Missing His Coming
In the teachings of Jesus and the early apostles the thought of some future coming of His looms rather large. On a careful consideration of their words, however, it soon becomes apparent that they do not always speak of His coming in the same sense. The study of the teachings of the New Testament on this point calls for careful and prayerful and reverent discrimination.
Most teachers and believers in the religious systems of today believe that every time the scriptures speak of Christ's "coming" they have one particular and singular future event in mind. This only leads to confusion and error. It should be self-evident that Christ's coming as Bridegroom (Mat. 25:1-10) cannot be to the same people, at the same time, in the same manner, nor for the same purpose as His coming as a Refiner's Fire (Mal. 3:1-3).
He comes as Bridegroom to His prepared, adorned, and expectant bride in a deeply spiritual relationship of intimate love and vital union, whereas He comes to those apprehended to be His Royal Priesthood in a manifestation of severity - purging and purifying. Both are said to be His COMING.
†Christ's coming again as the Spirit of Truth (Jn. 14:16-23) and His coming in Flaming Fire of Vengeance (II Thes. 1:7-8) are obviously not the same coming; not to the same people, not at the same time, and not in the same manner, nor for the same purpose. He came as the Spirit of Truth on the day of Pentecost and has continued to come in that precious way to illuminate mind and heart of every man and woman who seeks Him in sincerity and truth; but He has come and shall yet come in Flaming Fire to deal out retribution - chastisement and vengeance upon those who do not know or perceive or become acquainted with God and upon those who ignore and refuse to obey the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. Both of these manifestations are described in scripture as the COMING of the Lord. It is useless to try to fit them both into one singular event destined to transpire within a few moments of time at the conclusion of this age. The Word of God is clear in itís teaching that the coming of the Lord is a many-faceted experience, including many manifestations. Truly He came; He continued to come; He comes; He continues to come; He shall come; and He shall continue to come!
At the rebuilding of the wall in Nehemiah's time, it was first necessary to remove heaps of rubbish. Even so in these days, in order to rightly understand the truth concerning our Lord's return, it is necessary to remove heaps of rubbish. †Rubbish of tradition, prejudice, misinformation and misinterpretation. The church world has become so thoroughly indoctrinated with the simplistic, childish and crude imaginations of the natural mind that it is practically impossible to get people to consider the Lord's coming as it really is in the scriptures. They are warned to regard with suspicion and reject all teaching on the subject any different from that which they have been taught. In fact, to think of the venerable doctrine of the church on this subject as being FALSE, strikes them as being blasphemous. There is only one sure path in this important hour, there is only one way to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Even now, as in the long ago, our blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, standeth, saying, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth" (Jn. 16:12-13).
We often miss the truth because too many of us have been relying on our intellect to interpret to us the scriptures, instead of looking to the Teacher sent from God to do His work and perform His ministry. Even Spirit-filled Christians depend mostly on commentaries and books by the hundreds written by men and often men void of the Holy Spirit. They rely on them as their source of information and understanding of the scriptures, and the Holy Spirit is relegated to a back room in their minds and rarely consulted about anything the scriptures have to say. We need to reinstate Him to His proper position and allow Him to fulfill the ministry He came to do. ††I am not against books. I have many. †If I were opposed to books I would not writing this one. But when we read books and especially the bible we need to rely on that inner witness of the great teacher of God.
Many people have been helped by what is written, but far too many Christians think that through bible study, and by searching the scriptures alone, they can come to an understanding of the things of God and acquire a knowledge of the truth. However, apart from the revelation of the Holy Spirit, there is no way that we can search out and understand the things of God and His ways. Hear what the scripture itself says: "O the depths of riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how UNSEARCHABLE are His judgments and His ways past FINDING OUT" (Rom. 11:33). How can we ever search out the unsearchable, or find that which is past finding out? It is impossible by any human means or methods, but not impossible with God, for with Him nothing is impossible. There is a way to know the things of God. It only comes by the working of the Spirit of Truth.
Through out the pages of the Bible and the ages of time God has revealed Himself to various men and women in their times. The principles were always the same, but the manifestation of His appearing was different in each case. He appeared to Moses as a burning bush; to Israel as a cloud and pillar of fire; to Gideon as the Angel of the Lord; to Isaiah as the glorious One high and exalted upon a throne; to Ezekiel as a wheel in the middle of a wheel; to His disciples as a mortal Man, the Lamb of God; to Mary as the gardener; to Saul of Tarsus as a blinding Light brighter than the noonday sun; to John the Revelator as One standing in the midst of the candlesticks with hair white like wool, feet like brass burning in a furnace, and a sharp two-edged sword proceeding out of His mouth.
