(A review of a book by the Rev. A. Reese, bearing this title).
F. B. Hole.
(Extracted from Scripture Truth Vol. 30, 1938, page 13 etc.)
Paper 1 Some general observations
Paper 2 The principles of interpretation
Paper 3 Resurrection in the Old Testament
Paper 4 Resurrection in the New Testament
Paper 5 Resurrection in the Apocalypse
Paper 6 2 Thessalonians 2, and some final considerations
(1) Some general observations.
We have before us a very substantial volume of 328 pages, recently published. Its object is to demolish the belief of a very considerable number of Christians that there is a clear line of demarcation to be observed in Scripture between the coming of the Lord for His saints and His coming with them, that the removal of the saints, and of the Holy Ghost who indwells them, will withdraw the one power capable of restraining the development of the apostasy and the unveiling of the man of sin that men the great tribulation will supervene, having the special character of wrath poured out governmentally from heaven, and to be ended by the appearing of Christ with His saints in His power and glory. If this be a correct reading of the New Testament scriptures, it follows of course that though the church is to expect tribulation all through its earthly course it is not destined to pass through the great tribulation. In the book before us this belief is strenuously combatted from Scripture and denied. It is even derided as "fantastic innovations on the faith," "extravagant and impracticable delusions" (p. 272).
Our first observation is that we are not surprised that such a book has appeared. A century has now passed since expectations of the coming of the Lord specially began to stir the hearts of many Christians, and during that time many differences of thought as to various details connected with it have come to light.
And not only this; many extravagant and even fanatical ideas connected with the fixing of dates have been mooted, only to be disproved and demolished by the efflux of time. It is contemplated in 2 Peter 2:2, that one effect of the bringing in of teaching and prophecy which is false is the discrediting of truth — "the way of truth shall be evil spoken of." The unbeliever may well turn round and taunt us all with having involved the subject of the Second Advent in a welter of confusion. We have to confess with sorrow that we have never read any book in our life in which that confusion was so paraded before the public eye as in this; and as we closed it we realized that this fresh book had made the whole subject rather worse confounded.
In the second place, we are struck with the overpowering place which human writings have in this book, and presumably therefore in the mind of the author. The writers that he disagrees with are very freely quoted, and scriptures are freely quoted to disprove what they say, yet they are hardly ever used without an appeal to an imposing array of authors with whom he agrees mainly, if not altogether. The ordinary Christian who is not a trained theologian may frequently find himself in the trying position of being mentally buried under a shower of quotations which falls upon him like leaves in autumn. Some idea of this feature may be gained when we say that the book ends with a list of "Authors and others quoted or referred to," and a number of references stand against many of the names. We have run our eye over this list and make the number of authors to be 364, and the number of references 881 — on an average, nearly three references to some human opinion on every page of text. There is also furnished a list of "Publications quoted or referred to," and of these we make the number to be 244. The lists are very imposing. Very few, if any, can have devoured such a mass of literature bearing upon this subject as the author of this book. Whether he has really digested all that he has devoured is of course another matter. At any rate it must be confessed that he stands like a giant, clad from head to foot in warlike array, and the present writer feels an insignificant stripling before him.
Thirdly, we observe that in the main the book is out to destroy, and we consider the author a very able and skilled controversialist. By far the most telling part of his book, in our judgment, is the way in which he displays, and sets off one against the other, the differences in matters of details that have existed between those whom he designates, "Darbyists." Many of those whom he designates thus had nothing to do with the late J. N. Darby, and would be strongly opposed to his teaching in many things. Yet they happen to agree with him on this point of prophetic interpretation, and so his name is called upon them. This is quite a useful device from a controversial point of view, for it helps to accentuate the differences in the mind of the reader, and to make it look as though these differences were inherent in the teaching which is attacked, instead of lying, as largely they did, in differences of thought as to other parts of the truth. It must be remembered also that the authors criticized cover the period of a century, during which time differences as to details easily develop.
There is a fourth observation which we have to make, viz., the author gives us in very meagre outline the exact scheme of prophetic interpretation which he favours. In this of course he again proves his controversial skill. Having quoted very copiously from the writings of those he denounces, accentuating their differences, he refrains from anything but the barest outline of his own position. He does make it quite clear that he recognizes that Scripture speaks of Christ coming for His saints as well as coming with His saints. He says, for instance, "The Coming for the saints and the Coming with the saints take place at the same crisis; the day of the resurrection and transfiguration of the holy dead, and of the renewal of Israel" (p. 133). He gives us very little that is positive beyond that, and so is relieved of the trouble of having to explain or defend the implications of his own system when under the searchlight of Scripture.
Yet, even in the brief statement just quoted things are said which raise inevitable questions. For instance, this "crisis," this "day" — does he mean a day of 24 hours such as we are accustomed to? Judging from the way he argues as to the phrase, "the last day," in John 6, and such expressions as "the day of Christ," "the day of the Lord," we rather think he does. Yet we are not quite sure, for we did not notice a clear and unequivocal statement, on the point, though of course amongst the mass of quotations and footnotes there may have been something which we overlooked. If he does mean 24 hours, there are many awkward questions raised by such a scripture as Zechariah 12 - 14, with its repeated affirmations as to the happenings "in that day." Should he after all admit that the "day" is a period longer than 24 hours, a good many of his own reasonings would lose much of their force.
Here and there in the book we notice details of his own system of interpretation just creeping out. For instance: —
(1) In a footnote to page 239 he explains his view of the significance of the phrase, "coming . . . with all His saints" (1 Thess. 3:13). This he says, "almost certainly refers to the Lord's arrival with the spirits of the holy dead." Obviously the phrase would present some difficulty to anyone believing that the Lord is going to come both for and with His saints at the same moment. He adds, "It is wrong to assert that previously raised and raptured saints are now coming out of heaven." Until we read that we had supposed that he contended for the raising of the dead saints, the changing of the living saints, the catching away of both to meet the Lord, and then all coming with Him — the whole process to be but a matter of minutes or even seconds. Now we find it a bit difficult to know just what he does mean. We should find it easier to fit in this bringing of the spirits of the holy dead with His coming for His saints. Anyhow, he is quite sure that our understanding of the passage is wrong, and almost certain that "all His saints" means such of His saints as may be dead. We presume he would give the same interpretation to verse 14 of chapter 4. But would he to such scriptures as Jude 14, and Revelation 19:14?
(2) On pages 244-248, verses 6 and 7 of 2 Thessalonians 2 are discussed, and he gives us an idiomatic translation and a paraphrase; "simply to get all the light possible on a confessedly obscure passage, which ought never to serve as a pillar for a doctrine," as he tells us. He asks who this person may be that restrains, and brushes aside the answer that it is the Holy Spirit in the church. He asks, "If the Holy Spirit was in Paul's mind why did he need to hesitate mentioning the subject?" We should say that he did not "hesitate" at all, nor did he "need" to hesitate. The opening words of verse 6 show why he did not give a full explanation. "Now ye know what withholds." The Thessalonians knew already, so further explanation they did not need. If we do not know, we have simply to confess ourselves to have fallen behind these first century Christians. However, the best interpretation, according to our author, is that the impersonal hindering power of verse 6 is the Roman Empire, and the personal hinderer of verse 7 a succession of Roman Emperors. So this is what he believes. But having read the early part of Daniel 7, it would seem to our simple minds that while this belief may not exactly involve Satan casting out Satan, it does involve Satan hindering Satan. And what Roman Emperor may be hindering to-day, is indeed beyond us!
(3) On page 294, he says, "there are many passages that presuppose the existence of a Jewish Christian Church in Palestine, at a past or future epoch of its history: a Church necessarily under the law of the land, yet rejoicing only in Christ as the Saviour and Shepherd of Israel." Again on page 297, "we see the Israelitish Church in Judaea in Matt. 24:16, and Rev. 12." Now he will have nothing of a godly remnant of Israel being found on earth and bearing. witness in the last days. He has many a tilt at such a thought: on page 111, for instance, he speaks of "the semi-Christian, semi-converted Jewish Remnant of uncertain standing in the Last Days." And on the same page again, "the whole Remnant hypothesis is a veritable nose of wax to be turned and twisted as the difficulties dictate." This "Remnant" excites his special ire and ridicule, and he promises us ere long a whole book from the press, to refute the thought.
Imagine then our surprise when we reached pages 244 and 297. After all the scorn he has poured upon this poor "nose of wax" it really seems that he has caught hold of it himself and is twisting it in a new direction! The people are there right enough, yet if we speak of them as the Jewish Remnant we are propagating a fable: we are to call them "Jewish Christian Church," or "Israelitish Church." Not having read all the 364 authors that are quoted in this book we had not heard before of these people: nor have we seen any hint of such a "church" in the Scriptures, though we have read them for many years. On the other hand we have read Micah 5:1 - 8, which speaks of "the remnant of Jacob" in the days when the true "Ruler in Israel" feeds in the name of the Lord and destroys the Assyrian.
(4) We are given an idea — somewhat vague — of how he would interpret Matthew 25:31 - 46. On page 296 he calls it a "Parable," classing it with the parable of the Samaritan recorded in Luke 10. The attitude of "Darbyists" he claims is to revel in "the complicated, the uncommon and the marvellous." Hence. "the ordinary interpretation of the Good Samaritan, with its lesson of neighbourly concern and loving service for the wreckage of society, was too prosaic and humdrum; the presence of a Levite and a Priest passing coldly by on the other side of the road, was too great a temptation for Evangelicals to miss; they must make the Parable say that Sacerdotalism cannot save, and that the good Samaritan typifies the Saviour, who can. Sound truths these — but not taught and not implied in this parable. So also with the Parable of the Sheep and Goats in Matt. 24:31 - 46; for one who comes to it to drink deeper of the Saviour's spirit of philanthropy toward the hungry, the sick, the ill-clad, and the imprisoned, a thousand come to it as a problem in dispensationalism, and we all want to fit it into our scheme of the End, and especially, to 'dish' the foes of Chiliasm."
As to his remarks on the parable of Luke 10, we merely say, by the way, that if he is correct we evidently ought to see in the parables of Luke 15, only amiable lessons to shepherds as to kindly care of sheep, to women as to carefulness over money and the removal of dust from homes, and to fathers as to the treatment of dissolute sons. What interests us more at the present moment is that he alleges the passage in Matthew 25 to be a parable to be treated in similar fashion. We presume our author is the one in a thousand who comes to it to drink in the philanthropy it teaches, and so it presents no problem, dispensational or prophetic, to him. For ourselves we are bold enough to assert that it is no parable at all, and that the sheep and goats are introduced in verses 32 and 33 just by way of illustration. When the Son of Man is come in His glory and the nations are gathered before Him for judgment He will act like a shepherd dividing sheep from goats. There are parables — those of the fig tree, the good-man of the house, the virgins, the lord and his servants — but verse 31 of chapter 25 picks up the thread of the prophecy from verse 31 of chapter 24.
The passage which he dismisses in this way is an important part of the Divine scheme of the end, and no thought of "the foes of Chiliasm" — whoever they may be — has ever crossed our mind in reading it. He may say, "we all want, etc...." but we beg to dissent. We do not.
At any rate, the four cases cited give us some glimpse of his own treatment of some of the details involved in the discussion, and we do not find them above criticism by any means, but rather very feeble and mistaken.
Our fifth observation concerns the spirit that breathes through the book. As we do not agree with the main contentions of the writer, we found it a trying book to read owing to its rather contemptuous tone. In more places than one he complains of things written in a contemptuous spirit by some of those whom he opposes, notably W. Kelly and Sir R. Anderson. As to that we agree with him. We noticed it ourselves long ago when reading certain of their books, and deplored it. It has more than once detracted from one's enjoyment of their works. But the extraordinary thing is that having objected to it in their books, our author so freely indulges in the same thing himself. We append a few specimens:
"It is all consistent and ludicrous, because they began by accepting the absurdity that a cantankerous O.T. company in the straitjacket of the Imprecatory Psalms etc...." (p. 116).
". . theories that are blighting Bible study and Christian fellowship all over the world: theories and traditions that have cursed the movement from the beginning" (p. 116).
". . the subtleties, the distortions, and the errors that others wrote on their broad phylacteries" (p. 116).
"To anyone not infatuated with special theories the meaning . . . is as plain as a pikestaff" (p. 142).
"To refute such supreme rubbish requires either a volume or a page; we can only give it a page. ." (p. 207).
". . a prey to extravagant and impracticable delusions — borrowed from a pagan writer, Lucian of Samosata" (p. 271).
