The Coming King
November 19th, 1972 @ 8:15 AM
THE COMING KING
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-19-72 8:15 a.m.
On the radio of the city of Dallas you are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church. This is the pastor, bringing the message entitled The Coming King.
Then Pilate entered the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto Him, Art Thou the King of the Jews? . . .
Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and chief priests have delivered Thee unto me; what hast Thou done?
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world; if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight . . . but now is My kingdom not from hence.
Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art Thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king.
This is the strongest affirmative in the Greek language.
Art Thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world.
He is the promised and covenant King of Israel [2 Samuel 7:16; 1 Chronicles 17:11].
By an unconditional guarantee Jehovah God gave to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to their seed forever the land of Palestine for an everlasting possession [Genesis 35:10-12]. And the same Lord God promised to David that he should have a son who would sit upon his throne for ever [2 Samuel 7:13]. The prophet Isaiah spake of that incomparably glorious promise:
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.
And of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end . . . to establish it upon the throne of His father David… The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform it.
Seven hundred fifty years later the angel Gabriel was sent to a little city in Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin Jewess named Mary and announced to her that she should be the mother of this foretold and foreordained Child [Luke 1:26-31].
And the angel answered and said unto her, Behold, the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
He shall be the Son of the Highest; and the Lord 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.
[Luke 1:35, 32-33]
Then upon a night of nights when the heavens were filled with the harmonies of the glory of God and the very air was filled with the resonant rhythm of the singing of the stars that God had created in the beginning [Genesis 1:16], the Child was born. An angel messenger came from heaven and announced to the startled shepherds that the Child was born in Bethlehem. Let them go see for themselves [Luke 2:8-12]. Then the scroll of the glory above was rolled back, and the angelic choir that had been waiting since the dawn of creation flung upward their hymn of glory and praise, “Glory to God in the highest!” and then flung downward and earthward their heavenly benediction, “On earth peace, good will toward men!” [Luke 2:13-14]. The Child was born! [Luke 2:10-11].
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar [Luke 3:1], Jesus, then being about thirty years of age, was baptized by John the Baptist [Luke 3:21-22]. And He went forth to announce the coming kingdom and to present Himself as that covenant King [Matthew 4:17]. He carried with Him the credentials of His legal and spiritual authority. Through His mother Mary He was descended from David through the line of Nathan [Luke 3:23-31]. And through Joseph, the husband of Mary, He was descended from David through the line of Solomon [Matthew 1:6-16]. By legal right He was a king [1 Chronicles 17:11]. Even the wise men came from the East to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is He that is born the King of the Jews?” [Matthew 2:2].
And He carried with Him the credentials of His spiritual leadership: He had with Him the credentials of a sinless life [Hebrews 4:15]; He had with Him the credentials of incomparable and marvelous words [John 7:46]. He had with Him the credentials of marvelous miracles [Matthew 11:4-]. No man ever wrought as that Man did [John 10:37-38].
Then at the exact moment that the angel Gabriel revealed to Daniel the prophet [Daniel 9:21-25], in the exact way as it was prophesied by Zechariah [Zechariah 9:9], the Lord God, the King of the Jews, the covenant promise, the Son given, the Child born [Isaiah 9:6], came riding into the Holy City to present Himself as the promised King and to bring with Him the glory of the promised kingdom [Matthew 21:9; Luke 19:37-38]. Amid the shouts of the people and the acclamation of the multitudes, the Lord rode into Jerusalem while the people said, “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed be the kingdom that cometh. Glory to God in the highest!” [Matthew 21:9]. And the chief priests and the elders said to His disciples “Hush the throngs! Hush the throngs!” But the Lord replied, “If these were to hold their peace, the very stones would cry out” [Luke 19:39-40].
It was the great covenant moment in Israel’s history; their promised King had come [Matthew 21:5-9]. But He is also a rejected king [John 1:11]. The high priest, before the Sanhedrin, placed Him on witness and said, “I adjure Thee by the living God, tell us whether Thou be Christ, the Son of the Blessed” [Matthew 26:63; Mark 14:61]. And the Lord replied, saying, “I am. And henceforth shall thou see the Son of Man coming in power with the glory of the angels” [Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62]. And the high priest rent his garments and said to the Sanhedrin, “What need have we for further witness? Thou hast heard His blasphemy. What dost thou think?” And the Sanhedrin, the highest court of the Jews replied, “He is worthy of death” [Matthew 26:65-66].