As God revealed Himself in different ways in the Old Testament times, so in the New Testament times He is still revealing Himself in higher heights and deeper depths through the glorified Christ Jesus. As Luke points out in Acts, chapter one, Jesus BEGAN to minister when He walked in a body of flesh on the earth, until He ascended back to the Father. Then as you continue to read in the book of Acts, you find that He BEGAN to minister through, not just a single body of flesh, but through a corporate body of believers as the Body of Christ came to birth on the earth.
As you read this message, my prayer to God on your behalf is that He might BEGIN to move and work and manifest and appear in YOUR LIFE in a new and fresh unveiling of HIMSELF! †
While there is a widespread belief in the nearness of the coming of Christ, it is a fact that so many false teachings have been connected with this great truth that it is to be feared. When the event itself takes place, precious few who profess to believe in His coming will be prepared to receive Him because of the false views they hold regarding the manner and purpose of His coming. Just as it was when he was born in Bethlehem the people of that generation did not recognize the day of His visitation. I do not pretend to understand the exact sequence of all things which are soon to come upon the earth, neither do I believe that any man or woman on earth is fully informed of the events that shall mark the end of this present age and the glory of the age to come. But of this we may be sure: the minds of Christians have become so blinded by the traditions they hold as doctrines that they are almost completely immune to truth. They are like the Jews of old who were so set and sure that the Messiah would come and restore the kingdom to Israel that they missed Him when He came and knew Him not. In like manner today millions of Christians are blind to the truth because of their traditions, for while they sit idly by waiting for a rapture which will deliver them from the tribulation and usher them into the glory of God, they will one day awaken to discover to their everlasting consternation that Jesus HAS COME and they missed Him and knew Him not.
At the time Jesus was born on earth, the Jews had fallen into such slumber and inertia, although outwardly they were religious and self-satisfied, that they did not know the Word of God when He was made flesh and came and dwelt among them. When their Messiah came, for whom they had been looking for centuries, they neither knew Him nor received Him. Because He was born in a stable, and His body, the tent in which He live in when upon earth, was poor and without comeliness. Because He did not come in pomp and worldly power and glory, the Jews knew Him not.
At that time the Jewish people were expecting the Messiah. They were students of the prophecies, and were acquainted with those predictions which indicated the time of the Messiah's coming. They knew that the 483 years of the Messianic prophecy of Daniel (Dan. 9:20-27) †which were to elapse between the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the Messianic Prince were expired. The time was fulfilled, and hence they were looking for the Messiah to appear, and eagerly expecting His appearance. But while they were right regarding the time, they misunderstood the character and work of the Messiah. They were looking for a deliverer, not from sin and self, but from political bondage. They wanted a military genius who would save them from the tyranny of the Roman bondage and had no interest in a Saviour who would save them from sin and from themselves.
In the words of the notable English mystic, William Law, writing about the year 1750, "Consider how it is that the carnal Jew, the deep-read scribe, the learned rabbi, the religious Pharisee not only did not receive but crucified their Saviour. It was because they willed and desired no such Saviour as He was, no such inward salvation as He offered them. They desired no change in their nature, no inward destruction of their own natural tempers, no deliverance from the love of themselves and the enjoyments of their passions. They liked their state, the gratifications of their old man, their long robes, their broad phylacteries and greetings in the markets. They wanted not to have their pride and self-love dethroned, their covetousness and sensuality to be subdued by a new nature from heaven derived into them. Their only desire was the success of Judaism, to have an outward Saviour, a temporal Prince that should establish their law and outward ceremonies over all the earth. And therefore they crucified their dear Redeemer and would have none of His salvation because it all consisted in a change of their nature, in a new birth from above, and a Kingdom of Heaven to be opened within them by the Spirit of God."
They rejected the humble Nazarene though they saw His mighty works and heard His wonderful words of life. They were looking for the glorious Messiah to come, put down the Romans, and deliver them from the Gentiles. They expected a king who, taking the throne of David would establish a temporal government more powerful than any on earth, and that all the kings of the Gentiles should nourish and bow down to Israel. They all were looking for a King To slay their foes and lift them high. But He came as a little baby and in Him was life; and the life was the light of men. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not" (Jn. 1:4,9,10). A great light shined in the darkness, the greatest light that has ever been upon the face of the earth and yet, to this day, they are dwelling and walking in darkness. There was light all around - the light of God's Christ. The very glory of the Father was revealed to them as the scripture said it would be. All God ever could be or ever shall be was manifested in Jesus Christ. No greater light could have shown unto them than that light, because the Light of lights was there to see. Most of them did not recognize Him, neither did they know that the Lord of glory was in the midst of them, their very God.