"Gentile conceits of the nineteenth century .... the Remnant fable, and the Secret-Rapture fable. . " (pp. 275, 276).
". . aggressive sophistry, and fantastic exegesis. ." (p. 287).
"But a blind man can see that the exact contrary is the truth. . ." (p. 44).
This last remark is in reference to a quotation he has just made from p. 456 of Kelly's Revelation (referring to Daniel 12. 2) to the effect that, "This resurrection, literal or figurative, is before the millennium, and after it is a time of greater trouble than Israel ever knew." So Kelly is to be convicted of being blinder than a blind man! Knowing that usually he was pretty quick sighted we turned up this reference and read the paragraph. Our author assumes that the "it" in this sentence refers to the resurrection; we judge that it refers to the millennium - "before the millennium, and after it." — for after comes the final rebellion and the great white throne. We strongly suspect that the blindness is not Kelly's. When authors look at things through the spectacles of contempt their own eyesight is often impaired.
Our last preliminary observation is that we agree with the author that very important principles of interpretation are involved in this discussion. This large and elaborate book is almost entirely occupied with controversy as to whether there is to be an interval between the Lord's coming for and with His saints, or not, and whether as a consequence the church is, or is not, to go through the great tribulation. It might seem to some a tremendous discussion over a comparatively small point. But it is not. Towards the end of the book, referring to the Lord's prayer in Matthew 6, he says, ". . as we survey the landscape of Darbyist interpretation, and especially of the judaising of much of our Lord's teaching in the interests of a theory, we say confidently to our readers: this is the decisive point!" (p. 275). We do not accept the innuendo that Darby first formed a theory as to the coming of the Lord and then shaped his teachings as to the Gospels in such a way as to support it; but we fully agree that the whole question of progressive revelation — what we may call the progress of doctrine, from Old Testament to Gospels, from Gospels to Acts, from Acts to the Epistles and the Revelation — is concerned in it, and we believe that only as we discern this progression shall we rightly understand the place the Church occupies in God's plan, and so understand what is revealed as to the coming of the Lord, or even such a question as the right use of the Lord's prayer.
For this reason we purpose, if the Lord permit, reverting to the subject of this book, and in our next paper dealing with this important principle of interpretation, prophetic and otherwise.
2ND PAPER: The principles of interpretation which are at stake.
We hold it to be a fact of the first importance that God's dealings with men have varied from time to time, and that therefore we are to recognize clearly marked dispensations. Some epoch-making event has ushered in each fresh dispensation, such as the flood, the giving of the law at Sinai, the advent of Christ, the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Of these events the advent of Christ is by far the greatest, standing in a class by itself. Out of it sprang the coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, as its immediate result and crown. In its ultimate result it will prove to be the basis of the second Advent and of the establishment of the glory.
It is also of great importance that we should clearly distinguish in our minds between the purpose of God and the ways of God; that is to say, between the great objectives which God ever had in view, even from the days of eternity, and the various movements that He makes through the ages calculated to thoroughly expose and meet the breakdown and sin of man, to utterly defeat the machinations of the devil, and ultimately to carry out what He purposes, in spite of all opposition. The dispensations to which we have referred are a part of His ways, and as we consider them we see that they are marked by orderly development and progress, not only in His dealings but also in the unfolding of His purpose. As they moved forward He made Himself known in a fuller way, and His purposes became more plain. The revelation of God reached its climax when Christ appeared, and the unfolding of the purpose of God reached its climax in the coming of the Holy Ghost and His ministry through the Apostles.
It will be well to develop these distinctions a little from the Scriptures themselves, and, in the first place, as to the revelation of God's Name.
To Moses God said, "I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by My name JEHOVAH was I not known to them" (Ex. 6:3). In the earlier, patriarchal dispensation the name Jehovah was known, for we find Abraham and others using it, but they did not know Him by that name; that is, the real significance of it was not revealed to them. The significance of it did come to light when God put His hand to the bringing of Israel out of Egypt. Later in Israel's history we find the prophets speaking of God's relationship with His people under the figure of a father (Isa. 63:16, 64:8; Jer. 3:19; etc.), yet there was a big step forward when Jesus began to speak to His disciples of "your Father which is in heaven," as we find in Matthew 5. 16, and onwards. There was again a big step forward when, risen from the dead, Jesus said to His disciples, " My Father, and your Father" (John 20:17); and this thought is expanded in the Apostolic Writings, notably in such passages as Ephesians 1:3, and 1 Peter 1:3.
Then again there is a very definite development in the unfolding of God's purposes and ways, leading to an equally definite progress of doctrine, and this in both the Old and New Testaments, as well as in the transition from the Old to the New.
The giving of the law was a big step onwards in God's ways. It brought things to an issue in regard to human sin, showing it up as transgression, and shutting men up "to the faith which should afterwards be revealed" (Gal. 3:19 - 23). Then God made known His righteous demands, displayed His power in mighty acts, and gave to Moses some idea of what He was about. We read, "He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel" (Ps. 103:7). The mass of the people saw what He did, but Moses was granted an insight into what He was about, that the people did not possess. Yet it does not say that Moses understood God's purpose — such as is unfolded in Ephesians 1:9 - 14; that could not be made known in his day.
When Israel nationally had sadly failed God raised up many prophets, and made known by them things that were only hinted at in the time of Moses. The prophets testified against the nations, and against Israel in particular, and then they pointed forward to the advent of One in whom the name of the Lord should be magnified and glory established in the earth. This was another step forward.
We open the New Testament and find ourselves in Matthew's Gospel, which is the one in which we find the Lord linking His teaching with the Law and Prophets, and yet bringing in an entirely new note. We refer specially, of course, to chapters 5 - 7, in which He shows that God intends the law to aim not merely at the prohibited act but also at the inward disposition which prompts the act. This makes the law more potent than ever in bringing death home into the sensitive conscience (see Rom. 7:9); but at the same time we find a new knowledge of God in His fatherly kindness and care from heaven, and thus the spirit of grace begins to appear.
But when we come to the farewell words of the Lord, as recorded in John 13 - 17, we find another big advance. In His discourse in the Upper Chamber, the Lord was speaking in view of all that He was to accomplish by death and resurrection within the next three days. We venture to say that the progress in the teaching between the "Sermon in the Upper Chamber" and the "Sermon on the Mount" is as pronounced as that between the "Sermon on the Mount" and the teaching given through Moses and the Prophets — if not more so. In the Mountain He was educating His disciples in view of their coming mission; not to the Gentiles, not even to the Samaritans, but to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 10:5, 6). In the Upper Chamber He was instructing them in view of His approaching absence, when on the ground of His death and resurrection, they would find themselves in a new place with a new mission, which had "all nations" as its scope.
Moreover in that discourse in the Upper Chamber He spoke of the Holy Spirit who was soon to come, and in that connection He promised further development and progress in the teaching. His words were these, "I have yet many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth" (15:12, 13). These are very important words. They show that truth is revealed as God's people are in a position and state to take it in; and that before redemption was accomplished and the Spirit given the disciples were not able to receive the truth which the Lord subsequently ministered through the Apostles by the Spirit. They also show that finality as to the revelation of truth is reached when the Spirit comes, since He guides into ALL truth. With this agrees the word of the Apostle Paul as to it being given to him "to fulfil [or, complete] the Word of God" (Col. 1:25). He alludes not to the completing of the canon of Scripture — apparently John did that — but to the completing of the subjects of revelation, the whole circle of revealed truth.
Now if this progress of doctrine be borne in mind we shall be saved from the error of expecting to find the revelation of truth before its time. We shall find that what is revealed, and the way in which it is revealed, will exactly suit the people to whom it is revealed. We shall be delighted of course to find that when any given truth is revealed, there is nothing that contradicts it in what has previously been revealed. The earlier revelation will state the fact in broad outline with not much in the way of detail. The later revelation will fill in details and show us developments which nobody had expected, yet when we turn back to the earlier word we find there is nothing against them, and sometimes we can discern how room has been left for them. If this feature be really grasped we also shall be saved from the attempt to make the later revelation only say what has already been said in the earlier, or from the attempt to make the earlier instructions the measure and standard for those who belong to a later development or dispensation.
These are but brief remarks on a very important principle of interpretation, yet though brief they bear quite definitely on the way in which we shall approach this book on "The Approaching Advent of Christ." Its main, one might say its only, object is to prove that there is no interval of time between the coming of Christ for and with His saints, that they are for all practical purposes the same event, synchronizing with His glorious appearing to destroy His foes. The author asserts, and proves to his own satisfaction, that the Old Testament teaches that the resurrection of saints takes place at the day of the Lord, by which he means (we gather) the exact and literal day of Christ's appearing. He will allow of no further light on this point which might modify in some particulars what he thinks he finds in the Old Testament. He recognizes that there is such a thing as a fuller unfolding of an earlier revelation, but is so sure that the resurrection is located by the Old Testament at the appearing, that he judges the whole question in the light of that. The whole structure of his book is this; that he thinks he has established from certain passages in Isaiah and Daniel that the resurrection takes place on the exact day of Christ's glorious appearing, and this Old Testament revelation appears to him to be so clear that he must bring further New Testament revelations into line with it.
An example of what we mean is found on page 68 of his book. Discussing the passage in 1 Thessalonians 4, he claims that "Darbyists themselves furnish us with reasons that smash their central position." This is because, "They all admit, in the first place, that this resurrection in 1 Thess. 4 includes the resurrection of all the righteous dead since Abel." His comment is, "Very well then, this means that 1 Thess. 4 synchronizes with the resurrection in Isaiah 25:8; 26:19; Dan. 12:1 - 3; 12 - 13; Matt. 13:43; . . . And we have already proved that these passages clearly locate the resurrection of the saints in Israel at the commencement of the Messianic Kingdom, when Antichrist is destroyed, and Israel is converted by the appearing of Jehovah." He considers the Old Testament so clear on this subject that he can start there, and argue from what he thinks he finds. Our next paper D.V., will deal with these Old Testament passages. For the moment we content ourselves with saying that had he started with the clear light of the New Testament Epistles, especially with 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and viewed the earliest predictions in the light of the latest, he might have seen things differently.
We have now to ask a question which bears very directly upon the matters before us. It is this: — Do we find in the Old Testament any clear light upon the distinction between the coming of Christ to suffer in humiliation and His coming to reign in His glory? The present discussion turns upon the question, Will the Second Advent embrace two stages, with an interval between, or will it not? Discussions between God-fearing Israelites in the days of Malachi, when they had read the fourth chapter of his prophecy, might well have raged round the question, Will there be two Advents of the Messiah, with an interval between them?
There were a number of predictions concerning the humiliation, the sorrows, the death of the Messiah, though outnumbered by those speaking of His glory, His power, His discriminating judgment. What was the solution? We do not know that Jews debated the possibility of there being two Advents, though we have been given to understand that some held the theory of two Messiahs — a sorrowing One, and a triumphant One. But obviously on this point the Old Testament was indeterminate. Of course God could have made the point quite clear, if it had suited His ways to do so. He could have caused Malachi to write in his last chapter about "the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Day-spring from on high" should visit them rather than about the burning up of the wicked by the rising of "the Sun of righteousness," and to speak plainly about John the Baptist instead of giving a prediction about Elijah the prophet, which as subsequent events proved had a certain reference to him. But no, Malachi's closing note was a prediction as to the far-off coming to reign and not the near-approaching coming to suffer.
The astronomers tell us that not a few stars which are obviously one when viewed by the naked eye, are nevertheless obviously two when seen through a powerful telescope This may serve as an illustration of our point. Take the early part of Isaiah 61 for instance — the passage that the Lord began to read in the synagogue at Nazareth, as recorded in Luke 4. The saint of Old Testament times read it with the "naked eye," and saw one coming, which was to bring the good tidings and the liberty of the acceptable year of the Lord, and also the vengeance that would rid the land of its ashes and mourning. The "telescopic view" began to be apparent when our Lord stopped his reading in the middle of verse 2. There are two comings in that verse, and not one only. The case of Isaiah 61:2 should warn us to be very careful how we handle the predictions of the Old Testament.
There is one other point in the book to which we make reference since it bears upon the particular theme of this short paper. Towards the end (pp. 273 - 276) the question comes up of the use by Christians of "the Lord's prayer." By the time these pages are reached Mr. Reese has warmed up to the controversy, and goes to the length of saying that Paul says that men, who teach such things as the "Darbyists" do, are deceivers. They are such as the Lord warned His disciples against in Matthew 24. They bring in "extravagant and impracticable delusions," and "in the interest of fantastic innovations on the faith, large portions of our Lord's teaching are pushed aside as inapplicable to, and even unsuitable for, Christians." Then he quotes two extracts from writers who contend that the prayer was not given to "Christians," and that those who use it "as a form" cannot know what it is "to ask the Father in the name of Christ," and having done so his comment is, "the above extracts illustrate the kind of browbeating and judaizing exegesis that is used to impose freak theories on the faithful."
