Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Doctrine of the Second Coming

Over the next year I hope to work steadily at composing a book on the "Doctrine of the Second Coming" of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have been working on the format of the book and hope to complete chapter one, the Introduction, very soon. I hope then to be able to publish at least one chapter each week.

Stephen M. Garrett
September, 07

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Is It Time For God To Act?

God's Word on God's Timing

"It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law." (Psalm 119: 126 - KJV)

"It is time for you to act, O LORD; your law is being broken." (NIV)

The Pslamist does not ask God if it is time, as though he does not know. To ask such a question suggests that the querist imagines it might be time. But, here it is not a question, if we can accept the common translation of "it is time for you to act O Lord." No, rather than asking God "if" it is "time" for God to "act," he states it as a positive declaration, as being something about which he is confident. "God, IT IS TIME, for you to act!"

This is not to imply that the Psalmist believed that he could "set the time" for the Lord to act, at least not in an absolute sense. It is not the speech of a superior to an inferior, as a boss saying to an employee - "It is time for you to go to work." Nor does this language of the Psalmist imply that God did not know whether it was time for him to act. He was not attempting to inform God as if he controlled God's time clock or work agenda. No, God controlled his clock and agenda, not vice versa.

I think rather that the language is expressive of the fact that something has just been revealed to the Psalmist, the result of what he has just been contemplating. I think it just "dawned on him" that, viewing the present circumstances, viewing the "signs of the times," and knowing something about the history of how God has worked in the past, and knowing something of what he has promised to do in the future, WHEN certain specified conditions and circumstances arise, then it is easy to see how he could say - "It is time!"

I have a strong belief that the latter day saints, those who are here in the days of the Apocalypse, will witness a restoration of divine supernatural activity, and will experience another outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a true "latter day rain," wherein the "charismata" is restored and the effects intended by such a revival of divine activity are realized.

Doubtless it is not God's ordinary working and acting of which the Psalmist speaks, for God was doing that already, regularly and continually, and without interruption. The particular work to which the Psalmist alludes is a work and activity of God that seems to have been previously promised and one that is extraordinary.

In the debate over the "charismata" and the "times of miracle," between the "continuationists" and the "cessationists," the discussion involves the question as to whether the supernatural activity of God in the early church ceased forever.

Among the "continuationists" are those who say this supernatural working of God never ceased but has continued till this hour. On the other hand, some "continuationists" may allow for this absence generally, though perhaps not universally. The supernatural working of God that is being discussed by the Psalmist has to do with some special work of God, long waited for.

This verse from the Psalmist is very appropriate today for Christians to consider. It is a thought that is intimately connected with the "charismata" or the "miraculous gifts" and supernatural goings on among the early Christians of the first century and with the question of whether latter day Christians have any hope of God acting in the same manner again.

I believe the "charismata" did cease to be a vital activity in the church after the first century. The divine activity in this manner came to a seeming halt, although not abruptly.

The reason(s) for this cessation of miraculous gifts, of God's special activity and supernatural working, is not a matter of universal agreement among the "cessationists."

It's Time Lord!

In a nutshell, that is what the Psalmist seems to be saying to the Lord. He knew something of God's time clock, of his agenda. "Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.." (Amos 3: 7 NIV)

Jesus said to his disciples that the Holy Spirit would- "show you things to come." (John 16: 13) And - "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."

John Gill commented on the above Psalm verse:

"The words may be rendered, "it is time to work for the Lord"; so the Septuagint version; to which agrees the Targum, "it is time to do the will of the Lord"; and the Syriac and Arabic versions, "it is time to worship the Lord."

It is proper, in declining times, for good men to bestir themselves and be in action, to attempt the revival of religion, to do all that in them lies to support the cause of God, and to vindicate his honour and glory."

Is the verse saying it is time for God to work and act or time for the Psalmist to work and act?

One does not necessarily exclude the other, however, although I think the common translation is to be preferred - "it is time for you, O God, to act." If it truly becomes God's time to work, to act in an extraordinary way, it will also become time for his servants to act and to work.

I certainly do agree with Dr. Gill. When times of great wickedness abound in the land, then it is time for God's people to increase their spiritual activities. It is time for them to be more fervent in prayer, more active in witnessing and preaching, more desirous of spiritual gifts and "power with God."