Christ was not in person, purpose and work what the Jews thought He should be; because He was not the conquering Lion of Judah, instead He came as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. As a result, †they are still waiting for One to come who will fulfill their earthly-minded desires and carnal concepts and worldly ambitions. How strange it is that one generation will not learn from the mistakes of their predecessors! ††Practically the whole body of evangelical churches today is looking forward with that same intense watching for a rapture or a kingdom that will deliver them from the world's bondage and establish them on temporal thrones of political power and authority in the earth. True, there shall come a day when the sons of God shall be manifested, when God's King-Priest company shall arise in power and authority, when the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, when ALL nations and kindreds shall serve Him, when ALL THINGS in heaven and in earth shall be subdued unto Him; but, precious friend of mine, this marvelous work shall be brought about not by worldly political or military might - but by dynamic SPIRITUAL POWER!
If you entertain the crude notion that reigning with Christ means sitting behind a desk over in Jerusalem with a telephone in your hand and television cameras running, you know nothing as you ought to know of that blessed Kingdom of God is about.† It is "not of this world" and it "comes not by outward show," but is "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost within." †I do not hesitate to tell you that when Christ comes in mighty power to bring the triumph of His Kingdom into new and greater dimensions on this earth through the ministry of that body of sons so painstakingly and meticulously formed under His hand of dealing through this age of grace, vast multitudes of Christians will MISS HIS COMING because it will not conform to the manner, purpose or result that they imagine it should be. Like the Jews, these Christians will continue on with their religious games, singing, clapping, preaching, prophesying and waiting for a second coming that will meet their demands and fulfill their misguided expectations.
We blame the Jews for their blindness and unbelief, and of making the Word of God of none effect through their tradition, but are there not vast multitudes of the Lord's people in our own day who are doing this very thing? The Jewish nation was not ignorant of the teaching of scripture concerning His coming - in fact, they were good Fundamentalists, anxiously expecting His arrival but they had drifted so far from the Holy Spirit of God, that when the day arrived they did not know it because it took the Holy Spirit to reveal it. And as the Jews of old and their descendants failed to recognize the coming of the Lord in their day, together with the many related events, even so a similar sleeping church today fails to recognize the signs and events which herald anew manifestation of that same blessed Person!
When Jesus walked in flesh upon this earth there were very few among the multitudes who recognized Him. It was Peter among the disciples that was blessed to know the revealing of the Son. "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven" (Mat. 16:16-17). There was a division among the multitudes as to the identity of Jesus. Some said He was a prophet, others said He was a good man or a great teacher, and then there were those who said He was the prince of devils and a glutton and a winebibber. In the religious circle it was noised about that Jesus was a blasphemer and a trouble maker that stirred up the people. So there were different views as to who the Teacher was. The few who did recognize Him at His birth, during His ministry, and after His resurrection were those who walked with God and whose spirits were open to the light of heaven.
According to the very first statement in the Gospel of John, that kindly Nazarene, that gracious Galilean, that friendly Teacher who walked the paths of Galilee and sat beside its shores, was none other than the living God, the Creator of all things. John goes on to say that by Him were all things made and without Him was not anything made that was made. He is the Creator of all! He is the architect of the cosmos. He is the fashioner of the galaxies. He is the designer of suns, the artificer of planets. He is the framer of the vast eons of time. The eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient God was born a wee baby thing; fie visited this blue-green orb which He had delicately fashioned and spun off into its orbit.
He who came to His own, was the One who had led them through the wilderness, and who had revealed God to them; He had gone before them in the cloud by day and in the pillar of fire by night. It was He who had dwelt in the unutterable and unapproachable glory in their Holiest of all; it was He who had defeated their enemies for them, and had spread His pavilion over them, so that all nations were afraid before them. He it was, who came to His own and THEY KNEW HIM NOT. That, indeed, is such an incredible thing, such a fantastic and sublime truth, you would think that there would have been an unending celebration that would have gone on for centuries, as the welcome was prepared and the red carpet rolled out for Him. But, rather, to our utter astonishment, we read those incredible words: "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world KNEW HIM NOT." I think that enwrapped in those simple words we have the entire tragedy of the carnal mind. "The world knew Him not." "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." Is not this the essence of the natural mind? The world knew Him not! The Roman world looked upon Him with that unconscious, stupid, bovine stare; it knew not what it saw. The religious world looked upon Him and perceived Him only as a threat to their wicked schemes and hunger for power. Still today the Christ is in the world and the world knows Him not!
Dear child of God, how many times has He come to you in a different wav than you were expecting, and you knew Him not? How many times, in answer to your prayers, He came to you in some humble or mean thing, and you knew Him not. How many times you asked great things of Him, and He commenced to answer your prayers through low, mean channels. He hid behind the wall, He came to you, and you knew Him not. When we become spiritually lazy or stubborn or willful, when we become indifferent or fall asleep, when we walk along the path of our own will and flesh, we will hear the voice of the Lord saying, "Rise up, My love, and come away with Me!" Have you ever come before the Lord, thinking that you were pressing forward into Him, and He convicted you that you were motivated by-self? Has He made you know that you have not been going as fast as He would have you, or as you thought you were going? When we hear His voice let us drop everything and everybody; and let us hasten to the place where the Lord can meet us!