Then he goes further and takes care that we shall realize how vitally the whole prophetic position that he contends for is bound up with the rightness or wrongness of one's understanding of dispensational matters. He says, "As we survey . . . Darbyist interpretation, and especially of the judaizing of much of our Lord's teaching in the interest of a theory, we say confidently to our readers: 'this is the decisive point'! " He adds, "Let the unwary Christian be once persuaded that the Lord's prayer is merely 'Jewish,' and for Jews; let him be off his guard here; let him only dally here with the word 'dispensational,' then the Four Gospels will go the same way as the Lord's prayer. And he will descend a slippery slope with no stop till he reaches an edifice called 'Dispensational House,' pleasant to look upon, but inside a house of bondage."
We are really thankful that Mr. Reese has spoken out so emphatically upon this point, for it greatly helps to show what is really at stake in this discussion about what may at first appear to be a mere detail of prophetic truth. He assures us in a footnote that he has "no quarrel with sane dispensational truth;" such as, of course, he himself would advocate. It is this "theory" that there is a definite difference to be observed between the position and state of the disciples before and after the death and resurrection of Christ, and the consequent coming of the Spirit, that rouses his ire, and which he regards as not "sane." We believe without a shadow of doubt that this difference exists, and we must accept with equanimity the epithet "insane" from his lips or pen, if he wishes to bestow it upon us. But we would enter our protest against the way in which he imputes wrong motives to those he attacks. Not for the first time in this volume does he assume that his opponents formed their "theory," and then set to work to "judaize much of our Lord's teaching," and formulate other ideas, in order to support their precious theory. We have no hesitation in affirming that in fact things worked the other way round. It was as dispensational distinctions became clear to them, and the respective callings of Israel and of the Church were discerned, that the views of prophecy were formed, which our author so scathingly attacks.
However, there his challenge stands, and we cheerfully accept it. In spite of all the wrath and sarcasm it will bring upon our heads we shall continue to affirm that the disciples as they followed the Lord during His sojourn on earth were not "Christians," in the proper significance of the word. They were not the Church, though they were an important part of the nucleus of which the Church was formed at the Day of Pentecost. All through the centuries there had been found "an afflicted and poor people" who "trust in the name of the Lord," called, "the remnant of Israel" (Zeph. 3:12, 13). The disciples were distinguished representatives of that remnant, who recognized the Messiah and responded to His call when He came. He knew what He was going to make of them after He had accomplished redemption: they did not. Without a doubt He educated them during His ministry for the place they were presently to occupy, though it seems that they never understood His words in any full or proper sense. This failure to understand is specially marked in John's Gospel. The words, "These things understood not His disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they. . ." (John 12:16), were written in regard to acts, but they apply equally to the teachings. When Jesus was glorified then the Spirit was given; and then the Church began its existence, and then they possessed the capacity to understand.
Matthew's Gospel specially links on the ministry of the Lord with what went before, so it is the first of the Gospels. John's links His ministry with what was to follow, so it is the last of the four. Matthew's indicates the dispensational changes that were beginning to take place, and when we have passed the middle of it we find the Lord announcing His purpose to build His Church in terms that show it to be a yet future thing.
This dispensational change, brought actually to pass at the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2, we most definitely assert, and Mr. Reese as definitely denies it. We think he has failed to discern a very important feature which must affect injuriously his whole conception of truth concerning the hour in which we live. He thinks we have conjured up an imaginary distinction, and he showers a lot of rather hard adjectives on all our heads — "aggressive sophistry," "Gentile conceits," "wild notion," "the Remnant fable, and the Secret-Rapture fable," "the distortion of history," "the totally unchristian sitting-in-judgment on the whole Christendom," "a Christian who plays fast and loose with the Lord's teaching, accepting it for himself in homeopathic doses, and calling the rest 'Jewish,' in order to bolster up a set of Remnant theories that are a travesty of Scripture teaching," are all found in one of his paragraphs. He may have been provoked to this kind of thing by some remarks in the pages of two or three of those whom he opposes, but we have no thought or even desire to compete with him in this type of argument. He shall have a monopoly of it, as far as we are concerned. We content ourselves in saying that we judge that he fails to see distinctions that are really there.
Each of our readers must judge for himself whether Acts 2 records a great dispensational landmark, or whether it does not. A great deal that is decisive in this controversy hangs on the answer that is given to this.
The last remark we make in this paper is that some of the remarks quoted above are a travesty of what we believe. The author groups together such a variety of teachers under the heading of "Darbyists," that it is quite possible that amongst them someone can be found to come under his strictures. For ourselves we thankfully accept our Lord's teachings in the Gospels in large allopathic doses, though we note, in view of the dispensational change at Pentecost, where the full Christianity of the Spirit's day would introduce modifications. The Lord's prayer will serve very well to illustrate what we mean. There appear to be seven petitions in Matthew 6:9 - 13, and though we do not use it as a form, each petition of the seven we can and do use, though with slight modifications. For instance, the disciples were penniless men following a penniless Master, so their request about the daily bread had in it a note that is absent in our case. There are requests that very frequently spring from our lips that are totally absent in this prayer. We should address God as our God and Father, through the Lord Jesus Christ, because those words of His, recorded in John 20:17, were spoken some time after He gave them the prayer. Again we should proffer our requests in His name, because of what He also said at a later date, as recorded in John 16:23, 24. All this may be anathema -to Mr. Reese, but we believe it to be simply a proper understanding of the progress of doctrine in the New Testament.
In a similar way we read the Sermon on the Mount. We take it home to ourselves and find it very searching for our consciences. But, at the same time, we do not shut our eyes to the fact that in it the Lord was instructing His disciples in the principles of His kingdom, just as in chapters 8 and 9 He displayed before their eyes the power of His kingdom. There is in it one remark which gives an intimation that they were to inherit things in heaven (6:20); but that is all. The unfolding of the results of the work of the Cross, and of the heavenly calling is not yet.
And in just the same way we read the prophetic discourse later in the Gospel. The Lord was addressing His disciples in their then state and position. They were not yet baptized by the one Spirit into the one body and hence the Lord did not address them as being what, in point of fact at that moment, they were not. Presently they did become that, and then things were made known to them that concerned the position into which they had been brought.
Our readers must judge as to these things. Mr. Reese may denounce what we have just said in strong language. We believe it to be important truth, and a key that unlocks a right understanding of both the purposes and ways of God.
3rd Paper: Resurrection in the Old Testament.
The second chapter of this book is entitled, "The resurrection of the saints in the Old Testament." It deals particularly with four passages which in the opinion of Mr. Reese definitely locate the resurrection at the exact moment of the appearing of the Lord; and as it is admitted on all hands that the "Rapture" takes place at the time of the resurrection of life, he considers that having established this point his opponents are defeated, his case is won. From the point of view of his argument it is the most important chapter in his book, for he closes it with the remark, "These conclusions are fatal to the new theories of the Second Advent;" and in later chapters, as we pointed out in our last paper, he argues from what he believes he has established in his second chapter. Just as a mathematician, such as old Euclid, states a proposition, proves it, and then uses it in subsequent propositions, either to advance his reasoning or to exclude some contrary line of reasoning, so apparently Mr. Reese uses this second chapter of his. We must therefore examine it.
The first passage is Isaiah 26:19, which he quotes in the Revised Version, as being clearer than the Authorized. Darby's New Translation is very close to the Revised in this verse. This verse contains, he claims, "the first clear statement of a resurrection." His two points are (1) this is the resurrection of saints, as unfolded for instance in 1 Corinthians 15; (2) "this resurrection is to take place at the Day of the Lord, when Jehovah shall come, and Israel shall be reconciled to Him .... Here we have the Coming of the Lord, the conversion of Israel, the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom, and the sidereal signs in heaven that immediately precede them. Living Israel is restored, and the sleeping saints are brought to life, at the beginning of the Messianic Reign, not some years or decades before, as the new theories require." He is referring of course to the whole of chapters 24 - 26.
Now in these three chapters we have a glowing account of how Jehovah will intervene at the end of this age for the deliverance of the godly in Israel, and the judgment of all His foes and theirs. Jehovah will reign in glory before His ancients in Jerusalem, and that, we know in the added light of the New Testament, will be the Messianic reign of Christ, though no allusion to the Messiah appears in the passage. All, however, is stated in language of a poetic and figurative sort, and there is no attempt to place different details in their exact chronological order: for instance, Jehovah reigns in the last verse of chapter 24, the great feast for the peoples is in chapter 25, and after that comes the mention of resurrection, and not until verse 20 of ch. 26 is there mention of the "indignation" which describes, we believe, the great tribulation. There is nothing chronological in all this. Yet Mr. Reese believes he can see such an exact chronology as precludes the thought of there being a few years or decades between the resurrection and the Lord's appearing. The order of these predicted events may be pretty clear if we are permitted to read into them the added light of the New Testament; but this is interpreting the Old in the light of the New: a thoroughly sound procedure, but not what Mr. Reese does here.
We join issue entirely, then, with our Author on this point, and assert that there is nothing in the passage that fixes the accomplishment of this 19th verse at the exact day of Christ's appearing. We fully agree that "This resurrection is to take place at the Day of the Lord, when Jehovah shall come," inasmuch as "the Day of Jehovah" in the Old Testament signifies the coming period when He will assert His rights in judgment and also His supremacy in the earth, and not merely the exact day, or even hour, of His public manifestation, as the arguments of this book would demand. We ask our readers to specially note this point, and judge as to it, for we shall have exactly the same remark to make as to all the other Old Testament passages that he quotes.
But now we have to assert, in answer to his first point, that when we read, "Thy dead shall live; my dead bodies shall arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast forth the dead" R.V.), the words are used in a figurative sense exactly as similar expressions are used in Ezekiel 37:1 - 14. Mr. Reese states that the explanation which "Darbyists" give of this passage is "a flat denial that a bodily resurrection is referred to"; he quotes Kelly as saying, "It is no question of bodily health, but of national revival." This he denounces pretty vigorously, calling it "spiritualizing." He argues, if we may spiritualize this passage from the Old Testament, then, "it is clearly the hollowest inconsistency to cavil at those whose explain away the resurrection in the New." He claims that in this verse, "Phrases are used, one after another, that preclude all possibility of spiritualizing." He asserts that, "Throughout the whole Bible we meet with no passage that gives, in the same compass, so unequivocal a testimony to the doctrine of a bodily resurrection." This assertion we simply do not believe. John 5:28, 29 contradicts it. Our Lord's words recorded there are far clearer, more decisive and explicit; and hardly more in number.
Now it so happens that there is no dispute as to the general significance of the passage in Ezekiel 37. It is admitted that it predicts the resuscitation of Israel from their "graves" among the nations. Mr. Reese says, "It is fitting to admit that here we have the idea of resurrection used in a symbolical way." But he proceeds to say, "Seizing hold of this case of a figurative resurrection in Ezekiel 37, Kelly and others seek to justify their spiritualizing the resurrection in Isaiah 26:19, and Daniel 12:2, 3 . . . Now I have already shown that the principle of spiritualizing, Daniel 12:2, 3, originated with that mad Porphyry; ...." (p. 50). It appears that Ezekiel is interpreted as being figurative and symbolic by almost all commentators, both Jewish and Christian, and Mr. Reese does not attempt to controvert their position. He attempts to show that in Isaiah 26 the language used, and the context, is such as demands a literal understanding of the words. The careful reader of his book will also notice that whilst he uses the words figurative and symbolic to describe the interpretation of the passage where we all agree, when it is a case of passages as to which we do not agree, his opponents are spiritualizing, like the mad Porphyry!
Mr. Reese gives certain reasons which show, he thinks, that Ezekiel 37 is to be understood in a figurative sense; whereas he claims that Isaiah 26:19 must be literal. He takes four statements of that verse and says, "If terms such as these do not signify a literal resurrection from the dead, what terms can?" We might request him to read verse 13 of Ezekiel 37, and then ask him precisely the same question. The fact is that both passages use the language of resurrection, and only the context, and the whole drift of prophetic testimony in the Old Testament, will enable us to discern what is the significance of the words.
