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by Robert Neighbour
Seeing Christ in Revelation
There is one outstanding note which seems to carry the whole message, epitomized, of the Book of Revelation. It is found in the twenty-second chapter, and the seventh to the twelfth verses. This is the expression of those verses: "Behold, I come quickly."
In the twentieth verse there is a similar expression, "Surely I come quickly." And the response is given, "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
The Book now closes, and with it the Bible with its last message, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."
The effort of some to put the Book of Revelation far back in the history of Israel, or of the Church, is an absurdity. From the fourth chapter on the outstanding theme is, "Behold, I come," and the message as a whole gathers around the detailed events relative to that corning.
1. The next great event in all prophecy is nothing less than the Coming of Christ for His saints . Sometimes the saints grow weary in waiting and worn in watching for Christ's Return, to take them home to Himself. There is so much of sin and of sorrow about us; there is so much of suffering and of shame, that we long to see Him. The truth is we have a right to expect His Return. He said: "Behold, I come quickly"; and "quickly" He will come. When the hour of our upgoing strikes, His Coming will indeed be quick. It is "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" that the dead will be raised, and that we shall all be changed.
2. The one passion of the believer should be his Lord's Return. "When Christ said, "Surely, I come quickly," we reply, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." There is a yearning for Christ to come in the heart of every true believer. We want to meet the One who died for us. There is a longing in our hearts to greet Him. If, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus" does not voice the prayer of your heart, you should examine the reason why. We are commanded to watch for Him as one who watches for the morning. We are told to live looking for that blessed hope. We should be patiently waiting the hour of His Return, even as the husbandman waiteth for the harvest of his planting. We should long for Him as one who is in darkness longs for the light.
Perhaps, in no hour of the world's history has the midnight cry, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh," been sounded forth as it is sounded today. Perhaps, never before since Christ went away have so many saints been turning their faces upward in anticipation of His Second Advent.
The Second Coming of Christ seems to be the consuming passion of the orthodox wing of the Church. If Christ said: "I come quickly," surely we may at least once reply, "Come, Lord Jesus."
3. The Lord's Return is to the believer as the rising of the morning star. Twice in the Book of Revelation does the Morning Star appear. Once, Christ Himself says: "I am * * the Bright and Morning Star." Again, He says: "I will give him the Morning Star." The promise was made of old that a star should arise out of Jacob. The Bethlehem Star did shine forth, acknowledging Christ's birth, at His first advent to the earth. The Morning Star is yet to arise.
The signs of the Lord's Return grow more significant every hour. Before our very eyes the prophesied end-time scenes are rolling by. Surely, the Coming One will come and will not tarry.
I. BEHOLD THE ONE ONCE DEAD BUT ALIVE AGAIN (Revelation 1:18 )
To John, in the moment of his fear, came the words, "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore." Let us never think again of Christ as of One deceased. He is not dead, but liveth.
1. The Risen Christ is the life and inspiration of His Church. We firmly believe that if our Lord had never been raised from the dead the Church had never been born. We likewise believe that if some one should arise at this late hour and prove that the resurrection was a farce, and that the One born of the virgin is dead as others die, we believe that then the Church could not survive the shock and continue to live.
The Church began its message under the power of a Risen Lord. It was the resurrection of Christ that begat them again unto a lively hope. Therefore, if Christ be not risen, we would be of all men the most miserable. Our faith would immediately become folly. Our witness would be wicked. Our hope would be vain.
Christ lives and will prevail,
His promise cannot fail,
I follow in His trail
2. The Risen Christ robs the grave of its gloom. No saint is afraid to die when he realizes that death is but the entrance to the life elysian. No trusting saint dreads the future, the life beyond the tomb. He. knows that Christ is there. He knows that the Christ of his earth life, will be the Christ of his future life. He knows that the One who led him here, will lead him there.
The grave holds nothing but darkness and dismal despair to the man who knows not God. Such an one is afraid to live and more afraid to die. Death, even during life, stands before him specter like and foreboding. To the believer Christ says; "I have tasted death, I have met thine enemy, I have taken out his fangs, I have in My hand the keys of death and of hell."
II. BEHOLD CHRIST IN THE MIDST OF HIS CHURCHES (Revelation 1:13 )
Had Christ remained dead, He could not be the Living One, walking in the midst of His Churches.
1. Christ knows. To each of His Churches He says, "I know." He knows our work, our labor, our love. He knows everything that concerns us as a Church, and everything that concerns us as a church member.
In the Church at Ephesus, He saw much of labor, much of faithfulness, but He saw a lack of love. In the Church at Smyrna, He saw her tribulation and her poverty. He saw, also, that in her number there were some who were of the synagogue of Satan.
In the Church at Pergamos, He saw that she dwelt where Satan has his seat. He saw, also, that she had not denied His Name. There was one thing, however, which He saw, and that was that the Church had some there who held the doctrine of Balaam, and who were given to world-mixing.
