The Coronation of Christ
The Coronation of Christ
We have established the fact by many indubitable proofs that the investigation and decision of the cases of the righteous precede their resurrection in the likeness of Christ. In establishing the fact that the cases of the righteous are thus decided before the sounding of the trumpet of God, we do really establish the fact that the cases of the wicked are also virtually decided at the same time. For when we have shown that all who are to have immortality are accounted worthy of it before their resurrection, it necessarily follows that though the actions of the wicked are not examined in detail until the saints sit with Christ in the judgment during the one thousand years, yet the wicked are, by the decision in the case of the righteous, left, as worthless and noxious, to the resurrection of the unjust and to the devouring fire.
The next event in the great day of God is the destruction of the living wicked by the seven last plagues. As these do not come until the wicked are accounted unworthy of the kingdom of God, their destruction comes as a part of the judgment work, and after the virtual decision of their cases. The fact is many times revealed in the Bible that before the final deliverance of the saints there comes a time of trouble such as never was. This is plainly marked as lying between the decision in the case of the righteous at the close of their probation, and the event of their deliverance.
Thus, according to Daniel, the deliverance of the saints does not take place until the existence of a time of trouble such as never was. And this time of trouble comes in consequence of the close of our Lord’s intercession and the assumption of His kingly office. (Daniel 12:1.) The wrath of God against sin is neither stayed nor mitigated after the Son of God ceases to plead for sinful man.
The closing work of Christ’s priesthood is in the second apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. This is opened under the sounding of the seventh trumpet. (Revelation 11:19.) It is after the temple is thus opened in heaven that the seven angels pour out the seven last plagues. (Revelation 15:5–8.) But these plagues fill up the wrath of God, which is threatened by the third angel. (Revelation 15:1 compared with 14:10.) And the third angel gives the final message of mercy and warning to mankind before the Son of man sits upon the white cloud. (Revelation 14:6–14.) So it is apparent that while Christ is finishing His work in the sanctuary, and while the third angel is giving the last message of mercy to man, the seven last plagues are withheld, though pending ready to be poured out. But when the work of probation is closed, and the intercession of Christ in heaven, and the voice of warning upon earth, are ended, then men drink from the cup of His indignation the wine of God’s wrath without any mixture.
That which constitutes this wrath is the seven last plagues. They are by this term distinguished from those plagues inflicted under the six trumpets. (Revelation 9:20, 21.) They are represented as the wrath of God without mixture, i.e., they have no element of mercy mingled with them. They are poured out into the cup of God’s indignation. This is an awful expression to indicate that men at that time fall into the hands of the living God. This fearful execution of God’s judgment is witnessed before the deliverance of the saints; for not less than six of the plagues are poured out prior to the advent of Christ. (Revelation 16:12–15.)
This same period of trouble is brought to view in Revelation 7, and located between the opening of the sixth and seventh seals. Before the four winds are loosed, the servants of God are sealed. The seal is placed upon them, that the destroying angel may not cut them down. (Compare Ezekiel 9 with Revelation 7.) This is a plain proof that the saints must continue upon the earth for a certain space after the time of trouble commences. The fact that all who are sealed at the commencement of this time of trouble are afterward seen standing upon Mount Zion with the Lamb, is proof that their probation closes with the commencement of this scene of trouble. Compare Revelation 7:4; 14:1.) In other words, they are then accounted worthy to escape the things that are to come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:36.) The very time when they are thus accounted worthy to stand before the Saviour, is at the close of our Lord’s priesthood; and the time of trouble itself comes when that priesthood is exchanged for His kingly office.
Probation does therefore close before the entrance of the people of God upon this great time of trouble. One of those events immediately following the close of probation, and therefore constituting a feature of the time of trouble, is what the Bible calls "the hour of temptation." Thus we read: "Because thou has kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly; hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." Revelation 3:10, 11.
The keeping of the word of Christ’s patience especially pertained to the period of the third angel. (Revelation 14:12.) Those who keep this word are to be kept from the hour of temptation, while all others are to be taken captive by it. This shows that the saints are upon the earth during this period; and that when it commences, those who are unprepared are hopelessly lost.