"SECOND COMING" ERRORS
The false teaching that the "second coming" of Christ is one singular event limited to a specific date in the future when Jesus Christ will come in a single body of flesh, with wounds in His hands, feet, and side, and that He will flash through the skies, snatching away His faithful followers, carrying them with Him to some far-off heaven somewhere, has given rise to innumerable speculations, predictions, calculations, prophecies and projected dates concerning when this stupendous event is supposed to transpire. Various dates have been set for the "rapture" or for the "end of the-world." History and the Bible have been so interpreted that this or that ruler or dictator or pope or stateman has been called "The Antichrist" who would hasten the return of Christ and the commencement of the "Great Tribulation." The inspiring promises about our Lord's coming have too often been an issue of sensationalism. Men have quarreled and quibbled and fought over a most precious assurance, and have missed altogether the wonderful blessing and the glorious reality. Because of the distorted understanding of this blessed truth many ridiculous theories have been spawned about the "time" and "manner" of the coming of Christ.
In the past few decades, several small groups, devoutly following the leadership of a would-be prophet, abandoned their-jobs and professions; sold all their worldly goods, and confidently awaited a precise moment when either the "rapture" would occur, or Jesus Christ would return. All such predictions failed, of course. Usually the news media only inform us of the sheepish admissions of such would-be prophets that they will have to restudy the prophecies," but we never hear about the victims of their hare-brained schemes who divested themselves of their accumulated goods only to find that the dogmatically trumpeted prophecies were only so much "pie in the sky." On a larger scale, major church movements have been equally disappointed, their embarrassed leaders frantically attempting to discover some alternative explanation as to WHY their confident prophecies did not come to pass as they had proclaimed! Over the years I have seen some of the most carefully constructed theories collapse like proverbial houses of cards! A peculiar and easily recognizable, identifying stamp of all these would-be prophets (or prophetesses) is some strange "key"; some obscure "clue"; some magic "formula"; some alleged "cycle"; or some private "revelation" which THEY, and THEY ONLY, know!
Emphasis on the nearness of Christ's "second coming," so strong in many Christian circles today, is nothing new. In the early church dates were set for the Lord's return again and again through the first two or three centuries. Augustine set the date for the end of the world at A.D. 1000. History tells us that a general belief prevailed In Europe towards the close of the tenth century that the year 1000 would witness the coming of Christ, the day of judgment, and the end of the world. On the basis of the interpretation which some of the early Church Fathers (Augustine, etc.) gave of Rev. 20:4, the conviction gradually gained popularity in the church that at the end of the first thousand years of the church's existence the second coming of the Lord would take place. It was supposed to be the time when the church would be perfected and the natural life of men would come to an end. As the time drew near, a general panic seized the minds of men. Many pious people reasoned that since the present order was ending it would be folly to further attempt to satisfy their temporal ambitions or fulfill their earthly goals. They simply ceased working, sold or abandoned their homes, farms and businesses, and bought a little plot of ground near some church building or monastery, and not a few moved to the Holy Land, there to await on holy ground the glorious appearance of their blessed Saviour and Lord. So vast and intense was this movement that the whole course of ordinary life was violently disturbed and deranged for an entire generation!
In the Middle Ages Joachim of Floris, an Italian monk strongly inclined to mysticism and ecstacy, pondered deeply on the hidden plan of God. He spoke of three dispensations: the first that of the law or the Father, the second that of the gospel or the Son, and the third that of the Holy Spirit. According to his reckoning, the first dispensation belonged to the past, the second was approaching the end since the church had become very worldly, and the age of the Spirit was destined to begin in the year 1260 A.D. Then the church would be purified; Jews and Gentiles would be converted in great masses; a final conflict would be waged against the evil forces of the world; and then the new order would begin under the blessed reign of Jesus Christ. But these hopes were also dashed to the ground.
At the time of the Reformation some of the Anabaptists raised the cry of the speedy return of Jesus Christ. They established their headquarters at Muenster, set up their own government under the alleged direction of the Holy Spirit, and thus founded the New Zion in anticipation of the momentary return of Jesus Christ as their King. The city became the scene of unrestrained fanaticism that knew no bounds, and which was finally forcibly suppressed by the government.
