The Coming King
September 13th, 1970 @ 10:50 AM
THE COMING KING
Dr. W.A. Criswell
9-13-70 10:50 a.m.
On the radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Coming King, a message on the soon return of our glorious Lord. Turn with me to the Revelation, chapter 1, and follow as I read the first seven verses: the Apocalypse, the unveiling, the uncovering, the presenting of Jesus Christ,
An apocalyptic Revelation, presentation, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and sign-i-fied it—
When we spell out sign-i-fied in English, it becomes “signified,” but it is spelled just exactly and correctly right:
and He sent and sign-i-fied it by His angel unto His servant John:
John, who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
Blessed is he that readeth, and blessed are they that hear the words of this prophecy . . . for the time is at hand.
John to the seven churches which are in Asia, the Roman province of Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and from Him which was, and from Him which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne; And from Jesus Christ—
The triune God, the ages of the ages, the Holy Spirit, and from Jesus our Lord:
who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
And this is the text:
Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also who pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.
[Revelation 1: 1-7]
The Coming King; He is the promised covenant King of Israel. By an unconditional covenant, God gave to Abraham and to his seed the land of Palestine forever [Genesis 12:7; Exodus 32:13], and the same Lord God promised to David that he should have a Son who would sit upon his throne forever, and that of His kingdom there should be no end [2 Samuel 7:12-16]. Seven hundred fifty years before Christ, the prophet Isaiah spoke of that wonderful covenant Child, the coming King. “For unto us a Child is born, 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. And of the increase of His government . . . there shall be no end . . . to establish it in mercy and in justice forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform it” [Isaiah 9:6-7].
Seven hundred fifty years after that prophecy, the angel Gabriel was sent to a city in Nazareth to a virgin Jewess by the name of Mary and announced to her that that foretold, fore-ordained Child should be born. “Behold,” said this angel Gabriel to the Jewish girl, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: also that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. The Lord shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever” [Luke 1:35, 32-33]. And upon a night of nights, when the heavens were filled with the glory of God, when the very air was resonant with the magic harmonies of the infinite, when each star like a golden lamp was lowered earthward by invisible hands, the Child was born.
An angel of the Lord came and to the startled shepherds near Bethlehem announced that the Savior of the world had come. “This should be a sign; You can find the Child wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” [Luke 2:8-12]. Go see for yourself. Then suddenly the whole heavens opened and the angelic hosts who had been in choral practice from the dawn of creation burst into singing. They flung upward to the throne their adoring praise, “Glory to God in the highest,” and they flung downward to the startled watchers their benedictory salutation, “And on earth peace, good will toward men” [Luke 2:13-14]. The Child was born [Luke 2:15-16].
In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, Jesus then being about thirty years of age, was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River [Luke 3:1; 21-22]. From those baptismal waters, He went forth to announce the covenant coming kingdom and to present Himself as the promised King [Matthew 4:17]. He carried with Him the credentials of His high office. Through His mother, Mary, He was descended from David, through the son Nathan [Luke 3:23-38]. Through Joseph, the husband of Mary, He was descended from David through the son Solomon [Matthew 1:1-17]. By birth and by legal right, He was a King. Even the wise men came from afar inquiring in the capital city of Jerusalem, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” [Matthew 2:1-2]. He was born a King.
He carried with Him also the credentials of that kingship, a sinless and spotless life [Hebrews 4:15]. He carried with Him the credentials of words as no man had ever spoken [John 7:46], and He brought with Him the credentials of a miraculous power, unction, as humankind had never seen [Matthew 9:33]. And at the exact moment prophesied by Daniel six hundred years before [Daniel 9:25], in the exact way prophesied by Zechariah four hundred fifty years before [Zechariah 9:9], the King came riding up the slopes of Mount Zion into the holy city of Jerusalem [Matthew 21:1-11]. The people took off their garments and spread them in the way. They took palm branches and paved the road, and in joy they began to shout, “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He that cometh in the named of the Lord. Glory to God in the highest; Blessed be the Son of David” [Matthew 21:8-9]. And when those who objected heard these words of exaltation, they said to the disciples of the Lord, “Bid them be quiet.” But the Lord replied, “If these hold their peace, the very stones will cry out” [Luke 19:39-40]. The great covenant moment of all history had come. The King, the promised covenant King of Israel, was at hand [Matthew 4:17].
He is a rejected King. They arrested Him and brought Him before the high priest. And the high priest said to his compeers, the members of the Sanhedrin, “You have heard Him for yourself. For He says He is Christ, a King. He has spoken blasphemy. What do you say?” And they replied, “He is worthy of death” [Mark 14:61-64]. At that time, the rite of capital punishment had been taken out of the hands of the Jews and was vested in a Roman procurator. They took the Lord Jesus then and arraigned Him before Pilate. And Pilate said, “Why, what evil hath He done?” [Mark 15:14]. And they said, “He is guilty of sedition and insurrection. For He says He is Christ, a King” [Luke 23:2; John 19:12].
