Has God Cast Away His People?


Has God Cast Away His People?

October 17th, 1982 @ 8:15 AM

Romans 11:1

I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Romans 11:1

10-17-82   8:15 a.m.


And welcome, the great throng of you who on radio and on television share this hour with us in the First Baptist Church of Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the message, the first in a quintuplet series on berithology.  The Hebrew word for covenant is berith.  And I just, there is no such name as berithology, it is a Criswellian term concerning the covenants of God.  There are five of those sermons: the one today, Has God Cast Away His People?  The second one: The Problem of Israel’s Unbelief.  The third one: Israel in the Remembrance of God.  The fourth one: Israel’s Agony and Glory.  And the last one, the fifth one: Peace Between Arab and Jew.

There is a section in the Bible, in the New Testament, in the Book of Romans, concerning these unchanging, unfailing covenants of God; and that section is Romans 9, 10, and 11 [Romans 9-11].  In the beginning he speaks of the covenants, and in the end he speaks of the covenants.  He says, in Romans 9, verse [3], “My kinsmen according to the flesh:  Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth … the covenants” [Romans 9:3-4].  Then in the last, the eleventh chapter of that section, he speaks, beginning at verse 25, “I would not, brethren, that ye be without knowledge of this mustērion,” a secret God kept in His heart until He revealed it to His apostles, “that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the plerōma,” the full number of the Gentiles, “be come in” [Romans 11:25].  And then, “All Israel shall be saved” [Romans 11:26].  Verse 27, “For this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” [Romans 11:27], the covenant of God with Israel.

And the title of the sermon this morning is taken out of the first verse of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans:  “Hath God cast away His people?  God forbid … God hath not cast away His people whom He foreknew” [Romans 11:1-2].

In the twelfth chapter of the Book of Genesis is the beginning of the redemptive love of God extended to the human race.  “Now the Lord had said unto [Abram],” who is Abraham, ”Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee” [Genesis 12:1].  The whole world was idolatrous.  The family of Abraham was idolatrous.  His father was an idolater [Joshua 24:2].  And God calls him to leave his country, to leave his kindred, to leave his family, to leave his people [Genesis 12:1].  And God says here in the twelfth chapter of Genesis, verse 2, “I will make of thee a great nation, and blessing I will bless you; and thou shalt be a blessing:  and in thee all the families of the earth shall be blessed.  I will make of thee a great nation” [Genesis 12:2-3].  And in verse 7, “And the Lord appeared unto Abraham, and God said unto him, Unto thy seed will I give this land” [Genesis 12:7].

Now in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis, God enters into a most dramatic covenant with Abraham.  He’s old, and he doesn’t have any child, and God said that in him there would be a great nation born, formed [Genesis 12:2].  So in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis, Abraham asked God, “You have given me no seed” [Genesis 15:3].  And God said, “One that shall come forth out of thine own loins shall be thine heir.  And He brought him forth abroad, and said, Look toward the heaven, and tell the stars, if you can number them:  so shall thy seed be.  And he believed God; and the Lord counted it to him, reckoned it to him, for righteousness” [Genesis 15:4-6]; one of the great texts of the Book of Romans [Romans 4:3].  Well, that’s the first thing that Abraham says to God, “You say to me that I am to be the father of a great nation, but I do not even have a child” [Genesis 12:2, 15:3].  That’s the first thing.  And then the second thing, “God said to him, I am the Lord; I brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.”  And Abraham says to Him the second question, “Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” [Genesis 15:7-8].  Now those are the two things that Abraham asked God:  “I do not even have a child and You say I am to be the father of a great nation” [Genesis 12:2, 15:3], and the second, “You say that I am to inherit this land, the land of Canaan.  How do I know that I shall inherit it?” [Genesis 15:7-8].

Now beginning at verse 9 and through verse 17, God goes through a most dramatic covenant ritual with Abraham [Genesis 15:9-17].  In the thirty-fourth chapter of the Book of Jeremiah there is described that ancient ritual:  the covenant that two men would make with each other [Jeremiah 34:19].  They take a calf, in the thirty-fourth chapter of the Book of Jeremiah, a calf is slain and its blood is poured out.  Then the calf is divided, one-half each side, right down the middle; and one-half of the calf sacrificed is placed here and one-half on the other side.  And the two who make that covenant walk between the pieces [Jeremiah 34:18-19].  If either one of them breaks the covenant, his blood is spilled out and his limbs are severed, torn from side to side; a blood ritual, a blood covenant.  Now that’s the kind of a thing that God is going to do here for Abraham in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis, beginning at verse 9:  “And God said unto him, Take a heifer three years old, and a she goat three years old, and a ram three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.  And Abraham took all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against the other:  and he laid one bird on this side and one on that … And when the sun was gone down, a deep sleep fell upon Abraham” [Genesis 15:9-12]—the same kind of words that is used to describe Adam’s sleep when God took Eve out of his side [Genesis 2:21-22]—“and, lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him [Genesis 15:12]… And it came to pass,” verse 17, “that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp,” a flaming torch representing God,” passed between those pieces” [Genesis 15:17].

