MARANATHA – A brief outline on the Second Coming of Christ- Charley John

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MARANATHA – A brief outline on the Second Coming of Christ
– Charley John

The second coming of Christ is the hope of the Church of God as well as the world. “He is the desire of all nations” (Hag. 2:7). It is revealed that we might comfort one another and edify one another (1 Thess. 4:18; 5:11). Nevertheless, it is a well-known fact that the truth of the Second Coming has been a veritable battlefield and we have beaten “our ploughshares into swords rather than the opposite” (Joel 3:10; Isa. 2:4).
It is very important that we should “rightly divide the word of truth” and try “the things that differ” (Phil. 1:10 margin). We should keep in mind three important general principles in the prophetic interpretation of scripture:

1. “Knowing this first that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Pet. 1:20). The meaning is not to be gathered from a human interpretation of an isolated passage as in a human statement. It is a part of God’s mind. We must interpret one passage in the full range of prophetic scripture. It is so important what the Spirit of God tells us that it is ‘first’ principle.

2. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). All the prophetic streams run towards one central place, where things in heaven and earth will be headed up in Christ (Eph. 1:10; Ps. 110:1). The glory of Christ is the object of prophecy.

3. The rays of prophecy are divided into three: the Jew, the Gentile and the Church of God (I Cor. 10:32). Much confusion has been wrought by applying passages that strictly belong to the Jews or the Gentiles to the Church of God. All scripture is for us but not all scripture is about us.

We will give a brief outline of the second coming of Christ in relation to these three in this study.

I. Christ’s Coming in Relation to The Jews: Behold, thy King cometh unto thee” (Zec. 9:9; Matt. 21:5)

The crowning sin of Israel is the crucifixion of Christ for which they have been scattered all over the world. Their very ‘table’ has become a ‘trap’ (Rom. 11:9) i.e. their very prosperity has often been a means of destruction as has been proved down through the centuries.
Their restoration to God’s favour has been clearly prophesied and the first step towards this is their Present Return to the land. We must distinguish between Two Returns. There is a return now in unbelief. There is a return after the Messiah has come (Matt. 24:31) which is the burden of many prophetic scriptures (Isa. 11:11ff; Jer. 32:27ff; Eze. 34:13; 36:24). The present return is assumed. Not the whole nation has now returned but only a remnant (Isa. 6:13) and it is mainly Judah. The ten tribes will return after the Messiah has come (Jer.31; Eze.37:15ff).
Meanwhile, there will have to be the fulfilment of the Seventieth Week of Daniel’s prophecy.

The Seventy Weeks (of years, not days: 70 x 7 =490 years; lit, seventy sevens) of Daniel 9 is called the ‘Backbone of Prophecy’. Sixty-nine weeks have been terminated in the death of the Messiah. Then there is a ‘Great Parenthesis’ in which the Church comes. The Church is the “one new man” (Eph. 2:15). After the Church is caught up, the prophetic clock will start ticking and the Roman Prince will make a covenant for seven years thus commencing the Seventieth Week. These seven years are divided into two parts of 3 ½ years each. In the first 3 ½ years we have the “beginning of sorrows” (Matt. 24:4-14 cp. 6 seals of Rev.6). In the middle, we have the placing of the “abomination of desolation” (Rev. 13:14,15) and the “Man of Sin sitting in the temple of God showing himself that he is God” (2 Thess. 2:4; Dan. 11:36,37). The last half is called the ‘great tribulation.’

The head of the Jewish nation will be the Great Apostate. Jesus said, “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye received me not; if another will come in his own name, him ye will receive” (Jn. 5:43). He is referred to in many ways. In Daniel 11:36-39, He is called the Willful King. [He is distinct from the “little horn” of Dan. 7 which comes from the Roman empire; also, from the “little horn” of Dan. 8 which comes from the Grecian empire.] He is a Jew in Palestine (11:37, 39-40). Verses 36-37 connects him with the ‘Man of Sin’ and ‘The Son of Perdition’ in 2Thesselonians. Dan. 11:38-39 connects him with the ‘Beast Out of The Earth’ (Rev.13:11-18); Note also the connection of Rev 13:13-14 with 2 Thess. 2:9-10. The same person is called False Prophet in Rev. 19:20. In Zec. 11:15-17 he is the Idol and Foolish Shepherd. In 1 Jn. 2:18 he is the Antichrist. The majority will accept him.

The Tribulation period is marked by Intense Suffering. It is called the “time of Jacob’s trouble”. The history of the nation is patterned after their father Jacob. Because of his deception he had to be away from his land for twenty years. What sufferings he experienced! This corresponds to the sufferings of Israel down through the centuries under the Gentiles away from their land. At length Jacob came back only to be met with wave after wave of sorrow, even to the grave. This is what awaits the remnant who have returned. Their suffering is pictured as a ‘woman in travail’ (Isa. 66:8); ‘tried in fire’ (Zec. 13:9); and as a ‘threatening flood’ (Rev. 12:15).

