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by Dr. John Thomas
Furthermore, does the reader suppose, that the Lord informed the thief of the time when he would come in his kingdom; or that it could possibly be, that he came in his kingdom on the day of his suffering; seeing that on the forty-third day afterwards, he refused to tell even the apostles, the times and the seasons when he would "restore again the kingdom to Israel"?
"It is not for you to know the times and the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power".
This was his language to the apostles.
The kingdom could not be restored again to Israel under the Mosaic code.
This had "decayed, and waxed old, and was ready to vanish away".
It was to be "cast down to the ground," the daily sacrifice was to be taken away, and the temple and city to be demolished, by the Little Horn of the Goat, or Roman power.
To tell them of the times and the seasons of the kingdom, would have been to have informed them of this national catastrophe; of which they were kept in ignorance, that they might not fall asleep, but be continually on the watch.
But, though Jesus did not then know the times and the seasons of the kingdom, he knows them now; for, about thirty years after the destruction of Jerusalem, "God gave him a revelation of the things which shortly must come to pass"; and in this apocalypse, the times and seasons are set forth in order.
But, to return to the case of the thief.
In saying "to-day," Jesus did not, and could not, tell him the precise time when he should be with him in Paradise.
In some translations, there is a various, and no doubt the correct, punctuation.
The comma, instead of being after "thee," is placed after "to-day"; as, "I say unto thee to-day, -- thou shalt be with me in the Paradise, ejn tw`/ paradeivsw/": that is, "At this time, or, I now say to thee, thou shalt be with me in my kingdom in the day of my coming".
But, if the objector insist upon an interpretation of the passage as it stands in the common version, then let it be so; his position will be by no means less easy to carry.
His instantaneous translation of souls to Paradise at death, as far as it is fortified by this passage, hangs upon a thread, like the sword of the Syracusan tyrant; and that is, the word "to-day".
This is a scripture term, and must be explained by the scripture use of it.
In the sacred writings, then, the term is used to express a period of over two thousand years.
The use of it occurs in David, as it is written, "To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, lest ye enter not into my rest".
The apostle, commenting upon this passage about one thousand years after it was written, says, "Exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day"; and, "Labour to enter into the rest that remaineth for the people of God".
Thus, it was called "to-day," when David wrote; and "to-day," when Paul commented upon it.
This was a long day; but one, however, which is not yet finished; and will continue unclosed until the manifestation of the rest in the Paradise of God.
If it be admitted, that we are still in "the day of salvation," then it must be received as true, that we are living "while it is called to-day" -- that "to-day" is now; and this "now" will be present until the Lord Jesus enters into his rest which he cannot do until he has finished the work God has given him to do.
"Behold, now is the time of acceptance; behold, now is the day," or the "to-day" "of salvation," -- a period of time from Joshua to the future glorious manifestation of Christ in the kingdom, to say nothing of "the accepted time" to the patriarchs, before the typical rest of Israel in the promised land.
Lastly, is it not the very climax of absurdity to talk of Jesus being "in his kingdom" or "in the Paradise" which were synonymous, while he was lying dead in the tomb?