Waiting, Watching, Working

"Like to men that WAIT for their Lord."

"Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He comes shall find WATCHING."

"Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He comes, shall find so doing [WORKING]." (Luke 12)

To be waiting indicates readiness. To be watching shows expectation. To be working is a sign of faithfulness to a charge. And the servants of the Lord are to be ready, expectant, and faithful in view of His coming again.

But is He really coming again? Long has He been expected; will He fulfil that expectation? May it not be a vain hope? "Behold the Bridegroom comes" (Matt. 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. My father and mother talked about it in our home, and I remember that one of the first teachers I ever had asked me: "What do they preach at 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 realizing 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 give an answer to their challenge. What shall that 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. 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 its authority, but on the contrary He taught that what was due to it must be rendered to it, 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 Scripture 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 (Ps. 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 this as a sure and blessed hope is His own word, and the word of Holy Scripture.

Our second reason is that the Divine plan and purpose would be incomplete if He did not come. If Sir Christopher Wren had built St. Paul's 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 in humiliation and not return 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.

Our third reason for His coming again, is that 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 do this at His coming again: then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Cor. 1:4). And then will He present to Himself His church, His bride, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Jacob would not have been satisfied to have laboured and waited for Rachel and not have possessed her, neither can the Lord be satisfied without His bride, complete and glorious. He gave Himself for her and He must have her, and this cannot be apart from His coming again (Eph. 5). And 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 Thess. 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, Alleluiah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb to come" (Rev. 19:6-7).

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" (Rev. 22). Truly His coming again lies very near to His heart. It is as though a mother leaving her children for a while, said to them as she puts her good-bye kiss upon their lips: "I'll come back soon," and if she has the opportunity of sending a message to them during her absence, the burden of it is, "I'll come back soon." She knows well that nothing will please them better than that. Yes, but in the message her own desire breaks out. It is because she longs for them, yearns to see and embrace them again that she sends such a message to them. Her desire is greater than theirs. Even so it is with our Lord. Yet surely His love to us has awakened desires to see Him in our hearts, and if so, we shall respond to His message to us with the church's cry. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

And if this is so, we shall be waiting and watching and working; we shall be ready, expectant and faithful. Think of the absent mother and her children again. Mary has been left in charge of her brothers and sisters, and the day has arrived for the return of the mother. They do not know the hour, but they are up early and they work with a will until everything is ready. The home is clean, the children are dressed, and they are ready. Mother can come now, she will find them waiting. But how often they go to the door and peer out of the window, they cannot sit still, mother will soon be here, and they are eager for a sight of her, and as the day wears on they become more eager and expectant. They are watching, and it is their love for their mother that makes them so. But Mary is in charge of the home, and she feels her responsibility. Between her journeys to the door and window she slips first into this room and then into that, to make sure that nothing is out of place, and most of all she keeps her eye on the younger children. Not a speck must be on them when the mother returns. She must feed them, and wash them, and keep them out of mischief until her mother comes; and so she waits and watches like the rest, but she works also. She is faithful to her trust. Blessed is Mary when her mother comes. She has a twofold happiness. Not only is her mother back again but she has said "Well done" to her faithful little daughter. She has the joy of her mother's presence and the satisfaction of her mother's approbation. And now the mother's turn has come, and she serves Mary, she makes her sit down at the table and brings forth the good things that she has brought, and while all join in the feast, it is a reward for Mary. She has this as a secret understanding between herself and her mother. has our Lord's love to us affected us as the mother's love affected her daughter? Are we ready, expectant and faithful? Blessed will it be for us if it is so. But this is the way we show our love to Him and not by talking of His coming only. We shall be anxious to keep our charge, anxious that all His own shall be such as will please Him when He does come. We shall feed them, encourage them, wash their feet if need be. In this our responsibility lies, here shall be proved our faithfulness to our trust. It will not be enough that we are waiting ourselves, we shall desire all His saints to be waiting too, yes, all His saints, for He is coming for all, and all should be looking for Him.