Habakkuk prayed that in wrath God would remember to show mercy. There is also much Spiritual Activity. From the twelve tribes of Israel will be sealed 144,000 servants of God marked by deep devotedness (Rev. 14:4) and they will proclaim the gospel of the kingdom throughout the world (Matt. 24:14). There will be the ministry of “two witnesses” for 3 ½ years. Their ministry is patterned after Elijah and Moses, Joshua and Zerubbabel; also, after Christ. A remnant will be saved. Some of the exercises of these remnants are found in the book of Psalm (Ps. 42, 44 e.g.). See also Rev. 8: 3-4.
Jerusalem will be a ‘cup of trembling’ and a ‘burdensome stone’ (Zec. 12:2-3) to all people. The nations think that they can swallow up Jerusalem and easily set them aside, but they discover it is to their ruin. All the armies of the world will be gathered in the land of Israel. The armies of the west and east will be positioned at Armageddon (Rev. 16:16); The armies of the King of the North at the valley of Jehoshapat (Dan. 11:45). When Jehovah sees that Israel’s, power is gone (Deut. 32:36), He will come personally as a Warrior-King and rescue them. When they “look on Him whom they have pierced” (Zec. 12:9-14). There will be godly sorrow which leadeth to repentance. Some of the exercises of their hearts are set forth in Isa. 53. There will be a National Conversion. Israel will be saved. The Lord will make a new covenant with them and give them a new heart and a new spirit (Eze. 36:25ff).
All the enemies subdued, Israel will become the Head of the Nations. Their glorious exaltation is vividly described in many passages, notably in the book of Isaiah from chapter 60 onwards. All the people in the land of Israel will be righteous (Isa. 60:21). The administration will be marked by righteousness and the work of righteousness shall be peace (Ps. 72:2; Isa. 60:17). Violence will be no more heard in the land. There will be cosmological changes (Isa. 60: 19-20). The Sun will not give them light, but the Lord will be their light. They will multiply abundantly v.22. Jerusalem will be the Political Capital of the world (Jer. 3:17). “Out of Zion will go forth the law.” It will be the Religious Capital of the world (Isa. 2:2,3). The Millennium temple described in the book of Ezekiel will be constructed and the glory of Jehovah will return never to leave them again. People will make their annual pilgrimage to worship the King (Zec. 14:16). It will be the Economic Capital of the world (Isa. 60:5-6 ‘Forces’ is ‘wealth’ of the Gentiles); Ps. 72:10. Jerusalem will be a sea port (Zec. 14:8).
In view of these coming glories the exhortation is, “0 house of Jacob, come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isa. 2:50). And this applies to us, “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” I John 1:7.

II. Christ’s Coming in Relation to The Gentiles: “Behold He cometh with clouds” (Rev. 1:7)

The word ‘Gentiles’ and ‘nations’ are used interchangeably and it refers to those outside the Jewish race, outside the boundary of the nation Israel. There are two important terms in connection with the Gentiles. The first is:

1. THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES

This is a political term and is mentioned by the Lord in Luke 21:24. Its characteristic feature is “Jerusalem trodden down by Gentiles.” It refers to the period when the Jews are the tail and the Gentiles the Head (Deu. 28:44). Its commencement was when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and took them captive in 586 B.C. Babylon thus became the first world empire. God’s center of earthly government passed away from Jerusalem and it was handed over to the Gentiles (Dan. 2:37-38).
Its course is seen in the image which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream (Dan. 2:31-33). The unity of form (it is Man’s image) suggests the responsibility of man for the government of the earth. Its diversity of metals suggests the variety of such dominion. The image is of the First Man – fallen man – attempting to fulfil the dominion given to Adam. Succeeding the head of gold, Babylon, is Medo-Persia with its breast and arms of silver; then the GrecoMacedonian empire pictured in the belly and thigh of brass followed by the Roman empire in the legs of iron and future Revived Roman empire in the feet of iron and clay.
In the various metals we can also see the character of the empire. It is one of deterioration. Beginning with the costliest and heaviest it ends with the cheapest and the weakest. What a blow to the concept of ‘Evolution’.
The consummation of the Times of the Gentiles is described in vs. 34. Our Lord Jesus Christ (when He comes again) without any human help (stone cut out without hands) destroys the empires of the Gentiles and establishes His own everlasting kingdom.

In Matt. 21:44 we read, “And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken.” In the first coming He became a stumbling stone to the Jews (1 Pet. 2:8). “But on whomsoever it shall fall it will grind him to powder.” In the second coming Christ will be a smiting stone to the Gentiles.
Another term of importance is “The Riches of Gentiles”. This is found in Rom. 11:12 and it denotes our spiritual blessings in Christ. God is visiting the Gentiles to call out a people for His Name (Acts. 15:14). The testimony of Paul was, “As poor, yet making many rich.” See also 2 Cor. 8:9.

2. THE RAGE OF GENTILES

In (Ps. 2:1-3) we find the nations declaring war against God. It is to this stage of things the world is heading to. These verses have a two-fold fulfilment. In Acts. 4:25-28 it is applied to the rejection of Christ at Calvary. This same condition will prevail when He comes back again. The two thousand years of the boasted progress of human civilization (mainly brought about by the light of the gospel) has not brought a change of attitude towards God. Surely, “that which is born of the flesh is flesh” and “the mind of the flesh is enmity against God and it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).
The nations are casting off all restraints which God has imposed on man for his own well-being, vs. 3. “The mystery of lawlessness doth already work” (2 Thes. 2:7). We find this in every sphere of life: In the home – children disobedient to the parents; wives un-submissive to husbands, the man un-submissive to Christ his Head; in the school, students disobedient to the teachers; in the workplace, labourer disobedient to the master; in the society, citizens rebelling against the authorities. There is a check put on the lawlessness of man and this is the restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit. When the restrainer is taken out of the way (and this will be when the church is raptured to glory) then the full tide of evil will sweep and “upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s heart failing them for fear” (Lk. 21:25). As we look at the world situation around us, we can already feel a little of the ‘roar of the waves’. At that time, it will be full blast and the result is ‘perplexity’ (no way out). All will be at their ‘wits end’.