Let Isaiah 26 be carefully read. It opens with a song of salvation and perfect peace for those who trust in Jehovah, the Rock of Ages; and it proceeds to speak of the judgments which must be executed in the earth before the salvation and peace of the millennial era shall be enjoyed by the godly. Verses 12 - 15 are the acknowledgment that all has been wrought by the hand of God, whether in destroying those — whether men or nations — that held dominion over Israel as lords, during these many centuries, or in blessing and multiplying Israel itself. Verse 16 speaks of how Israel turns to God in her distress. Verses 17 and 18 give us the voice of the godly in Israel acknowledging their complete impotence and ineffectiveness; they have accomplished nothing. Verse 19 is the Divine answer, guaranteeing that all shall be accomplished by the resurrection power of God. The dead shall live. "My dead bodies," that is, those whom God can really claim as His in a spiritual, and not merely natural, sense are to arise. Those who are dwelling in the dust of the nations, buried among them, are to rise and sing, according to verse 1 of the chapter. It will be the time of "dew," that is, the beginning of a new day for them. The earth will "cast forth" the dead, indicating the energy with which the Gentile world will help to restore the godly in that day. The whole passage gives us in the figurative language of Old Testament prophecy that truth that is indicated in Romans 11:11 - 15, particularly in this, that the receiving again of Israel into favour is going to be "life from the dead." A work will be accomplished in resurrection power when scattered Israel is raised up and restored, though they are not literally raised from the dead, and of this work Isaiah 26:19 speaks.
We notice that when on page 36 our Author summarizes the verse under four statements he omits the fifth thing, viz., "thy dew is as the dew of herbs." But then he had just stated, "Phrases are used, one after another, that preclude all possibility of spiritualizing," and to have put that fifth thing in would have sadly spoiled his sweeping statement! It is a statement that can only be understood in a figurative sense, as also is the case with the statements of verses 17 and 18, and also verse 20. The drift of the passage seems to us most evidently to be that, when God intervenes in His judgment, Israel's enemies will perish and disappear for ever, and they will be recovered from "all the ends of the earth," and at last made to live in a real sense.
Regarding this passage our answer, then, is that in spite of the vigour of his language we do not think Mr. Reese has made out his case for an interpretation entirely differing from that which is acknowledged in the case of Ezekiel 37; and secondly, that if he had made out his case as to this, there is nothing in the passage that authorizes him to locate the predicted happening at the exact moment of Christ's appearing.
One other argument as to this verse we might notice. It occurs in his paragraph at the bottom of page 37 and top of 38, and is to the effect that the resurrection contemplated cannot be figurative, signifying "the national revival of Israel," because that means the people in the land and in league with the coming Prince according to Daniel 9: 24, whereas the resurrection of the verse is after the tribulation and consequent upon the coming of Jehovah. We do not accept his confident location of the resurrection of this verse at that exact moment, but also we do not believe that any regathering into the land on the part of the Jew, out of which springs their league with the coming Prince, is any work of God at all, though permitted by Him. Here we rather think that Mr. Reese has misunderstood those whom he opposes. If Ezekiel 36:24 - 27 be read, it will be seen that when God regathers His people it will be in connection with an inward and spiritual work, which in New Testament language is a "new birth." The preliminary gathering of the Jews into Palestine, which results in apostasy, Antichrist, and the great tribulation, is not what we have in mind at all, but rather that ultimate regathering which is distinctly a work of God and involves His Spirit operating in their hearts, such as is predicted in Ezekiel 11:17 - 21; 36:24 - 28; 37:12 - 14; and many other passages. As far as we are concerned therefore his argument here is of no force, and we doubt if it is to many of those whom he classes together as "Darbyists." A similar remark might be made as to other arguments which he brings forward.
The second scripture adduced is one in the same prophecy, verses 7 and 8 of chapter 25. His argument is the same — Here is the resurrection of the saints, located at the exact moment of the appearing of Jehovah, that is Christ. We again affirm that no such exact location is possible from the terms of this prophecy, and at the same time are glad to discover the resurrection in the words, "He will swallow up death in victory," in the light of 1 Corinthians 15:54. The Apostle's use of this quotation is worthy of our close attention, being very instructive. The Revised Version, which Mr. Reese quotes, has "for ever," instead of "in victory," and Darby's version has those words in the margin. If they are accepted it only adds point to what we have to say.
The words as they stand in verse 8 are not very explicit. We need the added light of the New Testament to be sure what they exactly signify, and when we do get that light the words are not quoted as though the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 exhaustively fulfilled them. For a full explanation of this remark we must refer our readers to a footnote to Matthew 2:23, which occurs in Darby's New Translation (large edition with full notes). The gist of that note is that three different words are used in connection with quotations from the Old Testament, each with its own distinct significance — "in order that" it might be fulfilled — "so that" it might be fulfilled — "then" was fulfilled. The first signifies, the object of the prophecy: the second, not simply its object, but an event within its scope and intention: the third, merely a case in point, where what happened was an illustration of what was said in the prophecy. This footnote is very illuminating in regard to many passages. Now the word used in 1 Corinthians 15:54 is the third. The Holy Spirit shows us through the Apostle Paul that the resurrection of the saints is a case in point, illustrating what is meant by "He will swallow up death for ever." It illustrates but does not exhaust, for death will not disappear for ever until the eternal state is reached.
"In victory" is the New Testament paraphrase of the Old Testament "for ever." So the resurrection is clearly an event which illustrates what the prophecy means, as being a case in point. In the light of this we need have no wonder that no exact chronological order is given in Isaiah 25. The swallowing up of death for ever indicates Divine action over a wide range of time which cannot be located in one point of time, as Mr. Reese would have us believe.
The third scripture adduced by our Author is Daniel 12:2. As to it he argues in just the same way, and this time it does seem pretty evident that this "awaking" of the "sleepers" in the "dust of the earth" does occur at the time that Daniel's people are delivered, so that it tells in his favour if a literal resurrection be meant. But is it meant?
We have no hesitation in saying that here again we have just the same figurative language as is used in the other prophecies. The words sleep and awake are figurative, and may represent death and resurrection, and on the other hand they may not. The dust of the earth must be literal to suit Mr. Reese, but it is not literal in such a passage as Isaiah 51:21 - 52:6. This particular scripture should be carefully considered at this point as it gives us very similar thoughts to Daniel 12, couched in very similar figures. Jerusalem and Zion — representing the true Israel of God's election — is to awake and shake herself from the dust. She had laid her body "as the ground and as the street," in days when she sojourned in Egypt, and was oppressed by Assyria. Daniel sees them awaking from the dust of other oppressing nations that have risen since the days of Egypt and Assyria, but awaking to be brought under God's discriminating judgment, as a result of which some go into the everlasting life of the millennial age and some go down to condemnation, just as we find in the parable of the sheep and goats, in Matthew 25.
Mr. Reese admits, "That the idea of resurrection may be used in a figurative sense is not at all unreasonable," yet he affirms that such terms as are used here must have a literal meaning. His main contention against a figurative sense seems to be that the whole teaching of Scripture is that Israel is to be gathered to Palestine before the time of trouble starts, and that as Daniel 12:1 - 3, if taken figuratively would indicate a gathering after the time of trouble, the figurative interpretation must be abandoned. This argument of-his on pages 43 and 44, is but a repetition of that already noticed on pages 37 and 38. Our reply therefore is just the same. A considerable number of unbelieving Jews will be in the land under Antichrist at the time of the tribulation, but the great awaking and regathering of Israel, when God really puts the godly and the meek into possession of the earth, will be after the tribulation. All the rebels will then be gone. Ezekiel 20:33 - 38 is very explicit to this. We judge that Mr. Reese misunderstands the prophetic testimony as to this point.
It may be fitting just here to remark that we think he equally misunderstands the way in which the term, "Remnant," is used by those whom he opposes. We cannot of course speak for the rather heterogenous crowd whom he classes together as "Darbyists," but we are sure that Darby himself used the term as indicating the godly few of Israel as distinguished from the unbelieving mass, as we have it in Isaiah 10:20 - 22; Jeremiah 23:3; Zephaniah 3:11 - 13; — "a remnant according to the election of grace" (Rom. 11:5). In this sense we ourselves should use the term in speaking of the remnant of prophecy, and not as merely indicating a remainder apart from any question of spiritual condition. Mr. Reese's "Remnant . . . consists of those who escape uninjured his italics! the desolations of the last days" (p. 39). Their physical escape? not their spiritual escape, is what characterizes them in his thoughts.
Misunderstanding matters thus, he finds amusement in some of the statements he opposes. Says he, "To speak of a martyred 'Remnant' is a ludicrous contradiction in terms . . . They will not die. .And we do not usually speak of drowned 'survivors' of a shipwreck. Just as incongruous is it to speak of a martyred 'Remnant.' This is the first of several fictions." The godly who will "not worship the image of the beast" (Rev. 13:15), and are killed, we should call the "martyred remnant," and identify them with the "saints of the Most High" whom the king "shall wear out," according to Daniel 7:25, and this in spite of it appearing funny to Mr. Reese — and perhaps many of those who read his book, and know very little of the authors he attacks, may join in his mirth! His strictures appear to us, not funny, but certainly rather strange and somewhat sad, seeing that a writer who has devoured such an astonishing mass of literature for and against these views might be expected to understand more accurately what he assails.
There is one more remark that must be made before we leave the opening verses of Daniel 12. It is this, if a literal resurrection is predicted here, then taking the passage, as it stands in both the Authorized and the Revised Versions, a general resurrection is indicated, some to life and some to judgment. This does not suit Mr. Reese, so he proposes other translations backed by the opinions of a few Jewish Rabbis, which he thinks obviate the difficulty. This difficulty is one which, if sustained, would be pretty fatal to his view. His method of meeting it by appealing to special and little known translations is a distinct weakening of his case.
The fourth scripture he brings forward is Daniel 12:13, and his point is that Daniel was to rest in the grave until the resurrection which is to be "at the end of the days." To this phrase he gives the meaning of, "the exact moment of the public appearing of Christ." Our assertion is that no such exact meaning is either stated or implied.
On these four passages Mr. Reese bases his case as deduced from the Old Testament. He acknowledges that the resurrection implied in Ezekiel 37, and Hosea 6:2, is figurative and not literal. Thus far we have followed him in the attack which he has launched' over the ground which he has himself chosen: we conclude by travelling on to ground which he has not traversed and which, though found in the New Testament, is very pertinent to the discussion in hand. Will our readers consider very carefully these two final considerations.
First: the question as to resurrection was submitted to our Lord Himself by the Sadducees, He settled it by appealing to Old Testament scripture, and His reply reduced them to silence. The record of it is in Matthew 22:23 - 33, Mark 12:18 - 27; Luke 20:27 - 38, — three times repeated, so Mr. Reese cannot have been ignorant of it. Since He has settled where resurrection is to be found in the Old Testament, why did Mr. Reese discuss the whole question, in a chapter by itself, without making so much as one reference to what He said? In the 18 pages of his second chapter we are well-nigh smothered with the opinions of human writers, but the great pronouncement of Omniscience on the point is completely ignored! This seems to us unpardonable, though by no means inexplicable, for the pronouncement tells so heavily against him.
More than once in this second chapter our Author links together "the Sadducees and the Darbyists." He admits that the "Darbyists . . . believe in the resurrection," but asserts that if they be permitted, "like the Sadducees" to interpret these four passages in the light of Ezekiel 37, "then we shall have no texts on the resurrection left to us" (p. 50). Having our Lord's words in the Gospels in mind, we could hardly believe our eyes when we read this: but there it is!
In reply to the question of the Sadducees, the Lord Jesus found the resurrection in an Old Testament passage which evidently they had never thought of — one too which their opponents., the Pharisees, had never thought of — and it left them stunned and speechless. He said not one word of Mr. Reese's four passages. He did not find the resurrection there! This is a very very awkward fact for Mr. Reese, and for his interpretation of those four passages. It goes a long way to undermine his interpretation, and it appears, by his own showing to leave him with no text for resurrection in the Old Testament. It leaves us however quite undisturbed. We are content to find the resurrection where the Lord found it.
As we remarked, Mr. Reese claims that "These conclusions are fatal to the new theories of the Second Advent." We really think that we might now rejoin, "Our Lord's pronouncement is fatal to his exegesis of the four passages." But before closing we must give what we understand by His pronouncement — though with extreme brevity.
