by A.E. Knoch

A STUPENDOUS CHANGE is impending. Events round about us point tothis fact. Israel has returned to its ancient homeland thoughstill in unbelief. But it is already being gathered out of all nations. It must be there and attain a certain degree of prosperity, for only after they are engulfed in deep distress as the result of the actions of the surrounding envious enemies will the Lord descend to the Mount of Olives to save the Jews from extinction. The existence at present of the sovereign state of Israel is an important evidence of the eminence of our Lord's return for the ecclesia which is His body. This is not the only indication, and religious literature on all sides is full of signs pointing to the end of the ancient order. We will not go into these matters at length, but rather contemplate some of the changes which will accompany this glorious event. For these will be tremendous, not only on earth, but in the heavens also. Not only will we be changed, but our Lord Himself will be manifested in an entirely different character than during this present administration.


      It is well worth the effort to contemplate the different titles which Christ assumes when He comes down to the air to meet His members, after His voice has raised them from the dead. They are very distinct from those He has had previously. He is no longer the ideal Shepherd, tending His flock, nor the great Physician, healer of every sickness, full of compassion and mercy. Neither is He the marvelous Teacher, instructing the poor, ignorant and deluded people, led astray by the unscriptural doctrines of their leaders. Now He comes visibly to us first of all in glory with the shout of command. Only a commander may utter this type of call. It is like a military order, demanding instant response and implicit obedience. No room is left for a choice on the hearer's part. We must all rally to the same banner. For our great Captain is leading us into a new stage of the combat, in which He Himself is also engaged with the powers of darkness and spiritual forces of wickedness. He has been victorious thus far in every encounter, ever since His entrance into this world, the domain of Satan. His faithful ones, too, have played their part in routing the enemy, even while down here, being invigorated by His strength and equipped with the whole divine panoply, which has enabled them to stand. But now our commander calls us upward to a completely new battlefield, not down here, but in the heavens, where the enemy has been reigning until now with undisputed sway. Is he not called the chief of the jurisdiction of the air? (Eph.2:2). And does he not Infest these heavenly regions with his hosts of evil spirits, deceiving the whole world and influencing blind and deluded human tools making them do his wishes? But now his time is nearly up. And, just as surely as Christ passed victoriously through the heavens (Heb.4:14), we will be called to follow Him into the enemy's haunts, and carry the fight into his very realm, so that at long last he may be cast down to the earth. He knows well that the body of Christ is to rule over the region he yet claims for himself, which God allows him to retain during the evil eons, but his rule ends there as soon as ours begins.

      In the Orient such a commander as this would ride on a white horse. Can we not here, in spirit, get a glimpse of the mighty Conqueror, who, in His blood-dipped garments descends to this earthly battlefield, leading the armies of heaven to the final combat, in which we will surely be included in His hour of triumph? The same One, Whom we see here (Rev.19:11-16) will be the One Who will call us to Him with the shout of command.


      Gabriel (Heb.Gbr i Al MASTER-SUBJECTion), who stands in the presence of God, and is a chief-messenger, was sent to Daniel to reveal to him the great prediction concerning the seventy heptads, of which now only one remains unfulfilled. Later he was sent to the virgin Mary to announce to her the birth of her divine Son. But this time it is not Gabriel who descends to bring a prophecy. It is Christ Himself, who with a voice of authority ushers in the greatest conceivable change. He is in effect God's greatest and foremost Messenger. The word "chief" must often be translated "Prince." It designates the highest in rank. We read in the Hebrew Scriptures that one and the same communication, given to men by Ieue, was also given by His messenger. Christ is His foremost messenger. The prophet Malachi (3:1) calls Him a messenger, the Messenger of God's covenant. No mere "angel" would be sent to call Christ's beloved members, His own complement, to be forever with Him. We no longer deal with "angels". We have Christ Himself. Paul rarely mentions other than Satanic messengers. We are to withstand these evil powers not through the power of intercepting angels, but because of Christ's victory on the cross over all His foes. And the message which He brings to us when He calls us is the announcement that now the greatest change has come--for Him, for us, for the world, which will no longer we dealt with in grace, and for the satanic hosts, whose territory will now be invaded and ruled by those whom God has chosen before the disruption, to bring all into subjection to Him.


      Noting the literal meaning of the Greek word which we ordinarily translate "God" will be helpful here. it means PLACer, and this thought is especially revealing in connection with this trumpet. The Deity is related to humanity on the earth as their Subjector, in His Hebrew revelation. But when we are about to leave the ranks of humanity and enter His celestial realm, this is not enough. It will need a Placer to blow His trumpet, to transport us into the air and to our celestial kingdom. it would seem as if a Commander's shout will rouse us from the dead, and the chief Messenger will raise us to stand upon the earth, and the trumpet of the Placer will cause us to rise to meet our Lord in the air.


      From what has been said, it should now be clear that the return of Christ for the ecclesia which is His body is the concluding climax of the present administration. It marks the close of the administration of the grace of God and ushers in a new and utterly contrasting period of judgment, in which God swiftly pours out His wrath. Because of the close proximity of the rapture to this new era, the inspired terms which Paul uses to describe the scene, and the titles applied to Christ Himself differ vastly from those we are familiar with in the present administration. This shows that God's dealings will have entered a new era. How thankful we should be that, during the terrible times which will then briefly engulf humanity, we shall be with Christ, equipped with celestial bodies, well suited to the tasks with which we will be entrusted, which will be our precious portion in that day. Hence, with eager anticipation we cry out, "Come, Lord Jesus"!

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