« PreviousContinue »
Thy dead shall live, their dead bodies shall rise: Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust.
For thy covering shall be as the dew of the morning,
"A buzz from a multitude of men!
He that forceth a passage is gone up before them!
They have forced a passage, and have passed through the gate, and are gone forth by it,
And their King passeth before them, even Jehovah, at their head." +
"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake," &c. I
The risen dead, and those of the same redeemed family that are alive and remain,-they having been, in a moment, changed, as another Scripture will inform us, into glorified spirits, are caught away together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. They meet him beyond the clouds, before his feet stand again upon the earth; and this explains those many Scriptures that represent the saints as being with the great Redeemer when he comes again on the earth. Such, it appears from this Scripture, will be the fact for they are summoned, whether from earth or from Paradise, to meet their Lord in the air, and are ever to be with him: so that when he is revealed in flaming fire to the unbelieving world, they are "with him in glory." Hence we see the fulfilment of the most ancient oracle: "Behold, the Lord cometh with his holy myriads to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
* Isaiah, xxvi.
+ Micah, ii.
✰ Daniel, xii. 2
The apostle continues, ver. 18, "Wherefore comfort one another with these words." This revelation was to be the source of their comfort respecting their departed brethren, whose untimely end, perhaps, they were bewailing. This was to be the topic of consolation in their exhortations to one another, in every afflictive circumstance of their pilgrimage.
"But of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you."*
The last words of their Master had forbade them to expect that a revelation would then, or perhaps ever, be made of the exact time when this great event should come to pass. It would certainly take the world unawares, as Christ had himself said :—
"For yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night: for when they shall say,”—or, "shall be saying,"-" Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."
However, as we have seen in former prophecies, the people of God would not be altogether unapprized of the coming of their Master: if they know not the day nor the hour, yet they will have some intimation of its near approach :
"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are the children of the light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober: for they that sleep, sleep in the night, and they that be drunken, are drunken in the night. But let
❤ Chap, v. 1.
us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and, for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him."
2 Thess. i. and ii. with 1 Tim. iv. and 2 Tim. iii.
IN the first chapter of the second epistle to the same church, adverting to the persecutions and tribulations that they had endured, the apostle observes, "a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer." Your suffering in his cause is an evidence that God will give you the kingdom,- he would not let you suffer for him, had he not a rich recompense in store.
"Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."
"When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, taking vengeance." What light does this throw on former prophecies!
"He shall rain upon the wicked lightning, fire, and sulphur."+" Thou puttest them in a furnace of
• Ver. 4, &c.
+ Psalın xi. 6.
fire, at the time of thine appearing."*" Therefore, the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.”†-"It is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion; and the streams thereof [of the spiritual Edom] shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched day nor night; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever."+ -"For, behold, the Lord will come with fire and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will Jehovah plead with all flesh," &c. || Compare also the vision respecting the "Ancient of Days," in Daniel: "His throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels burning fire: a fiery stream issued and came forth from before him," &c.-" The body" of the fourth beast is "destroyed and given to the burning flame."
Here, too, we remark again the same style ever used in Scripture respecting this great day, when the Son of Man is revealed. It addresses the church as a society that is to remain till that day arrives, and in that day alone is she, as a body, to expect the redress of all her wrongs. But we have already seen how every individual member of the church, in every age, will be equally interested in the events of that day: because all the elect of God, "whether they sleep or wake, will live together with Christ," and be among the "holy myriads" that come in that day with the Lord from heaven. The passage before us, moreover, speaks of those who trouble the
Psalm xxi. 9.
+ Isaiah, xxiv. 6.
|| Isaiah, lxvi. 15.
church, as if, in a body, they must also await in that day the vengeance of the great Redeemer: at least, the language will bear this construction; and prophecies already considered have led us to the conclusion, that, perhaps, the notorious persecutors of the people of God may be summoned from their graves, and from the abode of the dead, to meet their punishment at that day, with the survivors of their party.
The apostle continues, speaking of their doom :
"Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, when he shall come to be glorified in,” or “ with," 66 ""his or among," saints, and to be admired in all them that believe," or the object of their praise and adoration."
Immediately afterwards, the apostle proceeds to obviate certain mistaken notions, which the Thessalonians had conceived, respecting the very near approach of the day of Christ's coming: -
1. "Now we beseech you, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to him, that ye be not soon shaken, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter, as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand."
It appears from this, that the primitive church was attempted to be thrown into confusion, and the minds of its members diverted from their proper duties in life, by a persuasion that the great day, the subject of so many prophecies, when the Saviour was to appear again and gather all his elect around him, was about to come