His argument as to Exodus 3:6, turned upon the fact that God pronounced Himself to be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, centuries after they were dead to the world of men. Though in the unseen world, they were alive to Him; and the unseen world being an intermediate and not a final state, there must be a final state, and that involves resurrection. Now the Sadducees' question, based upon the story about the woman with many successive husbands, showed that they conceived of resurrection as being simply a reviving and restoration to life on earth under the conditions familiar to us, and evidently the Pharisees had no understanding of the resurrection which enabled them to counter their argument. Had they only known, how effectively they might have defeated their opponents when they produced their favourite argument, by saying, "Your whole conception of resurrection is erroneous. It does not involve a mere resuscitation for earth, but means transference to another region altogether, where different conditions prevail."
It was our Lord who spoke of "They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead" (Luke 20:35). The Pharisees could not have given that crushing answer. Why not? Because no CLEAR LIGHT as to either "that world," nor as to "the resurrection from the dead," that introduces to it, is found in the Old Testament — not even in Mr. Reese's four passages.
This brings us to the second of our two final considerations — "Our Saviour Jesus Christ . . has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality [incorruptibility] to light through the gospel" (2 Tim. 1:10). Without any question "incorruptibility" is the correct word here, and the passage shows that there was no real bringing to light of that world of incorruption into which resurrection will introduce us, until Christ had appeared, and annulled the power of death by His dying and rising again.
The conclusion, then, is irresistible that we must not expect to find in the Old Testament clear and explicit statements as to resurrection: we must not do exactly what, in point of fact, Mr. Reese has done in his second chapter. He must have read this verse in Timothy, as well as the three passages in the Gospels: did he not realize their significance? We cannot tell; but we can see that, having ignored the warning light they give, he has tried to read into the Old Testament what is not there, and involved himself and all who follow him, in confused and mistaken exegesis. We close the chapter wondering if also in Mr. Reese's mind resurrection only involves being raised up again to live on earth. He is so busy attacking other people that he has no time to tell us his own thoughts in a very explicit way. From other remarks he makes, we hardly think it can be so; yet if it were, he is really nearer to the Sadducees than the "Darbyists" that he condemns.
Mr. Reese is so sure of his interpretations of these Old Testament passages that, in the beginning of his next chapter, he claims they are so subversive of "the new theories of the Advent" that "we should be warranted in claiming a verdict on the main issue" on the ground of these "four unambiguous texts;" but he continues, "nevertheless it is desirable to examine the teaching of the N.T. as well." We shall certainly, if God permit, go forward into the New Testament in a future paper, since all the light we want is there. But our readers can observe for themselves, from the N.T. passages we have cited, that Mr. Reese's view-point as to the matter at issue in the O.T. is not that of the Lord Jesus, nor of His servant the Apostle Paul.
4th Paper: Resurrection in the New Testament.
Three chapters in this book are devoted to the resurrection of the saints in the New Testament: chapter 3 dealing with the Gospels; chapter 4 with St. Paul's Epistles; chapter 5 with the Apocalypse. The sixth chapter is devoted to the parable of the Tares and the Wheat. We may attempt a brief review of three of these chapters in this article.
In the Gospels four passages are adduced, as proving that the Lord will come for His saints and with His saints at the same moment, no interval being between; that moment being the very day when He is manifested in His glory.
(1) John 6:39 - 54; 11:24; where five times over we get resurrection "at the last day." Mr. Reese contends that here we have indicated, "the closing day of the age that precedes the Messianic Kingdom of glory" (p. 54), which agrees with what he thinks he has found in the Old Testament. In his mind apparently "the closing day" is a literal day of 24 hours, for he goes on to argue against those who believe "that the expression 'last day' refers not to a literal day, but to the last period of God's dealings with men in time; that is, to the age of the kingdom, which follows this present age, and will extend to the Last Judgment, when the rest of the dead are raised" (p. 55).
Now that is exactly what we do believe; and in very definite proof of it we should quote John 12:48, where for the sixth time we get the expression, "the last day." Mr. Reese only alludes to this verse in a footnote, where he dismisses it because in it "nothing is said of resurrection. It refers to the generation of unbelievers who survive to the advent, which is viewed as near." That is, he contends, if we understand him aright, that we must narrow down the Lord's words to mean that only such unbelievers as may happen to be on earth at the Advent will be judged by the Lord's words at the moment of His manifestation. This narrowed meaning enables him to give to the expression in this verse also the force of the last day of 24 hours.
So, according to Mr. Reese, this great and unqualified pronouncement of our Lord is to be qualified in our minds in this peculiar way. We are to brush aside every other application but that! Since however we are not concerned to support Mr. Reese's views we decline to do it. We assert on the contrary that every word of our Lord is characterized not by narrowness but by breadth of application, and this is specially true of His great sayings recorded in John's Gospel. Chapter 12:48 deals with the one who "rejects Me, and receives not My words." Chapter 5:24 deals with, "he that hears My word, and believes on Him that sent Me." We should as much think of limiting the "shall not come into condemnation" and "everlasting life" of the one verse to a special few believers, as we Should think — under the misguidance of Mr. Reese — of limiting the judgment of the other verse to unbelievers who survive to the Advent. No: we decline to do it in either case.
Declining to do it, it becomes obvious at once that the expression "last day" does refer to an extended period of time. It includes the judgment of the ungodly as well as the resurrection of the saints. So these texts in John yield no proof of what is alleged.
(2) Luke 20:34 - 36; where we read of "that age, and the resurrection from the dead" (R.V.). His point is, "first, the Messianic Age, then the resurrection. The resurrection of the just is the first result of the Messianic reign" (p. 57). If it could be shown that here our Lord was engaged in a controversy in which matters of chronology were concerned, his argument would have a fairly substantial basis. It was not so however. What was involved was the ignorance prevailing as to the new order of things into which resurrection would introduce the saint. Those accounted worthy to attain that age, by passing through earth's troubles without dying, will enjoy the new conditions on earth. The disciples and others believed that. But they did not know that those worthy to attain that age and the resurrection would be brought into a heavenly sphere and into new conditions of bodily existence. That was the Lord's statement and not the assertion of a nice chronological point. That age has a heavenly side to it as well as an earthly; that was the point of instruction. Hence the order was very natural — "that age, and the resurrection." First that of which they had a little understanding; then that of which they had no understanding. Rising from (i.e. from amongst) the dead was a mystery to them, as Mark 9. 10 plainly shows.
(3) Matthew 13:43, where "the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." Mr. Reese informs us that, "the Lord is expounding Daniel [12:3], and setting forth the transfiguration of the risen saints at the resurrection" (p. 58). "It is to take place at that time, that is, at the time when notorious sinners and stumbling blocks are rooted out of the kingdom (vv. 41, 42); the transfiguration of the risen saints takes place simultaneously with the destruction of the ungodly at the Advent. We are not to suppose that the saints had been transfigured a generation before and concealed in heaven" (p. 59).
Simultaneously, did you notice? As with the Old Testament passages, so here, he is hunting for chronological evidence, and thinks he has picked up the scent. We have no hesitation in saying that matters of greater moment than an exact chronology were occupying the Lord when He spoke this parable. But even from this chronological standpoint his argument entirely hangs upon the three expressions, "the harvest," "the time of harvest," and "the end of this age." If they mean a day of 24 hours in which, as in a flash, all the ungodly are destroyed and the saints are raised, then there is some point in his argument. That they do not mean such a day is very evident if we consult other scriptures which deal with the end of the age. Read Zechariah, chapters 12, 13 and 14, and note the variety of things that are to take place "in that day." It will be a period, though a short period, as we are glad to learn from Romans 9:28 — for "a short work will the Lord make upon the earth," when it is a question of judgment. This being the case, there is really nothing in Mr. Reese's arguments on this point.
However, he feels the passage to be so important that he devotes a whole chapter to it, in which he quotes many authorities for and against small details, as to how exactly the tares are bound in bundles for burning and the wheat gathered into the barn. The fact is that the parable tells us nothing as to these details, and if we try to read them into it we very easily overshoot the mark, and press the parable beyond its just limits. The rapture of the saints had not been revealed when the parable was spoken, and hence it is not specifically referred to. The Lord spoke in general terms of the great disentanglement which is only to take place at the end of the age. Then, and not till then, will "the children of the wicked one" be cast into the fire, and "the children of the kingdom" shine forth. Not a word is said in the parable as to resurrection. In the light of subsequent revelation we are sure that the risen saints will shine forth in their heavenly condition, but a multitude will enter the kingdom on its earthly side without dying at all, and these will shine forth also. The passage is quite indecisive as to the point that is at issue. It cannot be quoted to prove an interval between the coming of the Lord for His saints and with them. Neither can it rightly be quoted against it.
There is just one point in this special chapter that we might refer to. On pages 99 and 100 he quotes certain arguments from B. W. Newton's Second Coming, in which he asserts that if we say that the saints are to be removed from the earth before Antichrist is revealed then the tares must be removed too before he appears. This assertion assumes that both operations take place together in a day of 24 hours, as our Author maintains. With this assumption fixed in his mind, Mr. Newton asserts that if we say the saints are to be removed from earth before Antichrist is revealed, "we must say that Antichrist is to be revealed after Christendom has ceased to exist, and after the age of evil in which he is to act is ended. Will anyone, on reflection, assert this?" We hardly need a moment's reflection to reply that we do not assert it, nor do we believe that any "Darbyist" ever asserted such a self-evident absurdity. We only assert that "the harvest" is a period, and not a literal day.
Mr. Newton knew of this assertion for he added a footnote saying, "Some have endeavoured to avoid the force of this argument by suggesting that the words, 'end of age' may mean an indefinitely lengthened period. But no period can be more definitely marked .... Is Antichrist to arise after this?" Where we have inserted the dots Mr. Newton printed verses 39 - 42 of Matthew 13, beginning with the words, "THE HARVEST is the end of the age." He speaks of the harvest as a period, but "definitely marked," instead of being "indefinitely lengthened." If Mr. Newton's argument is to have full force the harvest ought to be comprised in a literal day. We are quite content with his calling it a period. The harvest is that; but even in Palestine, with its seasons much more regular than ours, it is not a definite period, from the chronological standpoint: its beginning and its duration vary from year to year. Now it is exactly from the chronological standpoint that we are discussing things. The harvest of Scripture is, we claim, a somewhat indefinite period, like the harvests of this world. During the harvest both wheat and tares are dealt with, but not on exactly the same day or even year.
Having thus quoted Mr. Newton, ending up with his question, "Is Antichrist to arise after this?" Mr. Reese says, "To this awkward question no reply has been given, for none is possible." It is possible, we suppose, that in all the hundreds of books which Mr. Reese has read no one notices these remarks of Mr. Newton's, but if, because of this, he wishes to predict that no reply can or will be given, he merely proves himself an inaccurate foreteller. Mr. Newton virtually supplied us with the answer himself. The harvest is a period and not a literal day — the thing is so obvious.
(4) Luke 14:14, 15; where the Lord speaks of being "recompensed at the resurrection of the just." Mr. Reese claims that the fact that this recompensing at the resurrection is connected in the next verse with the kingdom, means that the resurrection occurs just as the kingdom begins. Believing, as we do, that the saints will be rewarded in connection with the kingdom, but that first they have to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that He may award them their places in the kingdom, we also think of the kingdom in connection with any recompense that is given. There is nothing in this passage to help the special view that Mr. Reese advocates, or to hurt ours.
In the chapter dealing with the Epistles of Paul four passages only are cited — we must remember that the point discussed is, for the moment, only the resurrection of saints, not the full truth of the coming of the Lord. The passages are: Romans 11:15; 1 Corinthians 15:50 - 54, 1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 18 (R.V.), 1 Corinthians 15:21 - 26. The third of these passages is of such importance that we reserve it for a later paper. On the other three a few remarks as to Mr. Reese's exegesis may be made.
(1) "Life from the dead" in this passage is said to be the resurrection of saints which synchronizes with the conversion of Israel. As to this we merely remark that the receiving of Israel back into Divine favour is going to be an event of a resurrection character, as Ezekiel 37 has shown us. That in the brief "end of the age" period we shall have both the literal resurrection of saints and the figurative resurrection of Israel we fully believe. Mr. Reese may read into this passage the view that he attempts to support; but it is not there otherwise.
(2) The verses towards the end of 1 Corinthians 15 are referred to for the one purpose of discovering some "clue to guide us in our inquiry concerning the time of the resurrection." This clue he finds in verse 54. The resurrection will take place when Isaiah 25:8. is fulfilled. Now that verse in Isaiah he has already considered, and he concluded that it fixed the resurrection at the exact moment of the Advent of Jehovah and the establishment of the kingdom. From the Old Testament he now proceeds to reason as to the New.
