AND AFTER DEATH THE
"As it was appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment, so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him, shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Heb. 9:27-28.
Perhaps no text of scripture has ever been more widely misapplied than the above; it is generally supposed to refer to mankind in general, and to mean that there comes a judgment to them after death. But by reading this 27th versein connection with vss. 26 and 28, it will be seen that the "men" referred to were the various high priests of Israel. Paul is trying to show us that these "men" in the sacrifices which they "offered year by year continually," were but types of Christ; that though they offered and went into the Holy place every year, Christ as the antitype needed only to go in once. Christ's sacrifice was that of his own life, while that of these typical men was the blood of others, that is to say, these typical priests instead of laying down their lives and then being given a new, or spiritual life (as in the case with Jesus) were told to kill "a bullock" which was for, or instead of their own, natural lives; thus in figure the priest died, every time he slew the bullock. Now after thus killing the bullock it remained for the high priest to take the blood into the holy place and see whether it would be accepted. This was the judgment--trial. If the work had been all properly done, it was accepted of God and was the basis of at-one-ment for the people and the after blessing. Now notice that, "As it was appointed unto (those) men once to die, (as represented by the bullock) and after that the judgment, (to see if their sacrifice was acceptable) so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many."
Our head, Jesus, having given himself for us--the church (Eph. 5:25-27.) presented the evidences of his death in the flesh, (typified by the bullock.) Then came the trial-- Was it a perfect sacrifice? If so it would be accepted. It was perfect and was accepted of God and while the Head remained in glory, the spirit of the Head came upon all believers (at pentecost) anointing them as His body, to have share in His sufferings and to be made conformable unto His death, as represented in the goat sacrifice. Lev. 16.
Soon the body will have finished its work of "filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ." Col. 1:24. Then the Head comes to the body and takes it into the Most Holy, the sacrifice of the body being accepted through the merit of its Head. Then the appearing to bless all the people takes place. (Lev. 9:23.) When he thus appears to bless, is it the head alone which appears think you? No, "when he shall appear we also shall appear with him IN GLORY." "We know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him." 1 Jno. 3:2. We will be like him when he appears not after he appears. Will he appear in the flesh and we in the flesh? No, that would not be "in glory." Besides if you will examine the context you will readily see that the spiritual body is meant.
He took a flesh body only as a sacrifice--"A body hast thou prepared me" (for sacrifice). "He took upon him the form of a servant for the suffering of death." But when he comes forth the second time (head and body complete) it will not be to repeat the work of sacrifice, "for this he did once" but he comes forth unto salvation and he comes "IN GLORY."
Thus the prophets foresaw and foretold "the sufferings of Christ (head and body) and the glory that should follow:" "For verily when we were with you we told you before that we should suffer tribulations. No man should be moved by these afflictions, for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto." 1 Thes. 3:3-4.
Take joyfully then dear brethren the sufferings of the present, that when they are ended, we may be joined to, and "appear with Him in glory," for then "ye shall be glad also with exceeding joy."
TO WHOM DO WE APPEAR?
is a question of interest. The type (Lev. 9:23.) shows that the appearing is to "all the people." Their typical priest so appeared and so blessed "all the people" for whom the sin offerings had been made. Israel being the type of the world as the house of Aaron (type of Levi) had before been used as a type of the household of faith," from which the "little flock" of priests are selected: So our appearing will be to bless the people--the world of mankind; to raise up and bless the race fallen in death and sickness and degradation; to raise them up to perfect manhood as at first--"the restitution of all things which God hath spoken."
Throughout the "Day of atonement" --typical of the 6,000 years of sin's reign, in the latter part of which 1900 years the sacrifices have been offering--during that "day of atonement" the people were instructed (Lev. 16:29) that they should "afflict their souls" etc., typical of the world's painful and afflicted condition during sin's dominion and until their sins are blotted out and their at-one-ment with God completed. Theirs was only the type; the real atonement is almost finished and soon the blessing will begin.
Now it is these waiting multitudes --the people, who are awaiting the coming forth of the Great Prophet, Priest and King--"The Christ," "The Seed." Paul says so: "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." "For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the SONS of God." The human family will not see Jesus the head or bridegroom when he comes to get His "Jewels," "His body," "His bride." He comes as he went away--quietly, unknown to the world. (But not again in the flesh for though we have known Christ after the flesh yet now henceforth know we him (so) no more.") Earth's millions are groaning for deliverance from "the bondage of corruption" and though they may not have clear ideas of how it comes, yet in due time the deliverance shall come and they will recognize it as being the work of the "sons of God." "And it shall come to pass that every soul that will not hear (obey) that prophet (teacher) shall be cut off [die] from among his people." And all who do obey him shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption [sickness, pain and death] into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. As redeemed human children they shall [R148 : page 5] come again into the same freedom from sickness and death as that enjoyed by angels, by Adam before he sinned, etc. Pain, corruption and death are only the accompaniment and bondage resulting from sin.
