Surely, I Come Quickly
Question: Regarding the Coming of the Lord Jesus for His church which we have been considering: four times in the Revelation we read, "I come quickly." Some of us can't understand this, for nearly 2000 years is not quickly. How do you explain that?
First, let us be impressed with the fact that it is the Lord Himself who is speaking, it is not even an apostle delivering a message from Him; the words are His own. "I will come again," He says in John 14. "I come quickly," He says in the Revelation; they are His last words to us. If we grasp the fact that they are His own words to those He loves we shall begin to understand them with the heart. Let me illustrate: A mother must leave her children for a while; as she bids them farewell she says, "I'll be back soon," and if she has the opportunity of sending them a message the burden of it is, "I'll see you soon." If she writes a letter to them, instructing them as to what to do during her absence, she closes it with the words, "I'm coming quickly." Why? Because she knows that there is a great yearning in those young hearts; they won't be fully happy and satisfied until they see their mother again, and she knows that no word that she could send them will be more prized by them. But there is another and a deeper reason. Her children are in her heart; she yearns for them; nothing will satisfy her but having them with her again, and nothing will hinder her when her business is done from hastening to them; she will not tarry then. It is thus, we believe, with the Lord. The "quickly" is in His heart; He will not tarry a moment longer than is necessary. "For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry" (Hebrews 10:57 ). Do we understand that? Unless we have left our first love we shall understand it and we shall cherish these last words of His to us, and continually in our hearts there will be this response, "Even so, Come, Lord Jesus."
The Shout of the Lord, the Archangel 's Voice and the Trump of God
Question: 1 Thessalonians 4:16 speaks of the shout of the Lord, the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God. What are we to understand by these three things?
We shall have no difficulty as to the shout of the Lord. It is the Lord's own shout. As a captain commands his army, so the Lord will command and assemble the countless number of His saints, dead and living, to meet Him in the air, and there will be "our gathering together unto Him" (2 Thessalonians 2:1). There will be authority and triumph in that shout, but more. I listened with great pleasure to a servant of the Lord, insisting that it would be a shout of joy. For nearly 2000 years the Lord has waited for this moment, for the moment when He shall receive and present to Himself His blood-bought church - this is the hour of His patience -but the waiting time will be over when He rises up in His power; and the shout will be a shout of joy, of long pent-up desire, if we may speak thus in deepest reverence. The shout of the Lord will have His saints solely in view, and that shout will have an instant answer; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye we shall be with Him.
The archangel is Michael (Jude 9), and he is Israel 's prince (Daniel 10:21 ): the great spiritual power that stands for Israel . Whenever he is mentioned by name it is in relation to events in the career of that nation (see Jude 9 and Revelation 12), I suggest then that the voice of the archangel will have to do with the gathering of Israel . The trump of God seems to be more universal, it will affect all mankind. If this is the interpretation, we have here three widening circles. (1) The Church, (2) Israel , (3) All men. All will be affected by this great event. The effect will not be simultaneous in these circles, the wheels will move slower in regard to Israel and mankind, but they will begin to move then. There will be as I have said, an instant response from the church; the work will be slower in regard to Israel, but from that moment the nation will begin to move towards the land of Canaan and their preparation for the return of the Messiah will begin; and every nation will be affected also. It will not be until the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, that all nations will be gathered before Him, but the trump of God, which sounds forth at the coming of the Lord, will secure that.
What I should like all to see is, that everything awaits the catching up of the church out of this world; until that takes place all the promises of God in regard to Israel and the nations of men are held up, they cannot be fulfilled, but when that does take place, events will move swiftly to the great and glorious appearing of the Lord, and the voice of the archangel and the trump of God will have accomplished their great work. We need a fuller conception of the importance of the church in God's ways. It is the brightest and most cherished prize that Christ will secure from among men, and until He has secured it - complete, perfect, glorious, without spot or blemish - none of God's plans proceed to their appointed end; but when it has been secured, to share with the coming King all His glory, then God will make no more delay, and Israel and the nations will bow the knee to Christ; God's kingdom will come.
Why the Lord will meet His Church in the Air
Question: Why are the saints not caught right up into the Father's house? Why should the Lord come to meet them in the air?
They will be caught right up into the Father's house, of course. John 14 assures us of that, but the Lord will come forth to meet them to conduct them into that place that He has prepared for them. His coming forth to meet them shows the love He has for them, and the honour that He puts upon them. As a king goes forth to meet his royal bride when the news reaches him that she has left her own land for his, so will the Lord come forth to meet His bride.
But that He should meet her in the air is full of significance. The air is the seat of Satan's power; he is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). It is from the air - the heavenlies - that the principalities and powers and rulers of the darkness of this world and the spiritual wickedness operate (Ephesians 6:12 ), and it is there that the Lord will meet His own. Suppose a great king at war with another were to send a message to his army in a distant field of operations, saying that he would meet them in the capital of the enemy's country. Well, we should say, he will need to crush the enemy's power before he can do that, and if he does it, it will be the most conclusive evidence of his complete victory. It is just so in this matter. The enemy is a defeated foe; the power of the devil has been annulled. Would he not, were he able, prevent the Lord from receiving His own into glory? He certainly would; but it is in the very capital of his dark dominion, in the region from which he now operates against the church, and holds men in darkness, that the Lord will meet His saints, and they, sharing His triumph and joy, will pass through the air and into the Father's house to be for ever with the Lord.
Consequent upon this manifest triumph of the Lord over him, the devil is to be cast out of his present seat of power in the heavenlies. Revelation 12 tells us of this, and that he will come down to earth "having great wrath." We can understand that; since Pentecost his power and subtilty have been concentrated on the church. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ," and this is true of the whole church, but, he added, "I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." This has been Satan's endeavour; with this end in view he has changed himself into an angel of light, and when this has failed, he has gone about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. His counsels and determination and efforts have been to rob Christ of His church, but the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, said the Lord, and here we see that word fulfilled, and in spite of the utmost that Satan can do, the church passes clean through His domain, holy and without blame, having neither spot nor wrinkle nor any such thing, to be for ever for Christ, as a bride adorned for her husband. When the devil sees that and realises the fullness of Christ's victory, he may well have great wrath.
The Last Trump
Question: In 1 Corinthians 15:52 we read of "the last trump. Is this the same as "the trump of God"? If not, what are we to understand by it?
I do not think these two are the same. The last trump has been explained to be a military allusion. In the Roman armies three trumpet blasts were given when they had to move. The first blast meant "pack your baggage"; the second, "fall in"; and the third, "March." If this is the true explanation of the expression, and I believe it is, how significant it is. The Christian is to be standing ready for the final trumpet call. Already he has heard the call of the Gospel, and if he has given a true answer to it he has separated himself from the world, has packed his baggage, and is looking for the Saviour. He is waiting, eagerly, expectantly for the last trump, when in a moment in the twinkling of an eye, the whole triumphant and blood-washed company shall be changed into the glorious likeness to their Lord, and death shall be swallowed up in victory.
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