And first let us make a clear distinction between the time of the Rapture and the time of the Revelation.
The principal thought in regard to the former is that it may happen NOW. Nothing is given us in Scripture so definite as to form a sign of or date for the Rapture. We are to be always watching and waiting for it, and expecting it at any moment.
It is true that the Church may see the "fig tree signs" BEGIN to come to pass l before she shall be taken out of the world to escape the Tribulation.
But these signs are of such a nature, especially the "wars and earthquakes," "distress of nations, sea and waves roaring," that the Church in each of the past eighteen centuries might consistently have believed that the signs were BEGINNING.
So we have no date for the Rapture, ONLY that it will precede the Revelation. That is, that Christ will come for His Church before He comes with His Church, the period of the Tribulation lying between the two.
The time of the Revelation, we believe, is designated by many prophetic periods, in Leviticus 26, Daniel and Revelation. But their symbolical character and our imperfect chronology render the interpretation of them difficult and uncertain. We must not take space here to consider them, but we venture to state that earnest and prayerful study of them has given us an assured conviction that they are rapidly drawing to a close.
Two events must precede the Revelation, which will indicate its proximity, to-wit: the Restoration (partial at least) of Israel, and the rise of Antichrist.
But Antichrist will not be revealed--as we understand from 2nd Thessalonians 2:7--until after the Rapture. Neither is it probable that the restoration of Israel (except partially in unbelief, Zephaniah 2:1-2), will take place until after that event. For "Jerusalem shall be trodden down. . . until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24), and the tabernacle of David shall not be rebuilt until He has taken out of the Gentiles a people to His name. Acts 15 :14-16.
It has pleased God to give signs, or evidences, of the approach of these events and by which we might know that the day was drawing near, but, as we have before said, they have been of such a character that the Church could see them repeated in each generation. And this we believe was purposely designed, in order to give the church NO DATE and NO SIGN which might so definitely indicate the time of her Rapture, that she should in any interval cease to be vigilant. It was evidently all planned, so that the unfolding of events should be, to her, a constant incentive to watchfulness.
The High Priest went into the Holy of Holies alone, and the whole congregation waited in expectation without until he had made the offering and came forth to bless them (Leviticus 16; Numbers 6:23-26; Luke 1:10). So has our High Priest entered once for all into the TRUE HOLY PLACE, and the Church should look for Him in fervent expectation, until He appears the second time without Sin unto salvation. She must watch "with loins girded about and lights burning, like men that WAIT for their Lord."
Yet we have the blessed assurance that every passing day brings our salvation nearer than when we believed. And, while it is true that the church, during all her history, has had repeated evidence that the day was approaching, we ask, what are these evidences in our time? Surely they are of especial significance.
We believe, if we can rightly read the signs of the times, that the godless, lawless trio of communism, nihilism and anarchy, so alarmingly permeating the nations today, are unclean spirits preparing the way for Antichrist.
The Jews Returning
And, again, the Jews are, even now, returning to Jerusalem.
It is said that, "At the beginning of the nineteenth century the Porte allowed no more than three hundred of the hated people to live in the city. Forty years later that restriction was removed, but another still remained, by virtue of which they were permitted only to reside in a particular quarter of the town, which was much too small for them. It was in the year 1867 this last regulation was removed and since then the progress made by the Jews in peopling their ancient capital has been extraordinary. Almost every one of the old houses as it fell vacant has been bought by them while they have built a prodigious number of new ones in all parts of the town. Schools, hospitals, and religious associations have been started on a grand scale, as also a school for manual training and of agriculture."
At the present time, 1908, the city of Jerusalem has spread over a large extent of ground outside the walls. Great hospices, hotels, churches, stores, etc., have been erected, but most notable of all, a multitude of dwellings for the Jews.
The number of Jews now residing in the inner and outer city is estimated at from 40,000 to 50,000, being more than half the entire population. Besides these, there are large colonies at Tiberias, Safed, Joppa and Hebron, and several other smaller ones in various parts of the country. The entire Jewish population of Palestine is said to be more than 80,000, so that a greater number have already returned than the 49,697 who went up with Zerubbabel from Babylon. Ezra 2:64-65.