And Pilate went into the judgment hall and privately asked Him, “Art Thou the King of the Jews?” And the Lord asked Him, “Does this come of yourself? Is it spiritual intuition from heaven? Did the Father reveal it to you? Or is it because someone has said?” Pilate said, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation has delivered You to me, what have You done?” Then Pilate said, “Are You a king?” And the Lord replied, “Thou sayest that I am a king.” The most emphatic way the Greek language has of framing an affirmative. “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” [John 18:33-37].
And Pilate went out from the judgment hall and asked the throng below him, “Behold, your King!” [John 19:14]. And they cried, “Away with Him. Away with Him” [John 19:15]. And Pilate asked, “Shall I crucify your King?” And they said, “We have no king but Caesar” [John 19:15]. And Pilate liberated the Lord Jesus into their hands for crucifixion and for death [John 19:16]. He died a King. Over His head the superscription of His accusation was written, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews” [Matthew 27:37]. He died a King. When the Pharisees went to Pilate and objected to the superscription, they said, “Do not write, ‘He is the King of the Jews,’ write, ‘He said He was the King of the Jews.” And Pilate replied that famous word: Gegrapha, gegrapha, “What I have written I have written” [John 19:21-22]. And the Lord bowed His head, and gave up His spirit [John 19:30]. He died a king.
“He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” [John 1:11]. He is an exiled King. He went away, and as He ascended upward from the Mount of Olives, a cloud received Him out of their sight [Acts 1:9]. As He had taught, the King went away on a long journey [Luke 19:12]. Now what? Then what? Oh, how Satan must have exalted and rejoiced when Christ was crucified! [John 19:16-30]. “Look! Look! Israel has crucified her own Son! Look! Look! Look! The chosen people are in unbelief! Look! Look! Every promise of the prophets has fallen to the ground. Ground into the dust of the earth are all of the promises of the Lord God. Sin shall reign forever. Death shall reign forever. And Satan shall be king over all the earth and God’s creation forever.”
But a mustērion, as Paul calls it, a mystery, a secret hidden in the heart of God, unrevealed and unknown to the prophets [Ephesians 3:3-11]: the kingdom was postponed in its consummation to another day and another time. And this is the great intermission, the great interlude, unknown to the prophets of the Old Covenant. This is the day of grace, the day of the church, the day of the open door. This is the musterion that Paul describes in the third chapter of the Book of Ephesians, namely that there should be in God’s grace and mercy a new body, a new creation, the bride of Christ, His church, taken out of His heart, His side, born in His blood, in His tears, in His sobs, in His cross, in His suffering, a new creation [Ephesians 5:30; Genesis 3:23]. It is to be the household of faith, and into that new body, the Jew, the Gentile, the male, the female, the bond, the free, the black, the white, the poor, the rich, the learned, the unlearned, the outcast, the forgotten, the whole world of humanity is free to come, fellow heirs with Israel in all of the covenant purposes and promises of God [Ephesians 3:3-11].
Preaching the gospel, the euaggelizō, calling out the call—but what of the kingdom and what of the King? Has God forgotten His promises? Has God forsaken His covenants? Is there to be no kingdom, and is there to be no coming King? That’s what the disciples asked in the first chapter of Acts just before the Lord was ascended: “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” [Acts 1:6]. Lord, is there to be no kingdom and no King? As the thief on the cross, as he was crucified, turned to the Lord and said, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom” [Luke 23:42], is there to be a kingdom? Is there to be a visible personally present reigning King? Is there?
This is the grand, grand announcement of the Book. He is also a coming King and brings with Him a visible and established kingdom. He is coming under a twofold simile. He is coming as a thief in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:2], and He is coming as the vivid lighting cleaves the bosom of the sky [Matthew 24:27]. He is coming as a thief in the night, suddenly, without announcement, furtively, secretly, with unsandaled feet [1 Thessalonians 5:2]. He is coming as a thief in the night to steal away His jewels, the pearl of price He bought with His own life and blood [Matthew 13:45-46]; the treasure hid in the fields, His saints [Matthew 13:44]. He is coming for His people suddenly without announcement upon a day known but to the Father in heaven [Matthew 24:36]. He is coming.
Then shall be come to pass that old Anglo-Saxon word of the rapture of God’s people without announcement, without a herald; they shall be caught up to meet the Lord as He descends from heaven, to meet the Lord in glory, and all of us shall share in that great rendezvous. These who are dead, God’s sainted dead, “they shall be raised first, then we who are alive and remain to the coming the Lord shall be caught up with them to be with Jesus” [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17], and we all shall be changed [1 Corinthians 15:51-52]. All of us, we who are alive, they who have fallen asleep, all of us shall share in that glorious coming kingdom. God will not forget the least of His saints who placed their trust in Him, the missionary who has fallen on foreign field in an unmarked grave, but God saw it. The humblest of God’s children however hidden away they may be from the earth, God knows where they are, and all of us shall share in that glorious rendezvous. There shall not be left a bone in the region of death. There shall not be a relic for Satan to gloat over. We all shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump when the trumpet shall sound and the Lord shall descend, and we all shall be changed [1 Corinthians 15:51-52].
