by A.E. Knoch

PAUL, THE APOSTLE, who was chosen to reveal to us all that we know about the Lord's coming for us, wrote thus concerning it: "We, the living, who are surviving to the presence of the Lord..." (1 Thess.4:15). From this it is clear that even Paul did not know when He would come, for he evidently expected it to take place in his lifetime. Daniel gave a definite time up to Messiah's advent to Israel, 490 years. But He did not come then, for it depended on their response. Paul, however, was given no time period or date. Neither does it depend on our conduct. Why was this? Because, like all else today, it is a manifestation of pure grace, and is to be constantly before us, not a mere future event, but a Person, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Expectation (1 Tim.1:1).

     Was Paul deceived and disappointed in his expectation? By no means! Just the opposite. In his experience the Lord came at the instant of his death. And so it is with us all. The dead know nothing. The instant of their death is followed, in their consciousness, by the sound of the trumpet, and they rise first to join the living who are caught away to meet the Lord in the air, and thus remain ever with Him.

     Many dates have been set for His coming. There was great excitement in the year 1000. Since then those who confuse the present timeless administration with Israel's times and seasons, have continually managed to deceive the ignorant by spectacular prophecies that the Lord was at hand. So many were these that it would be tiring to recall them. Some made a profound impression and have left their scars. In 1844 a well-meaning man named Miller predicted the coming on a certain date, and deceived thousands, some of whom donned special robes for the occasion, and others waited patiently on the roofs of houses. This led to the founding of the adventist church.

Deceptive Date-Setting

Another memorable date was set by the followers of pastor Russell. They had what they considered incontrovertible figures for 1914. Many deluded, but enthusiastic souls gave their all to the Society, and were left without anything on which to live, not only in America but in Europe also. One would have thought that no one would trust them again. But they kept on and still insist that the Lord came in spirit!

     Some calculations were based on, or confirmed by the measurements in the pyramid of Gizeh. When I visited it I noticed that, in a few more years their measurements would come up against a solid wall of stone. What would they do then? When the time came they simply took up another calculation.

     Had I paid any attention to these dates, I would have been in a turmoil most of my life. But I soon learned that, even in Israel, time was not counted when they were out of touch with Ieue.

     There are still at least seven prophetic years to run before the Messiah comes to Israel on the mount of Olives. But when the day of Ieue begins is not revealed. Some things, like unbelieving Israel in the land, seem to indicate that it is near. Other things, like the restoration of Babylon to a world power, make it seem far away. But we do not need to wait for that.

     For us this crowning glorious event will come in our lifetime! It will be enjoyed at our death, if it does not come before. Most of us were taught that our disembodied spirits went to heaven when we died, each alone, apart from His trumpet call. Perhaps we were disappointed when we learned the truth that the dead are dead, and know nothing. How much better is God's glorious plan!

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