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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 16

Section 3 Subsection 1

The Thief-like Advent



"Behold, I come as a thief'  Verse 15.

The position of this announcement of the thief-like advent in the prophecy, is remarkable. It stands between the going forth of the Frog-like Spirits, and the gathering of the kings into Armageddon. This indicates, that the Advent takes place before the gathering into that place or country.

But, who is it that comes as a thief? This must be answered Apocalyptically. This prophecy is introduced by directing the reader's attention to Ch. 1:4,8, to him, "who is, and who was, and who is coming". In this latter text, this august personage styles himself, ho pantokrator, the Almighty One: and in verse 13, "one like to a Son of Man," "he that liveth, and was dead, and is living for the aions of the aions" (verse 18). The Son-of-Man similitude, whose "voice is as the sound of many waters," or "the voice of a multitude," the ONE BODY of which the anointed Jesus is the Head, is the Omega and the End, "who is to come".

The Coming One, who makes his entrance stealthily, is not merely a single individual; but a body of individuals, consisting of the kings of the earth and their Prince (ch. 1:5) to prepare whose way, the Great River Euphrates has been dried up. It is the body of Earth's future kings, who will all be conformed to the Christ Image (Rom. 8:29; 1 John 3:2). They constitute the Mighty Angel, heaven-descended, who had been clothed with cloud (ch. 10:1); and from whose glory the earth is illuminated (ch. 18:1). This angel-body of kings is constituently exhibited ch. 19:11-16. In this place, it is shown to be constituted of the hosts in the heaven accompanying their Commander in war. He and they together illustrate the name, "King of kings and Lord of lords" - the Seven Spirits of the Deity manifested in the Saints.

Such is "the Man who is the Angel" (ch. 21:17) who comes as a thief-the Man whose measure is 144 cubits. But, to whom is he to come as a thief? Certainly not to the constituents of his own body, which would be coming to himself. No; he comes upon the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet, as a thief. He breaks in unexpectedly into the Great City by way of the dried up channel of the great Ottoman Euphrates. He plants himself in the limits of the Turkish territory, where he makes all necessary preparations for "the war of the great day of the Deity who is almighty". The exhausted condition of the Ottoman Power is favorable to this preparation of the way. It was dried up for this very purpose, namely, that after the drying up was sufficiently advanced, the way might be prepared to carry into effect what is to follow. This glorious and terrible man can make no progress until he is prepared. When he is created and perfected, he is the way prepared. "I am" said Jesus, "the way;" and this man with a mission, and therefore, man and angel, must be conformed to him as the model. But, if he be a man not yet created, who was that, who eighteen hundred years ago said in the text, "Behold, I come as a thief"? Who is indicated by the personal pronoun "I"? The answer to this is the ETERNAL SPIRIT. figuratively represented in Ch. 5:6, by "a Lamb as it had been slain, having Seven Horns and Seven Eyes"  the Eternal Spirit, manifested in the glorified Jesus, who is to the One Body as the acorn to the oak. The Alpha, the First, the Beginning, is the Deity manifested in flesh justified by spirit, and called Jesus Christ; the Omega, the End, and the Last, is also the Deity manifested in flesh, justified by spirit, and styled, in Eph. 4:13, "the PERFECT MAN. the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ".

This Perfect man comes into Babylon the Great as a thief. A thief gets into the house as quietly and noiselessly as possible; and chooses a time when he supposes all the inmates are fast asleep, and consequently off their guard. Having opened a door, or effected an entrance of some sort, he prepares to carry off the spoil. All his preparations for this are done with great caution and carefulness, so as not to awake the sleepers; from whom, the little light he employs is averted, lest its stimulus should disturb their slumbers. This is as a thief comes, and exactly illustrates the coming of the "One like to a Son of Man". He does not come into Babylon like a descending balloon from the clouds, with all eyes fixed upon him, and wondering where he is going to alight! A thief does not come after this fashion.

Thus, "the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night: for when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them . . . and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren," continues Paul in 1 Thess. 5:3,4, "are not in darkness, that that day should over-take you as a thief". We see from this, the class upon whom the coming is as a thief   it is upon them who are in darkness. While the Perfect Man is being developed, the Dragon, the Beast, and the Roman Prophet, will be saying, "Peace and safety;" and the last especially, as the organ of Catholicity, in heart saying, "I sit queen and no widow, and shall see no sorrow". These are all in the dark, doting upon speculations none of which Will be realized, but only the reverse.

