The Medical Missionary, vol. 14

The Medical Missionary, Vol. 14 (1902)

1902

January 1902

“Studies in the Gospel Message. The Hope of the Promise” The Missionary Magazine 14, 1.

EJW

E. J. Waggoner

When Paul stood before Agrippa, to answer for his faith, he briefly stated the chief experiences of his life, and than said: “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers, unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come.... why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead? Acts 26:6-8. MISM January 1902, page 14.1

From this it is evident that the promise of God to the fathers, in which Paul, to gether with all faithful Israelites, had hope, was the promise of the resurrection from the dead. In 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, as well as other passages, the Apostle Paul tells us plainly that the resurrection of the dead takes place at the coming of the Lord. Therefore we know that the promise of God to the fathers was the promise of His coming, and that this was the hope of the people of God from the earliest times. MISM January 1902, page 14.2

This is corroborated by the words of Peter in the third chapter of his second epistle: “There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” This shows that the scoffers know of a promise made to the fathers, but do not believe there is any prospect of its fulfilment. MISM January 1902, page 14.3

The writings of the apostle Paul are especially full of references to the Lord’s coming. Some critics have referred to this in somewhat the same manner as the scoffers mentioned by Peter. For, say they, Paul thought that Christ was coming in his day, and he came not, and there is no more evidence that he will ever come. Such talk, however, discredits the entire Bible; for the prophecies of the Old Testament and the Psalms abound with anticipation of that most joyful event. A careful study of the prophecies will enable one to see that the near coming of the Lord has been the blessed hope of God’s people in every age since the fall, and that in this they were justified by the Lord himself. MISM January 1902, page 14.4

From the time that Eden was lost, its restoration at the coming of the Lord has been the one thing set before men. The prophecies are so full of it that the disciples firmly expected it when they recognized Jesus as the promised Messiah. So they asked him after his resurrection, “Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” He did not tell them that that was a vain hope, but said, “It is not for you to know the times and the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” And a little later on Peter spoke with confidence of t he coming of Christ; saying, “Whom the heavens must receive until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the mouth of his holy prophets which have been since the world began.” MISM January 1902, page 15.1

This restoration “at the first began to be spoken by the Lord” himself, before Adam and Eve left the garden; for God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.” The bruising of the head of the serpent, that is, the destruction of Satan, means the end of sin, so here we have the promise of the new earth wherein dwelleth righteous ness. MISM January 1902, page 15.2

In all the early prophecies of Christ’s coming, the event alone was mentioned, without any reference to the time of it. So Enoch, “the seventh from Adam,” seeing the prevailing wickedness, said, “Behold the Lord cometh with ten thou sands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all.” And his faith in that event was so strong and practical, that by it he was translated without seeing death, as thousands will be when the Lord comes. God is not partial, and the fact that Enoch was translated shows that every man living on the earth at that time m ight have been translated, if he had had the same faith. That is, the Lord would have come in the days of Enoch, if the world had been ready to receive him. MISM January 1902, page 15.3

We pass over several hundred years, to the days of Abraham, who was preeminently the father to whom the promises were made. The promise was that he should be the heir of the world (Romans 4:13), yet God “gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on; yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession,” even “an everlasting possession.” Acts 7:5; Genesis 17:8. This manifestly involves the resur rection, since God cannot lie; and Abraham so understood it, for he died in faith, looking for a heavenly country, and a “city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:10, 16. MISM January 1902, page 15.4

In making the covenant with Abraham, and promising to give him the land, God said that his seed should be afflicted in a strange land for four hundred years. “But thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace: thou shalt be buried in a good old age. And in the fourth generation they shall come hither again, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” Here we have the first time prophecy concerning the coming of the Lord. If Israel had been faithful to the trust commi tted to them, the resurrection would speedily have taken place on their deliverance from Egypt. Psalm 81:13-15. For Moses was born about the time of the promise which God sware to Abraham; and the oath of God to Abraham was that all his enemies, including of course the last one, death, should be destroyed. MISM January 1902, page 15.5

But Israel did not believe, and so did not enter in, and therefore God spoke by David of “another day,” saying, “To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” For hundreds of years the promise was open, and the Lord would have come any day that the consecration and faithfulness of his people had prepared the world for His coming. MISM January 1902, page 16.1

It was this “blessed hope” of the Lord’s coming that in every age cheered the hearts of the few faithful ones who were looking for it. It was this hope that was Job’s anchor in the overwhelming sea of trouble that threatened to sweep him away, for he said: “I know that my Re deemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” An d again, “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.” MISM January 1902, page 16.2

David, full of joyful hope, said: “Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth; the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved; he shall judge the people righteously. Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice 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. MISM January 1902, page 16.3

Isaiah, with burning lips, said: “O that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the moun tains might flow down at thy presence, as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence.... For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, besides thee, what he hath pre-pared for him that waiteth for him.” Isaiah 64:1-4. And e lsewhere he tells us what will be the effect of the Lord’s coming upon the two classes here mentioned, his adversaries, and them that wait for him. MISM January 1902, page 16.4

“The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down; and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: ... The idols He shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth. for fear at the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.” Isaiah 2:11-21. But it shall also be said in that day,-the day when God will “swallow up death in victory” and “wipe away tears from off all faces,”-“Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save as; this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salva tion.” Isaiah 25:9. MISM January 1902, page 16.5

Jeremiah, at the word of the Lord, stood in the gate of Jerusalem, and said to the people, as they passed in and out, “It shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the Lord, ... then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, ... and this city shall remain for ever.” “But if ye will not hearken unto me, ... then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” MISM January 1902, page 16.6

But all the promises, warnings, and ex hortations by the mouth of the prophets were unavailing, and at last Jerusalem was destroyed, and Israel wait carried captive to Babylon. While there the Lord gave Daniel a vision of events reaching to the time of the end. Although the events noted in these visions covered hundreds of years, the language was in such terms that Daniel did not understand it, and when he asked the Lord how long it would be until the end of these things, the reply was, “Go thy way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” God would not have his people relax their diligence through the thought that his coming was hundreds of years in the future; so he left the time indefinite, in order that each generation might regard it as imminent, and live in harmony with the words of Christ, “Watch, for ye know not at what hour your Lord will come.” MISM January 1902, page 17.1

Paul was favored with wonderful reve lations, and we know that, like Jesus, he preached the prophecies of Daniel (2 Thessalonians 2). But since God had said that the time was sealed up until the time of the end, we know that he would not reveal it to Paul any more than to Daniel. So Paul’s earnest desire was to depart and be with Christ, whose coming was his principal theme. How he expected to be with the Lord, he makes clear in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven w ith a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” MISM January 1902, page 17.2

And now we have come to the time of the end. The prophecies of Daniel have been unsealed; many have turned to and fro in them, and knowledge of them has been increased. The signs which Christ gave have been fulfilled, so we know that He is near, even at the door. We know not the day nor the hour, but we do know that “yet a little while and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure.” MISM January 1902, page 17.3

“He which testifieth of these things saith, Surely I come quickly;” and let all who love him also love his appearing, and respond with the beloved apostle, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” MISM January 1902, page 17.4