A Sign of the Times

The Age of the ExposÚ

"Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts."—1 Corinthians 4:5

Investigative reporting is one of the hallmarks of our day. The power of the media and application of modern technology declare the news worldwide almost as soon as it happens. Matters of world-wide importance, whether they be corruption in government or secret alliances, are aired constantly before an eager public. From the truly significant to the trivia of sensationalist journalism, nothing seems to escape the risk of exposure. Even after the print and electronic media have exhausted the minute details, a spate of lucrative book contracts examines every aspect and seemingly rehashes it without end.

While such exposÚs have been carried to the extremes of often inaccurate and sensationalist, or "yellow," journalism, they have emphasized before the human race both the fallibility and weaknesses of world leaders and the foibles of the entire race. While deplored by many for the extremes, pettiness, and inaccuracy with which it is reported, such investigative reporting has often clearly placed long-entrenched and gross injustices before the spotlight of public scrutiny.

Few, however, realize the import of this advent of investigative reporting in the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. In the text which heads this article, for example, the Bible connects the return of the Lord with just such an advent of exposure of personal and public wrongs.

Investigative Journalism

The growth of investigative reporting is traced by the Encyclopedia Brittanica to the work of Joseph Pulitzer, remembered today as the founder of the Pulitzer Prizes. He is credited as being the trend-setter in changing the shape of print journalism. His work began with the purchase of the German language paper in St. Louis, Missouri, Staats-Zeitung in 1874 and the subsequent purchases of the St. Louis Post and Dispatch papers in 1878.

While derisively called "muckraking," the continuous exposÚs began arousing the public consciousness to the political and social injustices in the world. "Charles Edward Russell led the reform writers with exposÚs ranging from The Greatest Trust in the World (1905) to The Uprising of the Many (1907), the latter reporting methods being tried to extend democracy in other countries. Lincoln Steffens wrote on corrupt city and state politics in The Shame of the Cities (1904). Brand Whitlock, who wrote The Turn of the Balance (1907), a novel opposing capital punishment, was also a reform mayor of Toledo, Ohio. Thomas W. Lawson, a Boston financier, in Frenzied Finance (Everybody’s, 1904-05), provided a major exposÚ of stock-market abuses and insurance fraud. Ida M. Tarbell’s History of the Standard Oil Company (1904) exposed the corrupt practices used to form a great industrial monopoly. Edwin Markham’s Children in Bondage was a major attack on child labor. Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle (1906) and Samuel Hopkins Adams’ Great American Fraud (1906), combined with the work of Harvey W. Wiley and Senator Albert J. Beveridge, brought about passage of the Beef Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act. David Graham Phillips’ series The Treason of the Senate (Cosmopolitan, 1906), which inspired President Roosevelt’s speech in 1906, was influential in leading to the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution, providing for popular senatorial elections" ("Muckraking", Encyclopedia Brittanica).

Religious ExposÚs

Not only did the journalists and writers attack the inequities of their times, religious scholars were beginning to challenge the church dogma of centuries. The advent of higher criticism in the early 1800’s spurred deeper and deeper investigations into the traditional creeds of Christianity. One of the early concepts to be challenged was the concept of man possessing an immortal soul. The Adventist movement, originated in the early nineteenth century by William Miller, were among the first to challenge this concept. They were followed, in 1878, by the formation of the Conditional Immortality Society by the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England. Le Roy Edwin Froom in his Conditionalist Faith of our Fathers, documents this dramatic change in Christian belief. This exposure of the first and greatest of deceptive lies, "Thou shalt not surely die" (Gen. 3:4), is perhaps the greatest example of "the hidden things of darkness" being brought to light, which was to occur when "the Lord cometh."

Other areas of Christian belief which began to be reexamined included the nature of God, the emergence of a Kingdom of Christ upon the earth with both a process of raising all the dead to life again and a development of the earth itself into an eternal paradise. Much of this investigation was a direct result of the intense interest in the subject of the return of Jesus Christ to the earth which arose out of the Adventist movement.

Indicators of the Lord’s Return

The revelation of the "hidden things of darkness" is not the only indicator of this return of the Lord. There are many other signs given in the Bible to mark the time of the second advent of Christ. Some of the most notable of these are found in the twelfth chapter of Daniel and the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew.

The closing chapter of Daniel opens with these words: "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book."

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia notes that early Protestant scholars identified Michael with the pre-human Christ, "finding support for this in the attributes ascribed to him in Daniel." The same source notes that throughout Daniel he "appears as the heavenly patron and champion of Israel."

In Daniel’s prophecy he is pictured as "standing" for Daniel’s people, Israel, in "the time of the end." Jesus chooses this verse as a proof of his return to the earth in Matthew 24:21, "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."

The reemergence of Israel from the dust-bins of their dispersion among all peoples is certainly in evidence today. Forbidden for centuries to own land in their former homelands, the Berlin Congress of Nations in 1878 permitted them once again to purchase property and migrate into the Palestinian area. According to David Ben Gurion, the first wave of immigration, or aliyah, began that year and resulted in the establishment of the pioneer settlement of Petach Tikvah, or as it was known locally, Em ha-Moshavot (Hebrew for "Mother of Villages").

The years that followed quickly saw the development of political Zionism and the building up of an internal infrastructure that facilitated the declaration of statehood in 1948.