But, when, where, and how, is the Perfect Man apocalypsed, or revealed? As to the when, the answer is, in the interval between the arrival of the Lord Jesus, and the coming in upon the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet as a thief, after the type of Cyrus and his companion kings. In this interval, the real Sons of the Deity are manifested, and separated from mere pretenders to Sonship. It is the interval termed inCh. 11:18, "the time of the dead that they should be judged"; and, in ch. 20:12,13, also referred to in the words, "I saw the dead, small and great, who had stood, hestotas, before the Deity; and the books had been opened; and another book had been opened, which is that of the life: and the dead had been judged by the things which had been written in the books, according to their works"  hekastos, "every one:" parallel with which likewise is ch .22.12, In which it is written, "Behold, I come quickly: and my reward is with me to give back (apothounai) to every one as his work shall be"   as his work shall on inspection be found to be. It is in this time, styled by Peter, in 1 Peter 2:12, "THE DAY OF INSPECTION,” hemera episkopes, that the Rainbowed Angel, or Perfect Man, is to be made manifest, and developed into being. "The apocalypse of the Sons of Deity" (Rom. 8:19), which is "the adoption" or "redemption of our body" (v.23), cannot occur in the absence of our Lord Jesus Christ, because he is "the resurrection and the life"; and till he revisits the earth, there can be neither. 

He is no longer simply the earthborn body that was crucified and buried. After he came forth from the tomb, which of itself under the law was defiling to the party buried, and to any living person who should touch him, Jesus was also upon the third day "justified by spirit," or "made perfect," in ascending by the power of the Spirit from the earth-born nature, to consubstantiality of substance with the Father, "who is spirit" (John 4:24). Thus freed from all earthiness, he became spirit, upon the principle he had laid down in his discourse to Nicodemus, that "that which has been born out of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). Hence, the perfected Jesus is the Spirit-Nucleus of the Perfect Man to be revealed, or apocalypsed. The Lord Jesus comes not as a thief to them that are watching. He is "the Lord the Spirit" for whom they are waiting and earnestly looking; knowing that he comes when the 1335 years are expired, "in the Time of the End", and before the gathering of the hosts of the nations in the field of Armageddon.

Such is in brief the answer to the inquiry when is the mighty angel-man to be apocalypsed, or developed into visible existence? The next question is where is his development to ensue? And here I may refer the reader to what I have already written in Vol. 3pp. 178-187. It would not be right to reproduce these eight pages in this place. It will be enough to refer to them, and to remark that the development of the Rainbowed Angel is the same thing as the development of the Perfect Man, whose constituents are "the kings from a Sun's risings". I would, however, remind the reader, that Habakkuk informs us, that "Eloah shall come in from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran; and that while he is in Teman, he will also be in Sinai, in the holy" (Psa. 68:17). "Yahweh, says Moses, "came in from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he caused to shine forth from Mount Paran, and he came with ten thou-sands of the holy". These localities are in the north-western corner of Arabia, and south of the Palestinian pachalik of the Little Horn of the Goat's Euphratean empire. Further to the northwest is Egypt, also a province of the Great River Euphrates. In this wilderness region of the South, bounded by the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean, and the Red Sea from the Gulf of Suez to the Gulf of Akaba, the Arabian Desert, and Palestine; situate and being in the land promised to Abraham and his Seed - it appears to me, from the testimony already in the hands of the reader, the KING OF THE JEWS  will first manifest his presence, not to the world at large; which will not know of his being there, or, if told the fact, would not believe it; but to those, whom "the blood of the covenant" brings before his tribunal. This southern region of which as King of the Jews he is king, therefore, "King of the South," is the locality of that tribunal, or judgment seat (bema, not thronos), before which we must all stand that we may be made manifest. The locality of the Throne (thro-nos) is Jerusalem, about 280 miles in a straight line from Sinai. Mount Zion is the place of "THE GREAT WHITE THRONE" (ch. 20:11; 4:2). This is not ascended until the victorious King of the Jews and his Perfect Man of 144 cubits, or thousands, have wrested the city out of the hands of the Little Horn of the Goat (Dan. 8:9,11,23,25;. We have not now to do with this; but with the bema, or Supreme Court, the judicial bench, styled in Rom. 14:10, and 2 Cor. 5:10, "the Judgment Seat of Christ". All who have made a covenant with Yahweh by sacrifice, and in any way related to "the Covenants of Promise," will be gathered (Psa. 50:5) and stand before this; but it will only be the chosen few, "the called, and chosen, and faithful," who will be admitted to share in the honor, dignities, and glory of the name of Yahweh in Jerusalem enthroned (Jer. 3:17). Let the reader note well this distinction between the Throne and the Judgment Seat, their different localities, and the different times of their establishment. The transactions connected with each are different series of events; which, if mixed up together create inextricable confusion.

