Our Great Hope
The First and Last Words from the Lord in the Glory
The enraptured silence of the disciples of the Lord, as the cloud of glory carried Him out of their sight, was broken by the voice of two men in white apparel, saying, “This same Jesus, which is taken from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” On swift pinion, from the very gates of the glory into which the Lord had entered, they had come, bringing THE FIRST MESSAGE from Him, as the ascended and glorified Christ, to His servants on earth. So that simultaneously with His taking His place at the right hand of the Majesty on high the announcement was made upon earth of His return to it. Before the Holy Ghost came to indwell the disciples, and to lead them into all those blessed truths that were afterwards revealed; or one word of gospel was preached by them to the multitudes of sinful men, this announcement was made—THE LORD IS COMING BACK AGAIN.
This fact should arrest attention and lay hold of the soul of the Christian with great power, for it proves how tremendously important to the Lord is this second coming, and how He intended that it should have the first place in the thoughts of those who love Him upon the earth.
Sixty years passed by, and the last of those beloved men whose ears heard that first message from the Lord in glory was about to depart; but before he closed his service on earth the Revelation of things to come was given to him, and the last words of it from the Lord, closing up the Holy Scriptures, were a confirmation of that first announcement, “Surely I come quickly” (Rev. 22:20). Yes. THE FIRST AND LAST WORDS FROM THE LORD IN THE GLORY TO HIS SERVANTS ON EARTH WERE ABOUT HIS COMING AGAIN.
One of the strangest things in the history of the church is that this hope of the Lord’s return was a lost hope for centuries, and that these words spoken by the Lord in the fullness of His love for His own, to cheer them during His absence, should have been so little treasured and understood. It is very strange even now, since the truth of it has been clearly ministered, that it should so little affect the lives of those who know of it, and who have received the doctrine of it, at least. And yet we have not far to seek for the solution to this strange thing; it is revealed in the Lord’s words to the assembly at Ephesus, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Rev. 2:4).
A Living Hope
To be effective the truth of the Lord’s coming must not be a doctrine in the head merely, but a hope in the heart. “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). And for this Christ must be supreme in the affections. “What thank ye of Christ?” is still the great test of our state, and the measure of our rightness with regard to this and every other truth of God.
We have seen a young bride-to-be upon board ship eagerly anticipating the end of the voyage, and, as the port of destination came in view, foremost upon the deck, and with binoculars eagerly scanning the jetty for the loved face, and longed-for greeting of the one who possessed her heart, and the glad excitement when at last he was discovered, true to his word, waiting to receive her. The hope of meeting him who was to be her husband was a great reality to her because she loved him and knew that he loved her.
It is here that the church on earth has failed; other things instead of Christ have filled her heart; she has left her first love, and so has ceased to long and look for her Lord, and having failed in this she has failed in everything.
But that which has been lost by the mass may be restored to the individual, for the Spirit of God is still here to make the love of Christ a reality to all who long after Him. And the Lord Himself makes a wonderful appeal to the affections of His saints in the closing chapter of Revelation when He says, “I am the root and offspring of David, THE BRIGHT AND MORNING STAR.” He intends that the heart should be awakened by this presentation of Himself, and that in unison with the Spirit the bride shall say, “Come.”
Mark well: it is the BRIDE that says “Come.” The heart undivided, fully possessed by Him who gave Himself to win her, responding to His strong and changeless love without reserve—this is characteristic of the bride. This is not true of the church today; it will be true of her when she is caught up to the glory: it may be true of each one of us now. But how shall it become true of us? As we yield ourselves to the sweet influence of His love, as we allow His words, “I have loved thee” (Rev. 3:9), to enter our souls, and as we see Him arising in the darkness as the bright and morning star, it will become true of us.
The knowledge of His love will be our crown, the choicest thing that we possess, and this we shall hold fast, for it will be brighter and better to us than the brightest and best that a fickle world can offer.
“Behold! I come quickly; hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown,” He has said. Be it ours to reply, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).