Here is a case illustrating what we said in our last paper. Assuming he has proved his earlier proposition, he now uses it to advance his reasoning or exclude some contrary line of reasoning in the later Scripture. He says, "What do we find' Why, that the resurrection of the saints, and the victory over death, synchronise with the inauguration of the Theocratic Kingdom, the coming of Jehovah, and the conversion of living Israel." (p. 63). Believing, as we showed last time, that his exegesis of Isaiah 25:8 is mistaken in important details, we find that his "clue" does not lead him to the point he wishes. His argument we regard as valueless.
On page 65 he quotes a passage from Darby's Second Coming, in which he believes he catches him tripping, and making admissions which contradict his own teaching and support Mr. Reese's thoughts. In this passage Mr. Darby points out the connection between the verses in 1 Corinthians 15 and in Isaiah 25. He is showing that the Advent must be pre-millennial, and he says the resurrection "takes place at this time which we call the millennium: when the Jews being restored to their place on earth, there is that era of blessedness among nations which is commonly called the millennium . . . And thus it appears that the time when this resurrection takes place is the time when the Lord restores Israel, when He establishes Israel's place in Zion, and takes away the veil from off the face of all nations." Mr. Reese's comment is, "Sound doctrine! Yet every word of it is a complete refutation of theories telling us that the resurrection does not synchronise with the millennium and the conversion of Israel, but precedes them by a period . . ." Mr. Reese also quotes Kelly and Trotter as writing in similar strain.
At first sight all this might sound conclusive and even crushing. We read it again more carefully, and at once perceive that the fallacy does not lie with Darby or his friends, but with our Author's use of the word synchronise. Darby's paragraph he says, refutes the idea that "the resurrection does not synchronise with the millennium;" that is, Darby teaches in this passage that it does synchronise. We have read the passage and find that is just what Darby does not say. He says, "at this time," "the time," by which he means, the period when this age is closing and the millennium about to begin, as distinguished from the period when the millennium is closing and the eternal state about to begin. It is Mr. Reese and not Darby who is so intent upon an exact chronology, and the bringing of events into one day. It looks as if he is so intent that he cannot avoid reading his own chronological thoughts into Darby's words. Now you can soon demolish your opponents if you are permitted to interpret the terms they use in the light of your own thoughts instead of their thoughts, as revealed in the context.
We have thought it worth while to refer to this as it is a sample of the kind of thing that we have elsewhere in this book, and so we ask our readers to be on their guard as they may read it. We now pass on to,
(3) The verses in the earlier part of 1 Corinthians 15, which are referred to because he thinks that the words, "they that are Christ's at His coming," are inconsistent with there being the resurrection of all the saints when Christ comes for them, followed by a supplementary raising of saints subsequently martyred under "the beast." We quite agree with Mr. Reese that here we have the three ranks, (1) Christ, the First-fruits. (2) The redeemed at His coming. (3) the end, when the rest of the dead are raised. Yet we believe that His coming is spoken of in a general way, without any attempt to differentiate between the two stages that mark it.
If we think of the first Advent we can discern different stages: for instance; His incarnation, when He came to Bethlehem; His coming forth in ministry, when He appeared in Galilee; His sacrificial work, when He died on the cross outside Jerusalem. Sometimes we distinguish between these different stages, and sometimes we do not, but just speak of His first Coming. The New Testament references to the second coming may be classified in just the same way. Sometimes it is distinctively His coming for His saints; sometimes distinctively His coming with them; sometimes His coming in a general way. The resurrection of life takes place at the second Advent. There is nothing here that either denies or affirms the particular point at issue between us.
Paper No. 5: Resurrection in the Apocalypse, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 5:11.
In his chapter on the resurrection of the saints in the Apocalypse, Mr. Reese dwells upon two passages, chapters 11:15-18 and 20:46 (R.V.). These we must turn to for a moment.
(1) He is sure that the resurrection is indicated in chap. 11, particularly in verse 18, for several reasons (a) because it is the last trumpet, and in 1 Corinthians 15 we get "the last trump" mentioned: (b) because "the time of the dead to be judged," means "the righteous dead only," and so "the resurrection is unquestionably implied:" (c) because at that time "the reward is given to the prophets, the saints, and the godly: " (d) because at this time the coming of the Lord does take place, as evidenced by the omission of the words, "and art to come," in all the later versions — including Darby's. The words are not there "because God in Christ has now come: " (e) because the last trumpet brings the inauguration of the Messianic Kingdom, according to the scriptures we have already had before us.
It is very evident that the seventh trumpet brings us to a climax in the ways of God. So far we are in agreement with our Author: but not much further, for he evidently reads the passage under the chronological obsession which controls his thoughts. He must still synchronize the resurrection and the exact beginning of the Kingdom. He must of course have read verse 7 of the previous chapter: but did he really take note of it? What does it say? Why, "In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished. . ." The ways of God, in His government of the earth, have been full of mystery, which will persist until "the days" when the seventh angel begins to sound his trumpet. In those days the mystery will vanish and His ways be brought to a triumphant conclusion. Our assertion is that "the days" must indicate not a precise and almost instantaneous occasion, as all Mr. Reese's arguments presuppose, but an indefinite period of time.
We further have to observe that there is no mention of the resurrection in the passage. Mr. Reese infers it from the words, "the time of the dead to be judged," since he understands these words as referring to the righteous dead only. Our reply is, that the words do not refer to the righteous dead at all. It is the time of judgment that is referred to, not the time of resurrection. The saint has to be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ, as regards his works; but into judgment, properly speaking, the saint never comes - as witness. John 5:24.
Verse 17 views the Kingdom as an accomplished and existing fact. Again and again it is the language of prophecy to speak of things as accomplished, which in point of fact are not yet come. Directly the seventh angel sounds, the elders celebrate, as being already accomplished, the whole result of God intervening and assuming a control of the rebellious earth which He will never let go. Verse 18 summarizes those results.
He will deal with the angry nations in his wrath. The time of judgment is come, involving the judgment of the wicked dead who had opposed Him in earlier days; which judgment will take place at the end of the day of the Lord, and before the eternal state begins. The reward will be given, in the Kingdom, to the prophets and saints. All those who have destroyed the earth will be themselves destroyed, whether before the millennium, or after it, as we read in chapter 20:9.
All these things come to pass in "the days" that are inaugurated by the blowing of the seventh trumpet. God moves in majesty to His great objectives without hurry. Mr. Reese may wish to compress things, in our thoughts, into a moment of time. That might have the advantage of bringing matters more within the compass of our little human minds; but it carries with it the terrible disadvantage of causing us to miss the breadth and fulness of the thoughts of God.
In discussing this passage, Mr. Reese again shows how he misunderstands the position he is attacking. He says, "according to the theory, the prophets, saints, and God-fearers are rewarded years even before the first trumpet sounds; according to Scripture, they are judged and rewarded at the time of the seventh trumpet. Could contradiction be more hopeless?" He makes this statement as to "the theory" because we hold that the "elders" represent the risen and glorified saints, and he thinks that their crowns and thrones must mean they are already rewarded in the kingdom. But we are already made "kings and priests to God" (Rev. 1:6), and the description of the elders in chapter 4 simply fits in with that. The kings and priests are now in heaven. It is the place they occupy according to the counsel and work of God, and not, as yet, the reward which will be theirs when the Kingdom is established. This consideration sweeps away all his strictures on Kelly (pp. 76, 77), as well as other remarks he makes. So also it is with his remarks on page 77, as to Luke 14:14, fixing rewards at the resurrection. He claims we are "in open opposition to the words of Christ." We say that resurrection will bring us to heaven, and that there we shall at once stand before the judgment seat to receive the Lord's verdict as to our course on earth, and be apportioned such reward as He sees fit: then the public appearing when rewards will be enjoyed in the Kingdom. Mr. Reese insists on an interpretation to fit in with his obsession: recompense at the very instant of the resurrection. We are no more in opposition to these words than he is. We believe that "at" means "at that time, things being unfolded in orderly progression: " he believes it means "at that very instant of time." That is all.
(2) Revelation 20:4 - 6 he quotes in the R.V., which differs very little from the A.V. If we understand Mr. Reese aright he sees in verse 4 three classes. (1) Those who sat upon the throne who are, "The whole body of saints who live to see the Parousia at this time; they are transferred from earth to occupy thrones in the kingly rule of Christ; it is the Rapture of the survivors in 1 Thessalonians 4:17." (2) The souls of those beheaded, "for the testimony of Jesus, and for the Word of God," who are Christians, for, "Unnumbered multitudes throughout the Church's history, including Peter and Paul, have been slain for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God. It is here they rise." (3) Those who "worshipped not the beast," who are "those who fall in the last Great Tribulation." Class (2), he strongly insists, must include Christians, and he says, "The proof of this is simple: the Church herself is not raised until this very time."
So, in this verse Mr. Reese sees the resurrection of the Church; but as (l) is "the Rapture of the survivors," we are left with only (2) and (3) as giving us the resurrection of the Church, in the raising of the Christian martyrs, and those who fall in the Tribulation. What about the great mass of Christians, who do not live to the Advent, and neither qualify as martyrs nor fall in the Tribulation? — what about the nine out of every ten of whom the Church is composed? They do not appear here at all according to this interpretation.
And one other comment we have to make. In the preceding vision (19:11 - 21) we have the appearing of Christ in His glory for the overthrow of His foes. This is "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints" (1 Thess. 3:13). If Mr. Reese's explanation of this verse in chapter 20 be true, the Church is raised after the Advent, and does not come WITH Him after all.
Our conclusion is that Mr. Reese's exegesis here is an impossible one.
We come back to the explanation which Mr. Reese would call "Darbyist," viz., that here we see in (1) no resurrection at all, but the saints already raised, and who have come with Christ, taking their distinguished place in the Kingdom. Then, associated with them, two supplementary classes who are raised as the result of the glorious appearing: (2) those martyred for their witness in the last days, and (3) those who suffered for refusing the beast.
We now turn to the passage, in 1 Thessalonians, which we omitted last time; offering first a few remarks on earlier scriptures which refer to the coming of the Lord.
The prophets of the Old Testament have much to say about the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, with its results in the judgment of all the nations; but statements as to the actual coming of God Himself are not very frequent. Habakkuk 3:3 - 6 bears witness that God is coming, and Zech. 14:5 goes further in saying, "The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee." Enoch had prophesied to the same effect in antediluvian days, though his words do not appear in Scripture until the last of the epistles is reached. No explanation is offered at the time of these predictions as to who these saints are or how they come to be with Him, so as to follow in His train. In Daniel 7:9 - 14 a further fact comes to light, inasmuch as "One like the [or, a] Son of man" comes "with the clouds of heaven."
When we reach the Gospels, we find the Lord in His prophetic discourse (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) alluding to Daniel 7. The allusion is particularly clear in Matthew where He speaks of the appearing of "the sign of the Son of man in heaven." His appearing would be a sign which they would recognize, having heard about it through Daniel. In this discourse the Lord does not mention the saints who come with Him, nor of His removing saints to heaven: He speaks of the gathering together of the elect from the four-winds by means of angels, and also, in Matthew's Gospel, of the gathering together of all the nations that He may judge and discriminate between the sheep and the goats.
In John's Gospel however the truth concerning His coming is carried a distinct step forward. When Jesus gathered His disciples in the Upper Chamber, it was because He knew that "His hour was come that He should depart out of this world to the Father," and His word to the disciples was, "In My Father's house are many mansions . . . I go to prepare a place for you." In following Him the disciples had lost any place they might have had on earth, and now they are promised a place in heaven. Then He added? "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."
In our second paper we pointed out that though the Old Testament has so much to say as to the coming of Jehovah and of His Anointed, it gives us no clear declaration as to there being two Advents in view. The Lord Jesus, during His ministry, made this quite clear however. Those who- listened to the discourse recorded in Luke 12:35-46, and especially to verse 40, heard words which indicated that He who had come once was coming again. But neither in that passage nor in His prophetic discourses recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, is anything said which shows that His coming would mean the transference of saints from a place on earth to a place in heaven. That transference is indicated for the first time, so far as we are aware, in John 14:3. In His discourse in the Upper Chamber (John 13 - 17) the Lord addressed His disciples, not as representatives of the godly-remnant of Israel, but as the nucleus of the church which was about to come into being, since one of the characteristic features of John's Gospel is that Israel's national place is seen to be forfeited from the very outset (see 1:11 - 13) and a new generation — those born of God — comes into view. The promise of John 14:3, we therefore believe, was given to the disciples as representing the church, which fifty days after was to begin its existence. Our place is in heaven in the immediate company of Christ, and He is coming personally to receive us to Himself in that place.