3. THE REVIVED ROMAN EMPIRE

There will arise a power of world-wide influence the likes of which the world has not yet seen. It is the fourth beast of Daniel 7 and the first of Revelation 13. It is called a beast because it has no knowledge of God (Ps. 49:20) and is unclean and vicious. From Rev. 13:2 we can understand that it is a combination of the first three beasts. It was the boast of Rome that they never destroyed a civilization they conquered but rather absorbed all that was good in them (more correctly it would be all that was vicious in them) to make it the greatest civilization that ever existed.
It has seven heads. There is a double meaning to these seven heads (Rev. 17:9-10). There is a geographical identification – Rome is called the city of seven hills; A political identification -Rome will pass through in its entire history seven stages of political government. Six have already passed. The seventh stage will be a union of iron and clay (Dan. 2). William Kelly writes, “In virtue of the iron, there will be a universal monarchy, by virtue of the clay, there will be separate kingdoms (corresponding to the ten toes and ten horns). Before the age closes there will be the most remarkable union of two apparently contradictory conditions – a universal head of empire and the separate independent kingdoms besides; God has said they will be divided and divided they will fall”.

4. THE GENTILE RULERS OF THE LAST DAYS

In connection with government in the tribulation period we usually think of one world ruler called Antichrist exercising one world government and all subject to his sway. We base this on Rev. 13:7. That the Roman prince will exercise a world wide influence is clear. But when we remember the first principle of prophetic interpretation, “that no prophecy of scripture is had from its own particular interpretation” (N. T. by J.N.D.i.e., we have to compare with other prophetic scriptures to give us a full picture), we get a totally different picture. We notice that there are many powerful rulers in the tribulation period.

a. HEAD OF THE REVIVED ROMAN EMPIRE

There will arise in Europe a powerful man whom the world has never seen thus far. He is Satan’s man – the Dragon gives him his authority (Rev. 13:2-4). He is so identified with the empire that they both are called the ‘beast’. His reign is brief – a period of seven years. And this also is divided into two parts. His rise to political power is discussed in Dan. 7:8, 24. He is an ordinary man in society ‘Little’ horn – like Hitler who was only a labourer in the factory. But he rises to power- symbolized in the ‘horn’. Already in Europe there is a move to form an Empire of ten Kingdoms (the European Economic Community is the seed form of it), each kingdom having its own king. He is not the head of any of these kingdoms but through his skillful maneuvering he topples three kings and rises as the head of the Last Empire.

His Character and His Course: “In this horn He has eyes like the eyes of man” – a man of great intelligence, discernment and vision. He has a mouth speaking great things – a great orator, a polished speaker, a daring blasphemer. He will rule for seven years. This seventh form which is to come is an Imperialistic and Democratic form of government – iron and clay combined. This is to continue only for a short space (Rev 17:10). After 3½ years of rule he loses his power–The seventh head is wounded to death Rev. 13:3. {Many take the wounding to death as the sixth head, the imperial form which existed in John’s day, and the wound being healed – the revival of the empire in its seventh form. This is an acceptable interpretation. Which head is wounded is not mentioned. The context must decide. We feel the seventh is more suited to the context.} Then comes the eighth form (Vs. 1 1) the Diabolical form of government for the last 3 ½ years. The fall is only for a short time. He soon rises to the top with far greater power to the wonder of the world. He does this through the help of Satan who at this time is cast out of heaven. The last 3 ½ years are marked by a breaking of the covenant with the Jews (Dan. 9:27) blasphemy against God and terrible persecution of the saints.
His End: He brings his vast military machines into Armageddon. He has come in response to the attack of the king of the North against Jerusalem (Dan. 11:44 – tidings …north…, for one who is in Egypt, the North will be Armageddon). Soon he discovers an unexpected warrior. It is the Lamb with His fair army. He turns his guns against Him, but the Lamb is the victor. He is caught red handed and thrown alive along with his associate, the Jewish false prophet, into the lake of fire – the first inhabitants of hell. Two went to heaven without seeing death (Elijah and Enoch). These two will go to hell without seeing death.

b. THE KING OF NORTH

He is described in Daniel Ch. 8 and 11. He will be ruling over Syria and Iraq. He is called the Assyrian in the book of Isaiah (10:5, 24; and Micah 5:5. His march is also described in Joel 2. We must distinguish the little horn of Daniel chapters 7 and 8. The former is the head of the Revived Roman Empire and a bitter persecutor of the Saints. The latter comes from the Grecian Kingdom (8:23) and is a bitter persecutor of the Jews. The long history of Anti-Semitism culminates in him. There would be similarities between them (both are “little horns”) as both are notorious for wickedness. Yet there are significant differences. The latter is a type of Antiochus Epiphanes and Sennacherib, the Assyrian king.
We must also distinguish between the king of the North and Gog the Head of the Russian Empire. Because they both are from the ‘North’, many have confounded them. That they both are allies is definitely true. (Even today Russia and Syria are allies). In Dan. 8:24 we find the king of the North is supported by another power. In Eze. 38:4; 39:2 the Lord says to God “I will turn thee back and I will bring thee forth” – that means they have already been on an attack in Israel. It is the Russians who are supporting the king of the North. The king of the North is active in the Tribulation period particularly the latter half. Whereas Gog attacks after Israel has returned to the land having recovered from the war after the Messiah comes (38:8).
We could notice five characteristics about this king (Dan. 8:23- 26). He is fierce. Very intelligent. Successful. Deceitful. Proud. He will fight against Christ, but the Prince of princes will bring him to his end (Dan 11:45; Joel 2:20; Isa. 30:31-33).