The anti-Semitic agitations in Germany, Austria and France, and the fierce persecutions in Russia and Roumania, have stirred up the Jews of the world as the eagle doth her nest. Deut. 32 :11.
National hopes and aspirations have found vent in the organization of Chovevi Zion (Lovers of Zion) societies, and Shova Zion (colonization) societies throughout Europe and America. Land is being purchased and funds raised, on installment plans, to send back the members by lot.
A railroad has been completed from Joppa, and the engine speeds up to Jerusalem like one of Nahum's "flaming torches," (Nahum 2,3) which, the prophet says, "shall be in the day of His preparation," over the roadway which the Arabs call "Trek el Kods," significantly coinciding with the Hebrew "Derech Hakodesh" (Way of Holiness) of Isaiah 35:8.
This "highway," cast up as the Hebrew "Maslol" indicates, is a special preparation for the return of the people to Zion. Isaiah 35 :10.
Other lines of railway are projected or actually under construction to Hebron, Jericho, Acre, Tiberias and Damascus.
The Turkish hold upon the country is continually weakening, and there is considerable talk of a Jewish state. May we not conclude that the Lord is even now setting "His hand again the second time" for the restoration of His people?
"He that scattereth Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd doth his flock." Jeremiah 31 :10.
Besides these, we have other evidences. Many are running to and fro upon the highways of travel, or searching diligently through and through the prophetic Word, which is doubtless the true meaning of the passage (Daniel 12:4) and which is a sign of "the time of the end."
The awful dearth of spiritual life in the great nominal church is another evidence.
The restless and perplexed condition of the nations is also suggestive.
And there are several other evidences of which we might speak, all of which substantiate the fact that the day is "approaching." Hebrews 10 :25.
And lastly, while it is entirely unscriptural and wrong to put the second coming of our Lord any distance into the future, and likewise unscriptural and wrong to fix a date, or name the time when He shall come for His bride, yet there will be a privileged company of saints living upon the earth at the time when He shall descend from heaven, and who shall say that they will all be taken by surprise? Every generation that has lived since He went away, however dark and unspiritual it may have been, has had its band of faithful watching ones.
Shortly previous to the first coming of Christ, the Holy Ghost, although He had given, through Daniel, the definite prophecy of the seventy weeks, gave a special revelation unto the devout Simeon,-who was "waiting for the consolation of Israel," to-wit: "that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Luke 2:26. And this leads us to ask: May not the same blessed Spirit, who thus revealed this rightly event to Simeon of old (and probably to the aged Anna, also) likewise give unto a favored one, or a chosen few of the faithful watching ones, to know that their glad eyes shall see His appearing, and that they shall never taste of death. Even so now, many of the most devout and faithful of God's people, in all denominations, both in this and foreign lands, are seriously impressed with the conviction, that the coming of the Lord is near.
These are certainly sufficient evidences to enforce the apostle's injunction, that we should exhort one another "and so much the more as'' we "see the day approaching." Hebrews 10 :25.
For, if the day, or Revelation, is near, the Rapture is still nearer. And again the general conviction among Bible students and earnest Christians, that the great prophetic periods, which point to the Revelation are nearly ended, and the deep conviction expressed by many, including even statesmen and scientists, that some great event is near, may well lead us to enquire,
Watchman, What of the Night?
Ever since the sin of Adam and Eve this world has been a DARK PLACE, a moral "Night." By faith the believer looks forward, through prophecy, to the Day, the glorious Day, which is coming, when salvation, which is now by faith and hope, shall be revealed in all its grandeur and glory. For this Day the hearts of God's people yearn with earnest desire.
"Watchman; what of the Night?"
The watchman said: "The MORNING cometh, and also the NIGHT." Isaiah 21 :11-12.
To the believer it will be Morning;
To the ungodly it will be Night.
Jesus is the Morning Star, and He is also the Sun of Righteousness. Only those who are up early and watching see the Morning Star. So it will be only the true and faithful church which will see Christ at the Rapture as the Bright and Morning Star.
