The Coming of the Lord.

"He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus"Rev. 22:20.

In the course of the Revelation, we are forewarned of the failure of the church in its responsibility to witness for Christ during the time of His absence: and the complete breakdown of the world in exercising government for the repression of violence and corruption.

Nevertheless, we are also instructed that, in spite of the failure of man, all the counsels of God for His glory, the exaltation of Christ, the heavenly blessing of the church, and the earthly blessing of man, will at last be fulfilled. Furthermore, we learn that all God's counsels will be carried out through Christ, Who will deal in judgment with all the evil, and bring in all the blessing. Finally, we are again and again reminded that both the judgment and the blessing await the coming of Christ.

Having our thoughts lifted above all the failure and fixed upon Christ — the One Who is coming in judgment for the wicked, and in grace for His own — we hear the Lord's final appeal to our hearts in the closing words of the New Testament, as He says, "SURELY, I COME QUICKLY." The contemplation of the glories of Christ, and the solemnity and blessedness of the truths presented in these great visions, together with this touching appeal, so full of hope and encouragement, will surely call forth from our hearts, as from the apostle, the glad response,
"Amen, even so, come, Lord Jesus."

May we then briefly review some of the great coming events foretold in the course of the Revelation in order that, we may not only hold tenaciously the truth of the Lord's coming as a doctrine, but that it may become the longing desire of our hearts.

(1) "The faithful Witness" (Rev. 1:5-6). — In the course of the Revelation we see the entire and final breakdown of man in responsibility, during the absence of Christ. But before we learn of the failure of man, we are permitted to have, in the opening verses, a beautiful presentation of Christ in the perfection of His Person and work. The church has failed as a witness; but Christ is "The faithful Witness." The dark shadow of death is over the whole world; but Christ has broken the power of death, for He is "The first begotten from the dead." The kings of the earth have failed in government, but Christ is above all, for He is the "Prince of the kings of the earth." Moreover, Christ has fitted His people to share in His kingdom glories, and to worship as priests before His God and Father. For, as these glories of Christ are presented before us, believers can at once respond, by saying, This is the One "that loves us and has washed us from our sins in His own blood" (N.Tn.).

How blessed, for each believer, with the assurance that the word of God gives, to be able to say of the One Who is the faithful witness, Who has triumphed over the power of death, Who is above all the kings of the earth, He loves me, and has washed me from my sins in His own blood. He is so great, and we are so small, yet He loves us, and has died for us. Well, indeed, may we say, "To Him be the glory and dominion for ever and ever." But, for the judgment of all evil, the display of His glory and the manifestation of His Kingdom, we are at once directed to His coming, as we read, "Behold He cometh" (Rev. 1:7). Faith, resting in His finished work, and looking on to the glorious result in the coming kingdom, can respond,
"Amen. even so, come, Lord Jesus."

(2) The Promises to the Overcomer (Rev. 2, 3). — If the addresses to the Seven Churches give us a prophetic view of the church in its passage through time, and foretell its failure as a witness for Christ, they also encourage individual believers by indicating that, in every stage of its failing history, there will be overcomers to whom precious promises are made.

However much we may have a foretaste of the blessedness of these promises, it is clear that we must wait the day of glory to enter into their fulness. Then, indeed, we shall feed on "the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God," and "eat of the hidden manna." Only then will it be possible to "have power over the nations," and be "a pillar in the temple of God," and sit with Christ upon His throne.

To enter into the blessing of these promises, the Lord holds out before us the hope of His coming. He can say, "Hold fast till I come" (Rev. 2:25); and again, we hear Him say, "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." (Rev. 3:11). As the blessedness and reality of these promises rise before our souls, we shall surely respond to the Lord's words and say,
"Amen. even so, come, Lord Jesus."

