Dec 18, 2012

The End is Near IX

Day of Redemption

"And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." (Eph. 4: 30)

As was said in the previous posting, the day of the Lord and the day of judgment are talking about the same period of time.  Likewise, as we shall see, this same period is also known as "the day of redemption" and as the time known as "the revelation (apocalypse) of Jesus Christ." 

Seiss writes:

"Prominent and first among these is a book, or roll, upon the right hand of Him that sitteth on the throne, written on the inside and on the back, fast-sealed with seven seals. It was doubtless there from the very first glance the seer had of this sublime display; but it was kept out of his notice, at least reserved from the particulars of his description, until this point, at which starts one of the sublimcst scenes in heaven, and the occasion of the most tremendous convulsions and changes on earth. The meaning of it has been differently represented by different expositors. But the outlying facts, that it, and it alone, brings upon the scene the prime mover of the new song in heaven, and the great actor of all the succeeding events of earth; that He appears and deals with this book only in the character of the Lamb which had been slain; and that what He does with it is something from which all creation has shrunk back in umvorthiness and inability to perform, ought to be sufficient to set us upon the track of the conclusion, that this book has its primary and most essential reference to redemption. It has been very well observed: "If it concerned creation, there were no propriety in the Divine order of the piece, for the creation honor is all ascribed already (chap. 4 : 11), without either the presentation of the book or of the Lamb to our view. Nor, if it concerned creation, were there any fitness in presenting Him as a Lamb, and a Lamb slain; because thus was He not, when He laid the foundation of the earth, and set His compass on the face of the deep. So, likewise, from considerations merely of order, we can perceive that it is not revelation [any more than creation], with which this book is concerned; for to reveal, is proper to Him as the Word, as the Prophet, as the Messenger of the covenant, as the Light between the cherubim, as the Apostle of our profession; but it is not proper to Him as the Lamb which is slain. To reveal, is proper for Him in the form of a Man, and not in the form of a Lamb; which Lamb, though it hath horns and eyes, hath not a mouth like the mouth of a man, to speak the glorious things of God, nor speaketh it ever during these visions, and therefore we suspect that this sealed book is not so much the symbol of revelation, as it is the symbol of redemption; in which conclusion we are altogether confirmed by the song which the Living ones and the elders sung, over the taking of the book, which is altogether a song of redemption. And if it is at all admissible that the Seven Epistles cover the entire career of the present dispensation, it is simply impossible, in any direct and proper sense, to accept this sealed book as the book of the fortunes of the Church during these ages; for the book does not even appear until after the career of the Church is run. Those commentaries, therefore, which undertake to find in the opening of the seals of this book merely the history of the present dispensation, and think to exhaust their meaning in what they find in Gibbon, Alison, and the writers of this world's annals, must all pass for about so much labor lost; and, so far as touches the proper understanding of these magnificent pictures, they are worse than worthless. They may furnish much that is useful in other directions, and deserve respect for their research and ability, and help to show us how many-sided and multifariously applicable God's great prophecies are, and demonstrate how the images of the mighty things to come are reflected in the histories which precede them; but as expositions of what is chiefly and properly meant to be foreshown, they are simply mischievous failures. Having myself experienced the unfortunate bewilderment and confusion which they involve, and seen the confessed hesitation and embarrassment which they have ever entailed upon all their authors and adherents, and tested, as I believe, the utter sandincss of the foundations on which they rest, I am satisfied, convinced, and confident, that they are just what I here pronounce them to be, namely, learned blunders, and erudite but by no means harmless mistakes. It is not ecclesiastical history, which this book is introduced to foreshow, but something to which all ecclesiastical history is only the prelude and introduction, and which the Scriptures call "The redemption of the purchased possession."

