When Christ Shall Come — A Reprise


No, this is not a reprise of last Friday’s post. This one is just on the same topic. Actually there’s a lot more that I could say, but I think this is a good place to focus our attention for now.
– – – – – –
The position of the Christian today is not so different from that of the Old Testament saints. They waited for the coming of Messiah and we wait for the return of Messiah.

They had God’s promises, given to His prophets, assuring them that their Redeemer King and that their Suffering Servant would come. We have God’s sure written word telling us of the arrival of our Suffering Servant Savior and the promise of His return as King eternal.

So we wait today, much as Daniel and Micah and Joel did.

The cool thing is, as the people of Israel looked back to how God rescued them from Egypt, we now look back to how Christ rescued us from sin and death. They looked forward to Messiah coming to establish His kingdom, and we look forward to His coming again in power and glory to reign supreme.

One of the best loved hymns, certainly of the twentieth century, “How Great Thou Art,” captures the jubilation of Christ’s return in the fourth stanza.

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home—what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, my God, how great thou art!

I wonder if Christ’s return will be similar to the really big earthquakes which you hear at the same time you feel them. Maybe those shouts of acclimation will rend the heavens as we see Christ with His entourage of angels.

As an aside, this particular hymn, was written by Stuart K. Hine, an English missionary to Ukraine. From time to time something would occur which inspired him to write another stanza. Here’s the story behind the third stanza:

It was typical of the Hines to inquire as to the existence of any Christians in the villages they visited. In one case, they found out that the only Christians that their host knew about were a man named Dmitri and his wife Lyudmila. Dmitri’s wife knew how to read — evidently a fairly rare thing at that time and in that place. She taught herself how to read because a Russian soldier had left a Bible behind several years earlier, and she started slowly learning by reading that Bible. When the Hines arrived in the village and approached Dmitri’s house, they heard a strange and wonderful sound: Dmitri’s wife was reading from the gospel of John about the crucifixion of Christ to a houseful of guests, and those visitors were in the very act of repenting. In Ukraine (as I know first hand!), this act of repenting is done very much out loud. So the Hines heard people calling out to God, saying how unbelievable it was that Christ would die for their own sins, and praising Him for His love and mercy. They just couldn’t barge in and disrupt this obvious work of the Holy Spirit, so they stayed outside and listened. Stuart wrote down the phrases he heard the Repenters use, and (even though this was all in Russian), it became the third verse that we know today: “And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in.” (“How Great Thou Art”)

Back to Christ’s return, of course we don’t know the day or hour, but we do know a few things about it. For one, He’ll come to rule. That’s the great and ultimate fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and the New Testament promise.

But there’s more:

Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might,
With His arm ruling for Him.
Behold, His reward is with Him
And His recompense before Him. (Isaiah 40:10)

He’s coming to give His reward. Hard to imagine what that will be like. Jesus used the analogy of a banquet. David also talked about our Shepherd preparing a table for us. The idea here is lavish abundance, provision beyond our means. This is fare fit for the King of Kings, yet He seats us at His table.

Without a doubt, Christ’s return is going to be the pivotal moment in all of history. Again from Isaiah 40:

Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

The event will be worldwide, it will be dramatic, even cataclysmic, but mostly it will reveal God’s glory. This is the Shekinah glory which Moses experienced in a secondary way at the giving of the Ten Commandments and which the people of Israel experienced as a pillar of fire at night. This is the glory Paul likely saw and wrote of in 2 Corinthians that outshines what those in the Old Testament experienced:

But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory. (3:7-11, emphasis added)

OK, here’s the real shock, at least to me. I don’t know what this will look like:

When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Col. 3:4)

It just dawned on me that this may be why God wants to involve us in His work. I’ve wondered why He bothers giving us fallible, weak humans the important task of preaching His word and proclaiming His truth and even of loving our neighbor when obviously God could miraculously care for each one in a far better way than we can. But repeatedly He has given us work to do. Maybe that’s because, in His love for us, He wants to shower us in glory. What a concept! What a God!

Maranatha, Lord Jesus. Come quickly!

This post originally appeared here July 2014.

Published in: on June 18, 2018 at 5:23 pm  Comments Off on When Christ Shall Come — A Reprise  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts About The New Year


happy_new_year_2138227696

I have to admit, when I was a teacher, I rarely saw January 1 as a new beginning. For me, the start of the school year marked the start of another year. Consequently, January 1 was more of an anti-climactic holiday, a Christmas after-thought, noted mostly for the last breather before heading into the long stretch before Easter.