Martin Luther at one time taught that Christ would come in the year A.D. 1530. The Puritans looked for Jesus to set up His Fifth World Empire in the seventeenth century. Daniel DeFoe tells us in his JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR that, in the midst of the Great Plague in London, England in 1665, a woman on a square gained a hearing for her prognostications that the Coming of the Lord was right near; a few gathered, then many, then a crowd, as she pointed excitedly toward the heavens to "A Horseman in the Sky." The Son of Man was coming; could they not see Him? Some thought that they could. And during the Napoleonic wars, when the Man of Destiny was bestriding Europe and the Near East like a colossus, what a hey-day the prophecy-mongers in England had, with the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation in one hand, and the latest mail from Egypt in the other! They were all cocksure that the Antichrist had come, and some of them actually prophesied what Napoleon would do next, just as the same excitable souls are eyeing Henry Kissinger, the World Bankers, or Pope John Paul II today! (1986)
In our own country similar prophets arose. During the second quarter of the nineteenth century William Miller, who became the founder of the Millerite sect, traveled through New England, New York, New Jersey, and Canada, with the announcement that Christ would return in 1843. He thought he saw, plainly, the time indicated, in the scriptures, when our Lord would return. Being a signally gifted and scholarly man, he led thousands to adopt his views. The burden of his preaching was: Christ will soon be here; are you ready to meet Him? There were many conversions born of fear in view of the imminent appearance of the coming Judge. The meetings of the people were often scenes of wild confusion; emotion was aroused, people fell down crying, men shouted and women fainted. Despite all the opposition of the churches to this unbounded sensationalism, Miller continued his crusade with great persistence and assurance.
As the predicted day drew near many took their horses and fodder for two or three days, and went out into the woods, expecting to be all the more likely to see all that was to be seen when once away from the crowded city. All over the States there were people who had made ascension-gowns in which to soar into the air in proper costume. They waited, and they waited, and I am sure that no text could have been more appropriate for them than this, "Ye men of America, why stand ye here gazing up into heaven?" Nothing came of it; and yet there are tens of thousands in America and elsewhere who need a fanatical leader and they would run into the like folly. The desire to know the date of Christ's return is a craze with many poor folk whose insanity runs in that particular groove. Every occurence is a "sign of the times": a sign, I may add, which they do not understand. But when the year 1843 passed by without any unusual occurence, Miller had to resort to the subterfuge that Christ had indeed come but remained in hiding temporarily because the people had not yet repented sufficiently; and when the year 1844 also passed by in the ordinary way, he finally had to admit that his calculations, based on Daniel chapter eight, had been mistaken.
Toward the end of the nineteenth century there was another group, an entire American Colony in the city of Jerusalem, who gathered there to await the imminent return of the Lord. These sincere, and in many cases brilliant, believers would go out to the Mount of Olives by night to wait for the Lord's return. They justified their action by the words, "His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east" (Zech. 14:4). One saintly lady would take a cup of cold water ready to present it to the Lord "in the name of a disciple" upon His arrival.
In the present century the notorious Pastor Russell, the spiritual father of Jehovah's Witnesses, boldly proclaimed that the Lord would return in the year A.D. 1914. When that year passed by without the expected appearance of the Lord and marked instead the beginning of the first World War, to save face, followed the example of Miller. He maintained that the Lord had indeed come, but was now in hiding because of the wickedness of the people. In due time He was bound to show Himself. Russell's successor, the eloquent Judge Rutherford, kept alive the expectation of the speedy transformation of the living saints. The burden of his message, which was spread over billboards, shouted over the radio, and blazoned to the world in paid advertisements was "Millions now living will never die." It was a rather daring assertion, seeing that it could be so easily proved, or disproved. A leading laundry, which had more humor than reverence, adopted the slogan as its own, making it read in this fashion: "We do the dyeing for the millions now living."
Then there was the Great Pyramid delusion. Back about the turn of the century aman by the name of Morton Edgar published a book titled PYRAMID PASSAGES. The thrust of this book was that the Great Pyramid of Gizeh in Egypt was built by divine wisdom and under God's direction, to be one of God's witnesses to men, the object of its construction being to establish in stone a record and a prophecy of God's great redemptive plan of the ages. The scriptural basis for this was Isa. 19:19-20, "In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord. And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt." This "altar" and "pillar" was assumed to be the Great Pyramid - often referred to as THE BIBLE IN STONE.
It was conjectured that every passage and chamber therein silently but eloquently symbolized in size, length, structure, etc. the whole wonderful plan of God from the heaven blest garden in Eden down to the times of the restitution of all things when every enemy should be destroyed and God would be All-in-all. Those who studied the Pyramid from that standpoint were able to locate all the major events of history there - Creation was there, Calvary was there, the Reformation was there, the return of Christ was there, and the Millennial Age. It was all laid out neatly and precisely in the measurements, passages, chambers, and symbolism of the Great Pyramid! And, since the measurements from certain well established points to another, for instance, from Calvary to the Reformation, were all quite precise, it followed that the measurements from the Reformation to the beginning of the Millenial Kingdom (and hence, the second coming of Christ) were conclusive. The testimony of the Great Pyramid showed irrefutably that Christ would return in 1914!