But Daniel not only predicted a resurgence of Jewish hopes and prospects when he would return and "stand up," but also a "time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation." The revival of European imperialism in the mid-nineteenth century spawned an unprecedented series of wars. Numerous conflicts over control of the Balkan states erupted in World War I. The rise of new political philosophies brought such upheavals as the Russian Revolution. Unable to settle international issues, the Second World War continued the unfinished business of the First World War. Out of that latter war was born the most fearful force known to man, the Atom Bomb, to be replaced shortly thereafter by ever-more powerful Hydrogen Bombs. We see daily evidence of a "time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation."

Two More Signs

In the same twelfth chapter of Daniel, the prophet lists two more signs which would mark the time when Christ would return, when "Michael" would "stand up." These are given in verse four, "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."

An increase in knowledge and a transportation revolution are two more events predicted for the "time of the end." Dr. Wernher Von Braun, director of America’s early space programs, has calculated that the accumulated knowledge of mankind since his first appearance on the earth up to 1750 had doubled by 1900, redoubling again by 1950, 1960, and 1968 (the time when he compiled his findings.) Since then it has accelerated even more rapidly. Dr. Mortimer Adler of the University of Chicago has compared it to a child being in kindergarten in 1750, and then speeding quickly through grade school, high school, and university in the few years that followed. In 1950, the chief librarian of the State of Connecticut estimated that authentic new information was then being produced at the rate of 5,000 pages per minute. The introduction of the computer has greatly increased both the volume and speed of this process.

The causative factors of this knowledge explosion have their roots in two factors now taken for granted by most people—the availability of books and the ability to read them. While such states as Massachusetts began providing free education as early as 1827, it was a Michigan court case in 1870 which opened the way for compulsory education in the United States. Great Britain was the first nation to pass such a law, also in 1870.

While the use of moveable type by Johannes Gutenberg press about 1455 greatly eased the printing of books and literature, they were still too expensive for the general public. It was not until the organization of the free public library system in the middle of the nineteenth century that books became widely available to the general populace. The introduction of the Dewey Decimal System (in 1876) for the classification of these books still further facilitated their use. When George Munro introduced his Seaside Library"in 1876, he brought the price of printed material into the reach of the average man.

A Significant Decade

Dr. Robert McMasters of Ohio State University, in a lecture delivered in the 1960’s, noted: "No decade in human history has produced as many significant scientific advances as the 1870’s." This is particularly true in the very areas which the Bible predicts would be developed when the Lord returns. Perhaps this is best illustrated in the formulation of the four basic equations of thermodynamics by James Clerk Maxwell in 1873.

The 1870’s saw the development of the scientific theories for the spate of inventions which have marked the world history from that time until now.

The 1870’s saw the loosing of those forces, both in education and availability of literature, for the information explosion so evident around us.

The 1870’s saw political trends develop which have resulted in the reemergence of the state of Israel.

The 1870’s saw a basic change in the role of the media from being strictly a source of information, to in-depth investigations of the injustices of modern society.

The 1870’s saw the challenging of entrenched religious creeds and traditions.

Each of these developments were signs given in the Bible in anticipation of the return of Jesus Christ.

Therefore it is reasonable to investigate the decade of the 1870’s as the time of the Lord’s return.

Where Is He?

If this is reasonable, one big question remains. Why do we not see him? Where can he be found? The answer is a simple one. We do not see him because he is invisible.

Shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus said to his disciples, "Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more" (John 14:19). On the other hand, the Bible also predicts, "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him" (Rev. 1:7).

"The world seeth me no more!" "Every eye shall see him!" These two Scriptures apparently conflict? Which is true? Both statements are in the Bible. Therefore both must be true! How can two such opposite remarks both be true statements. Because the verb "to see" is used in two senses in the English language. With our literal eyes we perceive the world around us with its trees, clouds, and flowers. But we also "see" mental concepts that are not visible to the eye. Even a blind man, being convinced that an argument is correct, will correctly say, "I see."

Since Jesus died as a natural being and was raised as a divine spiritual one, he shares the attributes of other spiritual beings. One of the attributes of these is invisibility. Jesus spoke of this in John 3:8 in describing spiritual beings, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." But he manifests his presence with manifold signs which, as they become clearer and clearer, are ultimately perceived by all until "every eye shall see him."

Why Does He Come?

A far more important question is to discern the object of the return of Jesus Christ. Put simply, he comes to complete the work he began at his first advent.

Then he came to redeem men and purchase a kingdom, now he comes to establish that kingdom.

Then he preached about his coming kingdom on earth, now he comes to inaugurate that kingdom.

Then he performed countless miracles illustrating the power of that kingdom, now he comes to show the far greater reality which those miracles illustrated.

Then he laid down the principles of divine justice, now he comes to judge the world in righteousness.

It is of this kingdom on earth that the prophets of the Old Testament spoke so eloquently. Space does not here permit an examination of all these prophecies. Therefore we offer to our readers two booklets at no cost to examine these items in further detail. Send an e-mail request to ThePBI@aol.com to receive your free copies of The Lord’s Return and The Kingdom of God.

Suffice it here to say that it is a kingdom which will bring peace, joy, and freedom from sin and death to all humanity (Rev. 21:4). It is a time when "all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth" (John 5:29). It is a time when the "eyes of the blind shall be opened; the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped; the lame man shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing" (Isa. 35:5, 6). It is the kingdom we have all prayed for so long with the words, "Thy kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10).