 (3) The opening of the Book (Rev. 5). — Passing on to the Fourth and Fifth chapters of the Revelation, we learn that John was taken in spirit into heaven, there to see a great vision of angels and saints around the throne of God. In the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne he saw a book sealed with seven seals. This book we know, from the chapters that follow, sets forth the ways of God whereby He will deal with all the evil of the world and bring in the universal blessing, through Christ, for His own glory.

The opening of the book involves the fulfilment of all that is written therein. The question is raised in heaven, Who can do this? Where is there a man in heaven, or earth, or under the earth, who is able to deal in judgment with all the evil of the world — to end the long centuries of violence and corruption — and introduce the worldwide blessings of righteousness, peace, and joy, that will mark the reign of Christ? To accomplish this great work calls for one who has "worthiness" and "ability." When the question is raised: "Who is worthy?" it is at once found that "No man … was able to open the book," and "No man was found worthy to open the book." From time to time, in the history of the world, men have arisen who, in their vanity, have thought they could by their puny efforts end the ills of mankind and bring in a new order of universal blessing, only to discover that they have increased the misery of the world by filling it with violence and corruption.

If there is no man with the needed worthiness or power, it would seem to John that there is no ray of hope of dealing with the evil, and bringing in the blessing. Little wonder, then, that he "wept much." But if John wept much, he was not allowed to weep long; for an elder, instructed in the mind of heaven, tells him that there is no need to weep, for One is found Who "hath prevailed to open the book." At once his gaze is directed to Christ as "the Lion of the tribe of Juda." The apostle turns to gaze at the Lion, and behold, he sees "A Lamb as it had been slain." He sees Christ, as the Lion, with all power: and Christ, as the Lamb, with all worthiness.

The immediate result is that all heaven is engaged with Christ, and breaks into "A new song," saying. "Thou art worthy." In this burst of praise we see the final result of the opening of the book. As we look upon the world today, we see the whole creation groaning and travailing in pain, while violence and corruption are raging through the earth. But this great scene gives us the sure and certain hope that through the worthiness and ability of the Lamb, all the evil will be judged and universal blessing secured; and, in that great day "Every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and such as are upon the sea, and all that are in them," will join in saving. "Blessing, and honour and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."

I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship,
When at His bidding every storm is stilled,
Or who shall say how great the jubilation
When all the hearts of men with love are filled.

But this I know, the skies will thrill with gladness,
And myriad, myriad human voices sing,
And earth to heaven, and heaven to earth will answer,
At last the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is King.

We know that the dawn of this great day, awaits the coming of Christ, and as by faith it becomes to our souls a blessed reality about to be fulfilled, we shall surely say,
"even so, come, Lord Jesus."

(4) The Avenging of the Saints. — Passing on to Revelation 18:20, and Revelation 19:5, we learn that the day is coming when heaven, with all the "saints, apostles and prophets" (N.Tn.) will be called to rejoice because God has avenged His people for all the persecutions and sufferings they have endured for Christ's sake throughout the ages.

Looking back over the centuries, we recall the sufferings of God's people from corrupt Judaism, commencing with the stoning of His servant Stephen. Passing on to the persecutions of Pagan Rome, let us remember the sufferings endured by millions of Christian martyrs abandoned to outrage and death in the most hideous forms that human wickedness could devise. Then we cannot forget that under Papal Rome how many millions of God's people have been hunted, persecuted, and massacred: given over to the horrors of the Inquisition, the tortures of the rack, and the flames of the stake. Coming to modern times, let us not forget the Armenian massacres, and the persecutions that many of God's people are enduring at this present moment at the hands of those who are throwing off all profession of God, and falling back into pagan darkness, and thus, as we are warned by the apostle Peter, behaving like the dog that returns to its vomit, and the sow to her wallowing in the mire.

In all these sufferings of God's people throughout the ages, let us remember, that, though there was no direct intervention on the part of God to stop the stones being flung at His witnesses, and no miraculous power put forth to deliver from the agonies of the rack, or quench the flames at the stake, yet it will be made manifest in the coming day that God was not an indifferent spectator to the sufferings of His people nor deaf to their prayers and cries. When God avenges "the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon earth," the wickedness of men will meet with righteous judgment, and His suffering people will have their bright reward.