Not Abraham and God walked between those pieces—that sacrifice of a heifer, a she goat, a ram, a turtledove, a young pigeon—that represents the fullness of sacrifice.  The whole system is represented in that abounding sacrifice.  But just God walked through between those pieces, not Abraham.  God sent on Abraham a deep sleep, and only God walked through the pieces [Genesis 15:17].  The covenant is unchangeable.  It is unmutable.  It is unfailing.  It is made by God Himself, and because “He could swear by none greater, He swore by Himself” [Hebrews 6:13].  The oath is from God Himself.  Abraham might break it; a man might break it, but not God.  God made that covenant with Himself:  “I will make a great nation out of Abraham [Genesis 12:2], and I will give him this land of Canaan for an everlasting inheritance [Genesis 15:7, 17:8].  And I will make him a blessing to all the nations of the world” [Genesis 12:3].  That is the covenant of Almighty God.

When John saw in the Apocalypse, in the fourth chapter of the Revelation, the throne of God, when the Lord opened the door of heaven, and John entered the door into heaven, the first thing he saw there was the throne of Almighty God, and He that sat upon it; “and a rainbow was around the throne” [Revelation 4:1-3].  A rainbow is a sign of a covenant; and God is a covenant God [Genesis 9:13].  He is a God of great promise; immutable, unchanging, unfailing.  God’s covenant promises are like Himself:  the same yesterday, and today, and forever [Hebrews 13:8].

So we look, this enters human experience, this enters human history, so we look at it, the covenant of God with Abraham.  First:  that he should be a great nation [Genesis 12:2].  I had you read just now from the Book of Jeremiah, “Thus saith the Lord,” Jeremiah 31, “The Lord God who gives us light by day, and the moon and the stars to shine by night; the Lord of hosts is His name: as long as that sun shall shine in the sky, and as long as those little stars and that moon shall give light by night, just so long will there be a nation of Israel to live before Me for ever” [Jeremiah 31:35-36].  That’s what God says, and that’s the covenant that God made, that there should forever be a nation born out of the loins, out of the seed of Abraham, who would exist in human history forever [Genesis 15:4-5].

Now the Holy Scriptures are kind of, all of it, an unfolding of those covenants of God.  That nation is to be of Isaac, and not Ishmael:  Genesis 17:1-27; Genesis 21:2; Genesis 22:15-18.  Then as the story and the revelation continues, it is to be of Jacob and not Esau.  Jacob’s other name is Israel [Genesis 32:28].  Esau’s other name is Edom.  It will be the Israelites and not Edomites: [Genesis 27:33-37], Romans 9:7-13.  That nation that God in covenant promised to Abraham, and is to be here forever, is Abraham, Isaac, Israel [Genesis 35:12].  Israel, God said they will be here forever; they are indestructible.

For four thousand years now we have seen those people, God’s people, we have seen those people in the stream of human history, separate and apart, sometimes downtrodden, sometimes enslaved, sometimes scattered abroad, taken into captivity, but always unassimilated, undigested—that nation of Israel in the stream of humanity, as separate and distinct in its history in every country, in every nation, as the Gulf Stream is separate in the Atlantic Ocean.  The Gulf Stream is a great river about fifty miles wide and one mile deep; and it makes its way through all the ages, through the Atlantic.  Were it not for the warmth of the Gulf Stream, Western Europe would be as barren and as frozen as Newfoundland, as the Antarctic.  It is separate and distinct, bringing the blessings of warmth that makes possible life in Western Europe, in England and France.  So the Jewish nation through all of the years of history has been separate and distinct.

