The Redeemer’s Return (SBC)
May 18th, 1959
Southern Baptist Convention
THE REDEEMER’S RETURN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I have been assigned a subject:The Redeemer’s Return – a message on the second coming of our Lord. And if I could re-title it, I’d like to give it this caption: "The Coming King."
The Lord God made an unconditional covenant with Abraham that to him and to his seed the land of Palestine should belong for an everlasting possession [Genesis 15:18-21]. And the same Lord God made a covenant with David that he could have a Son who would sit upon his throne forever [2 Samuel 7:8-17]. Isaiah spake of that glorious Prophet like this:
For unto us a Child is born, and unto us a Son is given; and the government shall rest upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government there shall be no end, upon the throne of His father David to establish it in justice and judgment forever.
[from Isaiah 9:6-7]
Seven hundred fifty years after that, the angel Gabriel was sent to the city of Nazareth to a virgin Jewess named Mary [Luke 1:26-27] and announced to her that she was to be the mother of this foretold, foreordained Child:
The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; and that Holy Thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
And God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David. And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.
And upon a night of nights, when the heavens were radiant with the glory of God, when the very air was resonant with the infinite rhythm of God’s infinite universe, when each star was lowered earthward like a lamp of gold with invisible hands, the Child was born [Luke 2:7]. An angel announced to the shepherds there in Bethlehem: "Go see for yourselves" [Luke 2:8-12], and suddenly all heaven broke loose in praise and singing [Luke 2:13]. The choral choir of glory and praise from the dawn of creation flung upward to the throne the salutation of their own glorious praise: "Glory to God in the highest," and then flung earthward the benediction "good will to men, on earth peace" [Luke 2:14]. The King was born.
In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar [Luke 3:1], Jesus then being about thirty years of age [Luke 3:23]was baptized by John in the Jordan River [Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 3:21-22]. And He went forth to announce the covenant kingdom [Mark 1:14-15] and to present Himself as the promised King [Matthew 27:11; John 4:25-26]. He carried with Him the credentials of His claim. By His mother, He was descended from David in the line of Nathan [Luke 3:23-38]; and in Joseph, the husband of Mary, He was descended from David through the line of Solomon [Matthew 1:1-17].
By His birth and by legal right, He was a king. Then the Magi from the East:"Where is He that is born King of the Jews?" [Matthew 2:2]. He carried with Him the credentials of a sinless life [1 John 3:5], the credentials of marvelous, wonderful words [Luke 4:22], and the credentials of miraculous works [Matthew 9:6-8; John 21:25]. And at the exact moment prophesied by Daniel [Daniel 9:25], in the exact manner to the last the day as revealed by the prophet Zechariah [Zechariah 9:9], the Son of God [Luke 1:32], the Prince of Peace [Isaiah 9:6], rode up the slopes of Zion and entered Jerusalem while the multitudes acclaimed: "Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the kingdom of our father David. Hosanna in the highest" [from Matthew 21:1-11].
When the elders of the people remonstrated against these acclamations of joy, our Lord said, "If these could hold their peace, the very rocks would cry out" [Luke 19:37-40]. It was the covenant moment in all history: the King of Israel had come to present Himself as the Lord of His people. And when before the Sanhedrin the High Priest said, "I adjure Thee by the Living God:Tell us if Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Blessed" [Matthew 26:63], He said, "I am" [Matthew 26:64].
He is a rejected king: "And the High Priest tore his garments and said, ‘He has spoken blasphemy. He is worthy of death’" [Matthew 26:65]. Yet at that time, capital punishment was taken from the hands of the Jewish people and was invested in the Roman procurator [John 18:31]. They took the Lord before the Roman Procurator [Matthew 27:1-2] and this was their charge: "He is guilty of sedition, of treason, for He said that He Himself is Christ, a King" [Matthew 27:12-13; John 19:7].
And Pontius Pilate said to our Lord, "Art thou a King?" [Matthew 27:11]
He said, "Thou sayest I am a King" [Matthew 27:11] – the strongest affirmative in the Greek language.
And Pilate said to the Jewish people, "Behold your King!"
They said, "Away with Him! Crucify Him!"
He said, "Shall I crucify your King?"
They answered, "We have no king but Caesar!"
[from John 19:14-15]
And He was crucified a King [John 19:16-18]. There was written over His head the description of His accusation: "This is Jesus, a King" written in Hebrew and in Greek and in Latin [John 19:19-20]. And He died a King [John 19:30-34].
"He came unto His own, and His own received Him not" [John 1:11]. He is an exiled King according to His own parable: "The certain nobleman went away into a far country to receive a kingdom for himself and said, ‘Occupy it till I come’" [Luke 19:12-13]. Then what? Now what?