At that time, the power of capital punishment had been taken away from the Jewish nation, and it was lodged in the hands of the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate. The high priest and the Sanhedrin, therefore, took the Lord Jesus before the Roman governor and accused Him of sedition and treason saying, “He calls Himself a king.”
And Pilate turned to the Lord Jesus and said, “Art Thou a king?”
And the Lord replied, I am.
Then Pilate turned to the Jews and said, Shall I crucify your King?
And they shouted an answer, We have no king but Caesar. Away with Him! Let Him be crucified!
And the Lord Jesus was crucified a king; He died a king [Matthew 27:32-50]. Above His cross the superscription of that avowal was written for the whole world to see, in Hebrew and in Latin, and in Greek, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews” [Luke 23:38]. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” [John 1:11]. He is an exiled king, as He taught His disciples in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Luke, “For there was a nobleman who went into a far country to receive a kingdom . . . And he said, ‘Occupy till I come’” [Luke 19:12-13]. He is an exiled king. He has gone away into another country.
What now? What then? Then follows a mustērion, then follows the great interlude and the vast intermission [Ephesians 3:2-12]. How Satan must have exalted in triumph in the day of the cross. Israel has crucified her own Son; she has slain her own King [1 Corinthians 2:8]. The people of God are in unbelief, and Satan shall reign forever. Sin shall be here forever; death shall be here forever. Every promise of God and every prophetic utterance has fallen to the ground. Darkness and the grave have triumphed, for the coming King has been slain; He is crucified and buried [Matthew 27:32-50, 57-60].
But Satan did not know, nor was it revealed to the prophets, there was a mustērion, a secret in the heart of God. No prophet ever saw it, nor was any word ever uttered about it. It was something in the purpose and plan of God from the beginning of the ages that there should be this great interlude and intermission that we call the age of grace, the age of the Holy Spirit, the age of the church, all of which is beautifully presented by the apostle Paul in the third chapter of the letter to the church at Ephesus [Ephesians 3:1-12]. And in this period of time, there should be the calling out of the called, the ek kaleō, and the formation of the ekklēsia, the called out people of God, that the Jew and the Gentile should belong to the same household of faith, that the glory of the gospel of grace and forgiveness and redemption should be preached to all people, and that anyone who believes could be an elect member of the family of the chosen [Ephesians 3:2-12].
This is the time when God is building, in the name of His Son, a new body called the church [Ephesians 3:10]. And all of us who look in faith to Jesus are accepted [Ephesians 1:6, 2:8], we are elect, we are engrafted into the family of the Most High [John 1:12]. In this interlude, in this period of grace there is the announcement that any soul anywhere can belong to the household of God, chosen into the family of the Highest [Ephesians 3:6, 14-21].
But what of the kingdom; has God forgotten it? And what of the King; is He never to reign? The Lord Christ is the head of the church [Ephesians 5:23]. There is no such nomenclature as that He is the King of the church. What of the kingdom and what of the King? Is it never to come? Is He never to reign? The apostles said to the Lord when He ascended up into glory, “Wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” [Acts 1:6]. What of the kingdom and the King? And that thief on the cross, in faith, turned to the Lord Jesus and said, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom” [Luke 23:42].
Is there to be no kingdom? And is there to be no King? Is this earth plunged into despair and darkness and sin and death forever and forever? Is Satan to reign over an immortal kingdom of destruction and darkness forever?
No, for beyond this interlude and beyond these days of waiting, we are to look forward to the great consummation of the age. For someday, sometime, somewhere, these heavens will open apart, and through the vistas of glory there shall appear the coming King and the coming kingdom [Matthew 24:27].
In the providence of God, in the plan of the Lord, when the plērōma of the Gentiles is filled, when the last number, elect and chosen to be added to the household of faith has come in, when the last soul has walked down that aisle, then the end shall come, and we shall reach the consummation of the age, and Christ shall appear for His people [Romans 11:25-27].
