be fulfilled and it means that Revelation 16, ‘drying up of the river Euphrates,’ Rev. 17 the end of religious Babylon, Rev. 18 the end of economic Babylon, were all events yet to be fulfilled in the future since the time of the writing of this book. Nevertheless it is a valuable book and does a lot of good in cementing the theory that prophecy is fulfilled in history. It shows how very cryptically these prophetic passages did have a fulfilment in history

So we are coming now to the very last days, Latimer knew it, Horae Apocalypticae took us a long way along this but as I say it was published in 1854, so there is a lot happened since this book of Elliott’s. But use it for the basis it gives us of Historicist School of prophecy, that prophecy is fulfilled in history. From Elliott’s time there were still more prophecies to be fulfilled and more history to be endured. But the principle was established.

So now we have got to bring this up to date and we can do so by taking these passages yet to be fulfilled. But the main thing is your three prophetic schools. The Praetorist, a thing of the past. The Futurist, which has a gap between the First Coming and the Second Coming, known as this Gospel Age. That gap ceases with their version of the rapture. Of course, that hasn’t taken place, so they are discredited. Some years ago I read in the literature of the Moody Institute in Chicago, the foundation source of the primary teachings of prophecy built on the futurist school, that they dropped prophecy from their curriculum because it had become so unstuck – particularly by this book. But we still take this theory established of prophecy being fulfilled by history – history itself being in many cases fulfilment of prophetic passages which were clearly outlined.

I want to go back to the theme that is uppermost in our minds today. The fact is that our Lord made it quite clear that He is coming again. Theologians are trying to say the Second Coming is when He comes into the heart of the believer. Not only is that a purely selfish, self centred teaching that Christians have this particular place of being a fulfilment of the Second Coming when Christ is in their hearts. When you think about it, it is eminently selfish isn’t it? But it is completely unscriptural because it says He comes to judge. He comes to take over the Throne of His Father David. He comes to bring redemption and complete the redemption He wrought for Israel. Why do we have passages like, ‘Your redemption draweth nigh’ as one of the end time passages? How are we going to deal with passages as at His first coming it says He hath visited and redeemed His people. That is a national setting, it is not in an individual setting of Christ coming into your hearts. And it solves all the difficult Old Testament passages.

Ezekiel 38 & 39, Hosea’s third day raising up, Isaiah 63:4; all of these have yet to be fulfilled and they are passages of which we want to take more notice.

Now we are basically of the Historicist School, we are indebted to men like Elliott. But we realise the time that he did it is largely past and we realise that we have got to carry this on further if we are going to bring this up to the present day. If you take as Latimer did 6000 years as a time measurement of God’s dealings with mankind, it’s really 6000 years, not since Adam but from the expulsion from the Garden of Eden And you bring that, in 4000 BC and that takes you to 4000 Old Testament, 2000 New Testament and that brings you to the end of this century, 6000 years are completed. The Biblical system is, that after the six days of 1000 days each, you have your seventh or millennial sabbath coming, and we are very very near the beginning of that seven thousandth era.

And what a beginning it is, too! You’ve heard me before on this but I hope not only from me but from others because we have reached a stage when our whole system is gone. We’ve got what we call a computer bug and this computer bug, there’s no running from it. It means that they have made a mistake in all the computers of the world and have no answer and practically the whole of our civilisation is based upon the computer. Now if it goes wrong and basically the quickest way of explaining it I suppose is what happens at the end of this century you won’t enter 2000 because the computers were not geared for that. So the end of this century you won’t print out 2000 you will go back to 1900. And they say there is no way of putting it right. That was about in the middle of the 1950’s, they realised what they were doing but let it go. But so I read there just is no answer to it. It’s what they call the Millennium Bug and even the Prime Minister has got very urgent about it, because this bug is set to cause computer systems to crash unless they are reprogrammed to recognise the year 2000. It could cripple the ability of companies to deal with orders, records and maintain proper accounts. Blair has appointed the Trade Secretary to sort out the problem! And he’s using his presidency of the EU to give it a high profile. But the Bug has not been cured. And they say that it cannot be cured. That’s amazing isn’t it? That means all the computers the world over. And when you realise how much of the world’s business is dealt with through computers, you realise that’s the end … And they admit there’s no answer to it. If they could put it right – and they say they can’t – it would take about 20 years to readjust all these computers. So at the end of this century we are going to have a problem! It’s very interesting but nothing to get frightened about. It will be interesting to see how our Lord is going to deal with it – and He will! The main point is that man has proved himself incapable of conducting his own affairs, with the death of the computer and a computer bug that affects businesses throughout the world. When you find that a computer organises such things as government employees, running into 40,000 or 50,000 people, when the computers won’t work they will not be getting their pay cheques. The banks computers won’t be able to take it in if they could. So you are going to find a very very big disaster when we corne to this period.