"It may be well here for us to correct a misapprehension which largely obtains in the common conception of what redemption is. When this word is used, most men's minds go back to the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and think of something already accomplished and complete in the blessed facts of the blessed Savior's history. This is well enough as far as it goes, and touches indeed, the great central particulars on which redemption reposes. But, viewed as a whole, redemption is a vastly wider and more wondrous thing. It stretches back through a history of six thousand years, and yet its sublimest part is still future. It includes all past dispensations and thcophanies, and the coming and achievements of Christ in the flesh; but it embraces still other dispensations, and more wonderful thcophanies, and a more glorious advent of Christ, and vastly more far-reaching achievements, of which His miracles were the symptomatic pro-intimations. There is already much of redemptive power and blessing in the world. The truth is, that everything on earth rests on a mediatorial basis. The world stands, and man exists, only because of Christ and His undertaking to be our Saviour. But for His mcdiatorship, Adam would have perished the day that he transgressed, and never a human being would have been born. The very ungodliest of the race owe whatever blessings they enjoy to the blood and engagement of Christ. Even the lower animals, and the very grasses of the fields, live and flourish by virtue of the same. Redemption is therefore so far a living force. Like a golden chain, it girdles the world, upholds it from destruction, and sustains, and blesses all the varied and successive generations on its surface. But, all this sea of mediatorial mercies is as nothing, compared with what is yet to come. Redemption has its roots and foundations in the past, but its true realization lies in the future, and connects directly with the period and transactions to which our text relates. The Scriptures everywhere point forward to Christ's Apocalypse, as the time when first the mystery shall be finished, and the long process reach its proper consummation. Jesus talked to His disciples about the signs which were to precede His coming, and said, " When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." (Luke 21: 28.) In His view, then, redemption proper, or in its true reality, lies far more in the future than in the past; so much more that the past is hardly to be named apart from what is yet to come. And with all Paul's glorying in the cross, he did not hesitate to say: "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are, of all men, most miserable;" and that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now; and not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body." (1 Cor. 15:19; Rom. 8:22, 23.) He speaks of Christians as indeed "sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise," which he commends greatly, but which he pronounces the mere "earnest" or pledgepenny of something vastly greater—of an "inheritance" still future, which is only to come at a yet unaccomplished "redemption of the purchased possession." (Eph. 1:13,14.) To him, therefore, redemption is still largely a subject of hope. There is an inheritance pledged, and a possession purchased, but it is not yet redeemed. The action of claiming, disencumbering, and taking possession of it is still future. And it is just this action that is brought to our view in the taking up of this book and the breaking of its seals."

"The word redemption comes to us, and takes its significance from certain laws and customs of the ancient Jews. Under these laws and customs, it was impossible to alienate estates beyond a given time. Whatever disposition one may have been forced to make of his lands, and whoever might be found in possession of them, the year of Jubilee returned them to the lawful representatives of their former owners. Upon this regulation there was founded another, which made it the right of the nearest of kin to one who, through distress or otherwise, had alienated his inheritance to another party, to step in and redeem it; that is, to buy it back, and retake it, at any time, or at such times not falling within certain stipulated intervals. When an inheritance was thus disponed away by its rightful possessor, there were two books, or instruments of writing, made of the transaction, the one open, and the other sealed, specifying price and particulars. These books or mortgage-deeds went into the hands of the one to whom the property was thus made over. A sealed book thus became a standing sign of an alienated inheritance, but so held as to be liable to be recovered on the terms specified. (See Jeremiah 32 - SG)  And when any one legally representing the original proprietor, was found competent to lift and destroy that sealed instrument, and thus to buy back what had been disponed away, he was called the goel, or redeemer, and the inheritance was considered redeemed, so far that he now had full right to dispossess of it whoever might be found on it, and to enter upon its undisturbed fruition.

From this it will be seen, that the transactions which John witnessed, in regard to this sealed book, accord precisely with this ancient arrangement for the redemption of inheritances. And the coincidence is so complete, and sealed books in Scripture are so much confined to this particular sort of writings, that I take it as separating this book in God's right hand from all other subjects to the one subject of forfeited inheritances. The idea that it must refer to matters of knowledge, or information to be communicated, is a mere prejudice, derived from modern things, and not at all from any Scriptural allusions to sealed books. It is also incompatible with the intent of God's word, for it to be sealed up, in the literal sense of this passage; for that word is given for opening, not concealing; and for treating it as a sealed book, and not opening it to the people, Isaiah prophesied, and Christ himself confirmed fearful judgment upon the doctors of Jerusalem. And to make this book refer to things to be revealed, is also in disagreement with what follows the breaking of the seals; wtiich was not for the reading of the book, for no reading followed, but only shouts of praise that a worthy Redeemer was found, and the action of judgment and destruction to dispossess usurpers and aliens.

