The Coming of the Lord, and its Practical Effect on Us.

1919 209 In Genesis 3 when the Lord God, after Adam's disobedience, came down in His marvellous mercy and grace, and called to him in the garden, He speaks not a word of restoration to Adam, but in the judgment pronounced on the serpent, to the serpent He speaks of the coming Seed of the woman who should bruise his head. And this in the hearing of Adam and his wife. Here it is in vers. 15 that we have the first prophecy of the coming of Christ.

No doubt there is a reference to the rising of the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings, to hold the reins of government for God. Here we see the Seed of the woman, with His own heel bruised, bruising the serpent's head. The head is the seat of intelligence, and he will be completely suppressed. Defeated at the cross, but permitted now for a while access to heaven,and affecting this earth for evil by his angels, the Lord will presently make manifest how entire His defeat of Satan is when He bruises him under the saints' feet. That time is yet future, and I 0nly mention it because the putting down of the power of evil is wrapped up in the coming of Christ. Yet how the church for the most part has lost the lively expectation of Christ's coming and kingdom, when He shall judge the living and the dead, saying like the evil servant in the parable, "My Lord delayeth His coming" and in consequence has so got mixed with the world that, instead of being a light bearer, it has become, as it were, submerged. This, then, is the first mention, of the coming of the Man Christ Jesus into this world that Man Whom God hath laid power on, and Who will effect everything for God's glory, and suppress all lawlessness.

And we want this afternoon to see how we may be suitable in our lives to that coming — may live as if in it at the present moment our "whole spirit and soul and body being preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." "Faithful is He that called you, Who also will do it." The coming of the Lord is one subject, yet marked by distinct periods. There was His coming when He was cut off and had nothing. There was no room for Him here, but God's appreciation was seen in raising Him up from the dead and giving Him glory. His first advent was in humiliation; the second is divided into two halves. He breaks His journey (so to speak) in the air to take His own out of the scene on which the wrath of God will be poured out. I want to show you the effect of this on the character of a convert's soul. The effect it had on the dear saints at Thessalonica made them the talk of all around, so that Paul had no need to say anything about them. I've no doubt they were little instructed at first, for 2 Thess. 4 was written for their and our instruction, encouragement and comfort. But read 2 Thess. 1:3: "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of God and our Father," and connect it with verse 9 and 10 "Ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, our Deliverer from the coming wrath," as it should read, for the wrath has not descended yet, though it is revealed from heaven. You see the earnestness which marked them then. When converted they turned to God from all they had been brought up in. If that is not true of every converted soul, it is because the gospel is not properly preached, or man's mind takes the place of God's word.

"Work of faith." If you turn to Rev. 2:2, where the Lord is seen walking among the candlesticks and addressing the Ephesians who had reached their climacteric in the epistle we read last week, you will find "work," but no mention of faith; "labour," but not connected with love; "patience," but not of hope. "Patience of hope" is the coming of the Lord. Now if all is not done with the motive principle of love, from God and to God, it is not acceptable to Him. It is not much noise and rustling hither and thither, but that which is faithfully carried out in love to Him that He values, a burning desire for Christ continually dwelling in the heart, and Christ formed there. I want these times together to be practical in our lives. It is now that we need Rom. 8, not when we are in the glory. If these things are not made our own in the power of the Spirit, we are not really "possessing" what belongs to us.

In the Old Testament the Lord's coming is looked at as one. The sufferings and the glory are connected together throughout. Take Zech. 9 for instance: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy King cometh unto thee" he is just and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass." But in Matt. 21 where it is fulfilled, "having salvation" is left out, for He was the Rejected One then.

Take Isa. 61 When the Lord says "Today is this scripture fulfilled in your ears," He leaves off in the middle of a sentence. There is already an interval of 1,900 years between the accomplishment of the two parts of that sentence — a great interval in the midst of that "coming". In Daniel 9 we get his vision of the "Seventy weeks" of years. The sixty-ninth week was completed when the Lord rode into Jerusalem, and there remained the last week still to be fulfilled. But we are not in that period at all; we are in the church period, which is without times and seasons (1 Thess. 5).