This great intervention of God, in judgment on the wicked and in blessing for His people, will be brought to pass by the coming of the Lord. Already we have heard the witness of John, "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him" (Rev. 1:7). If His coming leads the persecutors of God's people to wail, it calls those who have been persecuted to rejoice. In response to this call, John hears "a great voice of much people in heaven, saving. Alleluia; salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God." Looking on to this great day, we may say.
"Amen. even so, come, Lord Jesus."

 (5) The Marriage of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-9). The false system that professes the name of Christ, and yet, through the ages, has persecuted His people, and corrupted Christianity, having been dealt with in judgment, the way is prepared for the great day of the marriage of the Lamb, when the Lord's true people will be presented to Himself "a glorious church not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing," but "holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27).

We know that, in its early history, the church was "espoused as a chaste virgin to Christ." Alas! as Israel of old broke down in responsibility as the witness for Jehovah, so the church has utterly failed as a witness for Christ. In both cases the failure is traced back to loss of first love. The LORD has to say to Israel, through Jeremiah, "I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, and the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after Me in the wilderness; but Be adds, "They have gone far from Me, and have walked after vanity" (Jer. 2:2-5). So, too, the root of all the failure of the church, as a light for Christ in the world, is exposed by the Lord's own words, "Thou hast left thy first love" (Rev. 2:4).

Nevertheless, if Israel, and the church, both fail in their love, and consequently are set aside as a light in the world, there is no failure in the love of the Lord. In spite of Israel's loss of their early love, the LORD can say, through the prophet Jeremiah, in reference to Israel, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love" (Jer. 31:3). And, today, we know that nothing in us called forth the love of Christ, and no failure on our part will alter His love. In the past, "Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it." In the present we are loved with "the love of Christ which passeth knowledge," and that is serving His people by sanctifying, and cleansing them, "with the washing of water by the word," in view of the day, so soon to come when His love will present the church to Himself "holy and without blame" (Eph. 5:25-27).

As a result of the unfailing love of Christ, Israel will be brought into the blessings of the kingdom, and the church, as the Bride, will be presented to Christ when the day of "the marriage of the Lamb is come." On that great day, all heaven will say, "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."

To answer to the love of Christ, to keep His word, and not deny His name, in the midst of the corruptions of Christendom will cost us something. To go outside the camp, unto Him, will entail reproach, and following with the few instead of the crowd. Such a path will appear mere folly to the flesh, as in the days of old it might have appeared great folly on the part of Ruth to turn her back on her relations, her home and her country, in order to associate with an aged and desolate woman in taking a journey to an unknown people, in a land she had never seen. Nevertheless, that path, which to sight looked so weak and foolish, led to the great day of the marriage, when, in the presence of all the people, with the blessing of the people, she became the wife of Boaz, and had the honour of entering into the generation of the Lord. The believer, today, if true to Christ, must be prepared for reproach and contempt, and possibly have to face persecution and loneliness, even as Paul found himself in prison, forsaken by all men; and John exiled to the Isle of Patmos. But "it doth not yet appear what we shall be." In spite of all that looks so weak and contemptible in the eyes of men, faith can say, "We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." When this glorious end is reached, on the great day of the marriage of the Lamb, it will be manifest that any little suffering, reproach, or insults we have had to meet in our journey heavenward, are but light afflictions compared with the eternal weight of glory to which they lead (2 Cor. 4:17-18).

For this great day, we await the fulfilment of the Lord's own words, "I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." As this day of coming glory rises before our souls, and we hear the Lord's last words, "Surely, I come quickly," we may well respond,
"Amen. even so, come, Lord Jesus."