We also know very well, that there has been an inheritance forfeited and disponed away for these thousands of years, and that for all this time the proper heirs have lain out of it, and had no proper possession of it. That inheritance we know to be just ra xavra—the all things—in which man, in his first creation, was installed, and which God made good, and sin made evil. Everything testifies that it was a high, holy, and blessed investiture. But, alas, its original possessor sinned, and it passed out of his hands to the disinheritance of all his seed. The sealed book, the title-deeds of its forfeiture and mortgage, are in the hands of God, and strangers and intruders have overrun and debased it. And from the days of Adam until now, those deeds have lain in the Almighty's hands, with no one to take them up or to dispossess the aliens."

""Seven seals" are upon this book, indicative of the completeness of those bonds of forfeit which have all this while debarred Adam's seed from their proper inheritance. The original estate is totally gone from man, apart from some competent Redeemer. Just as the final taking of the book, and the breaking of its seals, eventuate in complete redemption, and the full reinstatement of the acknowledged seed into the blessedness which sin forfeited, and the Goel redeemed, so those seals unbroken, set forth the completeness of the alienation, and the thoroughness of the en cumbrances which are upon the estate, until that competent Goel has performed his work.

This book was "written within and on the lack." This again tends to identify it with these books of forfeited inheritances. Within were the specifications of the forfeiture; without were the names and attestations of the witnesses; for this is the manner in which these documents were attested.

It is in the right hand of God. No literal hand is described; but, so to speak, it was on the right hand of the undescribcd and indescribable One who occupied the throne. This is significant of His high and supreme right to what the sealed instrument binds. Failing from man, it reverted to the original Giver. Sin cannot vitiate any of the rights of God. Satan's possession is a mere usurpation, permitted for the time, but in no way detrimental to the proprietorship of the Almighty. The true right still lives in the hand of God, until the proper Goel comes to redeem it, by paying the price, and ejecting the alien and his seed. The same is significant of the fact that this matter of the book and its seals is the principal subject of the transaction displayed; and furthermore, that the intensest holiness and sublimest power are required to be able or worthy to approach and take possession of the record; for to come to the right hand of God, is to come to the highest place of exaltation and authority in the universe." (263-275)

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

Seiss wrote:

"Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 : 7), speaks of them as enriched in every spiritual gift, confirmed in the testimony of Christ, and "waiting for the Apocalypse - the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." The original word here is exactly the same as that in the text; the structure of the sentence is also much the same; but no one mistakes its meaning for a moment. All agree that it refers to Christ in his revelation from heaven, when he shall come in the clouds with power and great glory. And if such is its unmistakable meaning here, why not take it in the same sense in the text? So in Thessalonians (1 : 6-10) he refers his readers to a time of rest, "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, literally, at the Apocalypse of the Lord), with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God;— when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe." No one misunderstands what The Apocalypse of the Lord Jesus is in this passage. Paul himself explains it to be His coming, in just such administrations as were shown John in this book.

So again in 1 Peter 1:7, where that apostle speaks of his brethren as "in heaviness through manifold temptations," that the trial of their faith, "being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the Apocalypse, appearing of Jesus Christ." Also in verse 13, where he exhorts his readers to "be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto them at the Apocalypse, the revelation of Jesus Christ." All understand the reference in these passages to be to the coming of Christ in the glory of his second advent, when "every eye shall see him, and they which pierced him." We all feel that it would be a wilful perversion of the word of God to make the Apocalypse of Christ, in these passages, mean anything else than his personal appearing. And the same is the fixed meaning of this phrase in every other passage in which it is used. Even in that from Galatians (1:12), which might seem to assign it a different signification, the idea is not simply that of a revealer, but of one revealed by personal manifestation. Paul there avers, that the gospel he preached was not of man; "for," says he, "I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the Apocalypse through the revelation of Jesus Christ;" that is, by Christ's personal appearance to him, as the succeeding verses show; for he straightway proceeds to narrate that marvellous affair on the way to Damascus. What that Apocalypse was, he on various occasions described. Before Agrippa, he said,—"As I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O King, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in a Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest, but rise, and stand upon thy feet; for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in which I will appear unto thee." Hence his appeal in vindication of his apostleship. "Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?" (1 Cor. 9:1.) All this shows, as conclusively as may be, that the Apocalypse of Christ, through which he obtained at once his office and his text, was a personal appearance, as every real Apocalypse predicated of a person must be.