The third question is, how is the Perfect Man, who is to descend upon Babylon's powers and populations "as a thief," to be apocalypsed, )r brought into existence? By the power of the Eternal Spirit, or Father, operating through the Lord Jesus Christ, according to the principles laid down in Paul's epistles. With a very few exceptions now existing among the living, the future constituents of the Perfect Man are nothing but incorporeal dust and ashes - dust without form or body. When living in the present state they were men and women, who understood, believed, obeyed, and walked, in the Truth, and thereby obtained registry in the Lamb's Book of Life (Mal. 3.16,17, Dan. 12.1, Exod. 32.32,33, Apoc. 20:15). In the resurrection epoch, dust is formed into bodies. They are then "the dead who are in the graves". The next thing is, they are caused "to hear the voice of the Son, who has the life in himself". On hearing this they then "come forth" from the graves by the momentum communicated to them by the earth which "casts them out". After this, their consciousness of a previously developed character being impressed upon them, the angels employed in the service, gather them together from the four winds, from one end of the heaven to the other, unto the Lord Jesus Christ; so that, if I have correctly expounded the testimony of Moses, David, and Habakkuk, the angels will gather them "unto him" in the South  in the wilderness of Sinai. At this point the reader will please refer to the following texts (John 5:26-29; Isa. 26:19; Matt. 24:31; 2 Thess. 2:1).

This coming forth of the future constituents of the Perfect Man from the graves, restores them to an equality with the few among the living, who may attain perfection with them. In this co-equality they are intellectually, morally, and materially alike. That which is out of the earth, ek ges, is, and can only be, earthy, choikos. These coequals, who have all come from the earth directly or indirectly, are therefore "earthy;" and therefore also, until subjected to a further operation of Spirit, unfit to enter the kingdom of the Deity.

Furthermore, the grave is regarded in the Divine law as an unclean place, and defiling. Under Moses' law, if a man touched a grave, or a bone, or a corpse, he contracted a defilement, from which he could not be cleansed under a week. This was styled "filth of the flesh" (1 Pet. 3:21) and typified the real nature of all bodies coming forth from the grave. The "flesh" of these is that peculiar constitution of their substance which forms its earthiness. The subject of such a nature, however excellent a character he may be, or may have been, is materially defiled, or unclean. Therefore, nothing born of a woman is clean, even though it have been begotten in her substance by the power of the Spirit (Job 14:4; 25:4). Now, this is a principle of the knowledge revealed to us, and is of universal application. It obtains in relation to Jesus himself. In Gal. 4:4, Paul says, the Son of the Deity sent forth, "was made of a woman, made under the law". The body so made and born was therefore unclean materially and Mosaically; and could no more "enter heaven itself to appear in the presence of Deity for us" (Heb. 9:24) in that nature, than that flesh and blood should inherit his kingdom (1 Cor. 15:50). Would any one intelligent in the Word affirm that an unclean body, made yet more unclean by becoming a corpse, and therefore defiling to every one who touched it, becomes clean by being put into an unclean place, and lying there for three days, less or more? Would the simple fact of that corpse coming to life in a tomb which its presence had Mosaically defiled, and walking out of it, make it a clean body, or nature? If it be replied that it would, why then was not Lazarus, whom Jesus raised, clean of nature? If it be replied, "he was"; then Jesus was not the "first out of a resurrection of dead ones" (Acts 26:23).

