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    October 28, 1889

    “That Blessed Hope” The Signs of the Times, 15, 41.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” There are several points that may be noted on this text: 1. Those who are dead are represented as asleep. The term is very common in the Bible. Read Job 7:21; Daniel 12:2; John 11:11-14, etc. The righteous are asleep in Jesus. 2. This being the case, it follows that the dead are unconscious, for a sleeping man knows nothing of what is going on around him. The general tenor of the inspired writings is in harmony with this idea. For examples see Job 14:14-21; Psalm 6:5; 88:10-12; 115:17; 146:3, 4; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10. 3. It is folly to say that we cannot know anything of the future. Paul said that he would not have his brethren ignorant; if we believe his words, we must admit that something can be known of man’s future. 4. It is not wrong for Christians to sorrow; the only sin is in giving away to uncontrollable grief, as did the heathen. They, having no hope, indulged in the most extravagant expressions of sorrow-tearing out the hair, rending their garments, uttering loud shrieks, cutting their flesh, etc. A Christian’s grief may be even more acute than that of the heathen, for Christianity tends to elevate, and to quicken the sensibilities, but it will always be tempered by hope.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.8

    “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” From what place will God bring them? “From heaven,” many persons say. But the apostle says that those whom he brings have been asleep, and if the view of our friends be true, it must be that the saints in heaven do nothing but sleep, and that is absurd. The psalmist says, “In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” We think it will need no argument to convince any rational person that David’s conception of “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore,” would not be met by a long period of unconscious sleep. Those who are asleep are in the grave, and from thence God will bring them, even as he did our Lord. Just as surely as Jesus died and rose again, so surely will God raise from the dead all the sleeping saints.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.9

    “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep.” Paul says, “We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord.” From this some have supposed that Paul expected that the Lord would come in a very few years, and that he would live until that event; but this was not his expectation. Paul received his instruction directly from Heaven. Now to say that Paul was mistaken in regard to the time of Christ’s second advent, is equivalent to saying either that he was not inspired, or that the Holy Spirit was mistaken. Neither of these positions can be taken by those who believe the Bible. That Paul had a correct idea of the time of the second advent, is clear from 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8. In his vivid narrative, Paul speaks of things to come as though they were present.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.10

    The word “prevent” is from the Latin words pre, before, and venio, to go, meaning, “to go before,” and was formerly used in this sense. It is so used in King James’ version. See Psalm 88:13; 119:147, 148. But as one who went before another was able to “head him off,” as it is commonly expressed, the word finally became restricted to its present signification, to hinder. The Revised Version has the passage in harmony with modern usage.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.11

    “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” We cannot regard this text in any other way than as a description of an actual occurrence to take place in the future. If the expression, “the Lord himself,” does not mean Jesus Christ in person, but is a figure of something else, what words could the apostle have used to express the reality? If this be figurative language, then there is no literal language in the Bible. It agrees, however, with the words which the angel spoke to the disciples at the ascension of Christ. Acts 1:9-11. The last clause of the verses quoted settles an important point: “And so shall we ever be with the Lord.” How shall we be with the Lord?-By the descent of Christ to raise the dead and change the living. Can we not be with him before that time?-No; for so he told his disciples when on earth. The ardent Peter said, “Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake” (John 13:27); but still Jesus did not reverse his former sentence: “As I said unto the Jews, Whither I go ye cannot come; so now I say to you.” Then he comforted them with these words: “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” This is the “blessed hope;” with these words the apostle Paul commanded Christians to comfort one another. Men should be careful how they attempt to improve on the methods laid down by Inspiration.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.12

