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I TOLD YOU SO!
SERENITY NOT SERENDIPITY
CALLED TO BE SAINTS
MATTHEW 24:23-31 – with reference to Matthew 25
"See, I have told you beforehand!" Matthew 24:25
I TOLD YOU SO! WHO DID ? JESUS THE CHRIST!
Often the harassed feel vindicated when their dire forecasts prove right, and declare with vehemence, venom or simple joy, "I told you so!"
When God tells us, and we ignore it or treat it lightly, and not with words so spoken, but with events themselves sufficiently eloquent, His word echoes in our minds, saying, 'I told you so!' we may inwardly cringe, expatiate on our essential reasonableness without reason, or acknowledge with joy that though we were dumb, His word is clear and works. Responses differ. But the facts remain: whether we respond with a followers joy at His word coming true, or a seceders distress, it is always so. As He says it, so it is.
With Jesus the Christ, He TOLD what He would do, of His death but the disciples could find this hard either to comprehend or to bear in the earlier phases of their association (Luke 9:44-45, Matthew 16:22ff.); though John the Baptist had made it clear from the start (John 1:29) with the eye of faith, though he had to pass through tempests and a violent death.
Understanding came, and with it, greater responsibility for those who were to become apostles, sent to provide the basis in Himself, for the church's next two millenia!
Thus, when Jesus was facing an imminent execution, the best man ever to be on earth, the one who as God became man for man's deliverance, so that man, then as now, could not stand it and sought to hurry Him off stage: then He took certain steps. One was to fill in the comprehension gap in His disciples' minds about what was to come. There would be all the heat and temperature of war and psychic folly, not to mention the meteorological kind (as in Revelation 6, shown further and later through John), as noted in Luke 21. Then there was to be no less, the return of the Jews as in Luke 21:24, the crunching of morals (Matthew 24:12) and the acidification of love left in the winter of contempt (expounded further by Paul in II Timothy 3). This would come before the end, the return of Christ.
But there would be more.
People would begin to believe with all the distortion of which their hearts are capable, in false prophets and false christs. It would come into a culmination, a prodigy, as in Israel of old, and it would reach the point (as it has done, even in Israel) where someone actually claims to be the Messiah. Even the Orthodox in Israel are waiting, we learn in one account of it, for the Messiah; and in this they are right. It is a little distorted, to be sure, since He has already come; but He will indeed come except that it will be in judgment, so that they need to do some adjustment to reality and wait for One already come, who has given His name even to our entire dating system. What is it like ? It resembles a bride waiting for her man at the altar. He comes; she slays him. She remains waiting, and even the gusts consider it rather ghastly. "He has come!" they chant, but she remains by the blood.
Christians - and many of the Jewish race are Christians, not to mention the apostles themselves - also wait by the blood for the Lord; but it is the blood of a sacrifice of which Peter spoke frankly to the Jewish authorities of his day, saying:
"Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge
you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified and put to death;
whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death,
because it was not possible that He should be held by it ..."
Being redeemed by His blood, we await His return, in assessment, in determination of all things for He must be kept, said Peter (Acts 3:19ff.), in heaven "until the times of restoration of all things." That is not yet, but when the culmination of evil shortly appears (Answers to Questions Ch. 5), then this comes; and there is coming and going, for evil and good, for elect and for the damned; and a coming of Christ Jesus the Lord.
I THEIR GOING
It is like time travel, but not so modish, just practical. AS we travel in time more distantly from Him on whom the AD BC dating depends, so do the hearts of men at last, like someone who has had a stroke, recovered, but now wandering in mental turmoil, turn further from Him. False christs and false prophets are now the COMMON ORDER of events, the stark realities, like the cross, except that these, as II Peter 2 shows, with Paul in I Timothy 4, II Timothy 3-4, Romans 16:17ff., are not so stark as dark, fulfilling their own lusts. That is Matthew 24:24 in its message. Of these things Christ told them, so that they would understand the better when these phases grouped themselves into their virulent life, towards the end of the age (Matthew 24:25, Mark 13:23, John 16:1-3).
Thus even now it is just as He said; but the saints of the Lord rejoice, for His words being true, are a comfort, better than the order of natural things, which is limited; for in His word is a staunchness which outlasts this earth (Matthew 24:35), and of what use is anything less ? Indeed, in this lies a serenity, a peace which passes all understanding; for not only is this my Father's world, but when its flag is furled, His righteousness and salvation remain (Isaiah 51:6), past all our time and times, into eternal, and those who are His have another house, another abiding place, with Himself.
It is thus without trouble but with an inward joy that one finds, however sad in themselves these events, their certainty demonstrated, just as He said, on whom all things depend, like it or not, and from whom none can suspend; for His word is truth and His way is sublime and eternal.
What then has come ? It is this.
