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The Second Coming or the Judgment?

Enoch and Malachi

The Second Coming or the Judgment?

   In Jude 14, 15 we read that: “Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

   Malachi 3:1,2 tells us: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.”

   The typical understanding of these passages is that they apply strictly to the second coming.  Church leaders accuse Victor Houteff of being in error because they see a contradiction between his interpretation of these passages and Ellen White’s. The truth is that somehow important parts of Houteff’s explanation has been left out and thus led to misinterpretation.                              

The Denomination’s Position

   The following references by Victor Houteff are used by the denomination in an attempt to show this contradiction.  We will quote them as cited by church leaders in its publications against the Shepherd’s Rod

   This prophecy by Enoch is not the second coming of Christ in the clouds . .

   Enoch prophesied of the coming of the Lord to His temple in the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary with his saints in figure (not bodily) for the investigative judgment to blot out their sins... .”

   “Mrs. White declares,” say the church leaders, “that Enoch’s prophecy, as recorded by Jude, applies to Christ’s second advent, His coming to” execute judgment upon all the ungodly:

   “Besides the coming of the Lord to His temple, Malachi foretells His second advent.  His coming for the execution of the judgment, in these words: ‘And I will come near to you in judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not Me, saith the Lord of hosts.’ Mal. 3:5.  Jude refers to the same scene when he says, ‘Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds.’ Jude 14, 15.  This coming and the coming of the Lord to His temple, are distinct and separate events.  The Great Controversy, 425, 426, italics added.”  

   “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.  To him was committed the message of the second coming of Christ. . . 

The Rod’s Position

   The Rod’s message does not deny that  Enoch’s message as recorded by Jude has application to the second advent.  However, it does state that although it climaxes with the second return of our Lord, the primary application is the investigative judgment of the dead and the living.

   The problem is that Houteff’s explanation was not quoted in full.  A thorough study of his commentary would reveal that there is no real contradiction, and that indeed both Enoch’s prophecy and Malachi’s apply primarily to the investigative judgment and the secondarily to the  second advent.  Victor Houteff’s comment in context is:

   This prophecy by Enoch is not the second coming of Christ in the clouds, for when He shall appear in glory He comes not “with His saints,” but rather for His saints.  Neither could it be of His coming with his saints on the other side of the millennium, for in such a case it could not have been a message to the antediluvian world. . . .Enoch prophesied of the coming of the Lord to His temple in the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary with His saints in figure (not bodily) for the investigative judgment to blot out the their sins, of which event Malachi the prophet refers: [Malachi 3: 1 - 3 is quoted]. . . . Therefore, the complete fulfillment of the prophetic words, “Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints,” shall be realized at the close of probation . . .In“The Great Controversy,” p. 426, referring to Christ’s second advent, part of verse 14 is quoted with verse 15, to complete the sentence with the word “cometh”; that part of the verse “with ten thousands of His saints,” apply to His coming to the temple before the “Ancient of days.”  The word “cometh” from verse 14 with verse 15, is applied to His second advent . . .

   Although The Great Controversy, p. 426, seemingly applies Enoch’s prophecy only to the second coming, Ellen White positively includes the investigative judgment later on in the same book. She wrote:

   “Before any can enter the mansions of the blessed, their deeds must pass in review before God.  All are to be judged according to the things written in the books and to be rewarded as their works have been.  This judgment does not take place at death. . . .Jude refers to the same period: [Jude 6, 14, 15, are quoted].  John declares that he “saw the dead small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened : . . .and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books.” Revelation 20:12.

   In another statement found in The Review and Herald, Inspiration clearly connects both investigative judgment and the second coming, revealing just what the Rod shows–that Enoch’s statement embraces the judgment in general which culminates with the close of probation and the second coming. 

  “ Christ would have all understand the events of His second appearing.  The judgment scene will take place in the presence of all the worlds. . . then every case will be decided, and sentence will be passed upon all.”                                                           

Malachi 3: 1 - 3

   Ellen White also supports the Rod’s interpretation that Malachi 3 applies to the investigative judgment since 1844—which would include the judgment of the dead and living.

   “The coming of Christ as our high priest to the most holy place, for the cleansing of the sanctuary, brought to view in Daniel 8:14; the coming of the Son of man to the Ancient of Days, as presented in Daniel 7:13; and coming of the Lord to His temple, foretold by Malachi, are descriptions of the same event. . “.

   In other places Inspiration applies Malachi 3:1 - 3 to the cleansing of the heart of those already professing to be believers of the truth.

   “In His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin,—from the earthly desires, the selfish lusts, the evil habits, that corrupt the soul.”  [then Malachi 3: 1 - 3 is quoted]. 

   In another place she applies it to the purification of God’s church. She wrote [after quoting Malachi 3: 1 - 3]: 

   “The purification of the people of God cannot be accomplished without their suffering.  God permits the fires of affliction to consume the dross, to separate the worthless from the valuable, that the pure metal may shine forth.”

In Summary

   After viewing the subject from its full perspective, we can see that the Shepherd’s Rod is not in contradiction with Ellen White.  The Rod’s message simply reveals a closer look at  Enoch’s and Malachi’s messages and emphasizes the investigative judgment—especially for the living.   It reveals that both Enoch’s and Malachi’s messages have special reference to the purification of God’s church today.  However in doing so, it does not negate the point that in a secondary sense it also has application to the second return of our Lord.  In other words, it reveals that it begins with the judgment for the dead, continues with the living, and in the case of Enoch’s message, climaxes with the second advent.  Thus while we typically emphasize the second return, they primarily apply to the judgment for the living. 

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