Now that I’m no longer tied to the school calendar, I find myself freed up to think about New Year’s Day in a new way. Frankly, I’m more mystified than anything. In past years I’ve watched on the late news the celebrations summary which recapped the festivities around the world, and I couldn’t help but think, What’s the big deal?

Seriously.

What exactly changes between December 31 and January 1? And why would we think this is something to celebrate?

I know some have said 2017 has to be better than 2016, so there seems to be a note of hope. Of course others are dreading what might come when President-elect Trump takes office and they may despair.

Of course we’d all like to see our personal circumstances move in a positive direction. If we’re healthy, we’d like to stay that way. If we’ve had ailments or illness, we’d like to see better physical well-being. Same with finances or relationships. Wherever we are along the “hope continuum,” we need a Biblical perspective.

Scripture points to One Hope, and only one—the long awaited arrival of the once Suffering Servant, now as the Eternal King. That’s something to hope for, look forward to, be eagerly expectant about.

The New Year? Not so much. In this world I can confidently predict that 2017 will hold political corruption, corporate greed, personal crime. Individuals will steal from friends and from strangers. Gangs will war against each other. Terrorists will plot against people who have no evil intent against them. Addicts will seek another fix and another. Drunk drivers will cause accidents. Husbands will break their vows. Wives will nag their husbands. Children will disobey their parents. And God will be dishonored in any number of ways by any number of people.

So why would we put hope in the passing of one day and the coming of another which we’ve tagged with a different numeral since nothing else has changed? I can only surmise that this idea of hope in a new year, a new President, a new collection of governmental advisers and division heads comes from those who don’t have a sense of what constitutes true Hope. The eternal kind that provides a permanent answer to the human condition.

To be honest, I’m sad for those who look ahead with excitement for the wrong reasons. They have disillusionment waiting for them, and eventually, despair. Would that those of us who know what Hope really is, use 2017 to widely disseminate the truth.

Selfishly I want to say, Maranatha—come quickly, Lord Jesus. Might He return this year? Yet, doesn’t He delay for the very purpose of bringing all those into His family who belong there? I can’t want His return to come a moment earlier than what He has planned. I can want revival in His Church, though, with accompanying testimony to God’s greatness and goodness.

May 2017 be a year in which many come to Christ and in which God’s name is glorified throughout the world, in times of suffering as well as in times of blessing.

This post is an updated version of one that first appeared here in January 2009.

Published in: on December 30, 2016 at 7:05 pm  Comments Off on Thoughts About The New Year  
Tags: , , ,

National Debt And Where It Leaves Us


For years I knew the US government was in debt, but as I understood it, we were in debt to ourselves. Something about selling bonds. I never really paid much attention.

Then one day, I learned we were in debt to China. In deep debt to China. I’m still not sure how that happened, but I suspect China started buying up our bonds.

And now our government is debating how to raise the debt ceiling — something else I don’t really understand. It sounds as if we have to give ourselves permission to go further into debt so as not to default on the debts we already owe.

No one in government seems too concerned about all this. Ho-hum, just another trillion we owe. Now who else needs a hand out or military intervention or bureaucratic oversight?

Oh, sure, there’s been some talk — public manipulation, I think — that social security checks won’t go out unless this mess gets dealt with one way or another. Never mind that social security belongs to the people the government took it from — with the idea that government would make sure (because individual people were too incompetent to do so) the money would be there when we need it.

President Obama’s idea is that the wealthiest one or two percent of Americans ought to pay more into the federal coffers so government can continue spending on all the things they deem important. Good things, many of them. Education and defense. Until recently, space travel. After the fact, levies in New Orleans. Low income housing, unemployment, medicaid and the like.

I understand the thinking here — we have a responsibility to help our neighbors, to care for those least able to care for themselves. It’s a commendable goal.

But here’s the thing. As shown in the 2010 census, the middle class in America is shrinking. The rich are getting way richer, and the poor are multiplying.

Sadly, some of those rich make their money on the backs of the poor and middle class. As an illustration of this point, according to news reports, the executives at Borders — that would be the book chain that has just gone belly up for good — were set to receive sizable bonuses (6.6 million dollars) back in April, even as 6000 employees were out of a job. Whether those bonuses were ever paid, I don’t know, but the rationale was that without that kind of incentive, those top execs (of a failing company!) would head off to greener pastures. In other words, other companies are giving that same kind of lucrative payout to their leadership.