When Christ didn't make the anticipated appearance in 1914, the theory was later revised by Dr. Adam Rutherford of England. According to Rutherford's careful calculations the entrance into the King's Chamber, typifying the beginning of the Millennial Age, would be reached on August 20, 1953. With 95 per cent of the chronology of the passage system of the Great Pyramid supposedly already verified by history, the attention of thousands was focused upon August 20, 1953. Their expectancy was that the events of that day would demonstrate beyond question that their understanding of the purport of the Great Pyramid revelation was correct. In the summer of 1953 thousands of followers began to anticipate the development of spectacular events to climax, perhaps with the visible appearance of Jesus, on the Great Pyramid dating of August 20, 1953. They hoped that what would occur then would firmly establish their belief in the reliability of the prophecy. But the day came and with it the failure of the hoped-for developments. Jesus didn't show up. The Millennium didn't begin. Armageddon didn't break out. Nothing happened.
Again, the system was revised! According to Rutherford the "mistake" that had been made in his reckonings was "discovered" and duly "corrected". A new date was set: 1978. In July of 1978 I published an article in which I admonished the Lord's precious people, "Others are proclaiming that the Millennium will begin in 1978-79 according to the revelations of the Great Pyramid in Egypt. I must speak a word against that! I have no fear in offering to buy all your Pyramidology books for .0l each in 1980. I'll even pay the postage on them! Beloved, brethren, I have no desire to be cynical about these things, but the Spirit of the Lord would have His chosen ones to get their eyes off dates, and pyramids, and computers, and newspaper headlines, and world leaders, and world events, and supposed Antichrists, and Beast Governments, and so-called "Mark of the Beast" banking and economic systems, and all the rest of the dime-store side shows which capture the minds of those apprehended to be sons of the Most High. How much more profitably will time and meditations be spent in LOOKING UNTO HIM - in intimacy of fellowship and blessed communion with the Lamb on Zion's holy hill. A correct understanding of all the above mentioned things (and most saint's understanding of them is NOT CORRECT!) can never add one-inch to our spiritual stature nor bring us to perfection in Christ. The finishing touches on God's great building, His house of sons, are not yet complete. 'Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves LIKE UNTO MEN THAT WAIT FOR THEIR LORD' (Lk. 12:35-36). Look unto HIM! That is the only act you can perform in this dark hour that will in any way hasten the day of manifestation" -end quote.
The error of these delusions is manifest in their repeated failure. I am sure that all of my readers remember the great 1982 Planetary Alignment hype. According to certain Fundamentalist preachers the "rapture" was going to take place on Sept. 6, 1975. The "logic" for this was that in 1982 all of the nine planets of our solar system would be perfectly aligned on the same side of the sun. Two scientists, writing in Newsweek magazine, Sept. 16, 1974 theorized about the severe effect of this planetary alignment on the upper part of the atmosphere caused by the magnetic pull of this line-up of the planets on the sun, creating an increase in the magnetic activity on the sun with huge storms of sunspots and solar flares, some spreading over fifty million miles. These would greatly disrupt weather patterns Around the world by sharply altering wind directions. This in turn would give our rotating planet a jolt large enough to trigger many major earthquakes in those areas of the world under severe geological strain. It was expected that the earthquakes around 1982 could destroy large populations of the earth. Some even theorized that the sun would "nova" in which case the earth would be completely burned to a cinder.
Therefore, reasoned certain preachers and teachers, since the earth would be purged by fire in 1982, the Great Tribulation must precede that event by seven years, necessitating a beginning in 1975. Furthermore, since Jesus must come, according to their imaginings, BEFORE the Tribulation; and considering that He would come with the sound of a trumpet, and at the "last trump"; it was concluded that He would split the eastern sky on the date of the FEAST OF TRUMPETS in the year 1975 - precisely on Sept. 6! I arrived in Big Spring, Texas on the afternoon of Sept. 5, 1975 and found a large number of the Charismatic brethren weeping, wailing, and repenting in preparation for the rapture the following day. It fell my lot to declare to the brethren assembled in the meeting where I was speaking that night that nothing absolutely nothing - would happen the next day. Of course, Jesus didn't come on Sept. 6, 1975 and seven years afterward the long awaited planetary alignment turned out to be a non-event! The mischief done by these well-meaning men is all the greater when they coolly fix a fresh date when the march of time has utterly falsified their previous dogmatic chronological predictions. It is still a very adulterous generation which seeks after a sign.
Some months ago I received in the mail a booklet sent from a country in South America, in which certain brethren share that it has been revealed to them in a strikingly supernatural manner, and confirmed through many humble saints and varied spiritual manifestations, that Pope John Paul II is the Antichrist; the "rapture" will take place in 1987; and the consummation of all things will follow in 1991. I do not hesitate to tell you that none of these things will happen, either! Another letter came across my desk bearing this news: "We've met some interesting saints who have been walking in the Spirit since 1948 & 1950. One said (in 1948) a sister had a Christmas cactus and a spider came on it and spun the word: MILLENNIUM 198-. The date was complete to the year, but no one could believe that the Lord's coming would be so long delayed as the eighties. After all, the Lord was moving mightily and the Jews had just come back to their homeland! The words and date remained for three days and three nights and then both spider and web disappeared. But no one could remember the date, though many had seen it."
