Waiting and Watching for His Coming.
THREE of the greatest facts relative to the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ are:
(1) He died for our sins;
(2) He was raised again from the dead and is now exalted at the right hand of God;
(3) He is coming again in power and great glory.
The Holy Scriptures present His second coming in two parts:
(1) As the Bright and Morning Star in relation to the Church (Rev. 20: 16);
(2) As the Sun of Righteousness in connection with Israel (Mal. 4: 2).
To the one, His coming is the Blessed Hope which precedes the Father's house of many mansions, and to the other, the long-looked for deliverance from all their enemies and sorrows, preparatory to the reign of righteousness under their rightful King (Isa. 32: 1).
The rejection of the Messiah led to the casting off of the Jewish nation during this present dispensation (Romans 11: 15), during which time God is visiting the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His Name (Acts 15: 14). The great instrument used in this deeply important work is the Gospel of His Grace, which He desires to be preached to every creature (Mark 16: 15) that all may have the opportunity of accepting Christ as Savior (I Tim. 2: 3, 4).
The return of our Lord is dependent upon the completion of His Church, and His longsuffering has meant salvation to many (II Pet. 3: 15). This momentous event which will rapture the Church, will commence the display of His glory, destined to fill the whole earth. Man has brought ruin to everything in this scene through his fall (Gen. 3), and confusion must remain until Christ is allowed to take His rightful position as Lord, for He alone can restore order out of chaos.
Israel, Creation, and the Church will be waiting for our Lord's coming. "And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us" (Isa. 25: 9). "The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God" (Rom. 8: 19). "So that ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Cor. 1: 7).
The first epistle to the Thessalonians, which is believed to be the first written to a Gentile church, shows what characterized the early believers. "Ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven" (I Thess. 1: 9-10).
Centuries have passed and many have fallen asleep, but in these closing days, there are still those who wait for His return. "Let your loins be girded about and your lights burning and ye yourselves like unto men who wait for their Lord" (Luke 22: 35, 36). This exhortation given to believers is still needed. Waiting will test believers in many ways.
Our Faith in His Promise.
Many promises have already had their fulfillment, and this is an aid to the believer's trust. There is one promise waiting to be fulfilled, i.e., "I will come again and receive you unto Myself"; "After ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise, for yet a little while, and He that shall come, will come and will not tarry" (John 14: 3; Heb. 10: 36, 37).
This subject will be the special object of attack in the last days by the scoffers who will say, "Where is the promise of His coming?" (II Pet. 3: 3, 4). The question is only asked to be ridiculed. If truth were sought, John 14: 3 would satisfy any inquiring mind. The longer we wait, the greater will be the test, but faith will be rewarded, and all who have exercised it will prove that they have never waited in vain.
Our Love to His Person.
The presence of Christ with His disciples when on earth was sufficient to draw forth their love, but His absence for only a little while caused a coldness in some hearts, and led Him to say, "Lovest thou Me? (John 21: 15-17). The complaint against the Ephesian church was, "Thou hast left thy first love" (Rev. 2: 4). Affection for Christ is a great reality in young converts, but there is real danger in losing it in after-life. Love begets love, and we love Him because He first loved us. "Whom, having not seen ye love, in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (I Pet. 2: 8).
Mephibosheth could never be happy without David and was content to wait for his return. He lost no love for him while exiled. David may have questioned it but he was fully convinced when he said, concerning Ziba and the land, "Let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace" (II Sam. 19: 24-30). Faithfulness to Christ during His absence proves that no one but Himself can satisfy the heart.
Our Obedience to His Commands.
While we are not under the ceremonial law, we are in-law to Christ, and before leaving this scene, He left special instructions for His disciples to observe during His absence. "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams" (I Sam. 15: 22). These commands are not less binding throughout the dispensation than they were when they were given, and how it gladdens the heart of the Lord to see His people carrying out His will.
Great prominence is given in Holy Scripture to such subjects as:
(1) Believer's Baptism;
(2) The Lord's Supper;
(3) Loving one another;
(4) Separation from the world;
(5) Laying up treasure in heaven; and many others of equal importance. Surely those who are waiting for Christ will take heed to His commands.
Our Service in His Name.
The first question by Saul of Tarsus after his conversion was, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" He was conscious that he was saved to serve, and was not this the secret of his devotion to Christ and diligence in His service? (Phil. 2: 16-17)
As we learn that we are to occupy till He come (Luke 19: 13) and that a stewardship of the Gospel has been committed to us (I Cor. 9: 17; I Thess. 2: 4), we shall be found abounding in the work of the Lord (I Cor. 15: 58). Our time for labor is the present, and our ambition should be to be well pleasing unto our Lord (II Cor. 5: 9) while we wait for His coming. Knowing the time, it is high time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand (Rom. 13: 11-14).
Our Patience Until His Time.
Few things have tested the patience of the saints more than the apparent delay of Christ's coming. It is nearly two thousand years since the promise was given, "I go to prepare a place for you. I will come again and receive you unto Myself." The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. "Be ye also patient, stablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (James 5: 7-8).
The cry has already gone forth, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet Him" (Matt. 25: 6). Patience will be abundantly rewarded, for when we shall see Him, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. There is a difference between waiting and watching for Christ. All who are watching are waiting, but it is possible to be waiting for the fulfillment of this grandest of all events, without expecting Him at any moment, the Lord Jesus Christ who is our Hope (I Tim. 1: 1). We sometimes sing, "Nothing between, Lord, nothing between," and if we allow anything between, it interferes with our immediate expectation. Misinterpretation of prophecy has often been used to hinder believers joyfully anticipating Christ's return in the very near future.
Failing to see the difference between the two aspects of Christ's coming for and with His saints has led not a few to accept the theory that the Church will go through the great tribulation. Where this is held, it cannot but hinder believers expecting the Lord immediately, and will thus rob them of much joy (Rev. 3: 10, 11).
While we would especially exhort one another to be watching for our Lord, we should be warned against accepting the teaching that only the watching ones will be taken when He comes. How easy to misinterpret Scripture, and by so doing, the remedy applied for correction is worse than the shortcomings existing. "Our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him" (I Thess. 5: 9-10). All who are Christ's at His coming will be taken to be with Him (I Cor. 15: 23). Our citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior (Phil. 3: 20). "Looking for that blessed hope" (Titus 2: 13) is to be the Christian's attitude until He come.
Watchman, what of the night? The Watchman saith, "The morning cometh" (Isa. 21: 11-12). "May we be preserved blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thess. 5: 23). "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22: 20).
I am waiting for the dawning
Of that bright and blessed day,
When the darksome night of sorrow
Shall have vanished far away;
When for ever with the Savior,
Far beyond this vale of tears,
I shall swell the song of worship
Through the everlasting years.
I am looking for the brightness
(See it gleaming from afar)
Of that clear and joyous beaming
Of the Bright and Morning Star.
Through the dark grey mist of morning
Do I see its glorious light,
Then away with every shadow
Of this sad and weary night.
I am waiting for the Coming
Of the Lord who died for me;
Oh, His words have thrilled my spirit,
"I will come again for thee."
Faith can almost hear His footfall
On the threshold of the door,
And my heart, my heart is longing
To be with Him evermore.
"Light and Liberty" 1951