This is the great intermission. How Satan must have laughed in the day of the cross. How he must have exalted in triumph: "Israel has slain her own Son. The Son of God is crucified! All the purposes of God have fallen to the dust. Death shall reign forever. Sin shall reign forever. Satan shall be here forever. There shall come a kingdom never!"
Oh, no! According to the first chapter of the Book of Ephesians, the revelation made to the apostle Paul, this is a great musterion – the secret hid in the heart of God from the foundation of the world [Ephesians 1:4, 9]. There is to be a postponement to another day, to another hour, to another time of the consummation of the kingdom of our Lord, and this is the age of the church. This is the age of the Holy Spirit. This is the age of grace.
We are now fellow members of the household of faith. We are the engrafted olive branch and the church [Romans 11:17-24]. The great ekklesia of God has the good news, the glad tidings to all men everywhere that we all may now be fellow members in the household of the Lord – a chosen priesthood [1 Peter 2:9], a family of God [Ephesians 2:19]. To all men everywhere: "Come, come. Be reconciled unto God!" [2 Corinthians 5:20]. It is the age of the preaching of the gospel [Matthew 24:14; Mark 16:15]. It is the age of repentance and faith to all men everywhere: "This is the time to turn and be saved."
But is that all? No, there is some other day. There is some other time. There is some other hour in which there shall be an intervention of God in human history. Our Lord is not "king of the church." There is no such nomenclature in the Bible, no such phraseology. Our Lord is Head of the church [Colossians 1:18], but is our Lord also a King and does He have a kingdom?
"Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom unto Israel?" [Acts 1:6]
"Lord, remember me when Thou cometh into Thy kingdom." [Luke 23:42]
Our Lord is not only a rejected King. He is not only an exiled King. But our Lord is also a coming and a triumphant King, and He is coming under a two-fold simile. He is coming as a thief in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:2], and He is coming as the living lightening across the bosom of the sky [Matthew 24:27].
He is coming as a thief in the night with un-sandaled feet: clandestinely, furtively, secretly, imminently. He is coming to steal away the pearl of price [Matthew 13:45-46]. He is coming to take away the jewels of His crown. He’s coming for His people [John 14:2-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17]. And we all shall share in that coming in that glorious, announced hour when the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we all shall be changed [1 Corinthians 15:52]. Not a bone shall be left in the region of death, not a relic for Satan to gloat over.
The Lord that would leave in the dust of the earth the least of His saints is not the Lord of the New Testament. He is coming to steal away His people [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17] imminently: at any moment, at any hour, any day [Matthew 25:13] as Enoch was translated [Genesis 5:23-24], as Noah was shut into the ark [Genesis 7:13-16], as Lot was snatched out of the wrath and judgment of Sodom [Genesis 19:12-25]. "Two shall be in a field: one shall be taken and the other left. Two shall be sleeping in a bed: one shall be taken and the other left. Two shall be grinding at a mill: one shall be taken and the other left" [from Luke 17:34-36]. Our Lord is coming as a thief in the night to steal away His people [2 Peter 3:10].
He is also coming under the simile of the living lightening that cleaves the bosom of the sky [Luke 17:24]. He is coming openly, triumphantly, and every eye shall see Him [Luke 21:27; Revelation 1:7]. He is coming with ten thousand of His saints, coming with His people [Jude 1:14-15]. He is coming in the glory of the Father: the Son of God and God the Son [Mark 13:26]. He is coming in the glory of the angels, the Captain of the hosts of heaven [Luke 9:26]. He is coming in the glory of the church, the Bridegroom with the bride [Matthew 25:1-13].
He is coming in His own glory [Matthew 24:30], as the Son of God [Hebrews 1:8], as the Son of Abraham [Matthew 1:1], as the Son of David, as the Son of Man born of a woman [Daniel 7:13; Galatians 4:4], the crucified Man [Zechariah 12:10-14], the risen Man [Acts 1:11], the eternally mortal Man. He is coming as the King of kings [Revelation 19:16]. He is coming as the King of the Jews, as the King of Israel [Acts 1:6-11]. He is coming as the King of all the nations of the world [1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Philippians 2:9-11]. He is coming as the Lord God Pantokrator. He is coming as the re-creator of this earth: itsRestorer, its Prince, its manifest and eternal God [Revelation 20:4]. And then shall come to pass those marvelous prophecies on the sacred page:
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Then it shall come to pass – the answering prayer in our own heart to the great announcement of our Savior: "He which testifieth these things says, ‘Surely I come quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" [Revelation 22:20]
It may be at midday, it may be at twilight,
It may be, perchance, that the blackness of midnight
Will burst into light in the blaze of His glory,
When Jesus receives "His own."
Oh, joy! oh, delight! should we go without dying,
No sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying.
Caught up with our Lord through the clouds into glory,
When Jesus receives "His own."
O Lord Jesus, how long, how long
Ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah!
["It May Be At Morn," by H.L. Turner, 1878]
Our coming King!