It is certain that the time must come when all those composing the body of Christ will have finished their course on this side the vail and passed into heavenly glory; and since the Lord promised that his second presence would be for the purpose of gathering unto himself those who would compose his bride, we should expect the glorification of the church to take place within a reasonably short time after the second presence of the Lord. The apostle Paul’s mind was illuminated by the power of Jehovah, the holy spirit; and he wrote concerning the coming kingdom of Messiah, describing conditions that would immediately precede its inauguration.
At Mount Sinai Jehovah made a covenant with the nation of Israel, and at the time of making this covenant God directed Moses to instruct the people, to prepare them for what was about to take place. When Moses came down out of the mountain to deliver God’s message to Israel, it was amidst a great convulsion of nature. There were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud of smoke upon the mountain, and the voice of a trumpet exceeding loud, so that the people in the camp trembled with fear, and the whole earth quaked greatly. This was a picture foreshadowing the time of trouble in the earth, the great shaking of the nations just before the inauguration of Messiah’s kingdom and the taking unto himself of his bride for the setting up of his kingdom. St. Paul, referring to that time, by way of comparison says: “Ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more (for they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart; and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake)".—Hebrews 12:18-21.
We should expect, then, an antitypical fulfillment of these conditions. And so we do find it. The mountains (symbolically meaning kingdoms of the world) are on fire, and there is a great tempest, and trouble, and disturbance in the earth; and so terrible is the time that men’s hearts are failing them for fear of what they see coming on the earth. Speaking of that time, and directing his words to the church, St. Paul wrote: “Ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel".—Hebrews 12:22-24.
Thus St. Paul pictures the gathering together of those who compose the spiritual phase of Messiah’s kingdom, namely, the church, Head and body. He describes this as the heavenly Jerusalem.