“The Final Consolation” written by Brother Robert Roberts has long held a treasured place in our literature expressing as it does the joy of the saints converging on the Temple of the future age. It has inspired many brethren and sisters to make that their own dream and object of strong desire. Brother Roberts expressed the vision so beautifully when he wrote, “Come when you can step lightly and joyously abroad upon the earth in the freedom and power of spirit nature; when the cup of life is full and sparkling to the brim; when the strong, penetrating eye looks out of a glad heart to behold in all things the unfolded love, and wisdom and glory of God; when every thought is a joy, every movement a pleasure; every breath the inspiration of an ecstasy that can only find fit expression in praise to Him that sits upon the throne.” The following is one interpretation of that vision, written to enliven our hope and expectation. Surely we need that vision and consolation!

I would like us to visualise our going up to Zion. Let us try to picture the ‘aliyah’, the ascent as we, with other saints, journey to Jerusalem. We shall need to use the power of imagination for we are painting a picture of what it may be like to make that ascent, with the qualification that the actual experience will far surpass anything that we can now imagine. Yes, it’s a dream but it’s also our fervent hope.

We shall see Mount Zion crowned with the magnificent Temple. The ransomed of Yahweh, Isaiah says, shall return (35:10). The saints, the redeemed of the Lord, being the first fruits unto God and unto the Lamb are as citizens of Zion returning unto their city, with all the strong feelings of returning home. For us it will be a return to the city of our birth, for “of Zion it shall be said, this and that man was born in her” (Psa 87:5). That’s where our affiliations lie. This is a homecoming after having spent a lifetime sojourning in a spiritual wilderness where we prayed and longed for the consolations of Israel. How we longed for this going up to Zion. Our prayers and longing have finally come true! Now our vision will have become glorious sight. We have desired a better country and for us and others of like Abrahamic faith, God has prepared for us a city and a far, far better country than we have ever known. Ahead of us lies the city of our God, the mountain of holiness, beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth (Psa 48:1–2). Those that love her shall prosper (Psa 122:6), and how wonderfully we will have prospered in that day!

The reunion of the redeemed

Let’s go to the beginning of our journey, the moment of acceptance by our Lord. With every fibre of our being we know that we have been saved, saved from the bondage of sin and death. We had striven for the mastery but sin had still dogged our steps. We had loved the appearing of our Lord, but we were so often distracted by many other temporal demands. We had fallen far short. But from the moment that our Lord smiled, lifted our heads and wiped away our tears commending our little faith, we knew the power of his forgiveness. He was the bearer of grace, and the delight that we felt when our name was confessed before the angels and the crown of righteousness was gently placed on our heads, was indescribable. We are recipients of grace, the abounding grace, which imputed righteousness unto us. We had sung, “Who shall thy hill ascending, from pain and sorrow free; from sin and death’s contending, the living glory be?” We have received, “the pebble, the raiment pure and white: the holy name of Ail, the change to spirit light” (Hymn 240, Christadelphian Hymn Book, 1964).

We were welcomed into the glad company of the redeemed, all of whom radiated that exultant joy of being counted as the Lamb’s bride. In that glad company we are warmly embraced by beloved companions, many loved ones raised from the dead, with whom we had shared many joys and sorrows. What a reunion! Picture the joy and thanksgiving felt by beloved grandparents and spiritual fathers and mothers who have seen the legacy of truth carried from one generation to the next and to their children! Our shared faith and prayers have brought us together into this glorious fulfillment of all of our hopes and dreams. We share the victory of the Lamb and nothing can take that joy away from us; not even time will dull the fervency of that unbounded joy. Before our wondering eyes, the vistas of the Kingdom are limitless.

The highest of all social encounters

One of the great joys of the Kingdom will be to converse together with the apostles on the impressions we have gained of their past discipleship with their Lord. Yes, there will be those times when we can come aside from our shepherding activities with the mortals under our guiding hand, to fraternise with our Lord, his close companions and the multitude of other sons that he has brought unto glory. He will not be ashamed to call them his saints, his called out ones. He had looked beyond the horror of suffering to the joyous times when he would, “declare thy (his Father’s) name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee” (Psa 22:22). Then he will rejoice with his bride. He shall see his seed and “he shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied” (Isa 53:11). They are his people and we are forever thankful to have been numbered in such select company. Can we paint ourselves into that picture? As we approach the royal city, the one constant thought will be of “Hallelujah”: praise be to Yah. We now anticipate the highest of all social encounters: to meet our beloved Lord and his companions. What an honour! To be invited to eat and drink anew with our Lord at his table in his Father’s Kingdom. Without any hindrance or sign of mortal weakness we shall relish the stimulation afforded by mixing with such an august assembly, with no sense of self importance. No, that has all gone and in this company we feel a sense of oneness, of harmony and shared delight. This is fellowship that we had dreamed of.