c. HEAD OF THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE

This King is designated as `Gog” (Ezek. 38:2). He is ruling the land of Magog. Magog is the second son of Japheth (Gen. 10:2). His descendants settled down in the region of the Caucasus, North of Armenia. Three other names are given which makes the identity clear. The word ‘Chief’ is a translation of the word ‘Rosh’ which is Russia. Mesech is Moscow the chief city of European Russia and Tubal is Tobolsk the Asiatic city. While the identity is undisputed the time of the invasion is. Various considerations would tell us that it is after the Saviour comes back to the earth and Israel is regathered to the land (See Ezek. 38: 11,23; 39:21, 25 and also the context of chapters 36 & 40).
There is something which our souls should realize in all its solemnness (38:3). God is against Russia. The blood of millions which have been shed during those many years of Communist oppression in which they raised their fist against God, He has not forgotten. It is God who brings them against Israel and smites them thoroughly. At their destruction God will get the honour.

d. THE KING OF THE SOUTH

He is the ruler of Egypt. When compared to others he is less prominent. But it is (Dan. 11:40) he who starts the final battle. He attacks the king in Palestine – the Jewish Antichrist. And in response to his attack the king of the North moves with a large army and navy – and he takes the prominent place and we do not hear any more about the king of the South.

e. THE KINGS OF THE EAST

Here is a combination of rulers with a large army of Asiatic powers gathering for the final battle at Armageddon (Rev. 16:12). When the king of the North is in his victorious march at Egypt he hears tidings from the East which troubles him. These tidings are no doubt the movement of the kings of the East.

5. THE CONVERSION OF THE GENTILES

There will be a vast number of Gentiles saved in the Tribulation period (Rev. 7:9-17). Some have identified this group with the Church, but the Church is already in heaven pictured in the 24 elders (Rev. 4 & 5; see 7:13-14). These Gentiles who are saved are not the one who have now heard the Gospel and understood its claims and deliberately rejected it. For such the door is shut (Lk. 13:25-30). God will send a strong delusion that they should believe the lie (2 Thes. 2:10-12).
The Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached to all the world for a witness unto all nations in the tribulation period (Matt. 24:14 – a verse often misapplied to the present dispensation) by the 144,000 Jewish evangelists (Rev. 7:3). There will be conversions on a large scale. These saints are marked by testimony as to the value of the blood (Rev. 12:11 cp 7:14), prayers (Rev. 6:10,11; 8:34), caring for the godly Jews (Matt. 25:34-40). Many a soul will suffer martyrdom under the reign of the beast.

6. THE CLEANSING AND THE GLORY OF THE GENTILES

“So shall he sprinkle many nations” (Isa. 52:15). Many read it as “so shall he astonish” in keeping with the parallel thought of vs. 14. But `sprinkle’ is most acceptable as giving an additional thought. He will astonish the nations when they realize that the one who suffered is really the Saviour who is going to cleanse them (Lev. 14:7) from the dark stain of sin. He will abolish all idolatry (Isa. 2:20,21) and the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (see also Mal. 1:11). He will make wars to cease (Isa. 2:4). The swords will be beaten to plowshares – No more fighting against each other but working together for the common good of humanity.

III. Christ’s Coming in Relation to The Church: “Behold the Bridegroom Cometh” (Matt. 25:6)

As believers in Christ we have a hope. It is the hope of seeing our Saviour and being with Him forever. It is an anchor of the soul (Heb. 6:19) by which we are kept secure amidst the storms of life. It is a blessed hope (Titus 2:13); a comforting hope (1 Thes. 4:13-18); a purifying hope (Jn. 3:3). A man of the world who trusts in his religion has no hope, but for us “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
Let us look at the seven truths in connection with the prospect of the Church.

1. RAPTURE – EXPECTATION OF THE CHURCH

In the Upper Room Discourse, the Lord gave a promise: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also” (Jn. 14:3). The early Church eagerly waited for the fulfilment of the promise (1 Cor. 1:7; 1 Thes. 1:10). This is pictured in Matt. 25:1. But the sad story is, “While the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept” (v 5). For a period of 1500 years, the church lost the hope of the soon coming of Christ until in 1800’s the cry was heard once again. “Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him” (v 6). Their professing Church arose and trimmed their lamps. We are now waiting for the Bridegroom to come at any time. He will not tarry.

Descent

Our Lord Jesus will come personally to take His own to be with Him like Isaac (Gen. 24:63-65). He will not come to the earth but in mid-air. He comes with a ‘shout’ (1 Thes. 14:16). This is his personal call to His own to “Rise up and come away” (Song. of Sol. 2:10; Jn. 11:43). ‘Voice of the archangel’ – This is to call to attention the army of heaven. Satan is the Prince of power of the air. We are going to meet Christ in His own territory. Then will be fulfilled the word: “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly ” (Rom. 16-20). We are going to have an angelic honour of guard. ‘Trump of God’ – Trumpets were used for the calling of the assembly and the journeyings of the camp (Num. 10:1-10). In 1 Cor. 15, it is called the ‘last trump’. The church like her beloved have been wandering in this world as a homeless stranger and now it is time to march home to glory.

Ascent

The dead in Christ will rise first for they will have to travel at least six feet more! Then the living believers will follow and join them in the clouds. As the hymnwriter puts it, “What a gathering of the ransomed that will be”! The Lord Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” To the dead believers, He will be the ‘resurrection.’ To the living believers who will not see death, He will be the ‘life’ (Jn. 11:25-26). These two groups are further described in 1 Cor. 15:33-37. The corruptible must put on incorruption (resurrected believers); and this mortal (bodies subject to death) must put on immortality (living believers). As we go up we shall sing a song. The living believers will sing, “0 death where is thy sting?”; the resurrected believers will sing, “0 grave where is thy victory”; and both will join in a harmonious melody, “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice, “we shall ALL be changed”. This destroys the partial rapture theory.

Meeting

Oh! the blessed joy of meeting, All the desert past! Oh! the wondrous words of greeting, He shall speak at last! He and I together entering Those bright courts above He and I together sharing All the Father’s love.

