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of salvation by resurrection from the dead through the belief and obedience of the truth.
But if a man objects, saying that the non-resurrection of the great masses of mankind is contrary to the words of Christ himself who said, “ The hour cometh in the which all that are in their graves shall come forth,” we reply that the words of Christ are to be understood and interpreted like unto the other Scriptures of which Paul speaks, saying, “What things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law.” So also the words of Christ refer to the two classes, the good and the bad that have been, and will be developed and manifested by coming in contact with the truth, even as shown by the Lord himself in the parable of the net. A net cast into the sea only brings ashore the good and bad fish which it compasses within its meshes; so the resurrection will only bring forth from the graves those who have entered into covenant with God for a resurrection to life eternal at the last day. But those who have not entered into covenant with God for the true hope of salvation by resurrection, and who have not entered into the body of Christ through the obedience of faith, the resurrection net will never bring ashore. And all that can be said of those that will be left behind is, that they lived and died in the sea of nations without hope and without God, and perished forever there; and if a man desires to escape such a calamity, let him make his covenant and bargain for resurrection now, and then comply with its terms, that he be not raised to be cast away again to die the second death. Therefore Paul reminds the Ephesian Christians, speaking of their condition before they believed and obeyed the Gospel, saying, “ At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).
That was the condition of the masses of mankind in the apostles' day, and it is the same in the present day. They are without hope and without God in the world because the Gospel that the apostles were sent to preach has been vitiated and rendered void by men foisting into it their own traditions and errors, especially that most prolific mother of a multitude of other errors, namely the heathen doctrine of the immortality of human souls, for this doctrine being of itself a lie, all therefore that grow out of it are lies. These things eat out the truth like a cancer and make the Gospel of God and of Christ of none effect, and convert the Gospel that the apostles were sent to preach into another Gospel. But the penalty for this mischief is death, as Paul said, “If any man preach any other gospel unto you,— let him be accursed "(Gal. 1:8-9).
The children of God who have been taught of God out of the word of God simply expect to live out their days and then go the way of all the earth, to sleep unconscious in the dust of the earth where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest, until the time comes known only to the Father himself when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and shall come forth to enter upon the inheritance which God hath promised them.
Christ stands as the head and representative of all those whose vile bodies will be changed and fashioned like unto his glorious body. Therefore as Adam the first stands as the head and representative of a generation of mortal
men like himself, even so the second Adam stands as the head and representative of a generation of immortal men like himself, men who will have been accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection from the dead, and to be forever as the angels of God in heaven.
A FEAST FOR ALL NATIONS "And in this mountain (Mount Zion) shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined ” (Isa. 25:6). As to what this feast will consist of, which is here symbolized by wines on the lees well refined, and fat things full of marrow, may be seen from what the same prophet speaks in another place, saying, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: here, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David ” (55:1-3). Here we find the good things and fat things full of marrow that God will furnish for this great feast are the “sure mercies of David," and the Lord offers to enter into and to make an everlasting covenant with all those that will incline their ear and come unto him, and he guarantees to them the sure mercies of the house of David by an everlasting covenant.
THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVID
But what are the sure mercies of David that the Lord so graciously offers to sell to us without money and without price? This we are at no loss to find out, for Paul in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia plainly set forth to the people there assembled, saying, "We declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David."
The sure mercies of David, therefore, comprehend the Son of God raised from the dead no more to return to corruption, and all the other good things and blessings that we get through him and with him. Wherefore, also Paul said in his letter to the Romans (8: 32), “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things.” And Jesus sent Paul to the Gentiles, as he said, to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in him. Again the Lord says concerning his Son Jesus Christ, “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles” (Isa. 42:6); and again, “I will
preserve thee and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages, that thou mayest say to the prisoners (in the grave), Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves” (Isa. 49:8-9).
Christ is given to us as a covenant, as a pledge and guarantee that what God hath promised us, he will surely perform. He himself is the first-fruits of them that slept. This guarantees the resurrection to life eternal of all them who sleep in Jesus; and as the first-fruits have been manifest, so will the harvest of the righteous be.
Why “Sure” Mercies The mercies that come through the house of David are said to be sure mercies because they are guaranteed by the oath of the living God, as Peter showed on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2: 30) when interpreting the covenant made with David as recorded in the seventeenth chapter of I Chronicles, saying, “ Therefore (David), being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne, he seeing this before, spake (Ps. 16) of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell (that is to say, his body was not left in the grave), neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus," adds the apostle, “hath God raised up, whereof we all (the twelve apostles) are witnesses.”