As the Son of Righteousness He will appear to Israel, and all the world, at the Revelation.
Over forty centuries of the Night were past when Paul wrote, "the Night is far spent, the Day is at hand." (Romans 13:12). .And surely, as eighteen centuries have since passed, it must now be ALMOST MORNING.
O! then, dear reader, "let us who are of the Day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the HOPE OF SALVATION. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain Salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." 1st Thessalonians 5:8-9. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others, but let us Watch and be Sober. 1st Thessalonians 5:6.
A dear brother writes us as follows: "I find so many who are willing to receive the truth of the Second Coming, but it is generally those who are passing through affliction, or those living very near the Lord. Those who are enjoying the well watered plains of this world, seem to care very little about seeing the Owner of the Estate. But He will come. Hallelujah! He will come. Yes! He is coming. The bride who knows the Bridegroom, and is true, says, He is coming. 'Come Lord Jesus,' Come! Come!! Come!!! Come!!!! A poor cursed earth (Rom. 8 :19-22) groans out "Come!" Thank heaven, He speaks:
SURELY I COME QUICKLY!" Revelation 22 :20.I'm waiting for Thee, Lord, Thy beauty to see, Lord, I'm waiting for Thee, For Thy coming again. Thou art gone over there, Lord, A place to prepare, Lord, Thy home I shall share At Thy coming again. 'Mid danger and fear, Lord, I'm oft weary here, Lord, The time must be near Of Thy coming again. Whilst Thou art away, Lord, I stumble and stray, Lord, Oh, hasten the day Of Thy coming again.
Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. -Luke 12 :37.
"Occupy TILL I COME."
WAITING FOR THE MORNING -Revelation 19:7.
There is no roof in all the world, of palace or of cot. That holdeth not some burdened heart, nigh breaking for it. lot; The earth is sunk in pain and tears, and closer draws the gloom; And balm for cure there can be none, till Christ, the Lord, shall come.
"0 morn, when like a summer bird, my spirit shall go free,- When I shall see Thee as Thou art, and be, my God, like Thee! Like Thee! like Thee! All spotless white-this heart, this will, as Thine! " 0 love of God, 0 blood of Christ, 0 grace and power divine!
"My Saviour, who doth know the thirst the longing spirit feels,- 0 Bridegroom, now so long afar, why stay thy chariot wheels? Were ever eyes so dim with grief, breasts so oppressed with care? Did ever hearts so yearn to catch Thy whisper from the air?"
Thou lonely one, lift up thy head, array thee for the feast; He that hath tarried long is near-the glow is in the East! 0 Morning Star, so soon to lead Thy chosen one away- 0 Sun of Righteousness, bring in the everlasting day!
"REDEMPTION DRAWETH NIGH." Luke 21 :28.My soul crieth out for a Jubilee song! There is joy in my heart, let me praise with my tongue; For I know, though the darkness of Egypt still lowers, That the time ere release is not ages, but hours. As sailors, not yet within sight of the strand, Know well their approach by the "loom of the land;" So they, who will bend but a listening ear, Can now catch the whisper that tells He is near. He is near-the stars in their courses prepare To utter the sign He hath bid them declare! The world in Its guilt waxeth haggard and grim, And its cup of iniquity tills to the brim! The curse so long camped upon Bosphorus' slde, And she that sits queen upon Tiber's foul tide, And Famine and Pestilence stalk In the band Of witness, attesting the Lord Is at hand. Spent at last the long cycle of wilderness dearth, Once again sounds of latter-rain gladden the earth In the land, still despised, but preparing even now For the feet that shall stand upon Olivet's brow. And thither to gather the tribes have begun, From the East and the West, from the climes of the sun For the times of the Gentiles have answered their need, And the hiss has gone forth unto Israel's seed. The world as of yore, naught of all doth divine, Saith again that believers are filled with new wine, Suffers warning to pass all unseen and unheard, And, like Herod, fulfills while opposing His word. Then welcome, thrice welcome, ye tokens of God! What else but His coming can comfort afford? What presence but His set this prisoned earth free? 0 Star of the Morning, our hope Is In Thee!