Will He really come again?
Will He really come again? Long has He been expected; will He fulfil that expectation? May it not be a vain hope? "Behold the Bridegroom cometh" (Matthew 25), was a great text with earnest men nigh upon a century ago, and the hope of His coming spread amongst those who loved His name, until many were saying: "Even so, come Lord Jesus." It became a theme of ordinary conversation. I heard of it as a child. It was talked about in our home, and I remember that one of the first teachers I ever had, asked me: "What do they preach in the meetings you go to?" I answered: "They preach that the Lord Jesus is coming again." "What!" she exclaimed, evidently startled. "Yes," I said, "and we believe it, because the Bible says so." It was a child's answer, but it shows that whether true or false this teaching had made a deep impression on my mind.
But that was many years ago, and He has not come yet, and those who looked for Him so earnestly in those years that are past have fallen asleep without realising their hope. Were they deceived in their belief? And are we? Will He really come? The scoffers are saying: "Where is the promise of His coming?" and we must answer their challenge. What shall the answer be?
Our answer is: "Yes, He will surely come," and the basis of our confidence is that He has said so. We do not build our hope on signs and portents, they may easily and often deceive us, but we rest in His own Word, for that cannot fail. He must come because He has said, "I will come again."
Other prophecies have been fulfilled, and so shall this be. God declared in the Garden of Eden that the woman's Seed should bruise the Serpent's head. It was the first word that was ever uttered as to the coming of the great Deliverer, and that word was fulfilled when the due time came. Four thousand years passed between the prediction and its fulfilment, and throughout those long, long years men of faith waited and watched. They carried the torch of faith and hope in the darkness for a while, each in his own day, and then handed it on to their successors, until at last He for whom they looked appeared; the Daystar from on high visited them, and faith and hope gave place to sight as they gave thanks to God and cried, "Our eyes have seen Thy salvation."
God's prophets had spoken of the sufferings of Christ and of the glory that should follow. When He did appear His disciples thought only of the glory. But the glory was not yet to be, it awaited His Second Coming. It behoved Him first to suffer "that the Scriptures might be fulfilled." His first coming was for shame and spitting, for suffering and death; His second coming will be for honour and glory, for the crown and the throne. He told His disciples in the plainest language that He had come to suffer, that He would be delivered to the Gentiles and be mocked and crucified. It seemed much more likely that He would be stoned, indeed the Jews in their frenzied hatred of Him attempted this more than once, but they could not do it, a power they did not understand restrained them, " that the Scripture might be fulfilled ." But why should He be crucified? This was a Roman mode of execution, and He did not come into conflict with Rome . He offered no resistance to Cæsar's authority, but on the contrary He taught that what was due to him must be rendered to him, and for that saying the Jews hated Him the more, but the Romans had no cause to condemn Him for such teaching, He was no criminal according to their laws. Yet they crucified Him. Why? Because the Scriptures had said that thus He would die, and they cannot fail. More than one thousand years before it happened it was all foretold in the most graphic detail (Psalm 22). Long before the Roman power had any existence the very way they would treat Him was revealed, and the ancient word was fulfilled to the last letter of it. And by His own words He confirmed what was written of Him. He said He would die, and He did, HE SAID HE WOULD RISE THE THIRD DAY, AND HE DID, HE SAID HE WOULD COME AGAIN IN GLORY, AND HE WILL.
Every word of Scripture that foretold His first coming and His sufferings when He came has been fulfilled, and just as surely shall every word that has been spoken about His second coming in glory be fulfilled. If He does not come again His own Word and the Scripture will be broken, and this cannot be: Heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one jot or tittle of His Word can fail. Our first and greatest reason then for holding the coming again of our Lord as a sure and blessed hope is His own Word, and the Word of Holy Scripture.
The Divine plan and purpose will be incomplete if He does not come. If Sir Christopher Wren had built St. Paul 's cathedral without its dome, we should have said that it was not finished, that the crown of it was wanting. And if the Lord Jesus does not come again there will be a great want in the ways of God. To come first in humiliation and not come again in power, to suffer and die for sin and not come again in glory to establish righteousness in the world where wickedness has so long held sway, to bear the Cross and not wear the Crown, would be to leave unfinished God's great scheme of blessing for men and glory for His Son. The crown of His purpose would be lacking, and the universe would say that God was not wise, or He had not the power to make His wisdom effectual. Yes, the once suffering Saviour must come in glory; where He was dishonoured He must be exalted; He loved righteousness and hated iniquity, therefore His throne must be established for ever. He must come again to bring to its consummation the whole will and purpose of God.
His love demands it. He cannot leave even the bodies of His blood-redeemed saints under the power of death. He must raise them up again, and He will d o this at His coming again: then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15). And then will He present to Himself His Church, His Bride, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. The patriarch Jacob would not have been satisfied to have laboured and waited for Rachel, and not have possessed her, yet love's labour might have been lost in his case, but the Lord's great sacrifice and labour of love cannot be lost. He must see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied, and this can only be when He receives to Himself His Church, all glorious, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, and this cannot be apart from His coming again. Because His love demands it, we read: "The Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17). "And then shall be heard as it were the voice of a great multitude and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come " (Revelation 19:6,7). He must come again for His church. His love demands it.
The first message that the ascended Lord sent from the glory to His disciples upon earth was that He would come back again (Acts 1), and His last message from the glory to His church on earth is, "Surely I come quickly" (Revelation 22). Truly His coming again lies very near to His heart.
I do want to stress the fact that the Lord's love for His own makes it imperative that He should come for them. He has told us that in His Father's house there are many mansions. He does not leave us in the world because there is only room for Him and none for us in the Father's house. There is room there for us all, had there not been He would have told us long ago, and not have drawn us after Him as He has done. He has won our hearts, because He wants us THERE. His disciples, to whom these words were first spoken, had looked for a place here in an earthly kingdom, He was going to prepare a place for them there, in the Father's House. They had looked for honour and power on earth, He had something better for them in Heaven. He had a Home for them there - home and love; His own home, His Father's love. This they were to share with Him, for nothing would satisfy His love but sharing it with them. And this is our prospect. The light of it shines with a soft and comforting radiance into our hearts, it fills us with longing for its realisation, for the longing to have us there is in His heart.
And He is coming for us. He will not send for us. We are too precious to Him, too dearly loved for that. He will come Himself. "I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am there ye may be also." Had we known Him only as a great potentate, splendid in His glory and supreme in dignity, then it would have been fitting that some noble servant should have been sent forth to lead us into His presence chamber to touch the sceptre that He might condescendingly extend to us. But it is not glory, or dignity, or splendour of that sort that is revealed to us here, but love; yearning, tender love that can neither wait until we are brought, nor send another for us, but must come itself. The first face that our eyes shall gaze upon at His Coming will be His own face. Countless hosts will attend Him, but they are not mentioned here, nor will they fill our vision then. It will be Himself, and Himself alone. And to Himself He will receive us, that where He is there we may be also.
It is the voice of our great Lover that speaks to us here in words so tender and true and wise, and His voice thrills our hearts, and to us it is enough that where He is there we shall be. Scant is our knowledge of the place; we do not know its glories, its extent, its location, nor are we concerned to know; it suffices us to know that it is the Father's house, and Christ is there, and He wants us to be there to share it with Himself, and we want to be there because He wants to have us there. These are the longings that His love has begotten in our hearts, and so we say, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
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