“We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 Jn. 3:2-3). Not only will there be a physical transformation – our bodies of humiliation will be fashioned like unto His body of glory – but also a moral transformation, we shall be pure and righteous like Him. The third stage of our salvation will be complete – saved from the very presence of sin.

2. JUDGEMENT SEAT OF CHRIST -EXAMINATION OF THE CHURCH

Life is a big school. God teaches us precious lessons and then He gives the test. “God tested Abraham”. If we pass the test we are eligible for higher lessons. We increase in the knowledge of God. But the final exam is coming. After the joy of meeting will come the searching of hearts.

“We must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ” (II Cor. 5:10).
There are three judgements relative to a believer: In the past we have been judged as sinners at the cross (Rom. 8:3); In the present we are judged as sons (Heb.12). In future we will be judged as servants. This judgement is not to determine our place in heaven. Thank God, that has all been settled at Calvary. This judgement is to determine our place in the kingdom on earth.
Our Lord is now our righteous Advocate at the Father’s right hand. One day we will stand before Him as the righteous judge. Everyone will be called personally to give account (Rom. 14:12). His eyes are like a flame of fire (Rev. 1:14) and the fire will try every man’s work for what it is. It will be of a searching character.

We will be judged as STEWARDS. To us has been committed the mysteries of God. We will be judged as to our faithfulness (1 Cor. 4:1-2) in connection with the truth revealed. Have we rightly divided the word of truth? Have we been an instructed scribe bringing out the distinction between ‘new’ and ‘old’ (Matt. 13:52)? Things ‘new’ are truths peculiar to New Testament. They were hidden in the Old Testament. Things ‘old’ are truths found in the Old Testament and it is to be applied to us in the light of the New Testament. We will be judged as to whether we held the truth (Pro. 23:23). How many have once purchased truth at a great price and having not maintained it in communion with God, in later years have considered it valueless and sold it for personal profit. We will be judged whether we have been good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Pet. 4:10). For the manifold trials (1:6) there is a corresponding grace. And the grace of God is given that we might be active (1 Cor. 15:10). Have we received the grace of God in vain? We will be judged whether we have been wise stewards (1k. 12:42). Have we given a balanced nourishment for God’s people? Have we declared all the counsel of God?
We will be judged as BUILDERS. Have we followed the blue-print of the Divine architect in the building of the Church of God? The pattern of the tabernacle was given to Moses and he was charged to build everything “according to the pattern” (Exo.25:9-40). We read that Moses did “according to all that the Lord commanded”. God’s testimony concerning Moses is “My servant Moses … who is faithful in all mine house” (Num. 12:7). We will be judged as to HOW we build (1 Cor. 3:10).

We will be also judged as to WHAT we build (1Cor. 3:12), not only the manner of the work but also the materials used. We could build with gold, silver and precious stones. These have quality. We could also build with wood, hay and stubble. These have quantity. The one is costly and the other is cheap. One is for the praise of man and the other is for the pleasure of God. The fire will bring the beauty in one whereas the other will be reduced to ashes. We are living in days when phrases such as “the largest Church in the world”, “the biggest Sunday School in the world” “the Church having the largest conversion in a year” are not uncommon. At ‘that day’ we will know ‘what sort it is’. We will be also judged as to WHY we build. The motives of the heart will be revealed (I Cor4:5).

We will be judged as ATHLETES. Christian life is pictured as a race to be run. Have we lived a disciplined life, exercising self-control in all things (1 Cor. 9:24-27)’? Have we kept the rules of the game (II Tim. 2:5). One of our athletes ran brilliantly in the Asian games and she came first only to be disqualified by the judge, for having crossed the track ahead of the appointed line. How many who think they have done well and been applauded by others will discover to their shame, that the righteous judge has disqualified them from the prize.
We will be judged as LABOURERS in the vineyard (Matt.20). From this parable we learn that it is not the amount of labour that matters but the motive behind. It is true that the first labourers bore the burden and heat of the day, but money was their motive. That is why the householder must ‘agree’ with them from the beginning. The eleventh hour labourers were only too happy to be called to the work. They did not expect anything but left it all to the grace of the householder and they were not disappointed. In the day of reckoning there will be many surprises. The last (we least expected them to receive anything) shall be first and the first (we expected them to receive everything) shall be last.
The judgement seat of Christ is not only a day of examination but to the encouragement of our hearts it is a day of prize distribution also. Various prizes will be given (Rev. 22:12). There is COMMENDATION: “well done, good and faithful servant”. Every child of God will get some praise (1 Cor. 4:5). Even a cup of cold water given in the name of the Lord Jesus will not lose the reward. There is CORONATION. Various crowns will be given. ‘Crown of life’ (Jas. 1:12; Rev. 2:10): This is for those who have ‘endured’ the trials of life and those who have been faithful unto death. ‘Crown of righteousness’ (2 Tim. 4:10): This is for those who love His appearing. When He comes He will reign in righteousness, no more corruption. All who love His appearing will themselves love righteousness and hate wickedness. ‘Crown of rejoicing or glorying’ (1 Thes. 2:19): This is the soul winner’s crown (Jn. 4:36). The ‘incorruptible’ crown (1 Cor. 9:25) is for successful runners. They have strained every muscle towards the mark (Phil. 3:14).

There is also DOMINION (Rev. 2:26-27). Our position in the kingdom (not in heaven) depends on our faithfulness now. Some will have authority over ten cities, others five and so forth. If we suffer with Him we shall reign with Him.

3. BEFORE THE FATHER – THE PRESENTATION OF THE CHURCH

After the judgement seat of Christ, He will take us to present us before the Father (1 Thes. 3:13).