Doubtless it was this increase in wickedness in the land that aroused in the Psalmist the belief that indeed the time had come for God to act in a special way to halt the prevailing and growing cancer of sin and rebellion.

"It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for (because) they have made void thy law."

This recalls the prophecy and promise made to Abraham respecting God's future plans to destroy the wicked cities of the plain.

"And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." (Genesis 15: 15,16)

It is affirmed that the impetus or catalyst for initiating the promised future work of God would be the "filling up" of the "iniquity" of the people who are to be adversely affected by this divine work. It is a similar expression to the words of Jesus to the wicked Jews in his day, as a condition to a future divine work of judgment, where he said - "fill up then the measure of your fathers." (Matthew 23: 32)

We, as Christians, and faithful servants and friends of the Lord Jesus Christ, living in the extreme last days of the inter-advent period, and seeing the abounding wickedness, and such evil as was exactly of the kind that should exist just prior to the Lord's commencement of "end time events," ought also to be saying, perhaps, as did the Psalmist, "it is time for you to act, O Lord"!

Perhaps we should be praying as did the early disciples in the Book of Acts, who prayed thusly:

"And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness." (4: 29-31)

Is there no need for such prayers today? Do we not understand what the purpose of such divine supernatural workings of God are intended to accomplish? It is certain to me that if men truly understood the purpose of such special divine workings then they too would see that there are truly yet times coming when the Christian community will have reason to say "It is time for you to work O Lord," and they will themselves begin to do mighty deeds themselves with great zeal, power and authority.

Daniel prophesied that it would be at the extreme end of the last days that the true followers of Jehovah would be severely tempted and tried, heavily persecuted by the forces of evil, and yet it would also be a time when they will "be strong and do exploits."

"...but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits." (Daniel 11: 32)

"High Time"

"And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed." (Romans 13: 11)

"High time"
carries the idea that something is due to be done, almost overdue. It is sometimes translated as simply "the hour."

"Knowing the time" = knowing what time it is generally.
that 'now' it is the "hour" ('high time') = knowing specifically the moment.

Get up!
The night is almost fully past and it is high time we got up! We are on the eve of the rising day, and the normal time for getting up is about to pass, and we are in danger of the day arriving and not finding us up and ready!

Recall the lesson from the parable of the "ten virgins" in Matthew 25. Some missed out and were not ready when the time came for the Lord to act.

God sometimes is also viewed as asleep, although "he who keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps." (Psalm 121: 4) So, to say to God, "it is time for you to act," is similar to saying, "Lord, it is time for you to rise from sleep," for so it often "seems" as if it is the case with God in his dealings with us, though not actually. Sometimes God seems to leave people alone to themselves, "giving them up" (Romans 1: 24), doing to people as he commanded the eleven tribes to do to the tribe of Ephraim, saying - "leave him alone." (Hosea 4: 17)

We could talk about the many times God may say to us - "It is time for you to act." Or, "why do you call upon me to act when it is you who need to act?" You say it is time for me to act, but is it not time for you to act?

"And Jesus answered them, The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified and exalted." (John 12: 23)

Jesus knew how to read the "signs of the times," understood the nature and character of God his Father, and therefore could know his mind as things transpired, and could also know of his plans and his agenda and timetable.

Is it time for God to act, my Christian friends? Is it time for us to act?

Pre-Trib Imminency?

I do not believe in "imminency" as the Pre-Trib school does. I think the following is "strong meat" for them.


I. Peter, you will be put to death for your faith.

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.” (Jn 21:18,19).

So Jesus prophesied St. Peter’s death in old age, his martyrdom.

How could Peter then expect the Lord to come "at any minute" to "rapture" him during his life?

II. "Paul, you must testify for me at Rome and there be put to death."

"Paul Purposes To Go To Jerusalem and Then To Rome. Satan Counterattacks at Ephesus (19.21-20.1).

Paul’s purpose to go to Jerusalem in spite of warnings raises an interesting question. If the Spirit was giving him warnings, why did he proceed? In answering this question we need to recognise that part of Luke’s purpose here may well be in order to give encouragement to those facing persecution by stressing Paul’s steadfastness of purpose in the face of known adversity.