As it was in the days of Enoch, suddenly he was caught away and with the Lord [Genesis 5:24]; as it was in the days of Noah, shut in the ark, and the judgment fell [Genesis 7:16-24]; as it was in the days of Lot, snatched out of the city of judgment [Genesis 19:16-17], so shall it be in the days of the coming of the King:
Two shall be sleeping in a bed; one shall be taken, and the other left.
Two shall be grinding at the mill; one shall be taken, and the other left.
Two shall be working in a field; one shall be taken, and the other left.
Suddenly, without herald or announcement, when the Lord secretly comes for His own.
Not only as a thief in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:2], but He is coming under the similitude of the lightning that cleaves the bosom of the sky [Matthew 24:27]. He is coming openly, and visibly, and personally, and triumphantly! “Behold,” says the text of the Revelation, “He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him” [Revelation 1:7], or as the text in Jude [1:14], “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints” [Jude 1:14]. He is coming with His people openly, visibly, before the admiring, wondering gaze of the whole earth. He is coming in the glory of the Father as God the Son and the Son of God [Luke 3:22, 9:35]. He is coming in the glory of the angels, the Captain of the hosts of heaven [Joshua 5:14]. He is coming in the glory of the church, the Bridegroom with the bride [Ephesians 5:25-27]. And He is coming in His own glory as Christ the Son of God [Matthew 27:54], the Son of Abraham, the Son of David [Matthew 1:1], the Son of Man [Matthew 25:31], the Crucified Man [Matthew 27:32-50], the virgin-born Man, the risen Man [Matthew 28:1-7], the ascended Man [Acts 1:9-12], the God-Man, Christ Jesus [2 Corinthians 4:5].
And He is coming to be King of Israel, and to be King of the Jews [Acts 2:36], and to be King of all the nations of the earth [Revelation 2:27], to be the King of all the kings and the Lord of all the lords [Revelation 19:16]. He is coming as the restorer and recreator of this fallen earth [Revelation2 1:1-5], its manifest and visible God, the Lord God, pantokrator [Revelation 1:8]. Then shall be brought to pass those incomparable promises of the prophets of the Old Covenant. As Micah, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation” [Micah 4:3], and there’ll be no Vietnams, and there’ll be no guerilla warfare, “and there will be war no more.” Or as Isaiah so gloriously prophesied it, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid . . . and the voracious carnivorous lion shall eat straw like the ox” [Isaiah 11:6-7]. Think of it. The tooth and the claw shall give way to the kindness and the beauty of the Edenic life in the Paradise of God. And we, we shall be fellow citizens of the Lord’s kingdom [Philippians 3:20; 1 Peter 1:4]. “For they shall not hurt nor destroy in all God’s holy mountain: for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” [Isaiah 11:9].
Lo! He comes on clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train.
Manifest and eternal God, come down:
God in Christ on earth does reign.
[“Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending,” John Cennick, 1752]
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 comes for “His own.”
Oh, joy! oh, delight! should we go without dying,
No sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying.
Caught up through the clouds with our Lord into glory,
When Jesus comes for “His own.”
[“Christ Returneth,” H. L. Turner]
The Coming King, the coming kingdom, Christ and His saints in the earth—ah, what a hope! In Titus, Paul calls it “that blessed hope” [Titus 2:13]. What a prospect. What a promise. What a vista. What a vision. What an unfolding. Be of good cheer, little children; it is your Father’s good purpose to give you the kingdom [Luke 12:32].
And into that kingdom, O Lord, grant that we may have an abundant entrance; you and your family, you and those whom you love, you and the friends all around you, you and every one that our voice of testimony could reach, for whom our prayers could intercede, that all of us might have a place in that kingdom. Lord, grant it so. For me, for mine, for you, for yours, safely Lord, into that haven, may we find rest and peace for our souls now and forever.
Today, would you do that? Would you give your heart and your life to Him? Would you? A family you, would you come down that aisle or down that stairway this morning? “Pastor, here I am. I’m bringing my wife. These are our children. All of us are coming today.” As the Spirit of intercession and appeal shall press the word of invitation to your heart, would you come? Into that aisle and down here to the front: “Here I am, pastor. I make it now. I choose Christ. I’ve decided for God, and here I come.” Do it now. Make the decision now, and in a moment when we stand up to sing, on the first note of the first stanza, into that aisle and down to the front: “Here I am, and here I come.” Do it. God bless you and angels attend you in the way as you come, as we stand and as we sing.