You have now not only a lurking Romanism (ludicrously misnamed Roman Catholicism, when what is NOT Roman is Catholic, NOT chained to Rome, and what Biblical IS catholic in the normal and proper meaning of the word); and Romanism is in fact riding for a fall, in the imagery of Revelation 17:4,9,16-17 cf. SMR pp., 946ff.. Indeed, Christianity is, IS catholic, since it has no bounds; but Romanism is ready, as always, to assert where able its imaginary divine rights, contrary to Christ (Matthew 23:8-10, I John 2:27).
You have this; but you also have New Age (cf. pp. 867ff.), with its various species of cosmic consciousness, mutual thought and the like, all making way for something ... someone to unify and glorify and grab the power and perform. You have the Emergent Church, like a butterfly becoming a grub once more, and calling it by another name, going backwards in a forward sort of a way, very forward in re-definitions, readable versions that displace truth, man-meddling conversions for a current generation rather than conversion to the unalterable Christ!
You have Islam, using force from the first, in invading Mecca, and subduing it, and keeping it to the last in its militant bastions, inflaming as once the Communists did, various places in weakness or peril with option of take-over, or hope of the same.
You have State-owned Brand (like C of E) Churches, mixed up about morals to the most elementary level, seething towards a split, but not quite managing it; and you have of course, the spiritual secularists, seen coming out of Church on a Sunday with political pronouncements or pallid brow, most religious, or found going to Rome, or coming from some oddball seeming church, depending on which nation you have in mind. These speak as if religious, but in their deeds leave nothing evident in the way of submission to Him, whose word rules and will judge all.
Europe, we read, 'adores' Obama, the new-look American, even if it does not have much in mind it appears, to help in Afghanistan; and the whole world is more and more obviously looking for someone, perhaps a song writer, a public servant, someone sprouting from Brussels, in whom it can put its trust. To such a person (remember Europe in its craze about Gorbie! Gorbie! which they chanted), there is obviously a niche, not a throne merely at hand, but a place of power for all that; and it is, biblically, one to be found or even founded by deception and charm, by persuasiveness and means appropriate (cf. Daniel 11:36ff., 7:25, II Peter 2:1ff.,18ff., Daniel 7:24ff., Revelation 17:8ff. - cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 2 ).
So and in so many similar ways, does the Christian salt, the yeast through the nations, with the lapse of the Protestant British Empire, yield to the downfall, even announced as in the USA recently in a Presidential address, yes and in more than one! What then ? it is now in many nations like the onset of the growing heads, like so many brilliantly coloured toadstools, where mushrooms once were. The impact, however limited in official places, of Jesus Christ is being systematically removed from the nations as they await the post-Hitler, post-Lenin, all-inclusive putsch, not over a nation, but of the world. Thus comes as on call in a stage play, the current move to internationalise finances, this merely being a becoming prelude to its finale in international control of money, this to aid the religious renegacy to find its feet shortly, in the interests of what the Bible calls another beast (Revelation 13:11ff.), the State-touting religious one. It is this one who "exercises all the authority of the first beast, in his presence," as did Hitler's Goebbels.
II HIS COMING
Like a pie in the oven, it comes to its certain crispness: it is done. Yet his is merely this world's side of things. The Maker of it also has His side of things. He comes, but just as before He came NOT TO JUDGE (John 3:17), so now it is to judge, all things in their place and time (cf. Acts 17:30ff.). HOW did He first come ? It was in the mode of invitation. Now rather it is in that of application; for He comes FOR His saints, His elect, and to awaken the world to its plight once more, like a vast spouting of St Helen's or Vesuvius. Is this second coming of the Messiah a process ? Not at all. Does it gradually find its place amid a nicely conforming world, bent on Christ, Jesus Christ ? Far from it. Let us who can read, read it, in Matthew 24:25-27.
First, we learn what it is NOT going to be. It is nothing to do with going into the desert, with Islam for example, or any other religious luminary, or into an inner room or sanctuary as with Romanism, which seeks to have a Last Supper where Christ IS the bread, so that suicide would be portended, while it manages 'mysteries', while it would rule the hearts of men by its Unam Sanctam, and much more would it rule besides. Nor is it some New Age communion or communication in some spirit or manner of consciousness internationally, that He comes. It is none of these. Nor is it some visitation to be seen in a stadium, specially built or other, as with the JWs. It is far different.
DO NOT BELIEVE any such thing! says Christ of such categories of inner and outer (Matthew 24:23). That is an ORDER! Be deceived at your own peril then!
Positively therefore what is it like, His coming ? It is like lightning that flashes from East to West, He declares (Matthew 24:27). It is no trend or processive development as some amillenialists might like. On the contrary, it is highly impactive, staggeringly fast, an episode, an event, a culminating direct action of force like the creation. Like the crucifixion, it is ONE occurrence, ONCE imprinted by God on the race, and the coming of "the Son of Man", the incarnate God who died that man might live, is more a matter of mourning than rejoicing (Revelation 1), except of course for those who are praying, Lord Jesus, Come quickly! for those who are His, who await His coming as the first generation of Christian people awaited that.
