The whole work of the redemption of all the worlds ‑ for heaven is cleansed as well as earth ‑ is compressed into three appearances of Christ. For redemption was pictured ages earlier by the triple action of the High Priest on the Day of Atonement.  Outside the Temple he slew the bullock of sin‑offering: inside the Temple he presented its blood: issuing out of the Temple, he appears to the waiting people in his ‘robes of glory and beauty.’  The work of Christ is a designed and exact replica.  He appeared outside the Temple – which is heaven – to “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself”; He appears in the Temple above for us; and He will appear a second time to the waiting people outside the Temple – which is, on earth.  And every appearance is decisively final. He died once for all: He, ascended once for all: He will come again once for all.


So the climax of all history, and the crisis of the worlds, begins with the Lord’s first appearance. “Now once for all at the end of the ages hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9: 26). The Christian dispensation is the closing epoch before judgment; and the blazing portal of that dispensation is Calvary. This was an appearance limited to thirty‑three years: it had one sole and central object ‑ the removal of sin: viewing earth from the Throne of God, after four thousand years of man’s history unrolling, God saw that the world’s sole problem is sin ‑ that one word which never occurs in the Press of the world, a word avoided by philosophers, studiedly unknown to Science: so therefore the whole approach of the Godhead earthward is for the annihilation of sin.


How then was sin abolished? Not by Christ’s teaching; not by His example; but “by the sacrifice Of HIMSELF; having been once for all offered to bear the sins of many.” This alone accounts for the cessation of all sacrifice for two thousand years. Jesus came to abolish sin: if the ransom was not all paid at once, so that some of it remains to be paid; if the punishment was only partially borne, so that some of the penalty yet remains to be borne; if the sacrifice ‑ like the High Priest’s annual offering ‑ was ineffective or partial, and so did not really remove the sin: ‑ then the offering must be repeated. But, on the contrary, if a debt has been dis­charged in full, fresh payment is absurd: if all sin has been expiated, it is impossible to expiate it again; ‑ earth can see no second Gethsemane, no second Calvary: therefore if we miss it, we miss all. Moreover, the nature of the sacrifice – Himself ‑ made it impossible to be repeated; for a priest could offer the blood of another repeatedly, but his own blood ‑ that is, in death ‑ only once: “It is appointed unto men to die once for all.” And again, as the sacrifice was infinite – “HIMSELF” ‑ it is impossible, it is inconceivable, that it should be repeated; and as it was God Himself that was offered, it atoned for the sins of the whole world, and there­fore for all generations; as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” it covers all human sin, past, present, and until the final judgment.


So God solved the one mighty, central problem of the universe ‑ the abolition of sin ‑ by Christ’s first appearance: He now applies this solution first to Heaven. The Lord’s second appearance, therefore, is in Heaven. “Christ entered into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God.” The word here used ‑ an unveiled, face to face, reciprocal gaze ‑ was never used, because it could not, in the Old Testa­ment: the High Priest was designedly veiled by the incense, Jehovah was designedly veiled in the cloud on the Mercy Seat: so that which satisfies the face of God in unhindered communion may surely satisfy us ‑ the Sacrifice for a world’s sin. God only can represent God; man only can represent man; and both meet in the Mediator on high. So the im­mense practical results of Calvary begin in the second appear­ance. So enormously effective was Calvary that it cleansed, not only earth, but heaven, defiled by the activities and abominations of Satan and his angels.


The function of this second appearance, as it relates to us, and covering an intervening epoch of two thousand years, is given in one pregnant phrase:‑ “to appear before the face of God FOR us” ‑ that is, on our behalf, to stand on our side, to take our part. Two main functions of the High Priest are embodied here; and (1) the first is the swinging of the golden censer of incense ‑ that is intercession (Lev. 16: 12). It is almost startling to hear the truth:‑If any [of us] sin, we have an advocate with the Father” (1 John 2: 1): if I sin, the eye, the thought, the solicitude of the Lord Jesus are fixed on me, and His overpowering influence with God is expressed in words: whether we wake or sleep, His inter­cessions ascend for us, and He may even be asking for us the contrary to what we are asking for ourselves. The second great function of the High Priest inside the Temple, (2) namely, the bringing of the blood before God, will soon be of enormous importance to us. The wrath of God is coming; and as Jehovah said, “Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them” (Num. 16: 45), and Aaron, rush­ing in with his censer, stayed the plague on God’s own people; so in that day the Lord Jesus presents the Blood before the face of God,* the sole shield between us and‑fire.


[*For the Blood is in Heaven. Centuries earlier the prophecy was, ‑ “Neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption” (Ps. 16: 10): no corruption therefore could, or did, touch the Sacred Body, including the blood. Moreover, the Lord’s blood is explicitly stated to be incorruptibleYe were redeemed, not with corruptible things, but with precious blood” (1 Pet. 1: 18); and, as explicitly, in a list in which every item is a concrete reality, the blood is stated to be now in the heavenlies (Heb. 12: 24). So the Revised Version brings out, in a direct statement, our High Priest’s entry into the Holiest with the blood:‑who brought again from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood(Heb. 13: 20).]



So now is unfolded the third and final appearance of Messiah Christ. The High Priest, having completed the presentment of the blood, changed his robes; and having put off his sacri­ficial garments, vested himself in his ‘robes of glory and beauty,’ and issued out of the Temple to the waiting people. “So Christ also shall appear” ‑ be visibly seen, conspicuously manifest Himself – “a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him, unto salvation”: salvation wrought, salva­tion presented, now salvation accomplished and practically applied. It is only the second time that He will appear in two thousand years: therefore the Second Advent is not like the appearance to Paul on the way to Damascus, or to John in Patmos; but an exact repetition, in a physical, bodily coming, of the First: thus completely overthrowing the common contention that the Second Advent is our Lord coming to us at death or in a sudden emergency.* But it is a coming “apart from sin,” not bearing its burden, but bringing its discharge; not to bear guilt, but to judge it; and so to sweep it out of God’s righteous universe for ever.


[* Nor is it possible to miss the significance of one phrase. The constant emphasis in current teaching is that our Lord comes “for His Church”: the inspired statement is that “He shall appear to them that wait for him.” That the majority of believers are not waiting for the Second Advent is a truism impossible of denial, for they themselves are the first to assert it. Govett’s translation is remarkable:‑He shall be seen by those who are expecting him to save them.” Ultimately every eye will see Him, but His first appearance is to the watchful, rapt at the opening of the Parousia in the heavens.]


So therefore the function of the third appearance is re­markably expressed and curtailed:‑to them that wait for him, UNTO SALVATION.” It has yet to be proved that the whole universe is fundamentally righteous; and nothing less than the personal presence of the Lord, returned to earth, can cure the radical disorganization caused by sin, as He returns backed with all the authority of what He has wrought. Heaven is first emptied of the Satanic hosts as He descends, for heaven is blood‑cleansed; the cursed soil of earth, blood-­cleansed, displaces the thorn by the fig‑tree, the desert by the garden, and the fury of the wild beasts disappears; nations, snarling and fighting like so many wild beasts, are replaced by nations completely regenerated, because blood­-cleansed; Israel, on the edge of being annihilated, becomes, blood‑cleansed, the Royal Nation; and the saints who return with the Lord, blood‑cleansed both in standing and walk (Rev. 7: 14), are re‑bodied, sinless, enthroned.


For lo, the days are hast’ning on

By prophet‑bards foretold,

When with the ever‑circling years

Comes round the Age of Gold;


When peace shall over all the earth

Her ancient splendours fling,

And the whole world send back the song

Which now the angels sing.