We rejoice greatly in this added light, but even so there are still details which have not been explicitly revealed. This the Lord Himself stated when, having predicted the almost immediate coming of the Holy Ghost the Comforter, He said, "He will show you things to come" (16:13).
Amongst the earliest of the Epistles are Paul's to the Thessalonians. In these two a good deal of further light breaks forth by the teaching of the Spirit. We refer particularly to the passage, 4:13 - 5:11, in the first Epistle, and 1:6 - 2:17, in the Second. In the book we are reviewing a few verses from the earlier passage are considered in chapter 4, dealing with the resurrection of the saints in Paul's Epistles, and again more fully in chapter 11, entitled "The Parousia of the King," and there are a few references to this passage elsewhere. We confine ourselves in this paper to the passage in the first Epistle, giving a brief synopsis of it.
Some of the saints amongst them had died, and the Thessalonians were sorrowing about them unduly as the result of being ignorant "concerning them which are asleep," as to how exactly the coming of the Lord would affect them. To comfort their hearts the Apostle makes known to them what will happen when the Lord comes for His saints. They were quite aware there was to be "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints" (3:13), for this had already been clearly predicted. But how were the saints to reach the heavens from which He was to come, so as to come with Him, and how would their loved dead be affected as to their prospects in that day? Verse 14 assures them that it is as certain that God will bring these, whom they had lost, with Jesus when He comes, as that Jesus Himself died and rose again. His death and resurrection indeed is the pledge of their future glory.
But what is the procedure to be in regard to these dead saints? Paul makes it known to them "by the word of the Lord"; which is, we believe, a formula indicating that what he now writes is not the reiteration of truth already revealed, but a fresh revelation from God. We repeatedly read of "the word of the Lord" coming to various prophets of the Old Testament.
The fresh revelation is that the Lord Himself is going to descend from heaven to the clouds with a shout and with manifestations of angelic power, and that at that moment the living saints will have no precedence over those asleep: that, as a matter of fact, the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then the living ones are to be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air, and in that way we all are to be with the Lord for ever. Two things are definitely settled by this revelation. First, that the coming of the Lord includes this action by which the saints are caught up to the heavens, so that they may come forth with Him in glory and take their allotted places in connection with His kingdom. In the light of other passages we have no hesitation in speaking of this as the preliminary action, in view of the saints subsequently coming forth with Christ in glory. But of course just that is strenuously denied by Mr. Reese. Second, it is settled that the dead saints will be considered first, when He comes for His saints, and they will come with Him in the day of His glory. Mr. Reese endeavours to whittle all this away by saying, "The only 'revelation' that he made there was concerning the relation of surviving to sleeping saints at the Advent, this and nothing else."
Chapter 5 reads straight on from chapter 4, but opens with a striking contrast. We must digress for a moment to remark that Mr. Reese claims that, "This passage causes great embarrassment to Darbyists, and they are reduced to unnatural explanations to square its teaching with their theories" (p. 157); and again, "The true significance of this section is obscured for Darbyists by the unfortunate break into chapters at this point" (p 158). It is a fact that the A.V. breaks into chapters at this point: so does the R.V. though, divided into paragraphs rather than verses, the break is less conspicuous. It is Darby's New Translation which reads straight on at this point. He prints verses 15 - 18 of chapter 4 in brackets, and inserts a small indication of the beginning of chapter 5: otherwise the whole passage from verse 13 of chapter 4, to verse 11 of chapter 5, is printed in one paragraph. Mr. Reese fills pages 159 — 162 with other versions and paraphrases of the passage — though only one of the five is anything like a real translation — yet nowhere does he print the passage without a break. No! it is precisely this Darby, who has laboured to emphasize that there is no break in the passage; and yet the "unfortunate break" has "obscured" the "true significance of this section" to Darbyists! He may say of the Darbyists that "the Secret Rapture delusion has blurred their vision," but it occurs to us that possibly his own vision is not of the very best. At all events, we warn our readers against the acceptance of his many sweeping and drastic assertions of which this is a sample, without checking the basis on which they rest.
The contrast we referred to lies between verse 13 of chapter 4, and verses 1 and 2 of chapter 5: between that which they did not know and that which they did know. The details which Paul revealed as to the coming for the saints had not been known to them, whereas concerning the times and seasons which culminate in the day of the Lord, there was no need for him to write: ye "know perfectly" is what he says. Now Daniel 2:21 shows us that "the times and seasons" have to do with God's government of the earth, and Acts 1:6, 7, that they have to do with the restoring of the kingdom to Israel. The Thessalonians were in no difficulty as to these times and seasons: all that they needed to know about them they knew perfectly. And yet, they were imperfectly instructed as to what is to happen at the resurrection and rapture of the saints. It is obvious then that in the mind of Paul — and therefore in the mind of the Spirit — the resurrection and rapture are no part of the times and seasons connected with the day of the Lord and the earthly kingdom. If they were a part, those words "know perfectly" could never have been written. This is a very important point, and we ask our readers' careful attention to it. Mr. Reese's whole case rests upon the resurrection, the rapture, the times and seasons, the day of the Lord, being but aspects or parts of one and the same thing.
That the saints, to whom Paul wrote, were disconnected from the earthly scene, to which the times and seasons refer, is also clearly seen in verses 4 and 5. The world was "in the night," but they were not in darkness. The world is "of the night" and "of darkness," but they were not, being "children of light" and "children of the day." They had a spiritual origin wholly distinct from the origin of the world, and so have we. They day of the Lord will fall suddenly with destructive force upon the world, but they and we are not appointed to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us that whether we wake or sleep we should live together with Him. By the rapture, spoken of in verse 17 of the previous chapter, we shall escape the wrath and reach the Lord, to live together with Him for ever. This Mr. Reese strenuously denies. He prints the end of chapter 4 as being "Concerning the dead," and the early part of chapter 5 as being "Concerning the living." He carefully cuts the paragraph in two, printing one half on one page, and the other half on the next page. And on only the page before he has told us that the break at this point has obscured the significance of the section to Darbyists! We read the section in one paragraph, as Darby has printed it, and note that the living are mentioned in the end of chapter 4, as well as the dead. Mr. Reese's division of the section has no basis in fact. By dividing at all, he is merely doing the very thing himself that he has incorrectly accused his opponents of doing.
One word in this passage remains to be considered — the word, "wrath." We definitely hold it to be a word which covers the great tribulation. We may put it in another way by saying that though that terrible period will be marked by great human wickedness and great Satanic and demonic activity, all of which will bring tribulation in its train, yet the severest element of all will be the outpouring of the vials of God's wrath. It is this which will make it to be such a time of tribulation as never has been, and never will be again.
By saying this we expose ourselves to a considerable outpouring of sarcasm, and one might almost say wrath, on the part of Mr. Reese. In his concluding chapter he deals with this assertion (pp. 281 - 288) calling it the "trump card" of the Darbyists. We agree that it is a point of decisive importance, and for this reason possibly he becomes particularly angry in dealing with it and says a good many unjustifiable things. For instance: — Darbyists "spend an immensity of time . . . in pointing out that the Church by the blood of Jesus is delivered from the wrath to come . . . Why not . . . prove to us that the Great Tribulation is the wrath of God? This, however, is the last thing that Darbyists can be brought to do." Really? Possibly, however, Mr. Reese does not know "Darbyists" quite as well as he thinks he does!
He quotes Darby as remarking that only six texts deal with the Tribulation — (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19; Rev. 3:10, 7:14). He adds, "But I can suggest two others that they leave alone; and I do not wonder that Darby and Kelly should have omitted them, for they smash their whole case on the Great Tribulation. I refer to Rev. 13:7 . . . And Rev. 12:12 - 17 . . . According to Darby and his followers, the Great Tribulation is the wrath of God against the Jewish people for their rejection of Christ. According to Scripture, it is the Devil's wrath against the saints for their rejection of Antichrist, and adherence to Christ. Let the reader once see the Scripture truth on this point, and the whole Darbyist case will be exposed as a campaign of assumptions, mix-statements, and sentiment."
It is evident to us that, by his remark about the six texts, Darby did not mean that there were no allusions to the Great Tribulation in other passages, but simply that these six are where we find it explicitly stated. Mr. Reese suggests two other scriptures that allude to it; and we will suggest some more.
Our answer to these remarks can be given with brevity. The two scriptures which are adduced do not "smash their whole case," for the case is misunderstood — we do not wish to think it is wilfully misrepresented. The antithesis drawn, between God's wrath and the devil's wrath, does not exist in our minds. We admit both, and believe that both play their part in the tribulation. But we believe that as God in His greatness towers above Satan, so His wrath overshadows Satan's wrath, and is the element in the tribulation which makes it great, and unmatched in all time, either before or since. We entirely believe there will be saints on earth who will suffer at the hands of the devil and their fellow-men in that dreadful time. Mr. Reese contends that the tribulation is to be limited to that. We contend that it is not.
The tribulation is to be the time of Jacob's trouble, but it also is to "come upon all the world," so that every nation will be involved.
Psalm 2 is a prophecy. What does it say? That the kings of the earth and the rulers are going to concert together against Jehovah and His Anointed, and that Jehovah will "speak to them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure." If men do not "kiss the Son," they will perish "when His wrath is kindled but a little."
Now read Isaiah 26:20, 21, and then Zephaniah 2:1 - 3. In these scriptures the "indignation" and the "anger" are from God, and not from the devil.
Wrath from God does lie in a special way upon blinded and unrepentant Israel. Luke 21:23 speaks of it connected with the siege of Jerusalem under Titus; and in 1 Thessalonians 2:16 Paul speaks of wrath having come upon them to the uttermost, twenty years or more before Jerusalem was destroyed. He meant evidently, not that the wrath was executed, but that it was irrevocably determined. That wrath, we believe, will reach its climax in the great tribulation.
We read Revelation 15, and 16, and note the details given as to the pouring out of "the vials of the wrath of God" on the earth. We discover that the fury of that wrath specially smites all that is subservient to the "beast" and the false prophet," those Satan-inspired men that head up the final revolt of apostate Christendom and Judaism. In these seven last plagues is "filled up the wrath of God." The words "great tribulation" do not occur here, but since it takes place at the time of the "beast," and since it is the worst hour in all the earth's troubled history, what can this filling up of the wrath of God be but the great tribulation? Tribulation engineered by Satan is bad enough, but that inflicted by God in His holy government of men and nations on earth is far worse. In the great tribulation both elements combine.
So we come back to 1 Thessalonians 5:9, and rejoice in its significance. We repeat that the whole paragraph, one and undivided, tells us that saints will lose nothing by death before the Lord comes. They will be brought with Him when He appears in His glory, inasmuch as He is coming for all His saints, whether dead or living, and all shall together meet Him in the air and be for ever with Him. This happy event, as to certain details of which the Thessalonians had been ignorant, is not a part of the times and seasons and the day of the Lord, since as to that they had been perfectly informed. That day will come as a thief on the world, but the saints are entirely disconnected from the world, as having a new and distinct origin — children of light and of the day. That being so, they are to be distinct from the world in their ways and behaviour, and wear "the helmet of salvation" as a protection, knowing that God has not appointed them to the wrath which will reach its climax in the great tribulation, but to that salvation that will be theirs when Christ comes for them and they are raptured to heaven.
Such, we submit, is the plain sense of this important paragraph.
Paper No. 6:2 Thessalonians 2, and some final considerations.
When Paul wrote his second Epistle to the Thessalonians, a fresh difficulty had been created in their minds owing to the persecution they were enduring, and the action of some unprincipled men who had gone so far as to forge a letter in Paul's name to support the idea that the day of the Lord was upon them. Had that been a fact, they would of course have already been virtually in the great tribulation. Paul begs them not to be for one moment shaken in their minds, and appeals to the truth he had established in his first Epistle, as to "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together to Him" (2:1).
As we saw in the first Epistle, so again here, Paul differentiates most clearly between, "our gathering together to Him," and "the day of the Lord." He says, in effect, "You might have known that your sufferings cannot mean that the day of the Lord is present, by that which I have already told you as to our being, 'caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air'." Mr. Reese's book is written to convince us that the Lord will come for and with His saints at the same moment. Paul beseeches them by "the coming" that-they do not imagine that "the Day" is come. Mr. Reese is beseeching us to imagine that they are one and the same thing.