His coming at the first ? it was as a babe: it was there, single. This His second, it also is to be there: single and singular. Like lightning it is a flashing impact, and then it is gone: and so are those whom He calls (Matthew 24:36ff.). It is as simple as that. There is a residue and even before that moment, there is preliminary enough.
III COMING EVENTS: THE PUNITIVE AND DIDACTIC DISORDER
Consider Matthew 24:29-30. It is apparent that there is a chronological sequence. FIRST there is an astronomical, a cosmic confusion as the Lord looses some of the legal bonds which control His creation, the universe, with something like asteroid activity as seems also in view in Revelation 8:8-10. Such developing disorder teaches a practical lesson to those who imagine a null source for the intensity of the immensity of the universe. In fact, it is girt with changeless laws and massive beauty with its galaxies of billions of stars, spiralling in beauty, colourful in character, various in disposition such as being more spherical or more elliptical or having arresting forms and features that delight the eye, resistant to any idea of self-development (starting logically of course from nothing since without God for ever you have to have nothing, which is not productive, and with God for ever you have to have faith or try swimming the Atlantic without boat).
But what does it teach them ? It shows them that just as the body is run superbly, by DNA specifications of the most intricate brilliance in directive language of a code superb in construction, magnificent in continuity, glorious in conception, fascinating in perception, similar is the glory of the heavens; and when He who has balanced it and wrought it and taught it its ways of wonder and its laws which it invariantly keeps, shows His anger, then what better way for this world than to show what it would BEGIN to be like if He had not made it with such a splendour of control in the first place!
Here comes the punitive disorder, the deliberate derangement, the anatomisation of scepticism, by letting the reins go slack, just a little for a little while. This proceeds till only the most hardened flesh can continue unrepentant (cf. Revelation 9:20); but it does not repent, and its sexual licence is merely the more obvious part of its spiritual isolationism, from God who made it. This occurs, as Matthew 24:29-30 shows, at least in part, BEFORE Christ, the Son of Man, comes for His elect, the angels gathering. Here is then ...
IV THE ULTIMATE SEPARATION
Many have refused to separate from their squalid spiritual plagues, kept in 'churches' more like 'synagogues of Satan' (cf. Revelation 2:9, 3:9), stayed where flesh rots and spirit flees (cf. II Peter 2, Jude). But there is a coming SEPARATION which the Lord Himself will enact, and His elect will indeed be now separated with all the common simplicity of two being in a bed, and one taken, one left, two in a field, with the same sundering. Not for ever does unspirituality lie with what is spiritual, ungodliness with what is godly (as confirmed in Jude's famous coverage in Jude 15, with 4 scathing notations in one verse!). Now there is a vacancy, not in heaven as when the Word of God became man, but on the earth, where the children of God become resurrected! (cf. Isaiah 26:19, I Cor. 15:57ff.).
It is finished; but not for this earth. It writhes in the absence of its salt. It contorts in the viciousness of its ultimate in unrepose. It arises to confront God and the Lamb, which is but a little advance on its present international posture (cf. Rev. 19:19); and it is smitten. Reality always smites in the end, the unrealists, the spiritual vacationists, the separationists FROM God: who WILL not separate FOR Him!
In all this, Israel continues to His coming as promised (Matthew 24:34), and despite the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in AD 70, the persecutions of the Romanist Inquisition (not directed only against biblical Christians by any means), the squalor of Russian pogroms, of Italian rampaging, the multiple squashings from Europe, the pinnacle of Hitler's highly systematic Jew-annihilation program: it remains. It throws the contempt of God at its persecutors, for though Israel has not AS A NATION yet come back to the Lord whom it pierced (as foretold 500 years before He WAS pierced, and some 2500 years before they will realise what they did nationally), nevertheless God is on record. He WILL SEND HIS SPIRIT in His time (Zech. 12:10), and they WILL realise and repent, and He WILL overthrow their enemies most vigorously, who DARE to molest what He has appointed, even though He has as predicted, disciplined them Himself, severely (foretold in Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 32,Micah 7).
In that day, a separation will also occur in Israel, and soon the WHOLE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (not the deceptive, deluded pretensions to it), will be removed, and the nations and the peoples will find there is to come an itemised, a particularised judgment which spares nothing, as in Matthew 25. However, grace always efficient, will be most proficient; for He hides through His sacrificial sin offering of Himself, the sins of His saints, but remembers those of the renegades who rebelled even against the mercy of the Cross. That lost, there is nothing but judgment to face. THAT found there is nothing but mercy to expect.
It is so simple, this salvation, and so glorious, and how will anyone ever expect to escape without it (Hebrews 2:1-3 expatiates on this!). Be prepared, for He is near to His coming (Luke 21:25-28). Be at peace in Him, with a spiritual serenity which this world does not, because it cannot know; and rejoice in the Lord and give thanks for His goodness, for even now, anyone calling by faith on His name, as He is and taking His work for salvation, as it is, confessing Him with the lips and believing in the heart that God raised Him from the dead, even Him who came from heaven and returned there ... TILL He comes, will be saved.