With the meaning of this word thus established, what can that book be, of which it is descriptive, but an account of the revelation of Christ in his personal forthcoming from his present invisible estate, to receive his Bride, judge the wicked, and set up his eternal kingdom on the earth.

With this also agrees the statement of John as to the circumstances under which he came to the knowledge of the things which he narrates. He says he "was in Spirit in the Lord's day" in which he beheld what he afterwards wrote. What is meant by this Lord's day Some answer, Sunday—the first day of the week; but I am not satisfied with this explanation. Sunday belongs indeed to the Lord, but the Scriptures nowhere call it " the Lord's day." None of the Christian writings, for 100 years after Christ, ever call it "the Lord's day." But there is a "Day of the Lord" largely treated of by prophets, apostles, and fathers, the meaning of which is abundantly clear and settled. It is that day Ip which, Isaiah eays, men shall hide in the rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty;—the day which Joel describes as the day of destruction from the Almighty, when the Lord shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shall shake;—the day to which the closing chapter of Malachi refers as the day that shall burn as an oven, and in which the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings;—the day which Paul proclaimed from Mars' Hill as that in which God will judge the world, concerning which he so earnestly exhorted the Thessalonians, and which was not to come until after a great apostasy from the faith, and the ripening of the wicked for destruction;— the day in the which, Peter says, the heavens shall be changed, the elements melt, the earth burn, and all present orders of things give way to new heavens and a new earth;—even "the day for which all other days were made." And in that day I understand John to say, he in some sense was. In the mysteries of prophetic rapport, which the Scriptures describe as "in Spirit," and which Paul declared inexplicable, he was caught out of himself, and out of his proper place and time, and stationed amid the stupendous scenes of the great day of God, and made to see the actors in them, and to look upon them transpiring before his eyes, that he might write what he saw, and give it to the Churches.

This is what I understand by his being "in Spirit in the Lord's day.'" I can see n: essential difference between the Lord's day and the day of the Lord (in the Greek SG). They are simply the two forms for signifying the same relations of the same things. And if John was thus mystically down among the scenes of the last day, and has written only what he says he has written, that is "things that he saw," it cannot be otherwise but that in dealing with the contents of this book we are dealing with what relates pre-eminently to the great Apocalypse and Epiphany of our Lord, when he cometh to judge the world in righteousness.

And when we come to consider the actual contents of this book, we find them harmonizing exactly with this understanding of its title. It takes as its chief and unmistakable themes what other portions of the Scriptures assign to the great day of the Lord. It is nothing but Apocalypse from beginning to end. First we have the Apocalypse of Christ in his relation to the earthly Churches, and his judgment of them; then the Apocalypse of his relation to the glorified Church, and the marshalling of them for his forthcoming to judge the world; then the Apocalypse of his relation to the scenes of the judgment, as they are manifested on earth under the opening of the seals, the prophesying of the witnesses, and the fall of Babylon; then the Apocalypse of his actual manifestation to the world in the battle of the great day of God Almighty, the establishment of his kingdom, and the investiture of the saints in their future sovereignties; and finally the Apocalypse of his relation to the final act of judgment, the destruction of death and the grave, and the introduction of the final estate of a perfected Redemption. What, indeed, is all this, but just what was foretold by all the prophets, by Christ himself, and by all his apostles, as pertaining to The Day OF The Lord? Verily, this book is but the rehearsal, in another and ampler manner, of w7hat all the Scriptures tell us about the last day and the eternal judgment. It is pre-eminently The Apocalypse and Epiphany of Jesus Christ." (17-22)

These are insightful words from Seiss and we may sum up what he has said by affirming that the events associated with the opening of the seven sealed book covers that period of time denominated as "the day of the Lord," and "the day of judgment," and "the day of redemption," and "the revelation of Jesus Christ." 

There are signs that precede the opening of the first seal.  There are also signs that occur as the seals are opened.  Thus far in our series, we have looked at the signs that precede the opening of the first seal, the event that marks the start of the day of Lord.  In the next series, we will look at the relation of the rapture to the day of the Lord, to the time of the great tribulation and day of wrath.  We will show that the rapture occurs prior to the great tribulation and in this we will have to disagree with Seiss.  But, it is important for bible students to understand that "the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ" is none other than the coming again of Christ, and that the Book of Revelation deals with this subject exhaustively.  Yea, the Book of Revelation is the only book of the Bible to have this as its sole subject. 

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