In the Church of Thyatira He saw her service and love and faith and patience, and yet, He saw that she was under the sway of the wicked Jezebel, who was seducing her into unholy relationships.
Thus He still knows what is going on in the Churches. He knows that many have a name to live and are dead. He knows that others have not put out from their fellowship those who say they are saints, but are servants of Satan, wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
2. Christ aids. Christ walks in the midst of the Churches to be their strength. He is there, as one girded for service. He is there in the beauty of His holiness, His feet are of brass, His voice as the sound of many waters. He is in His Church wielding His two-edged sword. His face shines as the sun, demonstrating the unapproachable glory of His Deity.
III. BEHOLD CHRIST WORSHIPED (Revelation 5:12-66.5.13 )
We have before us a vision of unspeakable grandeur.
1. Behold the All-conquering Christ. The Father is described in Revelation 5:1-66.5.14 , as holding in His hand a Book which no man in Heaven, or in earth, or under the earth, was able to look upon, or to open. That Book contained the title deeds of earth and its kingdoms. It also contained the judgment by which that kingdom was to be obtained. John wept much when there were found none to open it.
Then, one of the elders said unto him: "Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the Book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." As John turned, seeking the. Lion, he saw a Lamb as it had been slain, Thus, we behold Christ as the mighty Root of David, and Lion of Judah, crowned with glory and power, even as the Lamb of Calvary.
Thank God, that a Lamb on the. Cross is the symbol of power and might. As the slain Lamb, He met principalities and powers and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it!
2. Behold the All-worshiped Christ. Revelation 5:9 begins the description of Heaven's magnificat to the Lamb. They are ascribing Him as worthy to open the Book because He was slain; and because, through the Blood of His Cross, He had redeemed saints to God out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation.
It is at this juncture that we hear the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the voice of the living ones and of the eiders. The number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands. They were saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing."
Praise ye the Lord!
Oh, praise Him all ye angels!
Praise ye the Lord! praise Him ye sons of men,
Praise ye the Lord forever, sound forth your glad Amen,
IV. BEHOLD THE LAMB JUDGING (Revelation 6:16-66.6.17 )
The world, and even the Church has refused to recognize the Lamb judging. There are many left, who do believe the Bible. However, there is not as much proclamation of the wrath of the Lamb, as there should be. The whole body of the Book of Revelation centers in the voices, the thunders, the lightnings, the earthquakes, and the judgments, which will fall upon the sons of men during the time of the great tribulation.
There is the story of the seals, of the trumpets, and of the vials, These all set forth the wrath of God beginning, intensified, and in its completion. The picture is one of the darkest in the Bible. It culminates in the story, Divinely written, of the great battle of Armageddon and of Christ coming forth to war, riding upon the white horse. He comes treading out the wine press of the fierceness of the wrath of the Lord God Almighty.
It is folly indeed to say, Peace, where there is no peace; and to proclaim that there is no judgment, with a God of love. At this moment the earth is rushing headlong into its darkest hour. The antichrist will soon be manifested, and the world will tremble under the power of His rule. All men will be forced to receive his mark, and to carry the number of his name. Added to this, the Lord Himself will send forth His judgments:
The rumbling throes of thunder, now, I hear,
The lightnings flash athwart a dark'ning sky;
The throne of God prepares, His wrath draws nigh,
The wicked tremble as they crouch in fear;
They cry unto the mountains and the rocks
To fall upon them. See! they seek to hide
Within the caves and dens on ev'ry side:
The earth reels to and fro with earthquake shocks,
The great day of His wrath hath come at last;
The seals are broken, and the trumpets sound;
The "vial" judgments on the earth abound,
The nations quail, the mighty stand aghast;
While, in the air, above earth's surge and swell,
The saints, in peace, with Christ, translated dwell.
V. BEHOLD THE REWARDS OF THE LAMB (Revelation 11:18 )
Our Scripture says that the time of the rewards of saints is come.
1. When is the time when Christ will give out His rewards? In this Scripture we find it during the period of tribulation. As the wrath upon earth is reaching its height, up in the skies, far above the earth, the saints are about to enter into their rewards.
The expression, the judgment seat of Christ, is well known to believers. We are taught that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the things done in the body. If we would know when we must appear, in addition to our. Scripture text for today, we may well read Revelation 22:12 . "Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me."
Christ cannot give His rewards now to saints, because the service of saints and the fruitage of their faith, and works, has not yet reached its completion. He will reward us when He comes. Paul said: "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day." That day is when He comes.
Peter, in the Spirit, wrote to the preachers, saying: "Feed the flock of God * *. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory."
If we desire a crown of glory,
Be ready now His Cross to bear,
If we desire to share His reigning,
We must His suff'ring also share;
Press toward the mark that lies before,
The mark of His upcalling;
Then when we reach the other shore,
We'll have no fear appalling.
