TO better understand the Epiphany of our Lord’s Second Advent, let us first consider the Greek word parousia, which means presence, not coming, as of one being on the way, but a stay at a place after one’s arrival there. The first part of our Lord’s second stay on earth after His return from Heaven was a secret and invisible one, the world not being at all aware of it. Only His prospective Bride knew of it through the light of the Bible and the signs of the times (1 Thessalonians 5: 1-5). Our Lord compared the period of His secret Second Presence to the period of Noah’s presence before the Flood (Matthew 24: 37-39) (Luke 17: 26).
The Parousia in Three Stages
This stage of our Lord’s Second Presence in earth is repeatedly designated the Parousia in the original Greek of the New Testament. The Epiphany, as a period of our Lord’s Second Presence, follows the Parousia, its first stage. While the word parousia is used in the Scriptures to designate the first stage of our Lord’s Second Presence, it also is used to include the Epiphany stage of our Lord’s Second Presence. Furthermore, it is also used to designate the entire thousand years of His Second Presence, His Millennial Reign on earth.
The Scriptures indicate that in the first stage, the Parousia of our Lord’s Return, He would be especially active in two things: (1) in gathering His Elect Bride into closer fellowship with Himself through His Spirit and Word, preparatory to her deliverance from the earth and her glorification with Him; and (2) in preparing for the Great Tribulation, during which a less faithful, an overcharged class, the Great Company would be delivered. According to our Lord’s statement (Luke 17: 26-30), the Epiphany, the time of the revelation of the Son of Man, occurs during this Great Tribulation. The ablest Bible Students of our day are more and more coming to the conclusion that we have been in this Great Tribulation since the outbreak of the World War in 1914. Eventually the clouds of trouble that involve our social earth and ecclesiastical heavens will cause the world of mankind to recognize the presence of the Son of Man (Matthew 24: 30) (Luke 21: 25-28) (Revelation 1: 7). The third stage of our Lord’s Second Advent is the Kingdom, called in Greek the Basileia (2 Timothy 4: 1).
Our Lord’s Epiphany Work
During the Epiphany our Lord does a special work toward the world, the Great Company and the Youthful Worthies. As far as the world is concerned His Epiphany work is twofold: (1) His separation of the world into its two classes, the Conservatives and the Radicals; and (2) His revelation of Himself to the world as present in His Second Advent as the Overthrower of Satan’s Empire and as the Establisher of God’s Kingdom. As far as the Church is concerned our Lord’s Epiphany work is also twofold: (1) separation of the church into its two classes, the Little Flock and the Great Company; and (2) revelation of Himself to the Great Company as such as present in His Second Advent in the capacity of their Cleanser and Deliverer. As far as the Youthful Worthies are concerned it is for their development for the Kingdom.
Our Lord’s first Epiphany work toward the world was His separating it into its two classes, the Conservatives and the Radicals. This work began with the first smiting of Jordan in the Fall of 1914, and progressed through the second smiting of Jordan, beginning in the Fall of 1917. The separation of these two classes eventually became worldwide. The first smiting of Jordan, which exposed the evil deeds of those claiming to exercise power by Divine right, proved that those claiming to exercise such power were responsible for the war and its disastrous effects. People gradually began to be divided into the two social groups. The effect of the second smiting of Jordan widened this breach until people in every country on earth became divided into the Conservatives and the Radicals.
Our Lord – The Overthrower of Satan’s Empire and Establisher of God’s Kingdom
Such a division of the peoples is intended by Him to pave the way for the climax of the wrath – the earthquake and the fire, through which the second purpose of His Epiphany work will be accomplished, that is, the manifestation of Himself in the Second Advent to the world as the Overthrower of Satan’s Empire and the Establisher of God’s Kingdom. World War I convinced some of the world that the Lord was present as the Overthrower of Satan’s Empire. However, the war feature of the tribulation was not sufficiently impressive nor thorough to work this conviction in the minds of the whole world, nor even in the minds of a large part of the world. The symbolic earthquake and fire will be necessary to make all recognize this fact.
2 Thessalonians 1: 7, 8 proves this point, which we will quote with bracketed comments: “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed [manifested as the Destroyer of Satan’s Empire] from heaven [in His Second Advent] with His mighty angels [the agents of wrath which in the war were the mighty armies with their destructive agencies, and the famines and pestilences, which in the revolution will be will be the loyal and revolting armies and famines and pestilences, and which in the anarchy will be the contending law-abiding and lawless elements among mankind, and famines and pestilences], in flaming fire [not in the sky, but in the direful tribulations of the world’s supreme trouble will He be manifest as present overthrowing Satan’s Empire] taking vengeance [exacting retribution] on them that know not God [the Second Death class in the Nominal Church], and that obey not [the Second Death class in the Truth] the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(to be continued)