(6) The Eternal State (Rev. 21:1-9). In the opening verses of chapter 21 we are carried beyond time into eternity, as there is brought before faith's vision, "A new heaven and a new earth," in which there will be no more sea, as in this world, to break our hearts by separating us from our loved ones. The blessedness of the eternal state will be that God is there dwelling with men, who by the work of Christ will be "holy and without blame before Him in love" and thus suited to be "His people." The history of this present world can be summed up as one of "tears," "death," "sorrow," "crying" and "pain." As we pass through this vale of tears. God, in His infinite compassion, may meet us in our sorrows and dry our tears; but, again and again, as we pass along our way we have to meet fresh sorrows and shed more tears. But at last, in this eternal day, "God shall wipe away all tears," and "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

In view of bringing to pass the "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness," the apostle Peter can say, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise" — the promise of His coming to bring in "the day of God." Let us then heed the apostle Peter's exhortation, when he says, "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless" (2 Peter 3:9-14). As this glorious vision of eternal blessedness rises before our souls, and we hear the Lord say, "Surely I come quickly." may we respond,
"Amen. even so, come, Lord Jesus.

(7) The Holy City, Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9 to 22:5). — Already we have learnt that, though the church has failed on earth in its love for Christ, yet, owing to the unfailing love of Christ, it will, on the day of the marriage of the Lamb, be presented to Christ "holy and without blemish," for the satisfaction of His heart. "He shall see of the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied." Now we are to learn that though the church has also failed as a light for the world, it will yet be displayed before the nations for the glory of Christ in the coming Kingdom.

All that the church should have been morally, as the representative of Christ on earth, will be seen in perfection in the church in the coming day of millennial glory, as set forth in figure in this heavenly city. In our passage through time, we were left to "shine as lights" in a world of darkness, and to hold forth "the word of life" in a world of death (Phil. 2:13. 16). Alas! the professing church has ceased to be a light for Christ, and failed to hold forth the word of life to men. But in spite of all our failure, we can look on to the glory and in this city learn that at last the nations will walk in the light of the church in glory: and in it will be found the river of life, and the tree of life for the healing of the nations. Moreover, in the church in glory there will be nothing to dim the light, for "there shall be no night there; nor will there be any evil influence to corrupt the life, for there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie."

How good then to keep and cherish "the sayings of the prophecy of this book," while for their fulfilment we await the coming of the Lord (Rev. 22:7). As the vision of the city rises before our souls, and in faith we hear the Lord saying, "Surely I come quickly," we may well respond from our hearts,
"Amen. even so, come, Lord Jesus."

As we look upon the world today, we see that, increasingly, it is marked by violence and corruption; that professing Christendom fast hastens on to apostacy, and that the true people of God are divided and scattered. But, if we keep the sayings of the prophecy of this book, there will open before us a blessed unfolding of the coming glory when at last the Lord's blood-bought people, so long divided, will sing together for they shall see eye to eye; when every promise to the overcomers will be fulfilled when the book will be opened that leads to the united praise of heaven and earth: when all the wrongs His people have suffered through the ages will be avenged when the Lord will no longer tarry for His bride, but will present her to Himself on the great day of the marriage of the Lamb; when the church will be displayed in glory to the world as a light for Christ and healing for all their ills, and when at last there will arise a new heaven and a new earth where God will dwell with men, and "they shall be His people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God."

To bring in all this blessing, again and again, we are reminded that the Lord is coming, and coining quickly. In the closing chapter we hear the Lord say, "Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book" (ver 7). Blessed indeed, to keep the sayings, but this calls forth no response from His people. Again, we hear the Lord say, "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be" (verse 12). How encouraging to know that every work for the Lord, if it be only a cup of cold water given in His name, will have its reward. But, again, this calls forth no response from the saints. Finally, we hear the Lord's voice for the third time, as He closes the volume of Scripture, by saying, "Surely I come quickly." No word is added as to the sayings or rewards: it is Himself alone that is presented to our hearts, — the One that loves us, and has washed us from our sins in His own blood. At once the hearts of His own, engaged with Himself, respond, as they say,

"Amen. even so, come, Lord Jesus."
H. Smith.