Hundreds of years before the halcyon days of Greece and of Rome, Israel was in its golden age.  Before Herodotus wrote history, before most nations had letters, they had a great literature.  And Jewishness is seen all over the world.  They are a separated people; Jewishness, things that are Jewish.  One of them is the Sabbath day.  Exodus 31, “God says, Verily, My Sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations” [Exodus 31:13].  Verse 17 in Exodus 31 He repeats it, “The Sabbath is a sign between Me and the children of Israel for ever” [Exodus 31:17].  If you are a Jew, you will observe the Sabbath day.  I’m a Christian, I do not observe a Sabbath day; I’m not a Jew.  I observe the first day of the week out of praise and honor and gratitude for the resurrection of Jesus Christ [Matthew 28:1-7]. This is an Easter Sunday—every Sunday is an Easter Sunday.  We are celebrating the resurrection of our Lord.  If I were a Jew, a sign that I am a Jew, I would observe a Sabbath day.  It is a peculiar sign between God and those people:  they observe a Sabbath day [Exodus 31:16-17].

Jewishness, a separated people—they have a synagogue, and they go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day that begins at sundown on Friday and continues to sundown on Saturday.  And in the synagogue the men will wear a little skull cap, a yarmulke.  They’ll have a shawl prayer, a prayer shawl, tallit.  They’ll read out of the Hebrew Scriptures, and they will speak out of the Talmud, with its Mishna and its two Gemaras—Jewishness.  They will observe kosher foods:  clean and unclean foods, kosher.  They will have a bar mitzvah for a boy when he becomes of age.  They will have feasts, such as the Passover [Exodus 12:1-28, 43-49], and such as that Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur [Leviticus 16:1-34, 23:26-32; Numbers 29:7-11], and such as Hanukkah, the Feast of Lights, our Christmas time; Jewishness.  They are a people who have their own customs and religions, all through the years and the years.  And God says they will be here forever [Matthew 24:34-35; Jeremiah 30:11].

All of these other nations of the ancient world have so long disappeared, you  never saw anybody who ever heard of anybody who ever saw anything that even resembled an Amorite, or a Hittite, or a Gergashites, or a Jebusite, or any other of those “ites.”  But God said the Jew will be here forever [Matthew 24:34-35].  And look around you:  in every civilization, in every nation, in every history, in every city in the world you’ll find him, the Jew.  That is a part of the covenant promise of Almighty God [Matthew 24:34].

The second part of that promise:  God says he is to have a land; and the land of Canaan is his [Genesis 12:7, 13:15-17].  When Joseph died, he said to his brethren and to the children of Israel, he said, “God will surely visit you, and you will return to your homeland, to Canaan.  And when you go, you are to take my bones with you” [Genesis 50:25].  And the Book of Genesis ends with Joseph’s death, and he is buried in a coffin in Egypt [Genesis 30:26], awaiting the day when they will take his bones to the Promised Land.  And in the Book of Joshua, we are faithfully told Israel did that, and they carried the bones of Joseph with them, and buried them at Shechem, in the land of Ephraim, in the land of God’s promise [Joshua 24:32].  So Joshua, the first chapter of Joshua, finds Israel standing at the edge of Canaan.  And God says to Joshua, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give them, even to the children of Israel.  Every place your foot shall tread on is yours, I have given it to you” [Joshua 1:2-3].  They hadn’t been there for four hundred years.  And the land was inhabited.  They had giants in the land, they had walled cities in the land, sons of Anak were there [Numbers 13:28-29, 31-33]; and every step of the way was contested by the inhabitants of Canaan.  But God said, “The land belongs to you, to Israel.  Arise, go over, and take it” [Joshua 1:2-9].  And the Book of Joshua is the conquest of the land.

Now, does that land still belong to Israel?  Is the covenant of God that God says is unchanging and everlasting [Genesis 17:7], is that covenant still before the Lord, or does God change His mind?  Does God forget His word?  Does God forsake His promises?  Does He?  I’m going to read out of Psalm 105, verses 8 through 11.  “God hath remembered His covenant for ever,” now I may forget, but God doesn’t:

God hath remembered His covenant for

ever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations.

Which covenant He made with Abraham, and His oath unto Isaac;

And He confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant:

Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance.

[Psalm 105:8-11]

The lot of Israel is Canaan.  My lot is in America.  My forefathers’ lot is in England.  The Arabian lot is all around those eastern Arab nations and countries and places and lands.  And each one has his lot, his place.  But the lot of Canaan belongs to Israel forever [Psalm 105:8-11].

Now I could be here all day long reading these passages.  I choose just, say, two others.  In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, these inhabitants that are in Jerusalem and Ezekiel’s talking to the poor Babylonian captives, the inhabitants there in Jerusalem say:

Get you out, unto us is this land given for a possession.

Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them far off among the nations, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them where they are as a little sanctuary.

Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; I will gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the nations where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.

[Ezekiel 11:15-17]

Now they may be scattered in captivity in Babylon, or scattered in captivity under the iron fist of Communist Russia, or they may be all over this earth, but God says, “The land of Canaan, the land of Israel, is yours; it belongs to you” [Genesis 12:7, 13:15-17].  And in the last closing verses of Amos, Amos chapter 9, verses 14 and 15:

I will bring again the captivity of My people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards; they shall make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.

And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord of hosts.

[Amos 9:14-15]

The land belongs to Israel.  And when Israel is there, it becomes a land of vineyards and of gardens and of fruitful abundance.

That’s one of the miracles of history before our eyes, is to see what God says come to pass.  In the hands of other people, the land of Canaan is a blistering, forbidding, burning desert; rocky, uninviting.  But under the hands of the people of God it’s a veritable garden.

In these years past I have been to Israel seven times.  And back yonder, long time ago, I visited twice at length with David Ben-Gurion.  He was the first prime minister of Israel.  There hadn’t been a nation there since 70 AD, when Titus destroyed it.  But in May 1948, the nation of Israel was re-created; and David Ben-Gurion was its first prime minister.  He married a Brooklyn Jewess—one of the most interesting men I ever visited with.  They had a picture of David Ben-Gurion and me in Time magazine, and I’m laughing.  And I’ve been asked a thousand times, “What were you laughing at?”  Well, I can’t tell you, you’d have to see me privately.

David Ben-Gurion was a farmer.  He lived in the Negev, down close to Beersheba.  And he said to me, “Do you see?  In Israel a Jew is a farmer.  Everywhere else in the world he’s a professional man.  He’s a lawyer, or a doctor, or a merchant; he lives in the city.  But in Israel, he’s a farmer.”  David Ben-Gurion said that they took some of these Jewish refugees, and selecting some of the richest land in Argentina, the Jews were placed on that rich land in Argentina.  Ben-Gurion said, “It wasn’t any time at all until the Jews had forsaken the land and they were back in the city.”  But he says, “Look, in Israel, we’re farmers.  We belong to the land and the land belongs to us.  And look, there’ll be in Israel what is called a green line.  It will be lush, and green, and emerald, and foliated up to the place where the Israelite doesn’t possess it anymore, and from there on it’s a dry, barren, blistering desert.”

When God gave the land of Canaan to Israel there was topsoil on those hills and mountains four and five feet deep; great forests flourished over those hills and mountains.  It was a land of milk and honey [Deuteronomy 31:20].  Then transgressors and trespassers came into the land and they cut down the trees, and they took away the vegetation; and what little was left was eaten up by goats, herds of goats.  And erosion washed the land until now it looks like an illimitable array of stones.  And down there next to the sea where the water has washed it, that rich topsoil is thirty feet deep.  Walking around Caesarea I was in a farmer’s field, and I saw sticking out of the ground a beautiful marble column, a Greek column sticking out of the ground about that high in that fellow’s field.  Oh, I wished I could have dug down there and have seen what is below that Greek column.  There would be a Greek city down there, covered over now by thirty feet of sediment that is washed out of those mountains after they were denuded.  When somebody else has the land, it is a burning desert.  What part of the land the Jew now has is lush and green, and the rainfall increases, and it flowers and fruits and blossoms like a rose [Isaiah 35:1].  The land belongs to him, the Jew, and the Jew belongs to the land.  God made it that way.

I was talking to one of the Israelis, and he said to me, he said, “When we die, we’re not buried in a coffin or in a casket.  We are wrapped in a winding sheet, and we’re placed in the ground.  We came from the ground, and we go back to the ground.  We came from the land; we go back to the land.  We came from the dust of this earth, and we go back to the dust of this earth.”  That’s the covenant of Almighty God [Genesis 3:19].

There is room enough in this world for all of us.  I live in America.  The Arab has a country all up and down millions of square miles.  The Englishman has his lot in the British Isles.  And the lot of Israel in the covenant of God is in Canaan; and the land belongs to him [Genesis 12:7, 13:15-17].