But this season of unrestrained temptation is also brought to view by Paul, when describing the state of things existing just before our Lord’s return. Thus he says: "Whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." 2 Thessalonians 2:9–12.
When God sends men strong delusion to believe a lie that they all might be damned, it must be after the righteous have accomplished their work of overcoming, and after the Saviour has ceased to plead. The only way that God sends this strong delusion is by withdrawing His Spirit when men have sinned away the day of grace, thus leaving them a prey to the unrestrained power of the devil.
Now it is remarkable that the third angel brings to view this same period of Satan’s mighty working. It is the work of the third angel to give warning of the things that are to come to pass upon the earth at the close of human probation.
When he warns us against the worship of the image, and the reception of his mark, it is in direct reference to the fact that the two-horned beast is to make such an image and to require men to worship it on pain of death. (Revelation 14:9–12; 13:11–16.) And we do learn that this image is made in consequence of the miracles that are to be wrought. (Compare Revelation 13:13, 14; 16:13.) One of these miracles will be the bringing down of fire from heaven. This lies before us in the time of trouble. It is no wonder that those who are not kept by the power of God should be deceived by this fearful delusion.
It is at the close of the work of intercession that the Lord is represented as putting on the garments of vengeance for the destruction of His enemies. (Isaiah 59:16–18.) "And when the enemy [Satan] shall come in like a flood, in the strong delusion, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." Verse 19. "It is also at the close of our Lord’s priestly work that the prophecy of Amos meets its fulfillment:
Behold the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine in bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord; and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it." Amos 8:11, 12.
The third woe comes by reason of the voice of the seventh angel. (Revelation 8:13.) The seven last plagues come under the seventh trumpet. (Revelation 11:15–19; 15:5–8.) The seven plagues, which fill up the wrath of God, do therefore constitute the third woe. The people of God will not be removed from the earth till after six of the plagues have been poured out. They must witness the fearful scenes of the time of trouble. But the seal of the living God will be their protection, so that though a thousand fall at their side and ten thousand at their right hand, it will not come nigh them. (Psalm 91:1–10.) The situation of the saints during the outpouring of the plagues will be like that of Israel during the plagues upon Egypt.
These dreadful calamities which will come upon our earth before the people of God are taken from it may be mentioned as the loosing of the four winds, the pouring out of the vials of God’s wrath in pestilence, famine, and earthquake, and in the battle of the great day of God Almighty. It will be the hour of temptation for all the wicked world, when Satan shall exert his utmost power. To the wicked it will be the time of trouble such as never was; to the righteous it will be the time of Jacob’s trouble, at which, in answer to their cry day and night, like the importunate widow, they will be delivered. (Jeremiah 30:5–7; Genesis 32; Luke 18:7, 8.)
In view of this awful scene which must be witnessed by the people of God, Zephaniah calls upon all the meek of the earth to seek righteousness and meekness. And he adds, "It may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger." Zephaniah 2:1–3. If they do their best in seeking God, it is but barely possible that they will escape. And our Lord beseeches His people to watch and pray always, that they may be accounted worthy to escape the things coming on the earth, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:36.) If, therefore, this great time of trouble is to come upon our world after the close of Christ’s intercession and before the deliverance of the saints, of what vast consequence is that final message of warning which reveals these great facts?
The fact that the resurrection of the righteous is declarative of their acceptance in the sight of God, and, therefore, proof that the investigation and decision of their cases precede that event, has been very distinctly stated by some of the clearest minds in the Advent ranks. The late Sylvester Bliss, for many years editor of the Advent Herald, thus states the case: "We are inclined to the opinion that the judgment is after death and before the resurrection; and that before that event the acts of all men will be adjudicated; so that the resurrection of the righteous is their full acquittal and redemption—their sins being blotted out when the times of refreshing shall have come (Acts 3:19); while the fact that the wicked are not raised [for one thousand years], proves that they were previously condemned." Advent Shield, 4, 366 (published in 1845.)