Though Jesus and the apostles told us there would be a rash of false prophets in the closing days of this age, I never cease to be amazed at the number of people who are claiming that they have some kind of direct revelation from God about any number of events to transpire in this hour, and the dates on which they are to occur. In 198l Bill Maupin, leader of the Lighthouse Gospel Tract Foundation in Tucson, Arizona, proclaimed that Christ would return on June 28 of that year, and rapture his followers to heaven. He also stated that prior to the June 28th date, Damascus, the Syrian capital, and Lebanon would both fall to Israeli conquest, and Egypt would regain the Sinai Peninsula. Maupin said he would wait in the nude on June 28 for Christ to return and take him and his followers to heaven.
You may smile to yourself at such obvious error, but I will incur the wrath of many well-meaning people when I declare that not a few of these false prophets are in the so called "end-time" or "sonship" message, and in the midst of those sincere saints pressing on into the fullness of God. Over the past several years I have heard countless visions and prophecies proclaiming that the Great Tribulation would begin in 1970, or 1975, or 1978, or on some other date; that the sons of God would be manifested in 1968, or 1974, or 1976, or 1978, or 1982, or 1986, or 1988; many other events I have heard prophesied, none of which ever came to pass! Some of these deceivers required their people to go out into the wilderness places to establish wilderness hideouts, hoping to escape the coming judgment. Some, to this day, are stockpiling guns and amunition and food and plan to shoot their way through the tribulation.
Every attempt that has been made to fix a date, even approximately, has brought the truth into discredit, and has dishonored our Lord, especially in view of the fact that many predictions have been made, and then changed with startling craftiness, in order that the date might still further be postponed, in view of the previous mistakes. These failures point out not merely that these men are mistaken about the TIME of Christ's return; they prove further that their WHOLE CONCEPT OF THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST IS FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED - they know not WHEN He comes; they perceive not the PURPOSE of His coming; and they understand not HOW He comes! The "orthodox" teaching on the "second coming" of Christ gets people into many unexplainable predicaments, out of which they cannot extricate themselves honorably and logically. The system will not work. It will not work because it is a lie. There is not one scripture in the whole Bible to uphold the popular theory. But there are many to prove it false, and much precious and extremely vital truth which the preachers and churches have totally missed.
THANK GOD that He delivers us from all this fantastic nonsense! And in its place he directs our attention to what HE is doing, yes, that which HE IS BECOMING and FULFILLING in His elect. We look, indeed, for HIS GLORIOUS APPEARING, and rejoice with joy unspeakable in that wherein He has appeared unto us, and in the glory in which He shall yet appear in surpassing splendor, praise HIS wonderful name!
THE COMING OF CHRIST IN THE FEASTS
It is infinitely necessary that every Christian understand that the coming of the Lord is carefully established and explicitly revealed through the Old Testament Feasts of the Lord. There is a simple order which God has established relative to the unfolding of truth and the progression of His purposes, and it is this: "Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual" (I Cor. 15:46). This principle is evident everywhere in the scriptures. First the old creation, then the New. First Adam, the man of earth, then the Last Adam, the Man from heaven. First the Passover, with its lamb slain in Israel, then the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. First the.law, and then Grace. First the temple in Jerusalem built of stone, then the temple of God which you are, composed of living stones built up an habitation of God through the Spirit. And the wonder of it all is this, that the end of the Old is the beginning of the New: and out of that which is destined to pass away there cometh forth that which is destined to remain.
While men speak of the "first coming" and the "second coming" of Christ, God's program is in THREES. God has promised to meet with man in THREE DIMENSIONS. "THREE TIMES in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which HE shall choose; in the feast of UNLEAVENED BREAD (Passover), and in the feast of WEEKS (Pentecost), and in the feast of TABERNACLES: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty" (Deut. 16:16). God says that He will meet with man THREE times - in the three great Feasts of the Lord! "THREE TIMES in a year shall all your males appear before the Lord." To "appear before the Lord" designates not only an action on your part, but a reciprocal action on God's part. Not only must you appear, but HE MUST APPEAR! It is a joint-meeting in which YOU APPEAR B-E-F-O-R-E H-I-M, or as the apostle has so eloquently explained, "When Christ, who is our life, SHALL APPEAR, then shall YE ALSO APPEAR WITH HIM in glory" (Col. 3:4).