We had looked forward to seeing Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom and established in their palaces in the Prince’s portion. They will be appointed special positions as friends of the Prince. Brother Roberts described his impressions of Abraham, as being a “venerable figure, not bent or aged, but noble in the air of ripe maturity – hair and flowing beard of pure white; a countenance full of gravity and kindly repose, but having no sign of weakness.” And by his side, we recognise immediately his beautiful Sarah, adorned with that gentle and meek spirit, truly heirs together of the grace of life. And now they inherit “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Pet 1:4). We will have a feeling of kinship with these two for we have empathised with their journey of faith. After all, we are, by adoption, sons of Abraham and daughters of Sarah. We will share their sense of wonderment at the promise of a seed to her that was barren and of their faith made perfect on that fateful walk up to mount Moriah. We shall show special interest in those times when Abraham rejoiced to see Christ’s day and was glad. Such are the times of refreshing that shall come from the presence of the Lord. That is the literal recreation of the intimacy once seen between the Lord and his companions, now much higher and totally satisfying. Think of the stimulation afforded by that mixing with fellow saints of all ages, meeting people from all walks of life, faith purged and perfected out of persecution, all redeemed out of many tribes, tongues, people and nations – what a rich tapestry of characters! We must see ourselves, by grace, in that select company. They will not be a colourless, depersonalised company of faceless men. They will be the brightest array of interesting people ever assembled. We will not lose our personalities. Our characters will be like hewn stones shaped to fit into the one holy Temple. Our identities will not be changed. It is a glorious oneness, yet there are so many personalities, so many colours blending into the one pure whiteness of the Son of God; each life a testimony of 1,000 experiences, as diamonds shaped and fashioned by a master craftsman. There will be a family likeness, in the aggregate, God manifest in a multitude of called out ones, the new Elohim.

The mountain of Yahweh’s holiness

We have prayed for the peace of Jerusalem and there in the distance is her crowning glory. The time has come, the set time to favour Zion (Psa 102:13). The Deliverer came to his city and with a rod of iron he broke in pieces the oppressor and saved the children of the needy. But how his people mourned! Every family apart. Their blindness was cured and their stony heart became soft, malleable and teachable. David’s royal son was granted the dominion over all things and presided over his chastened, subject people. What a transformation: life from the dead, new national life from a valley of dry bones!

We marvel at the delights of God’s land, made like unto the Garden of Eden: lush, fragrant, colourful and refreshing – such a contrast to the land we had once known in our pilgrimage. “The desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose” (Isa 35:1), and how it has blossomed! We see the glory of Lebanon with great forests and shady dales, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon adding spectacular splashes of colour and fragrance. Animals that were once predators and prey now roam in perfect harmony.

Then we come to the Holy Oblation and the city for the worshippers, Yahweh Shammah. No town planner could ever have laid out a city with such serenity, meeting the needs of so many without any sense of clamour or congestion or busyness. We note the restful atmosphere, the orderliness, every need being admirably met as the travellers prepare for their day in Yahweh’s courts. Perhaps some of our former associates are amongst that happy, excited crowd? We pass on drawn irresistibly to the Sanctuary, beautiful for elevation, the joy of the whole earth. We cross a vast plain and the mountain rises up on all sides bedecked with a magnificent crown: the Temple of Yahweh. As we approach His gates, the vastness and grandeur of this city of palaces far exceeds expectation. Yes, it is a mile square edifice of surpassing excellence, a glorious building of arches and towers surrounding the mountain of Yahweh’s holiness. This is the Tabernacle of the Most High, the place of the soles of His feet, Yahweh’s habitation where He has chosen to place His Name. High above the canopy of divine glory hovers over the great altar, suffusing the courts below with glorious light.

This truly is a house of prayer for all nations on a scale never ever seen in the history of the world. It was one thing to read about it, to visualise its magnificence but as our steps draw us ever onwards, we take in more and more exquisite detail. We had some knowledge of this immense structure, this breathtaking piece of divine architecture. We had in the former days of our pilgrimage visualised the splendour of this centrepiece of the Kingdom, but that vision, those drawings, those Bible marking notes seem as a pale shadow compared to the unfolding magnificence of the scene before us. We had only heard the half of it! This is not one large roofed auditorium such as mere man might design. The outer wall is a long line of arches covered in latticework stretching into the distance terminated by magnificent towers. Our hearts are moved with the sense of honour at being able to enter such a hallowed edifice. Yes indeed: “O enter then His gates with praise, Approach with thanks His courts unto: Praise, laud, and bless His name always, for it is seemly so to do” (Hymn 50). We have obtained gladness and joy, and marvellously, sorrow and mourning are gone forever.