How can this happen?

But here’s where I’m going with this. The government, which is to be the representative of the people in a republic, is all we have in a capitalistic society to keep greedy rich people from taking advantage of those dependent on their products and services.

Clearly our government isn’t doing the job!

Instead, after letting the greedy rich people get richer by merger or by mortgage, the government wants to come along and take a bigger chunk of that money. Honestly, it seems like a protection racket on a grand scale.

Meanwhile, what are entitlements doing to the rest of us? Well, I just heard recently of another creative way some people have learned to scam the system. Others have to be sure not to work too much so they don’t lose their benefits.

So here’s what I wish our government would do — their job! Regulators should regulate so banks aren’t operating like casinos. They should stop the legalized embezzlement (what else would you call someone taking company funds for their own personal use?) in the form of executive bonuses.

But to do this, I think we’d first have to stop the legalized bribery of congressmen by lobbyists. Let’s face it. The biggest job government has right now is to clean itself up!

More bad news (or maybe not) — it’s not going to happen.

So why wouldn’t that be bad news? Because as soon as we realize that government isn’t going to get any better — beyond, perhaps, marginal changes — the sooner we can stop looking to government to be the answer for what confronts us.

Paul says in Philippians

For our citizenship is in heaven from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself (3:20-21).

Then in Colossians, Paul says

Joyously giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son (1:12-13)

Now that’s a kingdom I’m happy to be a part of.

And to think, the Father qualified me. I didn’t have to do a thing.

He rescued me. I couldn’t rescue myself.

He transferred me to the kingdom where His Son is in charge: “In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:14-15a).”

That’s the governmental leader I can trust.

Maranatha.

Published in: on July 27, 2011 at 6:24 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , ,

Happy New Year


I have to admit, as a teacher, I rarely saw January 1 as a new beginning. For me, the start of the school year marked the start of another year. Consequently, January 1 was more of an anti-climactic holiday, a Christmas after-thought, noted mostly for the last breather before heading into the long stretch before Easter.

Now that I’m no longer tied to the school calendar, I find myself freed up to think about New Year’s Day in a new way. Frankly, I’m more mystified than anything. I watched the celebrations summary on the late news which recapped the festivities around the world, and I couldn’t help but think, What’s the big deal?

Seriously.

What exactly changed between December 31 and January 1? And why would we think this is something to celebrate?

I have to say, I’ve sensed a stronger note of hope and expectation in the references to the new year, mostly from members of the media, and I can’t help but wonder if some of this undercurrent of excitement might not be connected with President-elect Obama. The media critiquing the media even notes that he is referred to as a messiah.

Be that as it may, the truth revealed in Scripture points to One Hope, and one only—the long awaited arrival of the once Suffering Servant, now as the Eternal King. That’s something to hope for, look forward to, be eagerly expectant about.

The New Year? Not so much. In this world I can confidently predict 2009 will hold political corruption, corporate greed, personal crime. Individuals will steal from friends and from strangers. Gangs will war against each other. Terrorists will plot against people who have no evil intent against them. Husbands will break their vows. Wives will nag their husbands. Children will disobey their parents. And God will be dishonored in any number of ways by any number of people.

So why would we put hope in the passing of one day and the coming of another with a different numeral attached to it when nothing else has changed? I can only surmise that this idea of hope in a new year, a new President, a new collection of governmental advisers and division heads comes from those who don’t have a sense of what constitutes true Hope. The eternal kind that provides a permanent answer to the human condition.

To be honest, I’m sad for those who today look ahead with excitement for the wrong reasons. They have disillusionment waiting for them, and eventually, despair. Would that those of us who know what Hope really is, use 2009 to widely disseminate the truth.

Selfishly I want to say, Maranatha—come quickly, Lord Jesus. Yet, doesn’t He delay for the very purpose of bringing all those into His family who belong there? I can’t want His return to come a moment earlier than what He has planned. I can want revival in His church, though, with accompanying testimony to God’s greatness and goodness.

May 2009 be a year in which many come to Christ and in which God’s name is glorified throughout the world, in times of suffering as well as in times of blessing.

Published in: on January 1, 2009 at 12:15 pm  Comments (5)  
Tags: , ,