By Charles H. Welch

If we were to judge God according to the maxims of men, we should expect that God being Almighty would never take a second place, never hold back while His creatures decided upon their line of action, never say ‘if’, but ruthlessly sweeping aside all opposition stride on with the relentlessness of fate to His goal. There are indications in the Scripture, however, to show that where moral issues are at stake, God does indeed ‘wait’, He does say ‘If ... then’, He is also said to be grieved and to repent. Consequently we are not surprised to find that when Abel was slain, Seth, the substitute was appointed. Apart from the Scriptures, we should hardly expect the Son of God to bear the title ‘Second’. We rejoice to know that He is both Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, but He is also set forth as ‘The second Man’ (1 Cor. 15:47), Adam being the first. When Stephen would convict his hearers of their sin in rejecting the Messiah, he ran over the history of Israel, and focused attention upon two men, Joseph and Moses. Of Joseph he said:

‘At the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren’ (Acts 7:13);

and in the case of Moses he said:

‘This Moses whom they refused ... the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer’ (Acts 7:35).

Doubtless God could have given Joseph the promised dominion without the long and trying experiences of Egypt, but He did not. Doubtless God could have used Moses as a deliverer upon his first showing to Israel, but He did not. Doubtless God could have made Israel a kingdom of priests at Sinai, but He did not.

Who among us that knows anything of sin, of moral responsibility, of the work of redemption would have it otherwise, even though it involve the distress and the sorrow of the intervening years?

God will set His hand again ‘the second time’ to recover His people (Isa. 11:11), and when at the ‘second’ Coming, the Saviour appears ‘the second time’, it will be without sin unto salvation (Heb. 9:28). The student of dispensational truth will be well advised to look for other illustrations of this same principle, even though the actual word ‘second’ be not employed. (See article In Adam). The peculiar interval of bondage in Genesis 15:13, the fact that even though David was the true anointed of the Lord, yet Saul reigned first over Israel, are other instances of the same principle.

The fifth book of Moses, Deuteronomy, is so named because it was the repetition of the law, the Greek version using the word Deuteronomion in Deuteronomy 17:18 and Joshua 8:32.

It is the second Man, Christ, not Adam, Who will be the Head of the new creation. It will be the second covenant (Heb. 8:7) not the covenant of Sinai which will make Israel a kingdom of priests (Rev. 1:5,6). It will be at the Second Coming, that the Saviour will wear, not a crown of thorns, but many diadems. If we could see the end from the beginning, and the issues involved, we would understand that in the wisdom of God, the permission of evil, the presence of Satan, and this apparent postponement to the second time, are necessary to the establishment upon a moral basis of that kingdom which cannot be shaken.

An Alphabetical Analysis

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