As a community we have endeavoured to stay awake to the signs of the times in relation to the coming of our Lord from heaven, for which cause our Watchman series has been dedicated. Nevertheless the actual event will come as a great jolt when—“at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh” (Matt 25:6). Imagine this scene! “All that are in the graves shall hear his voice” (John 5:28). So we that are “alive and remain” at his coming, along with those who “sleep in Jesus”, will be subject to Divine visitation that will send a thrill and a fear racing through our very being, and that will prostrate us before the Divine messenger, just as it did to others whose standing before God was much greater than ours (Josh 5:14; Dan 10: 8).

In those awesome circumstances it would be wonderful to hear the encouragement that was offered to Daniel—“O man greatly beloved… fear not” (Dan 10:11,12).

There will not be a shadow of doubt when our Lord shall appear—no secret meetings in the desert or anyone saying “see here or see there”; his revelation will be glaringly apparent. When speaking to the hard-hearted of his day who “demanded” of him when the Kingdom would appear, he answered them, “The kingdom of God cometh not with outward shew” (Luke 17:20 mrg). Not with ‘outward shew’! That would come as a shock to his listening disciples. In order that there would be no misunderstanding, he turned his attention to them and spelt out that his coming would be like the lightning that shines from one horizon to the other. It would be as dramatic as the flood of Noah, and the destruction of Sodom. A flash of brilliant lightning, a universal flood, and a gigantic upheaval! Surely this represents somewhat of an ‘outward shew’! (Luke 17:23–29)

To help us make a reality of this astonishing event, the Lord pointed out that we will be taken from whatever circumstances we are found in at his coming. Two men sleeping in the same room; one awakes to find the other gone. Two women at work; one whisked away and the other left preoccupied with the daily task. Two men toiling in the field—suddenly, one gone! (Luke 17: 34–36).

Whatever else our private longings may be, all of us must be excited with the prospect of seeing our beloved Lord, “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” (1 Pet 1: 8). The sight of him will speak volumes to us as we behold his countenance. Consider the profound import of the words of the disciple that Jesus loved: “…when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3: 2). For those whose lives have reflected his and who “love his appearing”, there will be mutual recognition: the glance will tell all. Something of a kindred spirit will cross as eye meets eye. We will recognise him for “we shall see him as he is”, that is as we anticipated him to be characteristically. Our recognition will come as a result of the pattern of his life with our own, “for we shall be like him”.

How critical is it that our lives should be moulded by his example? Our reading and study of the Scripture; our attention to the writings of our pioneers; our devotion to duties in the Ecclesia; should all be performed with one over-riding motive— to give God glory in the exhibition of His characteristics, as seen perfectly demonstrated in His Son (Phil 3:8–9). There is but one almighty powerful force that can perform this for us—our deep appreciation of the extent of the love of God in giving us His Son, and the love of His Son in responding to his Father’s will in sharing God’s love for us. “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).

Such love casts out fear and leaves a confident spirit as we await the apocalypse of the Lord (1 John 4:18; 3:19,20). In this spirit, coupled with a fear and awe of the Divine, but not in terror, we should eagerly await his appearing. The judgment scene can be a thrilling and joyous occasion as we confidently expect justification in God’s righteousness. This is how Paul saw it in Hebrews 12:23,24.

This is the time when we shall see “the spirits of just men made perfect”; when we are truly justified by faith and perfected, with all offensive characteristics purged out, and only those lovely spiritual dispositions, for which we even now love our brethren and sisters, are left. If for no other reason, judgment should be seen as the final perfecting of our characters.

The judgment seat of Christ is likened to a court scene, and even though in this life we may have suffered the judgment of our brethren and sisters, this should be of small moment to us, as we stand before him to whom all things are known. For those who have lived in faith of God’s righteousness there is every reason for optimism. Who is our counsel for the defence? Why, God Himself ! In that list of the ‘positives’ of Zion, Paul says “… to God the judge of all”, but the Greek is much better rendered “to a judge the God of all” (Heb 12:23). He is for us, not against us.

In the person of His Son, God appears as our Advocate, Who is willing to vindicate us, not according to our good works, but on account of our faith in the things accomplished by Himself. What then of painful criticisms of like earthborns. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? God that justifieth?” We may have been justly condemned for sins committed, for all have sinned, but no matter for “It is Christ that died”. By repentance and faith He has forgiven us even though others may not; and whose evidence will God accept? Of our Advocate it is said that he is risen again, and “is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom 8:33,34).

Whatever fears may be engendered by our oftrepeated failings, never lose sight of the fact that “God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess 5: 9–11). Our gracious Father genuinely desires our salvation: it will be a pleasure to Him to give us the Kingdom (Luke 12:32).

How often have we stood in sadness at the graveside, yet full of confidence knowing that “them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1 Thess 4:14). He comes with all our loved ones with him—our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, all of them dearly beloved brethren and sisters in Christ—some lost while younger; others mercifully rested, having borne the heat and burden of the day. What joy! If Christ’s enemies will “see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:28), then so will we!

For now “we ourselves groan within ourselves” whilst we await the release from the slavery of this body of death with its carnal desires which all too often cast us into the pit of despair by our capitulation to its promptings (Rom 8:23). Not only so, but “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together until now” (Rom 8: 22). Sin has blighted the whole world, morally and physically. Its ugliness sickens the hearts of those who sigh and cry for all the abominations that desecrate God’s world. He comes to “sweep it with the broom of destruction” (Isa 14:23 rsv).

All the world will be invited to “Come, behold the works of Yahweh, what desolations He hath made in the earth”, the result of which will be that “He maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the earth” (Psa 46:8,9).

Who does not long to see the end of all things as at present constituted, when all things shall be made new? As the “Sun of righteousness” his beams of light dispel the darkness, whilst their radiant warmth will heal his saints (Mal 4:2). His doctrine shall drop as the dew, the soft showers of his blessing will revivify the earth, which will sparkle in the morning without clouds as the clear shining after rain (Deut 32:2; Psa 72:6,7; 2 Sam 23:4). And all this glory and majesty and joy we will share, for “the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints”. It will be an inestimable privilege to so participate, for “ this honour hath all his saints” (Jude 14; Psa 149:9).

We step forward in this “body of humiliation”. We await his decision, “Well done good and faithful servant”. Rapturous joy! Then in a moment as quick as the eye can blink—immortality—the surge of power, sharpened perceptions to savour the feeling of strength, purity of heavenly health, the relief of burdens, the gentle, but effective wiping of tears away from the eyes. But more than all this! We come now to know as we are known; we learn experimentally that “immortality” is not just living forever. It is “THE DIVINE NATURE” in its fullness. We have known what it was to bear the image of the earthy, now we know what is the image of the heavenly. It is God’s own disposition toward all things. It is to share His loves and His dislikes. It is to be forever biased beyond any counter balance toward His objectives. It is now to fathom the unfathomable, to at last come to know the peace that had passed understanding before (Phil 3:21; Matt 25:21; 1 Cor 15:52; Rev 7:17; 2 Pet 1:4; 1 Cor 15: 49; Phil 4:7).

Time will have arrived for the expression of all the pent up emotions to be uttered with spirit charged abilities…

“Blessed be Yahweh Elohim, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory…”

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.”

“AMEN AND AMEN” (Psa 72:18,19; Rev 5:12).