He saw the fact perfectly distinct that there can be no trial of the righteous after they have been made immortal. But it is very evident that he did not well understand when and how the examination of their cases should take place. Elder Josiah Litch, one of the ablest writers in the early history of the Advent movement, states this subject even more distinctly than Mr. Bliss. In his Prophetic Expositions, written in 1842, on pages 49–54 he uses the following language:
The Meaning of the Term "Judge"
"1. It is used in the Bible in the sense of a trial according to law and evidence, the idea being drawn from a civil or criminal court . . .
"2. It signifies a penal judgment; or the execution of judgment.
"The terms are both used in reference to the judgment of the human race. All men will be brought to trial, or into judgment, and all their deeds and their moral characters will be examined, and their everlasting states will be determined by the evidence produced from God’s books, including the book of life, which will decide the moral character and everlasting destiny of each individual of Adam’s race. If their names are found in ‘the book of life,’ they will be saved; and if not found there, they will be cast into the lake of fire, the second death. But the degree of reward or punishment will be graduated by what each one has done . . .
The Trial Must Precede the Execution
"This is so clear a proposition that it is sufficient to state it. No human tribunal would think of executing judgment on a prisoner until after his trial; much less will God. He will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing whether it be good or evil.
"But the resurrection is the retribution or execution of judgment; for they that have done good shall come forth to the resurrection of life. ‘We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body.’ ‘In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.’ Here is clearly a retribution in the resurrection. It will be administered when the saints are raised. But no more certainly than they that have done evil will come forth damned, or ‘to the resurrection of damnation.’ They will come forth to shame and everlasting contempt. The saints will be raised and be caught up at once to meet the Lord in the air, to be forever with the Lord. There can be no general judgment or trial after the resurrection. The resurrection is the separating process, and they will never be commingled again, after the saints are raised, no matter how long or short the period to elapse between the two resurrections; it is all the same so far as the separation which the resurrection produces is concerned. If there is no more than a second which elapses between the two resurrections, the separation it makes is final.
God, the Ancient of Days Will Preside In the Trial
"1. Daniel 7:9, 10, presents the Ancient of Days coming on His throne of fiery flame; the judgment is set and the books opened. He is distinct from the Son of man, spoken of in verse 13, when He comes to the Ancient of Days. "2. Revelation 20:12 tells us it is God, before whom the dead stand and are judged.
The Son of Man Will Execute the Judgment
Thus the Saviour declares (John 5:27): ‘And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man.’ Also 2 Corinthians 5:10: ‘For we shall all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that everyone may receive the things done in his body according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.’
"Also Paul’s testimony in the Acts of the Apostles: God ‘hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained, whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.’ What we are assured of by the resurrection of Christ, is the execution, in the resurrection, of a righteous judgment on all men.
The Time of the Trial of the Dead
"It is under the opening of the sixth seal of Revelation 6, where the servants of God are sealed. . . And under the seventh seal (chapter 8:1) when there is silence in heaven about the space of half an hour; when the great Mediator ceases to plead for sinners, the day of grace ends; then the judgment or trial will proceed on the living inhabitants of the earth. That done, Christ will appear in the clouds of heaven, and come to the Ancient of Days and the scene of trial, and, with a shout, to announce the verdict and deliver all His saints as soon as they are declared innocent, or justified, and raise them to eternal life in the twinkling of an eye. We are now justified by faith; we must, however, be declared justified at the day of judgment, before the effects of the fall will be taken away, and the saints be restored to God’s perfect image and glory.
The Twenty-Fifth Chapter of Matthew
"This chapter does not, as has been supposed, describe the great trial, but the separation between the righteous and wicked, which will be accomplished by the resurrection of the just. And when the separation is accomplished; Christ will address each party, and show why He has made this separation. But through the whole scene, He acts the part of the executor of judgment." Query: Did the judgment, or trial of the dead, begin to sit when they took away the papal dominion in 1798? (See Daniel 7:26, compared with Daniel 7:9, 10.)