In Rev. ch. 4 and 5 we find ourselves in “the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). The ‘twenty-four elders’ represents the church. Their nearness to the throne (Rev. 4:4), their song of redemption (5:9) and their intelligence in the mind of God (7:13ff) all confirm their identification. Thus, the promise to the church at Philadelphia is fulfilled, “I will keep thee from the hour of trial which is about to come upon all the world” (3:10). If a trial must happen universally and the church is promised exemption from the very hour of trial, then the logical conclusion is that, to escape, the church must go out of the world. The next verse tells us the way of escape: It is by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto Him.
How will we be when we are in His sight? We get a fourfold picture of our presentation in Rev. 4:4. The twenty-four elders are:

  • On 24 thrones. Here is the church in royal dignity. We are kings (1 Sam. 2:8).
  • Sitting. The labours and battles are over, and the Church has entered into rest. The spade and the sword have been exchanged for the harp (5:8).
  • Clothed in white raiment. We are now conformed to the image of His Son. The predestined purpose has now been realized (Rom. 8:29). The Church is now holy, unblameable and unreproveable. The reconciling purpose has now been effected (Col. 1:21).
  • Crowns of gold. The judgement seat is over. Rewards have been distributed. It is the church triumphant.

We are going to watch as the Lamb takes the book and opens the seal, thus beginning the tribulation period. For seven years we will be spectators in heaven as the great drama of good and evil is fought to a climax below. And we will fall down and worship as the kingdoms of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord (Rev. 11:16-18).

4. APPEARING IN GLORY – THE MANIFESTATION OF THE CHURCH

Christ coming with the saints to the earth is the subject of Old Testament prophecy also. Enoch prophesied in the beginning of the Old Testament cannon (Jude 14). Zechariah tells the same thing at the close (14:5). It is a grand event. We must distinguish between the two stages of His coming. First, Christ comes for His saints in the mid-air before the tribulation period. Second, Christ comes with His saints to the earth after the tribulation. The first is a mystery found only in the New Testament. The second is revealed in the Old Testament also. The first is secret (“like manner” Acts 1:11; when the Lord went to heaven the world did not know); the second is a public event. The first is the subject of 1 Thessalonians; the second is the subject of II Thessalonians.

We will come as the BRIDE (Rev. 19:7-8). We will come in all the beauty of the King and in the enjoyment of His love. The bridal garment is fine linen, clean and white, the righteous deeds of the saints. Every righteous act of the saints on earth goes up as a thread to be woven into a fabric of matchless beauty by the Master weaver. At present “our life is hid with Christ in God” – we are a kind of mystery to the world. At that day we will be made “perfect in one that the world may know” as our Lord prayed, “that thou has sent me and has loved them as thou has loved me” (Jn. 17:23). It will be the day of our public display.

We will come as SOLDIERS (Rev. 19:14). On earth the nations are in rebellion (Ps. 2:1-3). They challenge the rights of the king, so there is conflict. But the beauty is we do not have to fight at all. He does all the fighting. Notice the cavalry– white horses. We will come in power (1 Cor. 15:43). Notice the clothing– fine line, white and clean. The dress of earth’s soldiers is always dark, it will hide the stains and deceive the enemy. But heaven’s soldiers are ever marked by truth, meekness and righteousness (Ps. 45:6) the uniform of their Captain. Notice their character (Rev. 17:14). They have been ‘called‘ and they have responded. They have been ‘chosen’ for they are qualified. They have been tested and found to be ‘faithful’.

We will come as WORSHIPPERS (II Thes. 1:10). As we see our beloved Lord coming in power and great glory, winning victory after victory, what joy will flood our hearts, what worship will fill our spirit, what praises will flow from our lips. We will be there in that procession which leads to the holy hill of Zion (Ps. 24). We will issue the command, “Lift up your heads, 0 ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in”! When the question is put, “Who is this King of glory”? We will shout with joyful acclamation, “Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle”.

The Bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegrooms’ face;

I will not gaze at glory, But on my King of grace;

Not at the crown He giveth, But on His pierced hand;

The Lamb is all the glory Of Immanuel’s land.

5. REIGNING ON EARTH – THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE CHURCH

We have been destined for glory. He hath made us kings (Rev. 1:6). One day we shall reign on earth. Sad to say the Corinthians were reigning now – they were living luxurious lives whereas Apostle Paul was suffering (1 Cor. 4:8). We now reign in a spiritual way (Rom. 5:17), but one day we will rule in a political way with Christ in the Millennium.
When Christ comes back to this world He will put down all rule, and all authority and power and then He will reign. From Rev. 20 we learn that He will rule for 1000 years. In His first coming the cross was upon His shoulder but when He comes again “the government will be upon His shoulder” (Is. 9:6). He will reign in righteousness and the work of righteousness shall be peace.
We will be given positions of authority in the Kingdom, but this depends on certain conditions.
Eternal life is a free gift but position in the kingdom is something we earn.

It depends on our OVERCOMING – Rev. 2:26-27.

In one sense all believers are overcomers, I Jn 5:4,5. But we also must be overcomers in the specific areas where we are confronted. Overcoming involves conflict. There is no area in Christian life where the devil does not attack.
The overcomer in the church at Thyatira must overcome the evil found there. The seven churches besides being actual churches which existed at that time is also representative of the seven periods of church history from the beginning to the end. Thyatira would correspond to the period of Roman Catholicism so accurately symbolized in “that woman Jezebel”, v. 20. The Lord calls its doctrine “the depths of satan”. We are living in a day when Protestantism is moving towards Rome – and there the world church will be headed in the future as seen in Rev. 17. Those who would overcome its wicked and subtle influence is promised by the Lord world dominion. Is it not interesting to notice that the world dominion has always been the goal for apostate Rome? Hence their constant dabbling in world politics. But that in which they will never succeed is promised to the humble overcomer.