The Feasts of Jehovah were but types and shadows of those things which were yet to come. These Feasts portrayed in their typology God's plan for man even to the very end of the ages. They bring to us the unfolding purpose of God for us from the foundation of the world. An Old Testament type is literally a word picture or living example that prefigures that which is to come. In another sense, it is an exact shadow of that which does not yet exist. The apostle Paul in speaking of those things which happened to Israel in their wilderness journey stated, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples (examples, object lessons), and they are written for OUR ADMONITION, UPON WHOM THE ENDS OF THE WORLD (AGE) ARE COME" (I Cor. 10:11). The apostle Paul again explains to us, "For the law HAVING A SHADOW OF GOOD THINGS TO COME, and not the very image of the things..." (Heb. 10:1). The shadows of the law were but school-masters to bring us to Christ. The greater work of a SPIRITUAL NATURE was still to be accomplished to fulfill these Old Testament types and shadows of which the three Feasts of Jehovah are a major part.
The three primary Feasts given to Israel were the Feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Two of these Feasts have now been fulfilled and are still being fulfilled in the body of Christ today. The last Feast still waits a future fulfillment that will begin at the completion and maturity of the Christ-body at the end of this age. Because of their typical nature, the Feasts have many times been overlooked as to their great significance in the proper interpretation of Bible prophecy. The Bible is full of such great truths that have been given for our enrichment and instruction, it it is up to those who "follow ON to know the Lord" to diligently dig out those truths that will lead us into greater depths in the Lord. Let us consider these Feasts in the light of our forward walk in God.
When God meets man in the first dimension, He meets us in the Feast of Passover. Jesus appears to us, He comes to us as SAVIOUR in that realm. "When I see the blood, I will pass-over you!" (Ex. 12:13). I dare say every reader of these lines has passed through that Feast, has met and seen and experienced the Lord in that realm. "For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us" (I Cor. 5:7). Jesus is the Lamb of God. The Old Paschal Feast is gone forever. We no longer need a Paschal Feast of the old type, we no longer need to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem in the Old Feast, for HE HAS APPEARED unto us as the Lamb of God and has cleansed us with His precious blood. Has God met with you for the first time? Has Christ come to you in the first dimension? Has He appeared to you as the Lamb of God? Have you eaten the Lamb? If so, the Lamb is WITHIN you!
The Feast of Pentecost was a separate Feast and the Pentecostal experience is a separate experience. Has God met with you a second time? Has Christ come to you in a second dimension of His presence and life and glory? Has He come from heaven as a rushing mighty wind and filled your house with power and glory? Has He appeared to you as Baptiser with the Holy Ghost and fire? Have you appeared before Him in the spiritual Feast of Pentecost? Then you are blessed indeed! But God does not stop at Pentecost and the second Feast is but the "earnest" and the "firstfruits" of the final Feast! In Israel the Feast of Pentecost was "the feast of harvest, the FIRSTFRUITS of thy labors" (Deut. 16:9-12). Under New Testament economy this is the FIRSTFRUITS OF THE SPIRIT. "And not only they, but ourselves also which have the FIRSTFRUITS of the Spirit..." (Rom. 8:23).
The last great Feast of the Israelite year was Tabernacles ... and startling as it might seem, this is the Feast that remains to be fulfilled! Tabernacles is called "the Feast of Ingathering, which is in the END OF THE YEAR." Pentecost is only the firstfruits of the Spirit, but Tabernacles is the full harvest - FULLNESS! And this fullness comes in the END of the year, at the completion of our walk with God, and I believe that we have not witnessed such fullness in any save in our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and neither shall we until the very close of this present age, The Feast of Tabernacles could not be celebrated until Israel had left the wilderness behind, and was dwelling in Canaan. Even so, Christ is bringing a great company of apprehended ones, in the END of this age, out of their wilderness wanderings of immaturity, carnality and struggle on into their promised land - the measure of the stature of the FULLNESS OF CHRIST. Oh, yes, God shall surely give unto the elect sons of God the FULLNESS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD of which we, up until this time, have only received the "earnest" or "firstfruits."
I do not hesitate to say that we are still partaking of the Feast of Pentecost. But I have good news for you. JESUS IS COMING AGAIN! He is coming in the Feast of Tabernacles, and BLESSED are they who are called to this great Feast, that which supersedes Pentecost, that which is the balance of the meal of which Passover and Pentecost were merely the first courses. As we leave this Feast in great strength, those who shall represent the Kingdom of God on this planet from that time forth will be abiding in the fullness of HIS RESURRECTION LIFE. It shall mean a new day of hope and deliverance and glory for the whole earth as the Lord COMES AGAIN to meet man in this great and glorious Feast of HIS FULLNESS. This is the coming of the Lord that. the churches and television and radio evangelists know nothing about. The "rapture" crowd doesn't actually believe in the "COMING of the Lord" anyway - they believe in the "GOING of the saints"! While we teach the "APPEARING of Jesus" they teach the "DISAPPEARING of the Church." How much more wonderful and beautiful is the truth! Jesus is COMING! Glory to God!