THE BLESSED HOPE
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"That blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of
the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ." Titus 2:13
This is rest under God's Palm-trees of promise, with a
glorious vista seen through their branches. Their fronds form, so to speak,
a framework for the believer's distant but "blessed hope" (as Middleton
translates our motto-verse)—"The glorious appearing of Jesus Christ, our
great God and Savior."
That 'second coming' was to the early Christians the
theme of habitual contemplation—their cherished harbor of refuge in the
midst of environing storms: "And to wait for His Son from heaven" (1 Thess.
1:10); "The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and the patient
waiting for Christ" (2 Thess.3:5); "Establish your hearts, for the coming of
the Lord draws near" (Jas. 5:8). Moreover, it is well worth noting, that, in
the inspired Epistles, it is not the day of death which is spoken of
or looked forward to by the Church with jubilant expectation, but the day
of Christ's appearing. Need we wonder at this? Death is no pleasing
theme: though the Christian's last enemy, it is an enemy still—the 'King of
terrors.' But the "Parousia"—the Advent of the Divine Savior—is
identified with final triumph over death; when "the perishable has been
clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the
saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in
victory.'" (1 Cor. 15:54). Not only so, but that "vile body" (itself a part
of the redemption-purchase) will come forth from the dishonors of the grave,
fashioned like the glorious body of its glorified Redeemer.
How many anguished, bereaved mourners have had their
grief calmed and their tears dried by this sublime antidote of the great
Apostle, as he points them on to the second coming of their Lord, and
associates that coming with the restoration of their beloved dead! "I would
not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that
you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that
Jesus died, and rose again, even so them also who sleep in Jesus will God
bring with Him" (1 Thess. 4:13, 14). At that blessed season when "the
tabernacle of God shall be with men, and He will dwell with them, and they
shall be His people; and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God;"
amid these revived friendships and indissoluble reunions, "God"—the God on
the throne—the Brother-man—"shall wipe away all tears from their eyes" (Rev.
Nor is the anticipated joy of that Day altogether a
personal and selfish one. No small element of it is the believer's joy at
the glory which will then encircle the brow of his adorable Lord. It will be
the public enthronement of Jesus of Nazareth. He will come "to be glorified
in His holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed"
(2 Thess. 1:10). All the humiliations of His first coming—the manger—the
carpenter's home—the unsheltered head—the nights of wakeful anguish—the
scorn, and taunt, and jeer—the piercing thorns—the bitter cross—the
ignominious sepulcher—all, all now exchanged for the shout of welcome—"Lo,
this is our God, we have waited for Him!" (Isa. 25:9). How often among His
own people on earth is He dishonored; wounded in the house of His
friends—the unstained beauty of the Master tarnished with the blemishes and
inconsistencies of the disciples. But not so on that Day. Even these marred,
blotted, imperfect images and reflections shall then, at least, become
perfect copies and transcripts of their glorious Divine Original: "We know
that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He
is" (1 John 3:2). "I saw," says John, "the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming
down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her
husband" (Rev. 21:2).
"Let every man that has this hope in him purify himself
even as He is pure" (1 John 3:3); amid the rough wear and tear of a
workday world, keeping a conscience void of offence; "having the loins
girded, and the lamps burning; and being like those who are waiting for the
coming of the Lord" (Luke12:35, 36). "Blessed is he who watches" (Rev.
16:15). Blessed is he, who, in whatever calling he be called, therein abides
with God. Thus remaining expectant under the shadow of the desert palms, we
can mark the rainbow-arch which spans the sky of the future, connecting
the cross with the crown; and say, in lowly believing confidence, with
one of the Church's noblest watchers, "Now there is in store for me the
crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to
me on that day!" (2 Tim.4:8).
Yes, "He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but
to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him." The assembled
Jewish worshipers looked for the reappearance of their High
Priest, when He was ministering in the Holy of Holies. They waited anxiously
in the outer porch to see the veil withdrawn, and the Intercessor of the
nation come forth, to pour upon the multitude, with outstretched hands, the
old benediction, "May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord
smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His favor and
give you His peace." (Num. 6:24-26). Not until then were the imposing
services of that high day of Hebrew festival completed.
Do we know and love the significance of the type? Are we
on the outlook for our Priest and King returning from the heavenly Presence,
to say to the waiting myriads of His redeemed Church, "Come, you blessed
of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of
the world"? It was a gladdening sound to the Jewish multitudes in their
Temple area, when they heard the music of the silver bells on the hem of the
High Priest's garment, giving intimation of his approach, "Blessed are
they who know the joyful sound." "Blessed are those servants who, when their
Lord comes, shall be found watching!"
"The watchers on the mountain
Proclaim the Bridegroom near,
Go, meet Him as He comes,
With Hallelujahs clear!
The marriage feast is waiting,
The gates wide open stand
Up, up! ye heirs of glory,
The Bridegroom is at hand!"
"My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for