It depends on our SUFFERING

“It is a faithful saying … If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2:11,12). The principle which we find in Scripture, illustrated in the saints, supremely in Christ is, first the bearing of the cross and then the wearing of the crown; it is through the path of suffering we enter into glory.
We are living in the times of “fullness of bread” and “abundance of idleness” and “rich and increased with goods” (Eze. 16:49; Rev. 3:17) and we forget like the Corinthians that we are identified with a rejected Christ. They were sitting on a throne whereas, the Apostle was suffering in the arena. There is a lovely figure used in 1 Cor. 4:9. After the games in the Roman times, the last show would be an unarmed condemned criminal sent into the arena to fight with an armed gladiator or with wild beasts. There was no chance for him to survive; he was`appointed to death.’ Such was the devotedness of the apostles.
The sons of Zebedee wanted the highest positions in the kingdom (Mk. 10:35-40). The Lord reminded them “can ye drink of the cup that I drink of “. The cup would refer to the inward agony of soul (2 Cor. 1:8). “And be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with”. Baptism would refer to the outward sufferings experienced in the hands of man which would result perhaps the losing of life. What the Lord teaches us here is that the highest place in the glory of the kingdom is attained through deep sufferings. Joseph first had to go to the PIT and then to the PRISON before he climbed to the PALACE. The iron chain about his feet ushered in the golden chain about his neck (Ps. 105:18; Gen. 41:42).

It depends on our FAITHFULNESS

Mt. 25:1430; Lk. 19:12-26. In the parable of the talents we find the Lord had given us varying capacities. As we utilize it to the maximum, our sphere of service expands – we become gainers -and in the kingdom we become “ruler of many things”. We find it so beautifully illustrated in Joseph. We find him serving in the house of Potiphar and the Lord’s blessings on faithful service. Then his sphere expands, and he oversees the king’s prisoners. Finally, he becomes the Prime Minister of Egypt – “ruler over many things”. It has been well said that life-time is training time for reigning time.
In the parable of the Pound we find the common responsibility of all believers. Some take it as the eternal life which we all possess, others the Gospel that is committed to us. Whatever it may be, the Lord expects us to invest it in his service. Paul invested it to the full. “For me to live is Christ”; “as always so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body whether by life or by death”, “I laboured more abundantly than all” and he gained the maximum. In the kingdom how great will be His sphere of dominion!

The Church in The Millennial Administration

In Rev. 21:9; and 22:5 we have a symbolic description of the Church in glory. “Come hither, I will chew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife”. She is pictured as a city. Various considerations would tell us it is the picture of the church in Millennial administration, see vs. 24:27; 22:2. In ch. 17 we get a detailed description of Babylon the Great in retrospect. The same angel gives us the detailed description of the New Jerusalem and it is intended by the Holy Spirit as a contrast between the false church and the true church.
On that day we will shine with the glory of God. The process of transformation from one degree of glory to another degree of glory as we gaze upon that lovely face would have been completed by then. “The light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” would shine from our lives and “the nations will walk in the light of it and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it” 21:24.
From our lives would flow “the pure river of water of life” (22:1), the blessed fulness of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 7:38-39) because He reigns supreme. From our lives would come the blessed fruit of the knowledge of God, for this is eternal life (Jn. 17:3), and this will bring healing to the nations all around. The nations which have been groaning under the weight of sin, and bleeding due to the corruption and violence of men, will find in the church a balm of Gilead. “There shall be no more curse” – for the creation will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. “His servants shall serve Him” – we will have plenty of work to do. We will be maintaining the rights of the king. “They shall see His face” – there will be the deepest satisfaction on the smile of His favour. “His name shall be on their foreheads” there will be in us the perfect reproduction of His character and it will be evident to all our likeness to Christ. “Christ in you, the hope of glory!”

6. BEHOLDING HIS GLORY – THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE CHURCH – JN. 17:24

What are we going to do all eternity? We are to gaze on that lovely face which was once marred but now crowned with glory. There are several things which we can glean from this verse:

  • We are a love-gift of the Father to the Son.
  • We are going to be forever with the Lord. No more separation.
  • Our occupation throughout eternity – gazing on His glory.
  • This glory is given based on the eternal relationship of love.

In this holy of holies chapter (Jn. 17) there are a number of references to ‘glory’ and it would be profitable to trace it in chronological order as far as we are able to:

It is a Personal Glory – v5. Here is the glory which belonged to Him as the eternal Son in the bosom of the Father. He was clothed with Majesty. When He came to the earth “He stripped Himself of the insignia of Majesty.” He took upon Himself the form of a servant. He now prays for the restoration of that glory.

It is a Moral Glory – v4. Here we see the perfection of the man Christ Jesus. We find Him as the True and Righteous One (Jn. 7:18) and the perfect servant.

It is a Redemptive Glory – v1. “The hour is come” – A reference to Calvary. Here is the glory of the cross (see Jn. 12:23-28). There the Saviour became obedient unto death and in the process, there was the brightest display of God’s glory. All the attributes of God are displayed in perfect harmony at Calvary–Ps. 85:10.

It is an Acquired Glory – v22. “The glory which Thou gayest me.” This is the glory which He acquired by virtue of His perfect pathway on earth and His finished work at Calvary. “God raised Him up from the dead and gave Him glory” (1 Pet. 1:21). He is the highly exalted one. Another has put it well, “In the dazzling brightness of His very presence there is a Man enthroned.”

It is a Shared Glory – v22 “I have given them” (see James 1:9). We too are seated with Christ in the heavenly places. All worldly distinctions disappear and there is the oneness of vital relationship. One day the Lord will come, and this body of humiliation will be fashioned like unto His body of glory (Phil 3:20-21) and at that time Christ will be perfectly set forth in the saints, “I in them”; (22)”I am glorified in them” (v. 10). Then the world will know who we really are.