The section commences in 19.21 where we are told that ‘‘Paul purposed in the Spirit --- to go to Jerusalem’’ and that ‘‘it was necessary for him to see Rome’’, and we will soon learn that he was determined if at all possible to reach Jerusalem in time for Pentecost (20.16). On the way there he tells the Ephesians that he is going up to Jerusalem ‘‘bound in the Spirit’’ so that bonds await him in Jerusalem (20.23) and that he does not know what future awaits him, but that he is ready for martyrdom, twice telling them that they will see his face no more (20.25, 38). This latter makes it clear that he is already aware of what his future will be and is convinced that it is of the Holy Spirit. In the light of what follows we have thus to assume that God has in some way spoken to him, and indicated that his going there is of His will. This then gives positive meaning to the statement, ‘‘The will of the Lord be done’’ (21.14).

At Tyre he is again warned by some who receive a message through the Spirit and say that ‘‘he should not set foot in Jerusalem’’ (21.4). Reaching Caesarea the prophet Agabus comes from Jerusalem and indicates that he will be bound in Jerusalem and handed over to the Gentiles, so that all plead with him not to go to Jerusalem (21.10-12), at which he declares that he is ready to die for Christ.

Unless we are to see Paul as totally disobedient we must see the purpose of these revelations as in order to demonstrate Paul’s faithfulness in the face of coming martyrdom, rather than as an indication that the Spirit was actually seeking to dissuade him from going. This may be seen as confirmed by the fact that once he is in chains the Lord appears to him and tells him to be of good cheer, because as he has testified in Jerusalem, so he will in Rome (23.11). There is no rebuke and thus the Lord is clearly content with the situation. This would serve to confirm that ‘‘purposed in spirit’’ in 19.21 should be translated ‘‘purposed in the Spirit.’’ Paul, Luke informs us, is following a course determined by the Lord. 19.21 ‘‘Now after these things were ended (were fulfilled), Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, ““After I have been there, it is necessary also for me to see Rome.”” ’’

‘‘After these things were fulfilled’’ probably refers to the whole section from 12.25- 19.20. He has ministered throughout Asia Minor, Macedonia and Greece. Now all that remains for him is to testify in Jerusalem and in Rome.

As suggested above ‘‘he purposed in the Spirit’’ must probably be seen as indicating the inner compulsion of the Spirit. It is by the Spirit’s impulsion that he now goes forward. And this interpretation is supported by the ‘‘it is necessary’’ which regularly indicates the divine compulsion. Yet even if we took it to mean ‘‘purposed in (his own) spirit’’ our conclusion must be little different, for our knowledge of Paul is such as to recognise that he would only have this purpose if he believed it to be of God. Prior to his visit, however, it was his intention first to visit the European churches that he had founded in Macedonia and Achaia.

19.22 ‘‘And having sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.’’

So, both Peter and Paul were destined to die martyrs and were aware of this years before their deaths for Christ. Could they have expected the Lord to come then in their life times? No.

“And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:4-11)

The question I ask is this: If the second coming of Christ is to be viewed as immediately imminent, was this true for the apostles, the very first Christians, or did it only become imminent sometime after the death of the apostles? If later, what event signaled that the second coming was now imminent?

Obviously, Peter did not expect the “rapture” to occur before he died. Obviously, neither did Paul. If we look at the conversation in Acts 1, we observe that the apostles are interested in knowing if and when the Lord will “restore the kingdom to Israel.” After Jesus ascends, two angels testify of his second coming, doubtless the time when he will “restore the kingdom.” But, does he tell them to expect that restoration and coming to be now imminent? No. He rather tells them to go wait at Jerusalem and that these things will then take place, before his return and the restoration of the sovereignty to Israel.

1. You all will receive power, the promise of the Father, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

2. You all will become witnesses to me “unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

It is thus clear that they could not expect their Lord’s return, nor the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning “restoration,” until the above things are fulfilled. This also is in agreement with the prior teachings of Jesus who said:

“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” (Matt. 10:22,23)

Clearly he prophesied that the gospel would be fully preached in all the cities of Israel before his return.

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14)

How could it be said that the apostles, while they were, together with the early church, carrying out this commission, expected Christ to come before this witness to all the nations had been made?