    Some time ago a religious journal of note made an admission on this text, that was fatal to the popular view (the one which it also holds), that all men have inherited immortality. It said: “It is hard for us to understand how those converts could have imagined that it was peculiarly unfortunate to die before Christ’s second coming. It was because they imagined, and Paul too, perhaps, that Christ was to come soon, in the life-time of some of them [we have already shown that he did not imagine any such thing], and that his coming was physical; and they did not understand the doctrine of immortality of the soul.” That is, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul is so opposed to the doctrine of Christ’s second coming, that those who hold to the former necessarily ignore the latter. We believe that this is the case. But the doctrine of Christ’s second coming is one of the most prominent in the whole Bible, and it must therefore follow that the Bible is opposed to the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. It was well said that “they did not understand the doctrine of the immortality of the soul;” but if Paul and his co-laborers did not understand nor teach it, whence is it that our modern teachers have learned so much about it? Have they a later revelation in which Inspiration has corrected its former mistakes? Away with a doctrine which leads men thus to treat God’s word. Such teachers would do well to ponder upon Paul’s words to the Galatian brethren. Galatians 1:8.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.13

    “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” No argument can be drawn from this to prove that Christians cannot know anything about the Lord’s coming, for the next verse shows that he comes as a thief only to those who cry, “Peace and safety,”-those who are not watching. The brethren, Paul states, are not in darkness that that day should overtake them as a thief. Christ gave his disciples very full instructions in regard to the times and the seasons (see Matthew 24), and as the whole gospel was revealed to Paul by the Lord himself, he had imparted the same information to the Thessalonian brethren. The prophecies of the Old Testament, especially the book of Daniel, give much light on the times and the seasons.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.14

    On 1 Thessalonians 5:10, Dr. Barnes makes the following comment:-SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.15

    “‘Whether we wake or sleep.’ Whether we are found among the living or the dead when He comes. The object here is to show that the one class would have no advantage over the other. This was designed to calm their minds in their trials, and to correct an error which seems to have prevailed in the belief that those who were found alive when he should return, would have some priority over those who were dead. ‘Should live together with Him.’ The word rendered ‘together’ is not to be regarded as connected with the phrase ‘with Him,’ as meaning He and they would be together, but it refers to those who wake and those who sleep, those who are alive and those who are dead,-meaning that they would be together, or would be with the Lord at the same time; there would be no priority or precedence.”SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.16

    This is exactly the truth on this important subject. Happy would it be for Christianity if the churches had never departed from it. E.J.W.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.17

    “The Rest that Remains For the People of God. A Brief Exposition of Hebrews 4:9” The Signs of the Times, 15, 41.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” Hebrews 4:9. This text and its context require frequent explanation. We accordingly give the following, which, although brief, will, we think, be found a sufficient key to the entire chapter. That God made to Abraham a promise of an inheritance, is well known. We will quote only two texts. The first is Genesis 13:14-17: “And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth; so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.”SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.18

    Again the Lord said to Abraham, after he had offered Isaac:-“I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.” Genesis 22:17.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.19

    Putting these two texts together, we learn that the inheritance promised to Abraham contemplated peaceable and quiet possession of the land, not simply a few square miles, but of the whole world. Romans 4:13. Now it was in pursuance of this promise that the Lord delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage. See Exodus 6:1-8.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.20

    Passing by the wanderings in the wilderness, we come to the address which Moses made just before his death. Speaking to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh, who were allowed to settle on the east side of Jordan, he said: “The Lord your God hath given you this land to possess it; ye shall pass over armed before your brethren the children of Israel, ... until the Lord have given Rest unto your brethren as well as unto you, and until they also possess the land which the Lord your God hath given them beyond Jordan; and then shall ye return every man unto his possession, which I have given you.” Deuteronomy 3:18-20.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.21

    From this we learn that the giving of them rest was nothing more nor less than the establishing of them in their possession. The same thing is also shown by the following words:-SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.22

    “For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the Lord your God giveth you. But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the Lord your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; then shall there be a place,” etc. Deuteronomy 12:9-11.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.23

    In further confirmation of the idea that the promised rest comprehended quiet possession of the land, we read 2 Samuel 7:1, which says that “when the king sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies,” then he thought to build a house for the Lord. In refusing to allow him to do this work, the Lord made great promises to David, and said:-SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.24