But to me it is something very wonderful, because it demonstrates that man is not capable of solving his own problems.

On Sunday I was mentioning this and a quotation came to me of H G Wells years ago when he saw this happening. He said, ‘There’s no way out, there’s no way round, there’s no way under, there’s no way through, it is the end.’ Others have come to that teaching, philosophers, and students of history have come to that conclusion as well. It is the End. And when your computer bears it out that we cannot go into the year 2000 because of this Bug it makes you really think in terms of the end of everything that man proposes. But it also means the promises of our Lord, that ‘if I go, I shall come again.’ We’ve reached the stage where we are beyond having a human solution to these problems which are so imminent.

Oh, you say, those are wild statements you’re making. But they are well documented by others that say it is finished. How we are going to get over this 2000 I do not know. It is easy to be pessimistic about it, but it is also much easier as Christians to be optimistic about it. Because as Christians we know that man has got to prove himself a failure, the cleverest discoveries that man has reached, the pinnacle of his endeavours is the computer. And if they go then man is exposed as being inadequate, unable to cope with governing the affairs. He will have to turn to One who can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Then we will begin to pray Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Maybe we will begin to realise the inadequacy of human planning. We will be able to realise or will have to realise that we need a greater than ourselves to intervene. Maybe we will understand what some of the promises deal with.

This same Jesus shall so return, that doesn’t mean a Jesus in your heart. It means a literal Jesus and He sald ‘lf I go, I’ll come again’. You can’t get anything more definite in the Second Coming teaching than the fact that the promises in the Old Testament, the New Testament and our Lord Himself when He says I’ll come again.

If He comes again He comes to this earth,’I will come again, that where I am there you shall be also.’ Now what can that possibly mean? Maybe it’s the fulfilment of our Lord’s ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth.’ Somehow we are going to have to recognise, when our computers are gone, when we cannot go into the year 2000. What’s going to happen on December 31st 1999? These are very relevant, those who have gone into this say that some of the effects are going to come, as far as some banks are concerned, in the spring of 1999, that’s now isn’t it? And progressively more so. They admit that they have not got an answer, they won’t admit that they do not know what is going to happen. So we are in a very very exciting time.

There’s a passage that says that Esau is the end of the age. Esau is Amalek, Esau is Jacob’s rival. It says that Esau or Amalek is the end of the age and Amalek was to have war with Israel throughout all the ages right to the very end. So Esau/Amalek is the end of the age. And we are told that this generation shall not pass away. And that generation does not mean a forty year generation period it rneans ‘genea’, generation or race of people. And this race of people are the Esau-ites that our Lord said ‘You are of your father the Devil and the works he does ye do.’ Amalek is the same as Agag and Agag is Gog. Esau is the end of the age and Jacob the beginning of that which cometh after.

So Israel comes into her inheritance, she had her times of punishment, the times when she would be separated from the headship of the dominions of the world which was given to the Babylonian systems of the world i.e.: to Nebuchadnezzar. But only for a period as defined by the simple word ‘until’. Until the times of the gentiles are over. ‘Whom the Heavens must receive until, Jerusalem must be trodden until. Until, the fullness of the nations be brought in, and that is the fullness of the development of the Israel nations. So the heavens receive Him until the times of complete restoration of Israel.

Now we make a very grave mistake, if we don’t distinguish between the individual and the national message of the Bible. We know and rejoice in the fact of our Lord coming into our hearts and we accept it. But there is also the fact that He had promised to return to the body politic of Israel. The corporate nation of Israel, the ‘dry bones’ are the whole House of Israel, thus the Spirit enters into them. So we are on the point of not only getting individual assurance of Salvation but we’re at the point when the ‘Tirnes’ are over, when we get the national restoration of our nation.

1 know you can look around and say ‘good gracious, this nation doesn’t deserve this.’ You read the headlines and say how can God see anything good in this people, but He does. And one of the surest prophecies of all, is the fact that when He returns, the redemption which He established when He came, the redemption will become nigh because there will be a realisation by the people that He has redeemed us. What a wonderful thing when the body politic of our nation really functions as the true Israel of God.

He’s coming again. It is absolutely sure that He’s coming again because if you need nothing more you have His own words, ‘If I go, I will come again.’ Let’s look forward to that.

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