His sufferings and glory are put together in the Old Testament, and when the blessed Lord came, so opaque was the darkness that they would not have Him. Darkness comes from a root word meaning "deviation," — they had departed from God Who is the Light. The darkness in John 1. is moral, and so opaque that there was not a thought for God. He had looked down in Ps. 14 and Ps. 53, and found "not one that doeth good." Then when He put man under a law, man took the responsibility before God had finished what He was going to say, so fond is man of taking responsibility. No one, if you take the best, at the best moment of their lives, will do for God. We can only stand before God in what He is to us — grace. The Lord wants us to be like Joshua, when he said:

If the Lord delight in us all these troubles are nothing; so if we are standing consciously in grace we can glory in tribulations also, depending on His (not taking us out of them, but) lifting us over them in the power of the Spirit. He indwells us; He has come to glorify Christ. There is the work of Christ on the cross, divinely perfect" we start there, and nothing can alter it, but there is a work going on in us too. Sanctification means "set apart for God." He must have something worthy of Himself if He is to take pleasure in it.

"For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For ye are our glory and joy" (1 Thess. 2:19-20). Paul, who was so beside himself to God, so sober-minded to those around, was in the mind of God about these saints, to see them in the glory of Christ at His coming. If we are to live to His pleasure, we must live in obedience. Separation marks the whole Bible; it is a divine principle; and from all evil. Enoch and Noah were separated from all contrary to God, or He could not have walked with them. God abominates mixture and won't have it. If we are going to live for His pleasure, and come out in those garments of righteousness of Rev. 19 those garments must be woven and made now. And Paul laboured with this in view. "The love of Christ constraineth us because we thus judge that if One died for all, then were all dead." Man's probation came to an end at the cross of Christ, and all flesh proved to be worthless, and without standing before God. "Then were all dead." If you want Him as your Substitute you must receive Him in your heart. "All dead." Then he distinguishes "those who live," who "should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again."

Now turn to Deut. 24:5. I have read this to show the place the church has in Christ's heart. You know the comfort Isaac had when Rebekah was brought to him (Gen. 24). It is typical of the church's presentation to Christ (Eph. 5:27). She receives all the beauty of Christ in her adornment, and she elects to go to Isaac. The camel is not a clean animal. It chews the cud, but it does not divide the hoof. The servant is a type of the office of the Holy Spirit conducting the church through the wilderness to meet the Lord. We are like the camels, we have bodies that connect us with the earth, but we have a power with us that leads us onward.

Sarah stands for Israel. Sarah's death (Gen. 23) represents Israel as nationally dead during the calling out of the church to be the heavenly bride of the risen Christ (Gen. 24). There is a bill of divorcement against Israel now, but she will be the bride again as we see in the Song of Solomon. She is there awakened by the death of Christ for her — the myrrh (speaking of suffering) on His hand when He put it in to open the door. Then Isa. 53 will come out in its reality for her, as now it is true for us. When we read it, it ought to bring out a soul-tearfulness in us.

And as Isaac was comforted by Rebekah after Sarah's death, so the church is given to Christ by way of comfort, and is formed by those taken out from Jews and Gentiles; and gets to know, through a pathway of suffering, a greater knowledge of God than any other "family" in heaven or earth.

Now here in Deuteronomy we find one not going out to war for a year. It sets before us the interval after the rapture and the delight of Christ in His church, for He does not come out as warrior in Rev. 19. till after the marriage of the Lamb. He is hidden and delighting in His church while the vials of wrath are being poured out. He is in the Father's house in ecstasy of joy. Then when He does go out to war we shall go with Him to judge even angels. In Daniel 7 you see thrones, but no occupants. In Rev. 20 the occupants of those thrones have judgment given unto them. Surely they should now have intelligence to put aside everything contrary to Him! R.E.C.