On Imminency - Part Two

Besides the prophecies of our Lord about the death of Peter and Paul (and the other apostles too, it seems -- see Matt. 24:9 where Christ says to the apostles, "they will kill you."), and the things enumerated in Acts 1:4-11, things which Christ prophesied must also first come to pass before his return from heaven and the time when he "restores the kingdom (sovereignty) to Israel," I will now offer other prophecies that also must first come to pass before the coming of the Lord.

The Olivet Discourse & Imminency

Many of these other events, which are ordained to precede the return of our Lord, are enumerated and detailed in the "Olivet Discourse."

In that sermon it is very clear that

1. The Destruction of Jerusalem would occur before his second coming.

2. The dispersion of the Jews would follow that destruction and take place before his return to earth to reign.

3. The "gospel of the kingdom" would be "preached in all the world" before his return.

4. The "trodding down of Jerusalem by the Gentiles" will occur before the Lord comes again.

5. The "great tribulation" too would occur before the "elect are gathered from the four corners of the earth."

6. The "setting up" of the "Abomination of Desolation" in the temple of God, of which Daniel prophesied, would also occur before the coming of the Lord.

I will look more closely at this discourse later.

From other prophecies of Christ and his apostles, we also learn that these things too must first occur before the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1. The Coming of Elijah the prophet. Said Jesus: "Elias truly shall (yet future) first come, and restore all things."

2. The Coming of Anti-Christ. Said Paul: "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day (the day of our "gathering together unto him," the day of the "Lord's coming/parousia," the "day of Christ") shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition..."

Note too that the Lord "destroys" Anti-Christ by "the appearing of his presence" -- "brightness of his coming." (KJV) How could he "destroy" Anti-Christ at his parousia if Anti-Christ be not then here?

Our "gathering together unto him," the "rapture" or "catching away" of the saints, clearly follows the "apostasia" and the apocalypse of Anti-Christ.

Clearly there are two "apocalypses" in this chapter, two "comings." There is the apocalypse (revelation) of Christ and his parousia (coming), and then there is the apocalypse and parousia of Anti-Christ.

Clearly Christ is revealed, undergoes his apocalypse, after the Anti-Christ is revealed, or undergoes his apocalypse. Christ comes after Anti-Christ comes.

3. The "reproving the world of sin" by the Holy Ghost. (John 16:8)

4. The "drawing all men" after the resurrection through the preaching of the gospel. (John 12:32)

5. The "regathering" of the nation of Israel. (I will elaborate on this later)

6. The coming of the "falling away" ("apostasia") mentioned in the verses refferred to above in II Thess. chpt. 2.

7. The completion of the canon of scripture with the writing of the Book of Revelation by the Apostle John. (More too on this later)

The Inter-Advent Period to be a Long Time

Here are scriptures that speak of the inter-advent period as being one of a long period of time, viewed from the human perspective.

1. "Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time." (Luke 20:9)

2. "After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them." (Matt. 25:19)

The Prophetic History of the Seven Churches of Asia

The Seven Churches of Asia, in Revelation chapters two and three, are clearly a prophetic portrait of the general drift of the church from the time of the dictating of the letters by Christ to John until his return from heaven. Both Pre-Trib and Post-Trib Premillenialists generally agree on this. In fact, I have never known a Pre-Trib advocate who did not believe that the order of these seven churches were ordained to give us such a prophetic picture of the fate of the church in the inter-advent period.

It is even argued by the leading Pre-Trib Premillenialists, men like J.A. Seiss (author of the famed book "The Apocalypse," a very good book generally), that the statement, "things which must occur after these things," means "after the church age," after the church has gone through these seven stages. This is a gross inconsistency, a glaring contradiction, for it destroys the whole idea of Pre-Trib views on "imminency."

I ask: How could the coming of Christ have been "imminent" before the church has gone through these seven stages? Could the coming of Christ have come in the Ephesian church period? Could those living in the Ephesian period expect the coming of the Lord? Clearly "the legs of the lame are not equal" here.

"Looking" and "waiting" for Christ or Anti-Christ & Signs?