It is a Gazed Glory – v24. How our hearts will be thrilled as we will be occupied with His varied excellencies. When Moses saw His glory -and it was a partial glimpse, he only saw the back parts – he made haste and bowed his head toward the earth and worshipped. But we shall see His face and, purest worship will flow from our souls through the ages of the ages.

Satan took the Lord Jesus in a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them “in a moment of time”. The world’s glory can be seen in a little while. But it is going to take all eternity for God to show us the glories of His Son.
Eternity is pictured as the ages of the ages. It has been suggested that in each age God will show us some aspect of the glory of Christ and that age will end with a burst of thousand Halleluiahs and so it will continue – for the riches of Christ are unsearchable.

7. TILL HE COMES – THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CHURCH

We have seen six truths in connection with the Lord’s coming to the Church. Now let us see how we should live in the light of His coming and we will consider three specific responsibilities “till He comes”.

a. Occupy (get into business) till I come – Lk. 19:13.

Here we have the Lord’s word to His servants in His absence. The Lord wants us to be always abounding in His work. The Lord Jesus at the age of 12 was in His Father’s business. We are never too young to serve the Lord. “It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.” His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Many souls and families are passing through difficult times. I wonder whether the yoke is on their necks. “The way of the transgressors is hard.”
Our Lord is coming soon. Let us not forget “the King’s business, it requires haste” (1 Sam. 21:8). The harvest still is plenty and the labourers are few. Souls are perishing with hunger in the far country. Who will give the bread of life? Let us stop seeking our own things and rise up and do the king’s business (Dan. 8:27).

b. Hold fast till I come – Rev. 2:15.

In Thyatira there was a deep departure from the faith. A woman was teaching in the church contrary to His precious word (1 Tim 2:12). She was also teaching doctrines which the Lord calls “depths of Satan”. Many followed her teaching. Some of God’s dear servants fell under her charms. As we have seen before, Jezebel stands for apostate Rome.
Amid such grave departure there was a godly remnant who was struggling to maintain the truth. The Lord encourages them to “hold fast”. There is ever a danger to loosen grip on the truth. Truth is to be maintained in communion with God. “As it has taught you, ye shall abide in Him” (1 Jn. 2:27). If we cease to walk with God, we who once were buyers of truth will become sellers of truth (Prov. 23:23). That is a solemn thought!
While seeking to maintain truth we should avoid the danger of drifting into legalism. This leads to Phariseeism. While seeking to maintain love we should avoid the danger of drifting into liberalism – “love at all costs”. Oh, for that delicate balance – “speaking the truth in love”, “loving in the truth”!
May the Lord make us like Eleazar, one of David’s mighty men. The Philistines came to capture a parcel of ground full of barley. The men of Israel fled away. Eleazar recognized this piece of ground as the inheritance of Jehovah. He would not surrender to the enemy. “He arose and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary and his hand clave unto the sword, and the Lord gave a great victory that day,” (2 Sam. 23:10). Truth cannot be maintained without conflict.

Ho, my comrades! see the signal waving in the sky

Reinforcements now appearing Victory is nigh!

“Hold the fort, for I am coming” Jesus signals still

Wave the answer back to heaven “By thy grace we will”!

c. Remember Him till He comes -1 Cor. 11:26.

The Lord’s supper is a precious ordinance which the Lord has given to the Church. But like everything precious and beautiful, it has not been without the attack of the enemy. Satan has made it ritualistic, superstitious, infrequent and carnal. Let us be like the three mighty men of David who broke through the host of the Philistines and fulfill the deep desire of the Captain of our salvation.
Let us see four points relating to the Lord’s supper.

Firstly, there is Examination (1 Cor. 11:28). This is the Inward Look. I must pass through a season of heart-searching in the presence of the Lord before I take part in the Lord’s supper. Every known sin is to be confessed accompanied by a genuine repentance (a change of mind which leads to a change of action) and having obtained cleansing, then only must we eat the bread and drink of that cup. Failure to do so shows a lack of realization of the significance of the emblems and of the solemnness of the Person, and it is to invite judgement on ourselves (29-30). We should not wait to examine ourselves when we come to the breaking of bread (though it is better late than never), but should we not do it beloved, on Saturday itself? The poverty which we often experience at the Lord’s supper is due to a lack of serious preparation.

Secondly, there is Commemoration. This is the Backward Look. We focus our eyes on that glorious Person and we muse on His finished work. Beneath the cross of Jesus, we take our stand and think of His body given and His blood shed.
We must never forget that the primary purpose of the breaking of bread is to remember Christ. We are to be occupied with Him. Hence every praise that is offered, every song that is sung, every reading of the passage, every meditation that is offered, it is to be “things concerning Himself”. We are to see no man “save Jesus only”. As we see the Son, our hearts will bubble up in worship Matt. 2:11.

Thirdly, there is Anticipation. This is the Forward Look. We only do this “till He comes”. It cultivates our hope. Every time we participate we are reminded that he has not yet come and, with longing hearts we wait and watch for that bright and blessed brow. I remember an old saint often telling that the Lord will come, as we remember Him in, His own appointed way. How real was the Lord’s coming to his soul!

Fourthly, there is Consecration. This is the Upward Look. Ps. 123:2. We are reminded of the words of Joseph, “the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant” Gen. 44:17. As we take the cup in our hands we are reminded of His precious blood which He shed for us as the price of our redemption. “Ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s”. Let us say like the Hebrew servant, “I love my master, my wife and my children, I will not go out free.” Let our ears be bored. Let us hearken to the voice of His word and do all His pleasure.

“Behold the Bridegroom cometh” is the midnight cry.

“Even so come Lord Jesus” is the Bride’s plea.

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