He is coming under a twofold simile: He is coming under the likeness of a thief in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:2], and He is coming under the likeness of the vivid lightning that splits the bosom of the sky [Matthew 24:27]. As the glorious light shines from the east to the west, so the Lord shall visibly, openly, and publicly appear [Revelation 1:7].
He is coming first as a thief in the night, with sandaled feet, with clandestine, furtive, secret approach [1 Thessalonians 5:2]. He is coming to steal away His jewels, His pearl of price, His treasure in the earth [Matthew 13:45-46]. He is coming to rapture His saints to glory, to snatch them away [1 Thessalonians 4:15-17]. As God took Noah and placed him in the ark [Genesis 7:1, 7], then the judgment fell [Genesis 7:16-24]; as the Lord snatched out of Sodom and Gomorrah righteous Lot, then the fire and the brimstone fell [Genesis 19:15-29]; so it is in the days of the coming of the Son of Man: He shall come secretly, furtively, clandestinely, as a thief, to take out of the world His own, His bride, His church—raptured to the Lord in heaven [1 Thessalonians 5:2].
And all of us shall share in that triumph. These who have fallen asleep in Jesus, these who have died in the Lord, they “shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall be caught up with them to meet our Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord” [1 Thessalonians 4:15-17]. “For, we all shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump” [1 Corinthians 15:51-52], when the dead are raised and the living are glorified—secretly, furtively [1 Thessalonians 5:2], any moment, any time, any day, when the Lord shall come for His own.
He is also returning unto the figure and under the simile of the vivid, livid lightning that brings judgment to the earth [Matthew 24:27]. He is coming with His saints; He is coming with His people. The text of the revelation is Revelation 1:7, “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also who pierced Him; and the families and tribes and peoples of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.” As Jude says, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints” [Jude 14].
He is coming in the glory of God: God the Son and the Son of God [John 17:4-5]. 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 [Matthew 25:6]. And He is coming in His own glory: as the Son of God, as the Son of Abraham, as the Son of David and as the Son of Man [Matthew 25:31], the virgin-born Man [Matthew 1:23], the crucified Man [Matthew 27:32-50], the risen Man [Matthew 28:5-6], the ascended Man [Acts 1:9], the great God-Man: Christ Jesus [John 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:5].
And He is coming as the King of Israel and as the King of the Jews and as the King of the Gentiles and as the King of the nations [Revelation 12:5], and as the King of the Kings and the Lord of all Lords [Revelation 19:16]. He is coming as the Lord God pantokratōr—the Almighty [Revelation 1:7-8]. He is coming as the restorer and the re-creator of this earth [Acts 3:21]. Then shall be brought to pass those incomparable promises:
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid . . . And the ravenous carnivorous lion will eat straw like an ox . . . 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.
And out of heaven shall come down the New Jerusalem [Revelation 21:1-2], our home, our mansion [John 14:1-3], our fellowship with Christ and His redeemed, forever and forever [Revelation 21:3, 22:3-5].
Lo, He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of His train:
God appears on earth to reign.
Yea, amen, let all adore Thee,
High on Thy eternal throne;
Savior, take the pow’r and glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own:
Oh, come quickly, Oh, come quickly!
Everlasting God, come down.
[“Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending,” Charles Wesley, 1758]
“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely, surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, blessed Lord Jesus” [Revelation 22:20]—the coming King and the coming kingdom!
In this moment when we stand to sing our hymn of appeal, a family you, a couple you, or just somebody one, you, to give your heart to Jesus; to take the Lord as your Savior; to join the family of God’s redeemed; to be numbered among those who look for Him and wait for Him; to have the Lord as the King of your life, to bow in His presence in faith and in trust, to pray to Him; someday to live with Him, as the Spirit of Jesus shall press the appeal to your heart, make the decision now. And in a moment, when we stand up to sing, stand up walking down one of these stairways, here to the front. On this lower floor, into the aisle, “Here, pastor, I come. I have made that decision in my heart, and I’m coming now.” Do so, on the first note of this first stanza. Come, while we stand; while we sing.