    “Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime.” 2 Samuel 7:10.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.25

    It is evident, then, that the “rest” promised to the Israelites was the inheritance. Into this rest Joshua led them, as it is written: “And the Lord gave them rest round about according to all that he sware unto their fathers; and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand.” Joshua 21:44. Yet in the face of this declaration, the apostle declares (Hebrews 4:8, margin) that Joshua did not give them rest, and that the Lord afterward spoke of “another day,” in which they might secure rest. We have just read from 2 Samuel 7:10 the promise of that rest. If Joshua had given them that rest, then another day could not have been spoken of.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.26

    Although God did give to the Israelites the land of Canaan, Abraham had no part in it (see Acts 7:5), neither did Isaac and Jacob, to whom the promise was made as well as to Abraham; and the apostle, after mentioning these patriarchs, and many other worthies, says: “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise; God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39, 40. This shows that the possession of the land of Canaan by the Israelites did not fill all the specifications of the promise. This is still more evident from the fact that they were at peace when the Lord renewed the promise, in 2 Samuel 7:10.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.27

    But how shall we explain the statement in Joshua 21:43-45, that God gave to the Israelites that which he promised?-Simply on the ground that the partial inheritance which they then had might have been made complete if they had obeyed and trusted God. That they did not have the complete rest and inheritance that was promised to Abraham, is evident from the fact that the promise to him included nothing less than the possession of the whole world. Romans 4:13. Now from Jeremiah 17:19-27 we know that God designed that the Israelites should be forever established in the land of Canaan, whose capital, Jerusalem, was to be the capital of the whole world, even as the New Jerusalem will be the capital of the earth made new. But, although they were given possession of the capital of their inheritance, they entered not into the full possession thereof, because of unbelief; so that it was the same as though they had never had any of it.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.28

    But the “Lord is not slack concerning his promise,” and so “there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” This rest is the same as that promised to Abraham, namely, the whole earth; for, after evil-doers have all been cut off, “the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Psalm 37:11. The fact that some could not enter into rest because of unbelief, does not invalidate the promise that those who will now believe shall enter into it, for the rest was prepared and completed from the foundation of the world; and God will not allow his original plan to be frustrated. With the knowledge that the earth is the rest that was promised to Abraham and to his seed, and which remains for us who believe, it is very easy to understand Hebrews 4:3, 4, and the relation which the facts there stated bear to that rest. Thus:-SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.29

    The apostle says, “And God did rest on the seventh day from all his works.” This is positive proof of the statement made just before, namely, that “the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” Genesis 2:3 says that God “rested on the seventh day from all his works which he had made,” and that his blessing pronounced upon the seventh day was “because that in it he had rested from all his works which God created and made.” He made the earth “to be inhabited” (Isaiah 45:18), and gave it to man for a peaceful abode; and the fact that he rested on the seventh day was a proof that the works were finished and the rest prepared. The Sabbath, therefore-the memorial of God’s rest-a day in which to be glad through the work of God, and to triumph in the works of his hands, as we meditate upon their greatness (Psalm 92:4, 5), is an assurance that God has prepared a rest for his people, and that they will share it just as surely as he is the great Creator who changes not. The rest that remains is, therefore, the coming inheritance and kingdom of the saints. The “another day” of Joshua is the day of final reward.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.30

    When Christ shall descend in glory, sitting upon the throne of his glory, having received the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, that he may rid it of all that corrupt it, he will say to the righteous who have kept the faith, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34): and when they, with him, shall have executed upon the wicked the judgment that is written (see Jude 14, 15; Psalm 149:5-9), then will be fulfilled the promise given through the holy prophet: “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” Isaiah 32:17, 18. Then shall the people of God enjoy the rest which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world. E. J. W.SITI October 28, 1889, page 632.31

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