It is argued by those who advocate "imminency" and a "pre-trib rapture" that those who believe in a post-trib coming of Christ, and who deny "imminency" (as it is taught by the pre-tribbers), are not looking for Christ, but are only looking for signs, for the apostacy, looking for Anti-Christ himself. Now, that is a strong charge indeed! Some so despise those of us who deny their views so vehemently that they make it a "test of fellowship" and think that those who deny the pre-trib rapture view are less holy! Again, serious charges and accusations!

Are these charges and accusations true? Are they who refuse Christian fellowship over the matter acting in the Spirit of Christ when they do so?

Comparing the Comings of Christ with regard to Imminency

Consider the argumentation of those, like John MacArthur, who spout the charges and promotes the views of the pre-trib advocates, mentioned above, in regard to those words of exhortation, in both testaments, for believers to "look for" (or "watch for"), to "wait for" (or "be patient for"), to "expect," the "coming of the Lord."

Did Eve expect the coming of the "seed of the woman"? Yes. Did she expect it to occur immediately and imminently? Yes, for when Cain was born, she exclaimed, "I have gotten a man from the Lord," doubtless believing Cain to be the fulfillment of the promise. She was wrong. The coming of the "seed of the woman" was not to come imminently.

Were they therefore not able to "look for," or "wait for" or "expect" the coming of that "seed"?

Consider too that in the time just prior to the Lord's incarnation, people in Israel were, like Simeon, "waiting for the consolation of Israel" (Luke 2:25), that is, for the coming of the Messiah. They were all "looking" for the coming of Jesus. "And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" (Matt. 11:3)

But, were they also not "looking for" his forerunner to come first according to the prophecies of Isaiah and Malachi? Just as kings, when visiting another land, in ancient times, sent before them emissaries to prepare for their arrival, so would Christ in both his comings. Did those people not "look for" the king simply because they too "looked for" the coming of his forerunners?

According to the arguments of the pre-trib advocates, the Old Testament saints, at the time of Christ's first coming, were NOT "looking for" the coming of Christ since they were "looking for" his forerunner! How is that for "logic"?

Just as Old Testament saints could "look" and "wait" for the coming of Christ, yet believe there were "signs" and events to precede it, then so can we. So, this "argument" is vain and useless.

The Birth Of Children & The Coming of Christ

It is very clear that in many passages, relative to the second coming of Christ, that it is compared to the birth of a child. Let us note these passages of scripture.

1. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." (John 16: 20-22)

2. "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." (I Thess. 5:3)

3. "And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered." (Rev. 12:2)

4. "These are the beginning of sorrows (as in child birth)." (Matt. 24:8)

When a woman is pregnant with child, she is "looking for," "waiting for," and "expecting" the birth of her child. Does this require that she believe the birth of the child is continually "imminent"? No. Also, to argue that her looking, waiting, watching, and expecting the coming of her child into the world implies that she is doing this with the belief that it is contiuously "imminent" and with the belief that nothing must come first before the birth and coming of the child, is ludicrous.

Even in the ninth month of a normal pregnancy, when the birth is even more imminent than before, when the mother is intensely "looking for" the birth of her child, does this exclude her from "looking for" the signs of that birth, the things that will "precede" it, like her birth pangs? According to the "logic" of the pre-trib advocates, she could not be "looking for" the birth of her child and be "looking for" the birth pains at the same time. This however is clearly not tenable.

So, I have shown how the argumentation and logic used by the pre-trib advocates, that says "looking for" signs and events to precede the coming of the Lord is incompatible with the idea of "looking for" the coming itself, is false; the saints "looking for" the first coming and the case of a mother "looking for" the birth of her child show how it to be false.

The only instance I know where birth pains are prophesied to occur after birth, is this passage.

"Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children." (Isa. 66:7,8)

I will not enter into a discussion of that here, but believe that at least one fulfillment of it occurred when the nation Israel gave birth to the Messiah and later suffered the travails of the destruction of her capital and temple and the dispersion of her people(in A.D. 70 and after).

I will conclude my look at this issue of "imminencey" in a third concluding article, the Lord willing, in the near future.

MacArthur on Imminence

John MacArthur wrote:

“The NT is consistent in its anticipation that the return of Christ might occur at any moment.”


“From the very earliest days of the church, the apostles and first-generation Christians nurtured an earnest expectation and fervent hope that Christ might suddenly return at any time to gather His church to heaven.”


