This is an appendix to the series which concluded last month (Ed).
Are there two phases of the Lords Coming?
It is taught by some that there are not two phases to our Lords coming with an interval in between of "days of tribulation". This was one of those great truths recovered in that virtually worldwide revival of nearly two centuries ago. We must distinguish between His coming as the Morning Star, in grace, and as the lightning, in irresistible judgement; His coming to the air (1 Thess 4) and His coming to the Mount of Olives (Zech 14); His coming for us (Jn 14) and His coming with us (Col 3). Further, at His coming to the air we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit shall receive sonship (Rom 8.23), whereas at His manifestation in glory we shall be manifested with Him as the sons of God. Romans 8.19 states: "For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God".
We must ask the question, "What of the events in heaven between these two phases of His coming if there be no interval between?". I refer to such events as the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Marriage of the Lamb, and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Further, what of the events on earth between the two phases of His coming? I refer to the seals, trumpets and vials judgments, the harlot church, the revived Roman empire, the devil being cast on to the earth and the rise and fall of his two confederates, the beast and the false prophet, together with many other things.
In this connection we must also consider the line of teaching that the church will pass through the Tribulation. First, the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation are part of the prophetic calendar. It will be the seventieth week (of years) of Gods prophetic dealing with Judah. The church has no place in the prophetic calendar. Prophecy has to do with the earth and Gods earthly people. The Tribulation will be the time of Jacobs trouble, not the churchs trouble. Second, Matthew chapters 10 and 25 inform us that during the time of Tribulation the godly Jew (the elect of Israel) shall be Gods witness on the earth preaching the gospel of the kingdom. It would be impossible that there should be two witnesses for God with different messages at the same time. We shall see later that the blood of Christ is the assurance of our deliverance from that coming wrath (Rom 5.9), and the coming of Christ the occasion of it (1 Thess 1).
Is there a partial rapture?
Some also teach that there will be a partial rapture of the saints when our Lord shall come again. It is said that He will appear the second time unto salvation only to them that look for Him. Hebrew 9.28 is quoted: "Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation".
First of all this verse does not relate to the church but rather the godly Jew in a future day. There are three appearings of our Lord in Hebrews 9. The background is the Day of Atonement, details of which are given in Leviticus 16, when the High Priest made atonement for his family and for the whole nation. First, on that day a bullock was slain and sacrificed on the altar, its blood having been caught in a basin. This was fulfilled when Christ "once in the end of the world (age) appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Heb 9.26). Second, the High Priest took the blood of the newly slain bullock into the Holiest to make atonement for his family by sprinkling the blood on and before the Mercy Seat. The moment he did this atonement was made for his family. The family of the High Priest represent the saints of this age of grace. How do I know my sins are forgiven? The One in whom I have put my trust is now in heaven before the face of God for me. This is the teaching of Hebrews 9.24. Christ is entered "into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us". My Saviour is now in heaven. I have not seen Him, but I know that He is there for me in all the acceptance of His sacrifice and eternal efficacy of His blood.
Third, the High Priest made atonement for the nation when something additional was required to be done. A goat was sacrificed and the High Priest took the blood of the sacrifice for the nation into the holiest and sprinkled that blood also on and before the Mercy Seat. The nation did not then know that its sin had been atoned for: they were eagerly waiting outside. The High Priest then emerged from the Holy Place, appeared before the nation, and confessed the sins of the nation on the head of a live goat. He sent this goat away by the hand of a fit man into a land uninhabited, never again to be seen. The nation, on the appearing of the High Priest, then knew their sins had been atoned for. This is the teaching of Hebrews 9.28: "And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation".
Brethren, the day is coming when Israels Messiah Priest shall appear to it a second time. He has already appeared to it once when He went to Calvary to expiate its sin. When He appears the second time He shall appear without sin, apart altogether from the sin question. This He dealt with at Calvary at His first appearing. Calvary requires no repetition. He will appear unto their salvation, making good to the nation the salvation procured at His first appearing. They shall look on Him whom they pierced and shall say, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (Is 53.5).
Thus he appears for us now in the presence of God but He will appear to them when they look for Him as their Messiah. To read into Hebrews 9.28 a partial rapture affecting Christians of this day of grace is a very wrong interpretation of this verse. The partial rapture theory is fundamental error affecting the resurrection of Christ, the value of His sacrifice, and the gospel as a whole. There will be no partial rapture of the living saints when our Lord comes: we shall all go.
It is of interest to note that the "second time" has a Jewish connection in Scripture. In Acts 7 Joseph was made known unto his brethren (v.13) and Moses (v.35) went to his people a second time. Joseph made known his glory to his brethren; Moses was sent as a ruler and deliverer. Notice also Hosea 6.2, which says, "After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight".
Is there only one resurrection?
Next we consider the idea sometimes propounded that there is only one resurrection, a general one. Those who teach this invariably quote John 5.28-29, which says, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice [the voice of the Son of man], and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation". What is this hour? Does it mean that all shall hear the resurrection voice at the same time and come forth, as some think and teach?
Please notice that just three verses earlier our Lord has spoken of another hour. Verse 25 says, "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live". It is the voice of the Son of God. In verse 28 it is the voice of the Son of man raising the physically dead in the future. In the present hour, verse 25, it is the voice of the Son of God quickening the spiritually dead. Notice that both are spoken of as an "hour". The hour in which the quickening voice of the Son of God has been giving eternal life to the spiritually dead has been a long one - very nearly two thousand years. The hour in which the resurrection voice of the Son of man will raise the physically dead will also be a long one. It will start at the rapture and will not terminate until the resurrection of the wicked dead at the Great White Throne.
In Revelation 20 John tells us that there will be a space of one thousand years between the resurrection unto life and the resurrection unto damnation. Verses 4 - 5 state, "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished".