PICTURE ABOVE:THE BUTTERFLY – “AN EMBLEM OF RESURRECTION”:-
Observe, then, it is not a resurrection at death which is therein set forth:- The grub comes forth from the egg of the caterpillar, to feed on leaves. When it has attained its full size, and finished its earthly life, it prepares its coffin, and rolls its self up in its winter cerements. But when the spring opens up into summer, it comes forth from its buried existence to live its new and ethereal life. All the winter it remains in suspended animation; its new life is entered on by bursting forth of its coffin to enjoy its airy heritage and pasture. So with man. Death is his entry on the state of the chrysalis. It is not till he has burst the tomb that he comes forth to his heavenly heritage and life. – ROBERT GOVETT
THE CLOTHES IN THE TOMB
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
Eight is the number of Resurrection. Eight resurrections are recorded in Scripture; Jesus rose on the first or eighth day; the risen lost are classed in eight divisions (Rev. 21: 8); and the name ‘Jesus’ makes 888 – “I am resurrection and life” (John 11: 25). By a happily apt coincidence, in August of this year,  within the inner enclosure of the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, a little group of eight, all Christians including the guide, gazed at the empty slab; and one of the party remarked:- “The whole Christian Faith is within this little grotto: this empty tomb proves everything backward, and everything forward, and reveals nothing less than the Son of God.”
The Garden Tomb – the only such tomb, except another several
* “General Gordon, when satisfied with the site of
Now one master-fact dominates the situation. Both John and Peter enter the tomb: both enter quite incredulous – “for as yet they knew not the Scripture that he must rise again from the dead”: yet something, which they looked at, instantly proved a miraculous resurrection to John. “He saw and BELIEVED.” Immense stress is laid in the passage on what the two Apostles stared at in utter amazement, and what startled John – the first man on earth – into instant Christian faith. Facts (as someone has said) are the pointing fingers of God. What was it that they saw?
What they saw, and all that they saw, is recorded: John “beholdeth the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, that was upon his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up in a place by itself” – rather, separate, and fallen inward. Thus they saw the grave-clothes, stiffened by frequent swathes, and encrusted with the gummy spices in their folds, lying empty upon the rock – whether fallen quite flat, or still inflated, and supported by their own thickness, the Scripture does not say; the napkin for the head was ‘folded inward’ – the Greek word does not mean a folding for neatness’ sake – that is, fallen flat, but still folded, and lying separately, where the head had lain. So the clothes, lying empty, were an exact reproduction of the missing corpse.* And this is all that they saw. Nicodemus had brought a hundred weight of myrrh and aloes, a gift not only of great cost, but of large bulk; and these spices, probably in the form of a coarse powder, would be sprinkled freely through the garments. No spices had been liberated by the disrobing of the Body. Nothing was visible in the tomb but the clothes.
· “The napkin was ‘folded inward’; as is the case when we put a handkerchief over the head, and tie it under the chin. It was folded ‘separately,’ and yet so as to preserve the united appearance of the grave-clothes. The unity of appearance which the clothes had at first, when they encompassed the corpse, was there still; but the body which gave them that unity was not there” (Govett). It is of deep interest to note that this discovery from the Greek, revealed decades ago (so far as we know) solely in Latharn’s Risen Master and Govett’s John, is now emphasized by the guide in the Garden Tomb as a commonplace of exposition.
Therefore the revelation of what had happened at once burst upon John. For nothing else could explain the simple facts. The knots, and the swathes, and the bandages were exactly as Joseph and Nicodemus had left them: only the Body was gone. What did this prove? That the Body had not slipt out of the clothes, laying them on one side as it did so; nor been disrobed, by men or angels, and removed; or been taken out of the tomb clothed:* in a flash John’s astounded gaze saw that the Body had passed up through the clothes, leaving them absolutely intact. So therefore also no spice was visible. If the body had been disrobed, either by men or angels, either by friend or foe; or if Christ Himself had stood erect, discarding the wraps – the ‘death’ being a swoon only; or the resurrection a ‘resuscitation’ only, like that of Lazarus – the masses of spice, shaken loose, would have fallen to the floor, and littered it; but if the Lord had passed up through the undisturbed folds, the spice would remain concealed in the bound and knotted grave-clothes, and in the holy quiet of the sacred grave all that would be missing would be the Body.** This was exactly what they saw.
* We assume the possibility of removal, only to clinch its impossibility; for the armed guard blocked any theft by friend or foe, and the authority of Imperial Rome, which locked the grave, yielded only to Angels from another world.
** In apocryphal writings immediately
succeeding the time of the Apostles it is said that enormous multitudes
streamed out of
Now this simple fact exactly defines and expresses the resurrection body. Lazarus was temporarily raised, and died again; and therefore the Saviour gives the command – “Loose him” – that is, unfold the wrappings – “and let him go” (John 11: 44). For four thousand years man had had no real resurrection: if anyone had been raised, it had been by a call from outside the tomb; each, if buried, had had to be unclothed of the death-wrappings; and none had come forth clothed in eternal flesh, but had died again. But in the Lord’s tomb was something absolutely unique. It was the same body, for it bore every wound that had been inflicted on the cross – a fact that makes any substitution of a fresh body, or the survival of Christ’s spirit [and soul] alone, wholly impossible; yet it was a changed body, for it passed through locked doors (John 20: 19), and ascended exactly as it was through the stratosphere into the Heaven of heavens. This change in the body the clothes proved. It was exactly such a body as Paul defines a true resurrection body to be:- “it is sown a natural body” – that is, it dies a body limited sharply by natural laws; “it is raised a spiritual body” – equally a body, but a body now fitted for another world: for “there are celestial bodies” – bodies built for heaven – “and bodies terrestrial” (1 Cor. 15: 40) – physical frames suited for an earthly environment: both are bodies of flesh, but the spiritual body is something we have never seen or known. The one resurrection (as distinct from resuscitation) throughout all human history lay disclosed in the undisturbed wrappings lying on the slab of rock.
[* Note. The ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’ are not synonymous. The animating ‘spirit’ returns to God at the time of death; the disembodied ‘soul’ descends into Hades. At the time of resurrection, the ‘spirit’, ‘soul’ and ‘body’ are reunited.]
Thus the whole Christian Faith starts from, and is founded upon, a fact, not a dogma; and while any fact, when expressed in words, becomes a dogma – the only form in which the fact can reach later generations – the Faith remains for ever founded on the fact. And the fact, in this case, is inconceivably significant. If sin had been in Christ He could not have risen; and, had it not been on Christ, He would not have died: but as sinless, He was free to bear the death-penalty for others; and as pronounced still sinless by the resurrection, the sin He bore has been expiated and consumed. The God of inflexible justice and awful holiness has loosed the pangs that were ours, and accepted our Sacrifice by exalting it: if my sins were not consumed, He would not be where He is. “Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted God hath made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” The clothes, lying in their perfect stillness, are the silent witnesses of a world-sacrifice and a world redeemed.
The sceptical thinker imagines that the intellect stifles the heart, whereas it is the heart that stifles the intellect. “Ye will not to come” (John 5: 40), our Lord Himself says. “Matthew Arnold,” says Dr. Hubert Simpson, “was seated next an old friend of mine, who told me of the incident on one occasion on the platform in the Agricultural Hall where D. L. Moody was preaching; on my friend’s other side sat Gladstone, deeply moved, to whom, after the great evangelist had finished his address, Matthew Arnold leant across, and said, ‘I would give everything I possess to believe that.’” What the unbeliever rejects is not dogma but fact; and the only saving faith in the world necessarily disappears with the fact. As Professor Edwin Lewis, a Modernist who is calling a halt on Modernism, has just said:- “The Jesus of history passed for evermore into the Christ of faith by reason of the Resurrection as actual fact; and if that be denied, the history of Christianity is the history of a vast delusion.” “IF CHRIST HATH NOT BEEN RAISED, YOUR FAITH IS VAIN; YE ARE YET IN YOUR SINS” (1 Cor. 15: 17).
When Robert Govett brought our his Entrance Into the Kingdom, he said (in his second preface):-
“The native magnitude of this truth must speedily redeem it
from all obscurity.” The
Scriptural evidence is so sure and the conclusion so certain, that he seemed so
justified in his forecast; “but it is plain now” - [more than 111 years since his
death] – “that he greatly
under-estimated the unconquerable antagonism in our hearts for all truths
which search or threaten us. Only
is this royal truth emerging” – [through the internet and various prophetical writings]; “and general coming persecution is likely to
prove its powerful forcing-bed, for believers will see the Coming Age more
clearly when they have lost this. It may be symptomatic that Grace and Truth (Sept. 1934) refers to
its modern re-discoverer as ‘that prolific
expounder of the Word of God, Robert Govett, whose
works are today’ – [through the efforts of Lewis
Schoettle, - Schoettle Publishing
“Dr Neighbour, who is [was] a foremost preacher in the
“The organ of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, the Alliance Weekly (Jan. 5, 1935), justly observes:- ‘The careless believer is excluded from the joy of his Lord, which to him is a veritable ‘outer darkness,’ although differing from the judgment of lost souls. Failure to teach this has allowed much sin and coldness in the lives of multitudes of professing Christians.’ ”
* * *
PRINCIPLES OF SCRIPTURE
By D. A. SIMONS
1. Take the plain literal meaning of the word without ‘spiritualizing’ it, or reading anything into it.
2. Compare Scripture with Scripture. Let Scripture interpret itself.
3. Symbolic, prophetic and allegorical passages must be interpreted consistently with their own style.
4. Remember dispensational significances, but do not be ruled by them.
5. Prayer, concentration, and the ‘unction’ of the Holy Spirit are indispensable.
6. Willingness to sacrifice pre-conceived ideas and previously held convictions; catholicity of outlook; and the remembrance that English is an elastic language, will help.
7. Willingness to submit conclusions and difficulties to the arbitration of properly constituted authorities* also helps.
* Such as the great Councils of the Church.
8. Participation and interest (well-subordinated) in world affairs, especially for the elucidation of prophecy.
Of Joseph Rabinowitz, whom Delitzsh
considered the most remarkable Jewish convert since Saul of Tarsus, Dr. A. J. Gordan
wrote:- “We found ourselves at our lodgings in the next room to a
Russian guest, whose name was not yet told us.
Hearing in the evening the strains and subdued and fervent Hebrew
chanting, we inquired who our neighbour might be, and learned that he was one
Joseph Rabinowitz of
* * *
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
“From end to end of the country,” says an American contemporary, “Fundamentalists are discussing whether the Church will pass through the Tribulation.” Probably this is inevitable everywhere. It is safe to say that when the century opened no one of the dominant school of prophecy, which expects the whole Church to disappear before the Tribulation, ever imagined that we should be here to see what we are witnessing in Russia, Italy, and Germany; and as the evil process deepens and spreads, it is bound to lead to a general re-examination of foundations. The problem is too practical and fearfully urgent to be left in the mists of controversial strife, and much less in the midnight of the undiscovered and the unknown.
The master principle that has to be ascertained is extremely simple. The issue is narrowed down to this:- whether removal from the earth is solely an act of grace irrespective of watchfulness or sanctity, or else a reward, based therefore on conduct after conversion: for if it is of grace only, there is no reason why all should not be removed simultaneously before the storm; and if it is a reward, it is manifest that some will escape the storm, and some will not. If so extraordinary a physical miracle, unprecedented, gigantic, is founded on grace alone, the removal of all will be before the Tribulation, or after it, solely according to the sovereign decision of God; but if it be a reward, the entire Church can neither incur nor escape the Tribulation, but the removal will be correspondingly graded. If rapture is the first act of the new age, it must under the heading of judgment and not of grace; and thus conduct – “I know thy works” - would at once come into view, and regulate the removal.* All are agreed that by examination of the Scriptures alone can the truth be determined; and we would do well to remember the likelihood that the side which maintains its grace is the side which will prove its truth. In general outline, as apart from detailed study, rapture as a reward may be given in a bird’s-eye view as follows:-
* Dr. E. W. Bullinger’s remark (How to Enjoy the Bible, p. 150) may be taken as a summary of the usual criticism:- “To say that the Church of God will be divided, and part of it go through the Tribulation, and part not; and that this division is based on the degree of holiness or watchfulness, is to destroy the whole foundation of Grace, and put human merit in its place.” But obviously this criticism is meaningless if rapture is a reward; and the [regenerate] believer who imagines that he will receive any reward without deserving it, as being granted on the ground of grace alone, has some painful lessons to learn at the Judgment-Seat of Christ.
1. All Rapture is one in principle, and must ultimately embrace all believers (2 Cor. 5: 10), and so Scripture does not speak of raptures, in the plural: nevertheless plurality of rapture is a probable fact;* for isolated acts of rapture have already occurred (as our Lord’s, and presumably the saints of Matt. 27: 52), and will occur again, as distinct from the Church (e.g. martyrs under Antichrist who are on high with Christ, Rev. 15: 2); for Rapture, though one in principle and comprehension, is effected in separate and graded instalments.
[* For an alternative interpretation to Mr. Panton’s multiple raptures, read G. H. Lang’s ‘Firstfruits and Harvest’.]
2. The phrase ‘rapture of the Church’ (whether before the Great Tribulation or after) occurs nowhere in the Scripture, and deviation from Scripture phraseology always betrays a deviation from Scripture truth.
3. The Epistles which most exhaustively state Church privileges (Ephesians and Colossians) are silent on rapture, from which it is a legitimate inference that rapture is not a privilege attached to simple faith; nor can Rapture occur in the dispensation of Grace at all, since it is the recall of God’s ambassadors for war, - the judgment Throne is set before the cry goes forth, “Come up hither!” (Rev. 4: 1),- and it is the extinction of Church standing on the earth.
4. The only passage that appears to state a solitary rapture embracing all believers is addressed to disciples described as abounding in goodness and love (1 Thess. 1: 3), and, as Scriptural sufferers, ready to be accounted worthy of the Kingdom (2 Thess. 1: 5) - that is, to believers already qualified for instant rapture; and it expressly implies that it is only the premature dread of being overtaken by the Day of the Lord which is forbidden.*
* “That ye be not QUICKLY shaken from your mind” - prematurely terrified – “as that the day of the Lord is now present” (2 Thess. 2: 2): believers actually caught by that Day may well be panic stricken; for the Judgments throughout the Tribulation are punitive (Rom. 2: 5), though, for the child of God, also remedial. Paul, like his Lord, warns in this very passage against spiritual slumber (1 Thess. 5: 6). “Each in his own company” implies distinction in rapture “in His Presence,” i.e., during the Parousia (1 Cor. 15: 23): so 1 Cor. 15: 52 speaks of universal change, not simultaneous rapture.
5. For all the passages dealing, technically and expressly, with requisites for rapture,* - and which therefore must be decisive of the question, - assert personal watchfulness and worthiness as essential; the ready virgin alone enters (Matt. 25: 10), the ready householder alone is un-robbed (Matt. 24: 44), the ready disciple alone is rapt (Luke 17: 34) – “therefore be ye also READY.”
* Luke 21: 36; Matt. 24: 42; Heb. 11: 5; Rev. 3: 3; Rev. 10; 1 Cor. 15: 23 and 1 Thess. 4: 17, deal merely with the fact.
6. Thus the two current views, basing themselves on two apparently antagonistic sets of Scripture - namely (1) that all believers will escape the Tribulation, and (2) that all will pass through it - both avoid personal responsibility by casting upon God the deliverance, or the non-deliverance, as (in either case) part of the economy of Grace; whereas God places the responsibility of escape upon His People: the whole Word of God taken together, here as ever, is a just balance between two sharp extremes; and so to a watchful church (Rev. 3: 10) a conditional promise is given, and to an unwatchful (Rev. 3: 3) a conditional threat.
7. Former precedent also rules in favour of exclusiveness in priority of rapture: for not all the redeemed accompanied Enoch, or Elijah, or Christ: even among prophets, Enoch is taken, Lamech is left - Elijah is taken, Elisha is left; (though for Elisha and the Apostles no dishonour was involved, since God was not then about to flood the earth with His judgments).
8. The Type revealed expressly for this point is wholly decisive: for the Wheat is the Seed the Son of man has sown, and is sowing (Matt. 13: 38); and the garnering (according to the Type) is accomplished in a first sheaf (Christ), then in first-fruits* then in harvest, and finally in “corners of the field” - all thus reaped according to ripeness (Lev. 23: 10, 17, 22); for all immature grain ripens, sooner or later, in the violent heats (Rev. 14: 15, margin R.V.) of the Tribulation.
* The current interpretation that the two first-fruit loaves are Jew and Gentile in the Church at Pentecost is an error on the face of it; for every section of the harvest is the reaping of the wheat, in resurrection or rapture, or both, and its garnering on high; and there was no removal from the earth at Pentecost. The reapers, throughout, are angels (Matt. 13: 39): even the first Sheaf - our Lord – “was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24: 51). That Christ was not the only first-fruits is certain from Rev. 14: 4. Our Lord Himself asserts that the spiritual harvesting equally with the natural occurs solely according to maturity: “when the fruit [grain] is ripe, immediately he putteth in the sickle” (Mark 4: 29). Wheat is never reaped because it is wheat, but only if and when it is ripe.
9. Our Lord Himself asserts (Matt. 5: 13) that while His disciples, as the salt of the earth, cannot change their nature, they can lose their savour, and that all such salt will be cast out and trodden under foot of men; and He therefore commands (Luke 21: 36) a perpetual prayer for escape.
10. The Judgment-Seat will redress the balance between all saints, both dead and living, so that the unwatchful dead will gain no advantage by death over the unwatchful living, nor the watchful living gain at the expense of the watchful dead: for our deserts are not all reaped at the same moment; - “some men’s sins are evident, going before unto judgment and some men also they follow after” (1 Tim. 5: 24).
11. Our Lord, from the view-point of the Revelation and of His Advent, divides the Church throughout this dispensation (“the things which are,” Rev. 1: 19) into seven divisions: so the Apocalypse reveals seven raptures* extending over the period of the Parousia**; or at least refers seven times to raptures, the majority of which (e.g. Rev. 11: 12; 12: 5; 15: 2) are provably distinct resurrections and ascensions.
* Rev. 4: 1; 7: 9; 11: 12; 12: 5; 14: 1; 14: 16; 15: 2.
** ‘Parousia,’ unless accompanied by a verb implying motion, means ‘presence,’ not ‘coming’; and it is during our Lord’s presence in the heavenlies - to which Antichrist has a counterpart ‘parousia’ (2 Thess. 2: 9) apparently of the same duration - that the raptures thither take place, till the whole Church has been removed for judgment.
12. Thus there are two essentials for rapture - faith and works; or, as our Lord implies (Luke 21: 36), discipleship reinforced by unceasing vigilance and prayer: and the sole reference to rapture in the great passage on Faith defines it as a reward built upon faith. “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God translated him: FOR before his translation he hath had witness borne to him that he had been well-pleasing unto God” (Heb. 11: 5).*
* It is instructive to recollect that
the three interpretations now before the Church arose (in modern times)
simultaneously, actually within the same decade:- pre-Tribulationism with Darby;
We commend the study of this acutely practical problem to our readers. It concerns us all deeply; it must concern us ever more closely as the months pass; whether we believe that watchfulness has, or has not, a practical result in so enormous an issue must largely influence our conduct; and the fearful nature of what is coming should sober us into complete impartiality. The extremely puzzling thing to fresh investigators, increasingly so as attention is focused more and more on rapture, will be the sharp intellectual antagonism between mature, devoted intellects - such as Darby and Scofield on the one side, and Tregelles and George Muller on the other; and the bewilderment must grow when the only possible explanation of the antagonism is discovered - that some Scriptures explicitly state appearances on high before the Tribulation (e.g. Rev. 14: 1), and other Scriptures (e.g. Rev. 12: 17) as explicitly state appearances in the tribulation. But the truth cannot have been so revealed in the Scriptures as to be undiscoverable. Does not the solution of the problem become obvious? Graded removal of the wheat, turning (exactly as in the natural world) on ripeness, harmonizes all the Scriptures, reconciles antagonistic schools of prophetic thought, and provides an unsurpassed motive for constant watchfulness and unrelaxing sanctity.
* * *
SELECTED NOTES SECTION
1 BECKONING HANDS
Bishop Taylor tells of a village in
- A. B. Simpson, D.D.
2 MAZZINI ON THE COMING
The sky was dark, the heavens void, the peoples strangely agitated, or motionless in stupor. Whole nations disappeared. Others lifted their heads as if to view their fall. Throughout the world was a dull sound of dissolution. All trembled; the heavens and the earth. All belief was extinct. Man had no faith in his gods, no belief in the republic. Great principles were no more. Material interests existed still. The fatherland was no more; the solemn voice of Brutus had proclaimed the death of virtue from its tomb. Good men departed that they might not be defiled by contact with the world. The soul of man had fled; the senses reigned alone. The multitude demanded bread and the sports of the circus. Philosophy had sunk first into scepticism, then into picureanism, then into subtlety and words. Poetry was transformed into satire. Yet there were moments when men were terror-struck at the solitude around them, and trembled at their isolation. HE CAME! The soul the most full of love, the most sacredly virtuous, the most deeply inspired by God and the future that men have yet seen on earth; Jesus. He bent over the corpse of the dead world, and whispered a word of faith. And the dead arose. From the corpse arose the Christian world, the world of liberty and equality. From the clay arose the true Man, the image of God, the precursor of Humanity.
3 THE SECOND COMING
The watch of faith and prayer He set,
We kept it then, we keep it yet.
At midnight, crow of cock, or noon,
He cometh sure, He cometh soon.
He comes to chasten, not destroy,
To purge the earth from sin’s alloy.
At last, at last shall all confess
His mercy as His righteousness.
The dead shall live, the sick be whole,
The scarlet sin be white as wool;
No discord mar below, above,
The music of eternal love!
Sound, welcome trump, the last alarm!
Lord God of hosts, make bare Thine arm,
Fulfil this day our long desire,
Make sweet and clean the world with fire!
During the American Revolutionary War, General Washington came up the Brandy-wine with his army, and they
crossed the bridge. Some soldiers went
to him afterward and said, “General, what shall we do
with the bridge; burn it, or leave it there lest the enemy drive us back and we
shall want to retreat?”
5 AN INEVITABLE ADVENT
The world has never been even remotely
near conversion. Professor J. du Plessis
thus sums up the facts in the Expository Times:- “Modern missions are now about a
century and a half old. For the toil and
expenditure of these hundred and fifty years there is, statistically speaking,
not much to show. In
And now the splendid burst of Christian activity which
characterized the nineteenth century is passing. “So far from gaining new converts to our
Lord,” the Archbishops’ .Committee reports, “organized Christianity is found to
be shrinking.” A single example will
suffice. In 1926 the American Methodist
Episcopal Church had 83 missionaries in
6 BACKSLIDING HEALED
Of a time of backsliding after his conversion, Richard Weaver said:- “It required something more powerful than visions of hell to save me from my life of sin. I was still a slave to Satan - led captive by the devil at his will. One night I was sparring with a black man in a boxing saloon. We stood up foot to foot, and I let drive. The blow went home, and the blood ran down his black face. As I stood there looking at his blood, the Spirit of God brought that word to my mind, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin’; and that other word, ‘The same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him’; and that other word, ‘For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ‘Here, Charlie,’ I said, ‘pull off these; never again shall a pair of boxing gloves be put on my hands.’ I left that saloon and went home to my lodgings; and there in my bedroom I poured out my soul to the Lord and asked Him to heal my backsliding. In answer He sent me that word, ‘I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for my own sake, and will not remember thy sins.’ So He put a ring on my hand again, and also shoes on my feet.”