Though "every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him," we do not believe He will appear (and we with Him) to all at once, but that, as indicated in our text, it will be to those that "look for Him." The seeing will not be that of the natural eye, for "without holiness no man shall see the Lord." The holy ones are the saints. "We shall see Him as He is," for we shall be like Him." There are other ways of seeing than by the natural eye. To see means to recognize; to perceive. When Jesus was present in the flesh, many saw Him with the natural eye. Few saw Him really. Eyes had they, but they saw not.
Again: "a blind man could truthfully say, "Wonderful things in the bible I see." Paul says we are to watch and "see the day approaching," &c. We thus use the word see as meaning to recognize. Now we understand that Jesus, our head, is now present as our "Morning Star" (day-bringer), preparing a "little flock." (We don't claim to know them all). The world and many of the virgins (pure ones; saints), are asleep, and know not of the "day star's" having risen. Soon the few prepared ones are caught away unknown, and, with the dead of the same class, constitute "the prophets and saints" of Rev. 11:18--the bride --the overcomers, who, under and in their leader and head, Jesus, are to "inherit all things"--be members of the "first-born"--therefore, "heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus," of whom He spake, saying: "Fear not, little flock; it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
"Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father," whose kingdom, prayed for 1800 years, will then have come: "Thy kingdom come," and following gradually comes the next clause, "Thy will be done on earth as in heaven." It requires all of the millennial age to fully accomplish God's will on earth as in heaven, and to utterly wipe away sin and its results: corruption, pain and death.
Those who will first recognize this millennial day as begun, and its sun of righteousness as having risen, the kingdom of God as having been "set up," or commenced its reign, will be the "great company who go through the coming time of trouble and come up (to the family condition, as partakers of the Divine nature), but not being the overcomers --the bride--they do not sit in the throne, but therefore are they before the throne." We say that this class, the left of the church when the bride is taken, will be the first to recognize the kingdom as being established. As we see by Rev. 19:5-9, "A voice came out of the throne, saying, 'Praise our God, all ye, His servants, and ye that fear Him, both small and great.' And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, 'Allelulia! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.'" They realize the reign as commenced, and the bride as being taken, and that they are left out of that little flock. But the plan of God begins to open out before them, and they find Him much more loving and kind than they had ever [R147 : page 6] supposed while they were bound in and to Babylon; at whose overthrow they rejoice. They begin to praise God, saying: "We may rejoice and exult, and give glory to Him, because the marriage of the Lamb came, and his wife prepared herself." [Diaglott].
Then (vs. 9,) a promise is made to this second company, viz,: that they come to the "marriage feast," when they, the "palm-bearers," shall be ushered into the presence and joyous and eternal fellowship of "the crown-wearers, the kings and priests unto God, and thus the entire family or "first-born" and many brethren be complete, and together unite in showing forth the praises of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to the world.
The second class who will recognize the kingdom as "set up" will be fleshly Israel. When toward or at the close of "the time of trouble" they shall have been gathered in great numbers and wealth to Palestine, and when the "nations shall come up to take a spoil and prey," etc., (Ezek. 38:11.) For "the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle,...and half of the city shall go into captivity, &c....Then shall the Lord go forth and fight against those nations as when He fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives," &c. (Zech. 14:1-4). This, apparently the first realization Israel will have of the kingdom's having come (Chap. 12:2,3,7-10), seems to discuss the same topic and describe the effect upon them of their marked deliverance. They recognize (look upon) Him whom they have pierced. They seem to be able to establish the identity of the Deliverer as the one they had once despised, crucified.
Our understanding is, not that they will see Jesus or any one with their eyes, nor that Jesus and His church will appear in their midst and fight and kill their enemies (we war not with carnal weapons), but that after they have been badly beaten by the great multitudes of their enemies, the Lord will appear and show Himself and fight for them "as when he fought in the day of battle." But how was that? Think of it! How he overthrew great kings and strong nations before them; nations so much stronger than they that it was a miracle. Thus God was in the midst of Israel, and delivered them from all their enemies round about. As then, so again he will reveal himself as their deliverer, and they shall say: "Lo, this is our God: We have waited for him, and he will save us." So the work of revealing progresses until "all shall know him, from the least to the greatest," and "all nations shall come and worship before him, and thus every eye shall see (recognize) him, while only the holy shall see him as he is.
Thus, too, we see how "he will be revealed in flaming fire." [Judgments.] The judgments which come upon "Babylon" and cause her overthrow open the eyes of the first mentioned class to recognize the kingdom power. The overthrow (judgments) on the attacking nations open the eyes of the Israelites similarly while the balance of mankind, living and resurrected nations, will find abundant proof of the rulings of the spiritual kingdom in the crushing and destroying of their enemies, sin and death, for "when the judgments ["flaming fire"] of the Lord are abroad in the land, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."
Thus each class, as they become interested and awakened to "look for him," shall see him. "To them that look for him, he shall appear," and we "also shall appear with him," and thus "the desire of all nations shall come."