2. Let us labor that we may stand approved of Him. This life becomes far more earnest as we think of it in its relationship to the life to come. We are saved by grace to be sure; yet, every one of us should take heed how we build, how we live, what we believe, and what we do. Everything in the believer's life will come before him again at the Bema, when he receives according to the things that he hath done in his body. What marvelous possibilities of gain or loss! Let us weigh each word. Consider each act, and thought of this present life in the light of the Judgment Seat of Christ.
VI. BEHOLD THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB (Revelation 19:6-66.19.9 )
1. A time of great rejoicing. Our text says: "Let us be glad and rejoice, * * for the marriage of the Lamb is come." This verse is preceded by the statement, "A voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye His servants, and ye that fear Him, both small and great." Then there follows a still more marvelous statement: "And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
With what consummate joy, and with what thunderings of praise will we go unto the Marriage of the Lamb. All the sorrows and the sighs, all the toil and the trouble of earth will fade before that revelation of glory and of gladness, as the dew of the night, fades before the rising of the morning sun.
2. A time of giving honor to the Lamb. He will, in fact, be the center of our joy and rejoicing. It will be no matter of a formal congratulation to the Bridegroom and His Bride, It will be the rending of the Heaven with the voices of praise.
There is a little verse in Isaiah where it says; "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied."
The Wife of the Lord will have made Herself ready. She will be arrayed in the garments which the Bridegroom has given to Her, Her raiment will also be those acts of the saints, which have brought honor and glory to His Name. Oh, how we love Him, and how we adore Him, and how we will give honor and glory unto Him, when we shall see Him as He is!
3. A time of glorious feasting. The angel said to John: "Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the Marriage Supper of the Lamb." There was a time at another supper when the Lord girded Himself with a towel, and washed His disciples' feet. We wonder, at this marvelous supper, what wonderful service the Lamb, the Bridegroom, will render toward the Bride. That supper is announced as "the true sayings of God."
VII. BEHOLD CHRIST MAKING ALL THINGS NEW (Revelation 21:5 )
1. The former things will have passed away. Everything that had to do with the curse will have gone forevermore. A voice out of Heaven will proclaim, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is 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."
Sin drove us from the presence of the Lord. Redemption brought us back to God, and gave us the right of fellowship with Him. However, we see not yet the glorious consummation of the Cross. It is not until all things are new; it is not until the first Heaven and the first earth have passed away; and the new Heaven and the new earth appear: it is not until we are dwelling with God in that new Heaven: it is not until then, that God shall wipe away all tears from all eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.
2. The new things will have appeared. The first great and glorious "new thing" is the vision of the Lamb's Wife. This begins in the ninth verse of our chapter. He said: "Come hither, I will shew thee the Bride, the Lamb's Wife." Then He showed him that great City, the Holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God.
The description of that City with its great walls and gates, with its streets and its river with its fruit trees is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.
3. The Father and the Lamb will be the center of it all. There was no temple in the City of God, for the Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb are the Temple of it. There was no need of the sun, neither of the moon to lighten the City; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the Light thereof. The City has "the Throne of God and of the Lamb," and His servants shall serve Him.
Fruit trees everywhere,
Flowers fresh and fair
Perfumes sweet and rare
Where the river flows:
Love reigns all supreme,
Peace both pure, serene,
Joy a crystal stream,
Where the river goes.
Revelation is God's final masterpiece in the presentation of Christ. Somewhere I have read of an artist who was falsely accused and unjustly thrown into prison. His jailers allowed him his brush and paints but he had no canvas. The man had not the appearance of a criminal. His sensitive, delicate face spoke of higher things. One day a student of human nature was passing through the prison and seeing the man said to him; "Friend, you do not have the look of a criminal. Why, may I ask, are you here?"
"I am here awaiting trial, but I have been unjustly accused."
"Is there any small service I could do for you?" asked the stranger.
"Yes," said the prisoner, "I am an artist. I would to God I had a sheet of canvas."
The stranger looked about and could find nothing but an old soiled napkin. Pushing it through the bars, he said: "This is the best I can do: see if you can paint a picture upon it."
The artist fastened the napkin to the wall of his cell and began to paint upon it the face of Jesus. He labored upon it faithfully, and every day the touch of his brush brought out more wonderfully the radiant face of the Christ. It later became one of the world's famous paintings of the Master's face and was hung high on a cathedral wall that the reverent gaze of the thousands might fall upon it.
Yes, it is a truth; there is no life so soiled and debased but that from it the image of Christ will shine if only the Holy Spirit, the Divine Artist, may have His way with it. And as I recall the story the thought comes to me, that if a poor artist could take an old soiled rag and so make it glow with the loveliness of Jesus that thousands have bowed reverently before it, what might not the glorious Christ do with my life if it were but placed in His hands? His own likeness He could, indeed, reproduce in me. W. E. Biederwolf.
the Second Week of Advent