But, passing through the grave cleanses no one. They who emerge thence, "come forth" with the same nature they carried into it; and therefore their coming forth is Resurrection. If the same kind of body did not come forth that was buried, it would not be Resurrection, but only surrection, as in the case of the first man. Jesus "rose AGAIN" (1 Cor. 15:4); his coming forth was therefore resurrection. He rose again the same Jesus that was buried, only that instead of being dead, he was alive again. He was buried under the curse of the law, which "made him a curse for" our benefit (Gal. 3:13): he came forth while that same law was in force and Operation. His coming forth upon the arena of his execution did not relieve him from the curse of that law, which sentenced him to continuous and everlasting death; so that, if they could have recaptured him, the Mosaic authorities would doubtless have returned him into death. That law regarded him as dead, and its authorities refused credence to the report, that he had come to life. After he had come forth he saw Mary, a Jewess, who mistook him for the gardener, so like other men did he appear. Having convinced her of her error, he checked the impulse of her affection by saying to her, "Touch me not!" It was defiling for Jews to touch a thing declared to be unclean by the law. Any thing from the grave was enacted to be unclean, in reference to him who should come out of the tomb, until that he should be 'revived" (Rom. 14:9) or "made a quickening Spirit" (1 Cor. 15:45). Christ was "the end of the law," the substance or body of the shadow (Rom. 10:4; Col. 2:17); its lines concentred in the things pertaining to his body. The interdict forbidding it to be touched was indicative of its not then having been changed into spirit; and that it was still earthy and inferior to the substance of the Father. He gave the reason why he forbade his body to be touched; "for," he said, "I have not yet ascended to my Father". No one might touch him until that ascent had taken place. It did not occur till after Mary left him; but it had doubtless taken place before his walk with Cleopas and another to Emmaus; for they appear to have traveled very sociably together. The swallowing up of every particle of the earthiness of an earthy body, is an instantaneous operation; the work of "a moment, or the twinkling of an eye" (1 Cor. 15:51,52). It was one of the events that transpired in relation to Jesus on the third day. He "rose and revived" on the third day (Rom. 14:9). He not only rose on the third day, but he revived on the same day. Rising is one thing, reviving is an-other; and two different words are used by the apostle to express the different ideas. The Father who is Spirit, had "forsaken" Jesus upon the cross, and left him to die there. Having become a corpse and been laid in a tomb, that corpse was like all other corpses, utterly without intelligence and power; for "the dead know not anything" (Ecc. 9:5,10); and "the Lord (YAHWEH) is not the Deity (AlL, or Power) of dead, but of living ones, for they all live by him" (Luke 20:38). When this corpse, named Jesus, opened its eyes, stood upon its feet and came forth from the tomb, it "rose". At this point of time it was neither Lord nor Christ. The Father, who had forsaken him and left him to die, had not yet returned to him; for if he had returned to the corpse while in the tomb in causing it to stand and walk, that risen body after coming forth would not have said, "I have not yet ascended to my Father". This was equivalent to saying, I am an earthy, or natural, body just come forth from the unclean place; and have not yet been "made perfect," "justified by the spirit," or "made a quickening spirit". The Father hath not yet clothed me with my house which is from heaven; so that that which constitutes me earthy and mortal is not yet "swallowed up of life;" therefore, “Touch me not" until I have been "constituted Son of Deity in power, through Spirit of holiness, out of a resurrection of dead ones" (Rom. 1:4). I am now simply Jesus born of the tomb, "of the earth earthy;" but when my earthiness of body is instantaneously "swallowed up of life," I shall be Spirit; I shall be of equal and identical substance with the Father; and by this anointing, I shall become Christ, or the Anointed One, and "the Lord from heaven" (1 Cor. 15:47).

This anointing with Spirit and Power was the revival in a greater degree of the former relations subsisting between the Father and the Son. He had been "anointed with holy spirit and power" after he had been born of water. This did not change his body into Spirit; it only invested the body born of unclean flesh, or "made of a woman," with the wisdom and power of the Father in heaven, who discoursed and worked through it (John 5:19,30; 6:38,63; 8:42,58; 10:30; 14:10,28). But when the body was anointed again with holy spirit and power, or "spirit of holiness," after it was born of the second unclean place, the tomb, it was not only endued and embued with wisdom and power as before, but it was itself transformed into an embodiment of eternal power, in which there is no weakness, or corruption, or principle of death at all. It was then "revived," anezese, as well as risen again, aneste. It became "the body of his glory," soma tes doxes autou (Phil. 3:21), "raised in glory" from the earthy body which is "without honor," en atimia (1 Cor. 15:43); and forty days after, "taken up in glory" (1 Tim. 3:16).