The reader cannot fail to be deeply interested in these extracts from Bliss and Litch. We do not indorse every idea. Indeed, there is a degree of confusion in the language, which shows that the subject was not wholly clear. Thus, while Elder Litch teaches that the session of the judgment must be before Christ comes, and even though it might have commenced at the end of the twelve hundred sixty days, he seems also to teach that Christ comes to this tribunal when He descends to earth. This cannot be, as has been fully shown in a former article.
But this reasoning of Elder Litch relative to the investigation and decision of the cases of the righteous before the resurrection, is weighty and conclusive. It is worthy of notice that he places this judgment of the righteous at the tribunal of the Father, as presented in Daniel 7. He believed that this part of the judgment work was to be fulfilled while the living were yet in probation; for he suggested that it commenced in 1798, with the ending of the twelve hundred sixty years. These able writers saw the fact that this work must take place before the resurrection of the just, but they did not see the time and place for the work. They did not see the heavenly sanctuary, and therefore had no clear ideal of the concluding work of human probation, as presented to us in the Saviour’s ministration before the ark of God’s testament. The temple of God in heaven reveals the very nature of this work, and the prophetic periods mark its time. The proclamation of the angel that the hour of His judgment is come, and His solemn oath to the time, gives to mankind the knowledge of this great work, and the certainty that the present is the time of the dead that they should be judged. This doctrine is of the highest practical importance. It shows that we are now in the antitype of the great Day of Atonement. Our business should be the affliction of our souls and the confession of our sins.
At the ascension of our Lord, He entered the heavenly temple and sat down upon His Father’s throne, a great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. (Psalm 110:1, 4; Hebrews 8:1, 2.) But when He returns in His infinite majesty as King of kings, He sits upon His own throne, and not upon that of His Father. He speaks thus of His descent from heaven: "When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory." Matthew 25:31.
It is evident, therefore, that there is a space of time at the conclusion of our Lord’s work in the temple in heaven, in which His priestly office is exchanged for His kingly dignity; and this transition is marked by His relinquishing His place upon the throne of His Father, and assuming His own throne. The judgment session of Daniel 7:9–14 is the time and place of this transition. Our Lord plainly distinguishes these two thrones: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in MY throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne." Revelation 3:21.
The Saviour’s reception of His own throne preparatory to His Second Advent is described in Psalm 45. As Psalm 110 makes prominent His priestly office upon His Father’s throne, so Psalm 45 describes His kingly office and work upon His own throne: My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Thou art fairer than the children of men; grace is poured into Thy lips; therefore God hath blessed Thee forever. Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O most mighty, with Thy glory and Thy majesty. And in Thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and Thy right hand shall teach Thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under Thee. Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; the scepter of Thy kingdom is a right scepter. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows." Psalm 45:1–7.
This personage who is fairer than the sons of men, can be no other than the King in His beauty (Isaiah 33:17), who is to be admired in the day of His advent by all them that believe. (2 Thessalonians 1:10.) The time when He rides forth for the destruction of His enemies is presented in Revelation 19:11–21.
The words of Paul establish the fact that this psalm relates to Christ, some of its words being addressed to Him by His Father when He invests Him with His kingly office and throne. Thus Paul quotes and comments: "But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows." Hebrews 1:8, 9.
The relation of these two thrones to the work of our Lord is very important to be understood. As a priest after the order of Melchizedek, who was both priest and king (Genesis 14:18–20; Psalm 110:1, 4; Hebrews 7:1–3), the Saviour has had a joint rule with His Father upon the throne of the universe. (Zechariah 6:12, 13.) His office of Priest-King continues till His Father makes His enemies His footstool. Then He delivers up the kingdom, which He has shared with His Father to Him alone, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:24–28.) His reign upon the throne of His Father ends with all His enemies being given to Him for destruction.
The throne given Him when His priesthood ends is that which He inherits as David’s heir. On that throne, He shall reign over the immortal saints for endless ages. (Luke 1:32, 33; Isaiah 9: 6, 7 Upon the throne of the Father, He had a joint rule as Priest-King; upon His own throne His people have a joint rule with Him. The first ends, that God may be all in all; the second is a reign that shall continue forever.
July 1998 Table of Contents