“The writer of Hebrews cited the imminent return of Christ as a reason to remain faithful:

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.”
Hebrews 10:25

Is MacArthur right on this verse, that it promotes “imminency” and denies that there are any signs or events that must precede the arrival of “that day”?

First, let us notice two key words in the passage.

Approaching” is from eggizō and means to “draw near to,” to “join one thing to another” (Strong)

“See” is from blepōo and means to “understand” to “discern mentally” or to “perceive” (Strong)

How do we, in every day life, see the day approaching”? Is it not by looking at a clock, or by looking at the “connection” of a present event (or sign) with either a most recent one or with an impending one? Do I not see the day of my death approaching by seeing the signs of it?

The Psalmist said:

“We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long.” (Psalm 74:9)

Here it seems that the Psalmist is at odds with the thinking of MacArthur and the Pre-Tribbers in how they “see the day approaching,” or to “see” anything “approaching,” for that matter.

This passage is interesting in that it mentions key words like “see” and “signs” and “how long,” all relevant to the matter at hand. We do not often “see” “how long” because we do not “see our signs”!

Why then do Pre-Trib advocates and believers in “imminence” say that this “seeing the day approaching” is not to be looking for any event that precedes that day? Is that true in every day life?

How do I come to understand that the night, or next day, is “drawing near”? Is it not because we see “time slip away” by its connected events?

Pre-Trib folks should quit using such argumentation on such verses as Hebrew 10:25.

James 5: 7-9 & Imminence

"Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, UNTIL he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door." (James 5:7-9)

Does James teach the idea that the Christians, to whom he is writing, were to be expecting the "imminent" return of the Lord and of their "rapture" unto him? Some think so. It is a verse often cited, by "Pre-Trib" advocates, in an attempt to prove "imminency."

MacArthur cited it for that purpose, although he did not prove how the verse proved "imminency," thinking simply by highlighting the words "coming of the Lord is at hand" (wherein he assumes the typical Pre-Trib argument that "at hand" = "imminency," which it does not), and "the judge stands before the door" (where again these words are supposed to prove "imminency," again which they do not), proved it. He ought to have highlighted other things mentioned in the verse too that disprove "imminence."

But, the "waiting," and "patient waiting," and the implied "watching for" or "looking for" the "harvest" ("for the precious fruit of the earth"), by the farmer-planter, the sower, is not always "imminent" for such between the time sowing has been done and reaping is "expected." The farmer is always looking for "milestones," "sign-posts," "landmarks along the road," so to speak.

Two "sign-posts" are even mentioned in this passage, the "early rain" and the "latter rain." So, we as Christians, "look for," "watch for," "hope for," "long for," "expect," "observe the day approaching," JUST AS THE FARMER! As he looks for signs of the coming harvest, so do we. Where is the "imminent" and the "any moment" harvest here? I don't see it.

Judge Before The Door - Imminence?

"The Judge stands before the door" (James 5:9), as if about to enter the courtroom, and then sit down to judgment business.

I do not know all about "legal procedure" among the ancient Roman world, to which James no doubt alludes, in this word of warning, but I am sure that it was not all that different from our own. It is after all the basis of Western legal code and procedure. So, what does it mean, in legal procedure, for the judge to "stand before the door"?

It seems likely that the "door" alluded to is that which leads from the private chambers of the judge to the scene of trial, the "courtroom" proper, where (presumably) the jury, witnessess, accusers, prosecution, and defendants are already waiting.

Yes, the words do imply some sort of "imminence," some idea of "immediacy," and the idea that the entrance of the judge is now very near. But, does this mean that no one is looking for any event that would signal that entrance?

I can imagine myself seated in the courtroom, waiting and anticipating the the arrival and entrance of the judge; am I not looking for any sign?

I imagine people are "looking for" the first initial opening of that door (which always precedes the going through the door!), for the doorkeeper to move towards the door, for him to place his hand on the knob, and begin to open it, and to hear some court announcer say, "all rise"!

It would be foolish to argue that those, in the courtroom, who are anxiously anticipating the entrance of the judge, through the door, are not really "looking for" the judge himself because they are "looking for" these little "signs" preceding his entrance! Absurd! Bad "logic"!