The Great Hope (Condensed)


Chapter 9—Real Hope

The promise of Christ's second coming to complete the great work of redemption is the keynote of the Sacred Scriptures. From Eden, the children of faith have waited the coming of the Promised One to bring them again to the lost Paradise. GrH_c 38.1

Enoch, the seventh in descent from them that dwelt in Eden, who for three centuries walked with God, declared, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all.” Jude 14, 15. Job in the night of affliction exclaimed, “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:... in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.” Job 19:25-27. The poets and prophets of the Bible have dwelt on the coming of Christ in words glowing with fire. “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad ... before the Lord: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.” Psalm 96:11-13. GrH_c 38.2

Said Isaiah: “It shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” Isaiah 25:9. GrH_c 38.3

The Saviour comforted His disciples with the assurance that He would come again: “In my father's house are many mansions.... I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go,... I will come again, and receive you unto myself.” “The Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations.” John 14:2, 3; Matthew 25:31, 32. GrH_c 38.4

Angels repeated to the disciples the promise of His return: “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11. And Paul testified: “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Said the prophet of Patmos: “Behold he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.” Revelation 1:7. GrH_c 38.5

Then the long-continued rule of evil shall be broken: “The kingdoms of this world” will become “the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 11:15. “The Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” Isaiah 61:11. GrH_c 38.6

Then the peaceful kingdom of the Messiah shall be established: “The Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord.” Isaiah 51:3. GrH_c 38.7

The coming of the Lord has been in all ages the hope of His true followers. Amid suffering and persecution, the “appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” was the “blessed hope.” Titus 2:13. Paul pointed to the resurrection to take place at the Saviour's advent, when the dead in Christ should rise, and together with the living be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. “And so,” he said, “shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17, 18. GrH_c 38.8

On Patmos the beloved disciple heard the promise, “Surely I come quickly,” and his response voices the prayer of the church, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:20. GrH_c 38.9

From the dungeon, the stake, the scaffold, where saints and martyrs witnessed for the truth, comes down the centuries the utterance of their faith and hope. Being “assured of His personal resurrection, and consequently of their own at His coming, for this cause,” says one of these Christians, “they despised death, and were found to be above it.”1 The Waldenses cherished the same faith. Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin, Knox, Ridley, and Baxter* looked in faith for the Lord's coming. Such was the hope of the apostolic church, of the “church in the wilderness,” and of the Reformers. GrH_c 38.10

Prophecy not only foretells the manner and object of Christ's second coming, but presents tokens by which men are to know when that day is near. “There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars.” Luke 21:25. “The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” Mark 13:24-26. The revelator thus describes the first of the signs to precede the second advent: “There was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.” Revelation 6:12. GrH_c 39.1

The Saviour foretold the state of backsliding that would exist just prior to His second advent. For those living at this time, Christ's admonition is: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Luke 21:34, 36. GrH_c 39.2