Walk about Zion

Here we are as one of the citizens of Zion approaching one of its gates, crossing effortlessly one of the streams of crystal clear waters issuing out from under this glorious house. We approach these gates with praise in our hearts and on our lips, for the honour and glory of this wonderful privilege. We are here at last! Taking the cue from that beloved Psalm, “We walk about Zion. We go round about her: we tell the towers thereof. We mark well her bulwarks and consider her palaces” (Psa 48:12–13). We reach out and touch the pure white stone of her beautiful structure and know that it is true, absolutely true and real and age abiding! Through the arches we enter the outer court itself, bathed in the glow of God’s glory, and are struck by the wide paved concourse full of worshippers, each face awestruck by its sheer magnificence. We pass through with such a sense of thanksgiving that only the redeemed can express. The inner court beckons, encircling the Most Holy with its curved wall of arches, and notice the ground rising to the elevated altar in the centre. We are passing into the Most Holy Place! In former days we would be speechless at such an auspicious setting, but as immortals we take in the whole vista thronged with such glad company with gladness of eye and joy of heart. This is the great congregation, the assembly of called out ones, the saints of the Most High God where all previous barriers of class and race are nullified in the unity of the Father and the Son. We were one in faith, now we are one, made like unto our Lord’s glorious body, each refined like purged gold. “Who are these, like stars appearing, These before God’s Throne who stand? Each a golden crown is wearing; Who are all this glorious band? … Clad in robes of purest whiteness, Robes whose lustre ne’er shall fade, Ne’er be touched by time’s rude hand” (Hymn 310). Yes, we know who they are. We are part of this glorious band. “Alleluia, hark, we sing, praising loud our heavenly King.” We link arms and hearts and bless the God of our salvation. With one voice we praise His Name, the living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and our God, who only doeth wondrous things, who is so faithful to His covenant and to His promises. We had rehearsed the words so often that Yahweh is good and that His mercy endures forever. That mercy, that ‘chesed’ love had been our comfort in our sojourning. Now it has been the means of transporting us from corruption to incorruptibility, from wrestling with sin to the glorious liberty of the sons of God, from the crushing burden of mortality to being made equal unto the angels.

With songs of adoration

And now we can sing like we’ve never sung before! We gather in the midst of the great congregation; the air is charged with pent-up feelings of excitement. With every breath we can sing the new songs of the redeemed. The songs of immortal voices reverberate around the vast concourse and treasured psalms of praise echo and seem to reach even heaven itself. could ever have laid out a city with such serenity, meeting the needs of so many without any sense of clamour or congestion or busyness. We note the restful atmosphere, the orderliness, every need being admirably met as the travellers prepare for their day in Yahweh’s courts. Perhaps some of our former associates are amongst that happy, excited crowd? We pass on drawn irresistibly to the Sanctuary, beautiful for elevation, the joy of the whole earth. We cross a vast plain and the mountain rises up on all sides bedecked with a magnificent crown: the Temple of Yahweh. As we approach His gates, the vastness and grandeur of this city of palaces far exceeds expectation. Yes, it is a mile square edifice of surpassing excellence, a glorious building of arches and towers surrounding the mountain of Yahweh’s holiness. This is the Tabernacle of the Most High, the place of the soles of His feet, Yahweh’s habitation where He has chosen to place His Name. High above the canopy of divine glory hovers over the great altar, suffusing the courts below with glorious light And now we can sing like we’ve never sung before! We gather in the midst of the great congregation; the air is charged with pent-up feelings of excitement. With every breath we can sing the new songs of the redeemed. The songs of immortal voices reverberate around the vast concourse and treasured psalms of praise echo and seem to reach even heaven itself. Psalms that we had loved to sing, now flow from our hearts and voices with unmatched fervour, the pitch and tone perfect, a rapturous blissful story sung with such perfect melody. We are lifted to heights we had scarcely imagined. The primary focus of our songs of joy and wonder is of course, our Redeemer, the Lamb of God. In vision we had earlier sung, “See the Lamb upon Mount Zion, With the number of the blest! See how Judah’s conquering Lion gives to them his glorious rest! Sweet reward of faithful following” (Hymn 303). In love we had remembered him at the Lord’s table, but now we see him. We see him coming closer and every step fills us with unbounded joy and adoration. The words are on our lips, “Hail, Emmanuel, great Deliverer, thou art worthy of all praise” (Hymn 296). We sing, “thou art worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood” (Rev 5:9). As the Lord enters by way of the east, we feel a ripple of excitement filling the great concourse and a thousand, thousand voices all unite in acclamation, and our pure expression of love for our Lord envelopes him who has died for us. His nail scarred hands reach out to embrace us and though we feel as one amongst so many, yet his personal welcome is felt by such a rapturous throng. His voice and kindly gaze is to us, his friends, his beloved bride. With pure adoration we say, “My beloved is mine, and I am his” (Song 2:16).

The Lord, our Lord leads us in praise to the throne of grace. Here we are in the courts of Yahweh, the royal city, our long, sorrowing pilgrimage is over and we sing, “I will extol thee, my God, O King, and I will bless thy name forever and ever. Ev’ry day I will bless thee, and I will praise thy name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised and His greatness is unsearchable” (Hymn 68).

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!