Why Called Mercies They are so called because when the righteous die (as it is appointed unto all men once to die and return to dust), they are then in an utterly helpless and destitute condition and would never exist any more were it not that God has mercy on them and will raise them up from the dead to life eternal at the last day by the hand of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore upon our belief of the true Gospel and baptism into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, or into the name of Jesus Christ which is the same thing, God grants unto us repentance unto life and forgiveness of sins in this act of obedience of faith in the present time, and at the last day, a resurrection with the sons of God to glory, honor, and immortality, to reign in life with Christ, as kings and priests of the order of Melchisedec upon the earth. This is the form in which the sure mercies of David are offered to us in this age. But the form in which they will be offered to all nations in the day when the veil is taken away will then be made known. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE VEIL WHICH ENSHROUDS ALL NATIONS
And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory” (Isa. 25:7-8). The veil will be destroyed by swallowing up death in victory; therefore, he who understands correctly what swallowing up death in victory signifies, will see what the means are which God will employ to destroy the veil which covers all nations. For our instruction Paul has interpreted this oracle and shown the meaning thereof in his first letter to the Corinthians (15: 52-54) saying, “For the trumpet shall sound, and
the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written (Isa. 25), “Death is swallowed up in victory "; also (Hos. 13), “O Death, where is thy sting, (Grave, where is thy victory ? "
To swallow up death in victory, therefore, signifies the resurrection of the saints of past ages from corruptibility into incorruptibility, and the translation of the righteous living at that time from mortality to immortality, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. This is one of the great events of the prophecies. This is what Jesus spake of when he said, “This is the Father's will, which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day” (John 6:39). And although the righteous have been, in the different ages, few in numbers comparatively, yet when they are all raised up that have ever lived from the creation of the world down to the coming of the great God and our Lord Jesus Christ, they will be counted by millions. Daniel and John speak of the saints and angels which will be present at that time as exceeding a hundred millions in numbers. Paul informs us that when the saints rise from the dead, they ascend to meet Christ in the air (even as Enoch and Elijah ascended), and so will ever be with the Lord. This is also in accord with what Jesus spoke in his prayer to his Father saying (John 17: 24), “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me, for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
THE COMING OF CHRIST WITH ALL HIS SAINTS
After the saints have been raised in glory to meet their Lord and master in the heavens above, and after they have been presented by him before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, faultless, that is, before the Father, for the Father himself is the glory of Christ; then Christ and his brethren enter upon the great work assigned them, as contained in the one hundred and forty-ninth Psalm, and elsewhere, to execute the judgment upon God's sinful nation, and also upon the heathen. And when these judgments are far advanced, when the time of tribulation such as never was since there was a nation for the righteous, which consists in war upon them by the rulers of Israel in alliance with the rulers of the Gentile armies assembled there, when these tribulations for the righteous who have been developed from among the idolatrous tribes of Israel shall have rolled by, and the time has come for their persecutors to be trodden by the Assyrian as the mire of the streets (even as Peter says of the order of judgment, “ For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God; and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Pet. 4:17), and as it was in Peter's day, so will it be again in the latter day); of that same time spake the Master, saying, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days, shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be shaken." This highly figurative language refers not to the natural heavens, including the sun, moon, and stars thereof, except as similitudes and signs, but refers to the old heavens of Israel, to the kings, and princes, and priests, wise men, and prophets of God's rebellious nation which are now to pass away with great noise, and garments rolled in blood.
It is at this point of time when the powers of Israel's heavens are to be shaken, that Jesus testifies, saying, “And then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory." It is of this coming that it is said in the Revelation (1:7), “Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him, Even so, Amen.”
When it is said, “ Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him," it has no reference to the eyes of mankind in other portions of the earth than in the land of Israel. Christ's coming with clouds in power and great glory in that day, takes place at Jerusalem and will only be witnessed by those in the range of vision. Therefore when it is said, “Every eye shall see him, and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him," this has especial reference to the people of Israel and the nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who are so often spoken of in this Book of the Revelation, whom God will have brought into his land to execute his judgment and to witness his wonders there; and those that are left of them when the judgment is finished will be sent back again to their own country and to the nations, to report what they will have seen and heard and been witnesses of at Jerusalem and in the holy land; for so it is written by the prophet saying, “ It shall come that I will gather all nations and tongues, and they shall come and see my glory. And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the isles afar off that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory, and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles ” (Isa. 66: 18-19).
When the heavens are opened before the eyes of the people of Israel and the assembled nations in Israel's land, in that day, they will then witness a spectacle that will shake and appall the stoutest heart. The mighty men shall cry there bitterly and be humbled into the dust for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth, for it is said, “ Every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him, even so, Amen."
Very much is testified of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds of heaven in power and great glory, and of the many things which attend that glorious coming. His visible return to the earth to judge and reign will in some respects be after the manner of his ascension into heaven, as Luke records in Acts (1) saying, “ 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 steadfastly 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