* * *
SECOND ADVENT DATES
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
“THE TERMINATION OF THE ‘TIMES OF THE GENTILES’ MEETS IN 1934: NO CHRONOLOGIC PROPHECY OF SCRIPTURE INDICATES ANY DATE BEYOND THIS YEAR.”
We are now in 1935, and these words of Dr. Grattan Guinness ought to sound the death-knell of Advent dates; for no previous falsification has ever proved so disastrous, none has yet occurred that ought to be so final, as this overthrow, on its author’s own confession, of far the most elaborate calculation of the exact date of our Lord’s return ever given to the Church of God.
The estimated dates have been innumerable. Lactantius set the date as A.D. 500. Thousands sold all that they had and went to
* Wilbur M. Smith,
It is needless to say that the years are strewn with the wreckage of these ‘prophecies.’ Vivid examples have been before us all in our own days. A great gathering in the Royal Albert Hall on March 1, 1927, attended by many devout Christians, was told that the Battle of Armageddon would be fought on the 28th day of May, 1928. At Queen’s Hall, May 2nd, 1933, Mr. A. E. Ware, an earnest Christian, with a well-worn Bible in his hand, announced:- “I do at this point declare that this present year, 1933, being seven years from 1940, is going to witness the opening of the end of the Age with all that that means. The God Who mocks no man has caused me to come and stand before you positively to affirm and declare that in about 40 days from this May 2nd, 1933 - that is, not on June 12th, but at some time just before or just after June 12th, our Lord Jesus Christ shall rise up from the right hand of God. For this first time in history every fact here presented is reconciled with the actual letter of Scripture.” And now the date of the prince of calculators, Dr. Grattan Guinness, has gone down in the common ruin.
The effects are disastrous. As Dr. S. H. Kellogg has said:- “There are many who see in every war, or rumour of war, in every earthquake, famine, or pestilence, a precursor of the imminent advent of the Lord, and who are never slow to prophesy with confidence, nothing disheartened by repeated failures of their predictions. And it is not too much to say that the lamentable discomfiture of many such well-meaning interpreters of the signs of the times, and the repeated disappointments which have befallen them, have been the chief cause of the extreme impatience with which many good Christian people hear any reference to signs of the second advent, and a cause of the very strong disinclination to all study of the prophetic Word.” It is a peculiarly discouraging form of error; for our Lord says- “In an hour that YE THINK NOT the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 24: 44): that is, the named date will never be the actual date.
Not infrequently, all down the Christian ages, date-fixture has
been directly demonic. Mr. Robert Baxter, the first Irvingite ‘prophet,’ says:- “Again the ‘power’ was most abundant upon me;
and very distinctly we were commanded to ‘count the days, 1260,’ the days
appointed for testimony, at the end of which the saints should go up to meet
the Lord in the air.”* A cable from
* Narrative of Facts Characterizing the Spiritual Manifestations, p. 16.
Concerning an astronomical basis for such dates, whether in pyramids or elsewhere, far too little heed has been given to Mr. G. H. Pember’s warning. We quote from a hitherto unpublished letter:- “When attempts are made to fix dates by Astronomy, that should be called by its proper name ‘Astrology,’ a ‘science’ to which the Bible shows no favour.” All alleged discovery of the unknown by means of the stars is Astrology, and Astrology is one of the earliest forms of spiritism. A concrete case of demon deception it may be wise to chronicle, in the hope of safeguarding simple but indiscriminating hearts in days when we are all in peril of seductive spirits. “At one of our Pentecostal Union meetings while listening to an address on the Coming of Jesus, and praising God for it in my heart, I noticed myself repeating in ‘tongues’ in a low tone a short sentence, which on closer examination I found to be so similar to Spanish and French, that I was able to translate it. The translation gave the length of time revealed to me in September, 1907 (the time that should elapse between that date and my being with the Lord), less six months.