Such was the model, or "Heavenly Man," whose image, intellectual, moral, and material, all must bear who may become the future constituents of the Perfect Man, who comes upon the world as a thief. I have been rather particular in the exposition of the things connected with the body of Jesus, which being made subjectively to know orach chayim, "the way of lives," became "the Way" (John 14:6) illustrative of the manner in which all his brethren will experimentally pass from the humiliation of death to the exaltation of eternal life and glory. They, as he, come forth from the unclean house of death earthy, and, therefore, unclean bodies. As such, they are gathered together by angelic agency into the presence of the Judge, who awaits them in the wilderness of the South. There they pass their examination as candidates for companion-ship with him in the kingdom and glory about to be established and developed by the Eternal Spirit through the Perfect Man. The examination is the scrutiny of character made flesh. If the characters of the candidates for Divine honors be approved, then their "mortal flesh" as Paul terms it in 2 Cor. 4:11, becomes the subject of a spiritual operation, which, "in the twinkling of an eye," justifies, or perfects it, and thereby causes it to ascend from flesh to Spirit, which is equivalent to ascending from the low origin and level of an earthborn, to the Heavenly Father who is Spirit.

These transactions being finished whereby "they who have done good" are "made manifest," and separated from the refuse and the vile, like their model was, are "made higher than the heavens" (Heb. 7:26). They are the Perfect Man, whose constituents are all kings and priests the Yahweh Elohim omnipotent; the Wife of the Lamb with Seven Horns and Seven Eyes, married, or inseparably united, to the Spirit. Being Spirit, whatsoever they do the Spirit doth; so that all their great and glorious deeds in the subjugation and regeneration of the world, will be wrought in Deity.

Such, then, is the Spirit who saith, "Behold, I come as a thief". He comes from the far country, "the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens," in the time of the end, veaith kaitz; that is, after the ending of the 2400 years, or, as the English Version has it, though I believe erroneously, 2300(t). Whichever number may be adopted, it is a satisfaction to be assured on good evidence, that the longer and the shorter periods are both in the past. The Time of the End consists of the years occupied in justifying or vindicating all that constitutes "the holy" - rectifying, or making it all right and straight, after so long a period of injury and violence wenitzdak kodesh, "then the holy shall be justified" vindicated or avenged (Dan. 8:14).

The Eternal Spirit incorporate in the Saints, to whom judgment is given, is the justifier, rectifier, vindicator, and redeemer of the holy land and nation. Habakkuk, in his vision of this time, saith in Ch. 3:13, "thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, for salvation with thine Anointed". This Anointed One is the Christ in fullness - the One Body consisting of the Lord Jesus and his brethren "glorified together". Developed in the South as a a body of kings, laying special claim to the land of Israel, and to the world in general, and commencing their enterprise for the conquest of their rights from Teman, they constitute a power, styled in Dan. 11:40 melech hannegev, "king of the south". Zechariah says in ch. 9:14, "Adonai Yahweh shall blow with trumpet, and shall go forth with whirlwinds of Teman". He goes forth thence for the salvation of his people "in the time of the end". In going forth thus, he "pushes at him," the Little Horn of the Goat, or power of Constantinople, "which distributes the land for a price" (Dan. 11:39). It is immaterial whether that power be then Turko-Greek, or Russo-Greek: the raised up Sons of Zion, as the sword of a mighty man, will operate against the Sons of Greece (Zech. 9:13). This sudden and unexpected attack of a hitherto unheard of power, will come upon the Dragon, the Beast, the False Prophet, the Kings of the Earth, and of the whole habitable "as a thief". The situation will be an astounding novelty in the "balance of power". The Christ in fullness in the Great City Babylon, and none suspecting even that the Lord Jesus had individually descended from heaven! Could any surprise be more complete! Here then is the Eastern Question in a phase not dreamt of in the philosophy of the worshippers of the Beast.




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