by Evangelist Larry Wolfe
"The Darkening Cloud of Deception"
This theory, although soundly refuted by Dr.S.P.Tregelles LL.D., one of the most renowned scholars of that day, gained impetus and gradually became the prophetic position of the majority of the fundamental Bible believers in the U.S. Dr. Tregelles was the man referred to by Charles Haddon Spurgeon when he praised the scholarship of Tregelles, especially on the subject of prophecy!
But, even though some of the best students of the Bible during that era made it known through their statements and writings that this new theory was indeed a false teaching, those that formulated it marched on to their own drummer and continued propagating a theory that denies the clear teaching of Scripture and pushed this Darkening Cloud of Deception into the church!
The keystone of the PTRT is the 'At any moment coming of Christ' also known as 'The Imminency of Christ'. This coming, say they, would be Secret, Silent, and Signless! Tregelles refuted them on every count, because the Bible does not support any of these three theories. The trump of God and the voice of the archangel puts away the first two ideas in short order, but the most important one which calls for the Second Coming of Christ to be 'Signless' is our focus.
Tregelles points out the fact of 'intervening events' signs or prophecies found in the Scripture before the coming of the Lord will take place. His book 'The Hope of Christ's Second Coming' containing twenty-four brief but precise chapters is a must for any serious prophecy student as it focuses on the clear battle for the truth that he waged over a century ago when the PTRT first came into being.
With help from this book, the Bible, and other sources, the theory of a 'Signless' Second Coming will be tested in the remaining paragraphs. First of all, the promise of the regathering of the people of God, the Jews, is found to be necessary before the Lord returns. As we all know the miraculous formulation and duration of the nation of Israel is fact and a clear Bible certainty. As early as the book of Deuteronomy in Moses' final sermon to the people before he went to be with the LORD, this prophecy takes place:
"And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it, and multiply thee above thy fathers. [Gathering of the People of God in the Land] And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. [At theEnd of the 70th Week of Daniel] And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee. [Day of the LORD Punishment of the Wicked] And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD and do all His commandments which I command thee this day. [Spiritual Millennial Blessings] And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as He rejoiced over thy fathers' [Physical Millennial Kingdom Blessings]" (Deuteronomy 30:5-9)
Ezekiel also prophesied concerning this necessary event: "For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God." (Ezekiel 36:24-28)
Behold I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land, And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one King shall be King to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all." (Ezekiel 37:21,22)
The emphasis Ezekiel makes, here, is the supernatural gathering of the Jews, out of all countries, into their own land, in one nation, under one King! All of these must occur, and four of the five have already happened…we are now waiting for the King to come, Amen? But, there are more events that must occur before the King will come! By the way, prior to 1948 the first four had not occurred, therefore the Pre-Tribulation Rapture remains in question.
The second event is found in the book of Daniel: "After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it: and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up AMONG THEM another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and , behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things" (Daniel 7:7,8)
"Thus he said, the fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise AFTER THEM: and he shall be diverse from the first [ten] and he shall subdue three kings." (Daniel 7:23,24)
The emergence of the Antichrist or the 'little horn' is the focus here with the capitalized words showing WHERE he comes from and WHEN he will rise, with the 'ten horns/kings' believed to be the revival of the fourth beast/ ten nations/kings during the end of the age. The majority of prophecy students agree with this interpretation, but the emphasis that must be seen here, is the fact that the ten nations must be present BEFORE the Antichrist emerges on the world scene.
He will 'subdue [conquer] three kings' during his rise to world power but will not have the necessary political clout to 'confirm the covenant' (Daniel 9:27) with Israel until these 'intervening events' shown above take place. The confirming of the covenant most agree is the event that begins Daniel's Seventieth Week, and the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Theory says that this is when the Rapture will occur! So, the emergence of the Antichrist will not be hidden nor done in a corner, but it is an event that will be obvious and will probably occur after the ten nations are formulated, and three of them are subdued, and before the beginning of Daniel's Seventieth Week.
Daniel chapter nine also reveals another event that must take place: 'Seventy Weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city to finish the transgression…' (Daniel 9:24) Here the prophet is told that not only must his people be a people, which assumes they will be gathered as a nation, but the 'holy city' Jerusalem must be the Jews possession at the time this prophecy occurs. This possession of Jerusalem did not occur until 1967 when the nation of Israel won the Six Day War with the Arabs, and so, another piece of the miraculous puzzle of God falls into place.
The New Testament reveals more necessary events beginning with the Lord's prophecy to Peter, James, John and Andrew as they viewed the buildings of the temple: 'There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.' (Matthew 24:2) The destruction of the temple had to take place before the Lord returned and so they were not expecting the Lord to come back 'at any moment' before this took place.
Another intervening event was the Lord's promise to Peter: 'Verily, verily I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkest whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee…'(John 21:18) Here, the Lord told Peter that he would live to be old and therefore Peter knew that he had to grow old and die before the Lord would return. He definitely was not a believer in the imminent 'at any moment' return of Christ.
The Lord commanded those present at his ascension to 'Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo I am with you even unto the end of the world. Amen.'(Matthew 28:19,20) They certainly knew they had a great task to accomplish, a task that still is not complete, and therefore, they were not expecting the 'at any moment' return of Christ!
The Apostle Paul was told that he would bear Jesus' name 'before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name's sake.' (Acts 9:15,16) Paul, too knew that he had to accomplish much for Christ and therefore was not expecting Him to return 'at any moment'.
His ministry was long and productive as the Lord promised: 'thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. So, Paul did not look for the Lord to return 'at any moment' because he had to go to Rome as the Lord promised. This same thing happened often in the ministry of Paul as the Lord told him of his call to Macedonia, his stays in Corinth and Ephesus, yes, the Apostle Paul had strong confidence in what the Lord was doing with him even up to his death. He knew of many future events that would take place in his life and he therefore never preached or taught that the Lord might return 'at any moment'.
Although, these New Testament 'intervening events' have already taken place in the lives of the New Testament saints, the fact remains that they were not believers in, nor were they preaching or teaching, the 'at any moment' imminent return of Christ!
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