“For seven years I was given no liberty to mention the year of promise to anyone; but after the war broke out that restriction was removed. On September 29, 1907, in answer to the question, ‘How many are the days of Thy servant?’ under the power of the Spirit I was made to count to the figure ten. This brings us to September, 1917. The little sentence spoken in ‘tongues’ some months later pointed to the same year: the translation read – ‘Nine years and a half - suddenly!’ I therefore believe that my departure will take place on or shortly before September 29, 1917; and as the evidence is so strongly in favour of translation, I believe it will be by this means. This will no doubt be the first Ascension, composed of ‘overcoming,’ watching believers who escape the sufferings of the Tribulation period. It seems presumption to class one’s self amongst the ‘overcomers,’ but ‘what God has promised He is able also to perform;’ and, because of His wonderful love and omnipotent power, the writer cannot believe that she will be found among the missing ones.’”*
* When Shall We Rise to Meet the Lord? By J. C. B. Here is the strictly cognate deception of a personally assured rapture, when God has purposely and wisely concealed both the date and the persons.
But well balanced and otherwise deeply Scriptural believers have also been misled and mainly by the oversight of three facts. (1) All the facts and figures for deducing the date were equally before Christ and the Apostles; yet our Lord says explicitly (Matt. 24: 36) that even He did not know the day or the hour: therefore that the date is discoverable by us from the Old Testament, when our Lord and the Apostles made no such discovery, is simply inconceivable. (2) All numbers which foretell events throughout the Bible, whether in days, months, or years, have been literally fulfilled;* and ‘years’ are nowhere given foretelling either Advent beforehand. ** Apart from special demonic ‘revelations,’ the whole of the dating so constantly pressed upon the Church of God is founded on a single passage; and that Daniel’s ‘heptads’ in that passage (Dan. 9: 24) are ‘weeks of years’ is pure conjecture, and without a parallel in Scripture. (3) Our whole summons to perpetual watchfulness, based as it is by our Lord (Luke 12: 40) on the fact that it will be a date which we have not calculated, collapses ipso facto with the discovery of the date. For the Lord Jesus says that we know neither the day nor the hour, and for that reason must watch perpetually: the discovery of the date, therefore, is either the overthrow of His truthfulness, or else it is a pure illusion; and in any case it destroys the Divine intent - our vigilance - in the withheld fact, and vitiates the whole moral attitude commanded by our Lord.
* Gen. 7: 4; Gen. 15: 13; Num. 14: 33; Jer. 25: 11; Matt. 12: 40.
** The forty-two months named in Rev. 13: 5 are merely the close of the epoch,
whatever may be the date of the Advent.
There is no proof whatever of a day standing for a year outside the
symbolic action (Ezek. 4: 5) in which it is
In the crimson of the morning,
In the whiteness of the noon,
In the amber glory of the day’s retreat,
In the midnight robed in darkness,
Or the gleaming of the moon,
I listen for the coming of His feet.
Down the minster aisles of splendour,
From betwixt the cherubim,
Through the wond’ring throng with movements strong and sweet,
Sounds His victory-tread approaching
With a movement far and dim -
The music of the coming of His feet.
Sandall’d not with sheen of silver,
Girdled not with woven gold,
Weighted not with shimmering gems and odours sweet,
But white-wing’d and shod with glory
In the Tabor light of old -
The glory of the coming of His feet.
He is coming, 0 my spirit,
With His everlasting peace,
With His blessedness immortal and complete;
He is coming 0 my spirit,
And His coming brings release.
I am waiting for the coming of His feet!
* * *
“The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that cause stumbling, and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He that hath ears, let him hear:”
(Matt. 13: 41, 42, R.V.).
“Fear not the things which thou art about to suffer: behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death:”
(Rev. 2: 10, 11, R.V.).