In chapter 1 of this second Epistle, the Apostle had shown them that the revelation of the Lord Jesus would bring trouble and overthrow upon those who were persecuting them, whilst they would enjoy perfect repose amidst the tremendous scenes of judgment. It does not say that they would enjoy rest for the first time at that exact moment, but that the day of the Lord will mean rest for the saint as distinguished from the tribulation of the world. So here are two good reasons that should prevent us interpreting our tribulations as meaning the onset of the day of the Lord: first, that Day means rest for us; second, there is the truth, already established, of His coming and our gathering to Him in the air.
Then there is a third good reason, unfolded in verses 3 - 14 of the second chapter. The Day will not come until the apostasy takes place and the revealing of the man of sin, and these two things will not take place until the power and Person, that act in restraint, are removed.
This predicted apostasy is not merely a time of coldness and defection in the church, such as has all too often been witnessed, but the total abandonment of the Christian faith, root and branch. This apostasy is coming, and there are very ominous signs of its approach. A few signs even appear in this book we are reviewing, since the Author in his eagerness to refute the "Darbyists" sometimes quotes from questionable writers: as, for instance, on page 253, where a number of erroneous ideas creep in, the worst being that Jesus on the throne of God "was, in fact, no longer merely a man." This obviously infers that on earth He had been merely a man, an idea which is consistent with Unitarianism, but which we altogether repudiate. In Christendom these signs are now multiplied, and it is of course the apostasy of Christendom which here is predicted. If only the true saints of God could be eliminated from the "churches" of our land the apostasy full-blown would be at once complete. We believe that no apostasy, in the proper sense of the word, can take place as long as the saints in their thousands are here, for they will never apostatize. We further believe that once the Lord has come and we have gathered to Him, a veritable landslide of apostasy will strike Christendom at once.
The great Restrainer of verse 7, we believe to be the Holy Spirit, who came in a peculiar way at Pentecost, thus forming the church, and will, as regards this peculiar aspect of His presence, depart when the church goes. In our first paper we alluded to Mr. Reese's effort to find here allusion to Roman Emperors, as well as the Roman Empire. So we now content ourselves with saying that we are sure that no man, nor anything human, is great enough to restrain the power of darkness and of the devil. One who is God is needed for that.
Once the saints are gathered to Christ and the Restrainer gone, there will be this outburst of Satanic powers and deceits, and to all this God will add the blinding of men by an act of His government, sending a strong delusion. This act of God will play a part, by no means inconsiderable, in the great tribulation. In contrast to all this we are said to be chosen to salvation and called to obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here we again reach the point to which we were conducted in verses 9 and 10 of chapter 5 in the first Epistle. Not wrath but salvation is the church's portion.
This leads us to consider the Lord's promise to the church in Philadelphia, as recorded in Revelation 3:10, "I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation." Mr. Reese spends pages over this passage commencing with page 199; his argument being that the preposition translated "from" does not necessarily mean "out of," so that it may merely mean preservation through the tribulation. Says he, "The preposition ek may possibly mean immunity from, but more probably it means out of in the sense of being 'brought safe out of'."
His reasonings as to ek are very much open to question, but we shall spend no time on them, since the falsity of his interpretation of the passage is better shown by emphasizing two words that he seems to practically ignore — "keep," and "hour." How can the promise mean "bring safe out of" when it does not say "Save from," but "Keep from." And not only keep out of tribulation, but out of "the hour of temptation;" that is, out of the period of time in which the trial takes place. He quotes Rev. 12:6, 14, to prove that saints may be kept out of tribulation, while being still left on earth. Yes, but the Philadelphian church is to be kept out of the hour of world-wide trial. This cannot be by being placed in some earthly shelter while passing through the hour. Being kept out of, or from, the hour must mean being translated into a region outside every hour into which time is divided.
If any would say to us that this exemption is only promised to the Philadelphian church who had kept the word of Christ's patience, and therefore may only apply to saints of special devotedness, we should have to reply by pointing out that things promised to the seven churches must not be understood as special and exclusive to those to whom the promise is made. Verse 11 of chapter 2 is a very clear example. The saints at Smyrna are not the only ones to be exempted from the second death.
In Revelation 1:19 we have a divinely given division of the book. John wrote "the things which are" in chapters 2 and 3; and the closing words of verse 1 of chapter 4 show us that at that point he begins the narration of "the things which shall be hereafter." This shows that church history ends with chapter 3, and that chapter 4 starts with a moment when church history is over. We did not notice any reference to this key verse (1:19), which unlocks the whole book to our understanding, in the book we have been reviewing. Had our Author read Revelation in the light of this verse, he might have understood its contents more accurately.
In the light of this verse we are not at all surprised if we find saints from the earth amidst the heavenly scenes described in chapters 4 and 5. They are represented, we believe, by the twenty-four elders. This, of course, Mr. Reese will not have, and he claims that the idea of their representing the redeemed is "now abandoned by pretty well every expositor in America, England and Germany . . . . They are simply Angelic leaders in the worship of heaven" (p. 224). He also asks, "If the Twenty-four Elders represent the raptured saints in heaven before the Seventieth Week, why do we not see the saints themselves instead of twenty-four symbols?"
Well, and if they are angels, why do we not see angels (as so often in the book) instead of symbols? The answer to both questions would be the same. Because Revelation is a book of symbols. Spiritual discernment is needed, we know, in order to interpret the symbols aright.
Consider two or three facts. The word for elder is the ordinary word presbuteros, from which our word presbyter comes. A word very fitting in connection with men, but utterly incongruous in connection with angels. Our lives are measured by time, we speak of elder and younger, but in connection with angels all such ideas are out of the question. The symbol is congruous as regards men: wholly incongruous as regards angels. That is the first fact.
Their white robes and golden crowns proclaim them to be kings and priests, as we have already discovered the saints to be, in verse 6 of chapter 1. This is a second fact.
A third fact is that they are 24 in number. This was the number of the courses into which Israel's priesthood was divided, as recorded in 1 Chronicles 24:1 - 19. In the 24 elders we have the priestly company complete in heaven.
Mr. Reese lays great stress on the fact that the R.V. and Darby's version omit the "us" and "we" from verses 9 and 10 of chapter 5. That is to say, the new song which they sing is impersonal. They celebrate the whole great redeeming work of God, rather than their own part in it. Mr. Reese deduces from this that they have no part in it. We deduce from it that the saints in their glorified condition are lifted right out of the smallest suspicion of a selfish view of things into the full apprehension of things as from God's standpoint. At last they know, even as they are known.
Our task now is nearly done. Although almost on every page there are matters as to which we should have to express some measure of dissent from our Author, there is much that can be left unmentioned. Just a few points however remain to be noticed.
Mr. Reese devotes one of his chapters to "The Parousia of the King," pp. 140 - 166. One of his great points is that modern researches have shown that "parousia" is a kingly word, since it was used "for the arrival of kings and rulers, or the visit following." From this, he claims, we must deduce that the coming of Christ as King must be understood wherever this word is used. So of course it must be, if parousia is used exclusively to indicate such kingly occasions. His reasoning falls to the ground however when we discover that the word is just the ordinary word for coming, and has no such exclusive use. To give one illustration: in 2 Corinthians 7:6 Paul speaks of "the coming of Titus." The word used for his coming was parousia. Was Titus a king?
In this chapter too he has some very sarcastic things to say about "the secret rapture." He speaks of "the strange doctrine of a secret, invisible advent of Christ." In his first chapter, pp. 22, 23, he summarizes the teaching of his opponents as being that, "The Coming of Christ 'for the Church,' . . . will take place secretly: none of the unconverted will witness them." He then quotes a passage from C.H.M., in which he points out that only believers saw Jesus ascend into heaven, when the angels said He would so come in like manner; and from which he teaches that He will only be seen by His saints when He comes for them. Quotations from Kelly and Darby follow, to the same effect. But neither the words "secret" nor "in" visible" occur in these quotations. Further, having read right through his book, we did not notice any quotation from writers that he would designate "Darbyist," in which these words were used. They are Mr. Reese's words.
It is a fact that there is no record of any unbeliever seeing Christ in resurrection. As a Minister of the Gospel, Mr. Reese preaches the resurrection of our Lord from the dead. He is a consistent man, and no doubt makes it plain that he believes in "a secret, invisible" resurrection. It is also a fact that no unbeliever saw Him ascend into heaven. It was "a secret, invisible" ascension. If Mr. Reese admits the secrecy and invisibility of both His resurrection and ascension, we shall not object to his accusing us of saying that there will be a secret and invisible coming for His saints, as distinguished from His public appearing with His saints in glory. It would be no more "a strange doctrine," however, than the doctrine of His resurrection or His ascension.
Even so, we shall not use those two adjectives ourselves, as we do not think them exactly suitable to any one of three events. Invisible is definitely wrong, and secret not exactly right. We should prefer to speak of it as a private, family affair, in contradistinction from that which is public and for the world.
Before we close it is necessary to say that there is no dispute between us in regard to the glorious appearing of Christ. When He shall appear the saints shall appear with Him, and that will be the time of their public reward. This we most emphatically believe, but we do not allow all this to blind us to the fact that the coming with His saints is possible, because He first comes for them.
We also agree most fully that the glorious appearing is appealed to, in order that the life and service of the saints may be well pleasing to God. We are to keep every divine instruction "without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Tim. 6:14). But this does not mean that His coming for us, when we shall see His face, is not to exert a like influence over us. It is to do so, for we read, "We shall see Him as He is. And every man that has this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure" (1 John 3:2, 3).
One of Mr. Reese's concluding remarks is, "In the labyrinth of prophetic facts and theories I confidently recommend to the honest enquirer a shining clue that will not fail him: it is the resurrection of the saints: let him courageously and impartially examine the setting of Isaiah 25:8; 26. 19; Dan. 12:1 - 3, 13; Matt. 13:43; and he will shed for ever the pleasing delusion that the saints are raised and raptured out of the world before the coming of Antichrist" (p. 294). Other scriptures are printed where we have inserted the dots, and every one of them we have considered. Having done so, we are confirmed in what we stated in our third paper, to the effect that Mr. Reese has begun at the wrong end: he has ignored the fact that life and incorruptibility have come to light through the gospel. His "shining clue" is not so shining as he thinks, for he picked it up in Old Testament twilight. Had he started under the bright shining of the New Testament sun, he might have seen things differently.
The normal course of things for us of a certainty is that we hear the gospel, we believe it and come into its blessings, we are brought into the church of God and begin to learn its character, its privileges, its destiny. Then, when instructed in Christian truth, we are put into a position to appreciate and properly understand things that were made known in earlier ages. If this be done there is not much difficulty in seeing the point of view taken in the Gospel of Matthew, for instance, to which Mr. Reese makes so many references. The idea of it being "Jewish" he abominates, and we grant at once that things of an extreme sort have been written on those lines which go beyond what is right. When all allowance for this has been made however, the internal evidence is clear that it was written for Jewish believers, and that it specially exhibits the dispensational changes that were impending, while treating the disciples as being just what they then were, representatives of the believing remnant, though soon to be incorporated into the church. Hence the commission recorded in chapter 28 is one which shows the activities of the disciples going out beyond the boundaries of Israel to all nations; and yet is couched in such terms as would make it applicable also to the activities of a similar believing remnant after the church is gone. Hence also we do not see a rapture to heaven in verse 31 of chapter 24, but a gathering together of the elect upon earth by angelic power.
Mr. Reese obviously does not see what we have just been saying, else he could not write as he does on p. 290 — "The co-relative term of 'Jew' is not 'Christian,' but 'Gentile': that a man may be both Jew and Christian, and both Gentile and Christian: but not both Jew and Gentile. So that when we say of the 'colouring' in Matthew 24: 'It is all Jewish,' we ought to mean 'it belongs to the land of Israel: it cannot possibly apply to Maori-land, New York, or Timbuktu'." Our reply is: a man may be both Jew and Christian, if we are permitted to mean a Jew nationally and a Christian spiritually. He cannot be a Jew spiritually and a Christian. We refer to 1 Corinthians 10:32, where we read of "the Jews . . . the Gentiles . . . the church of God." Mr. Reese's correlative terms, Jew and Gentile, are all right for the Old Testament, and the very beginning of the New. But as the New progresses another factor comes into existence, a factor of an entirely spiritual nature. In these words of his, which we have just quoted, he clearly recognizes the national factor, and also certain geographical factors. We venture to submit that it is when we come to the spiritual factor that he goes astray.
If only our Author had some better and fuller understanding of the doctrine of the church, particularly as ministered through Paul; of that "dispensation" which has been made known "to fulfil [complete] the word of God" (Col. 1:25), we believe that this book would never have been written.