One other:  the unfailing, eternal, unchanging covenants of God, berithology, the promises of God—as they days multiplied, God said to David through Nathan the prophet, “I will set up thy seed after thee”—this is in 2 Samuel 7—“I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy loins, and I will establish his kingdom” [2 Samuel 7:12].  Verse 13, “I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.”  Verse 16, “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” [2 Samuel 7:16].  That is the Davidic covenant.  That is the covenant that the Lord God made to David:  that he would have a Son who would sit upon the throne of David forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end [2 Samuel 7:13].

In [Psalm 89] the Lord God says, and you listen to His words, ”I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn unto David My servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations” [Psalm 89:3-4].  Verses 34 to 37:

My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips.

Once have I sworn by My holiness that I will not lie unto David.

His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before Me.

It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven.

[Psalm 89:34-37]

As long as that sun is up there to shine, and that moon up there to shine, and the stars to shine, not only will there be a nation Israel, but there will be a King to sit on David’s throne to reign for ever [Psalm 89:34-37].

And that is so oft repeated.  Jeremiah 23:5, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper … In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely:  and this is His name, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” [Jeremiah 23:5-6].  And again, out of endless numbers of Scriptures, listen to this one:  Luke 1, beginning at verse 31, “Behold,” the angel says in annunciation to Mary:

Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Joshua, iesous, Jesus, Savior.  He shall be great, and shall be called 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 for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

[Luke 1:31-33]

This is a sacred covenant God has made with Israel and with David:  he shall have a Son seated upon His throne who shall reign over Judah and over Israel and over the whole creation of God forever and forever—a King, King [Luke 1:31-33].

So it’s not only Jesus Savior, iesous soter, but it’s Jesus, iesous basileos, Jesus kaisar, Jesus King, King Jesus!  Pilate said to Him, so beat, crowned with thorns, cheap ragged purple robe thrown over His shoulders [Matthew 27:28-29], “Are You the King of the Jews?”  And Jesus replied, “Do you say this of yourself, or do others tell it thee?”  Pilate shrugs in contempt, and says, “Am I a Jew, that I would know?” [John 18:35].  And Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” [John 18:36].  Then Pilate says to Jesus, “Art Thou a king then?  You, are You a king?”  And Jesus replied, “Thou sayest that I am a king,” that’s the most effective, strongest affirmation in the Greek language, to repeat what the man says, “Thou sayest that I am a king.  To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” [John 18:37].  A king, He was born a king.  And magi came from the East to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” [Matthew 2:1-2].  And He died, He was crucified, a King; and it was written in Greek and in Hebrew and in Latin, “This is the King of the Jews” [Luke 23:38].

And He was raised from the dead [Matthew 28:1-7], and entered into heaven a King! [Acts 1:9-10]. In the fourth chapter of the Book of Ephesians it describes the return, the triumphal entry of our Lord into heaven.  Chained to His chariot wheels, Satan, and hell, and the grave! [Ephesians 4:8-9].  And when He entered into glory, mind could not imagine the glorious welcome [Acts 1:9-10].  The angels of heaven and the saints of God welcomed their rightful and reigning and living King!  This is Jesus, the King of the Jews! [Luke 23:38].

And in the Book of the Revelation in the eleventh chapter, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; And He shall reign for ever and ever” [Revelation 11:15]:

“These shall make war with the Lamb,” Revelation 17:14, “and the Lamb shall overcome them:  for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings:  and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”  Then in the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation we have the denouement of history, the intervention of God in human story, when Jesus comes down in the midst of the great battle of Armageddon and brings with Him the reign of the millennial kingdom of our God:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was Faithful and True…His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns…He was dressed in a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God.  The armies in heaven follow Him…And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should rule the nations…And He hath on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

[Revelation 19:11-16]

The covenant of God: unfailing, everlasting, a nation and a land and a people and a King [2 Samuel 7:13].  And in these sermons to come, the blessings that God hath prepared for us who love our Lord [1 Corinthians 2:9], and wait for His appearing [Titus 2:13]; a coming King.

I was in Norway, and in the First Baptist Church, after the service was over, one of their leading deacons took me to lunch and then because we found a deep friendship with one another, each day that I was in Oslo, Norway, he would come and take me in his car and show me all the wonders of that beautiful city.  One of the things that evidently had made an indelible impression upon his soul was the days of the Nazi German occupation of Norway, for five years.  He described the suffering of his family and his people under Nazi occupation.  And their king had fled their country.  Last week the successor of that king was a visitor here in our city of Dallas, the king of Norway.  That king, King Haakon, was in exile when the Nazis took over the country.  And this deacon said to me, with his little family, he said, “From time to time, King Haakon would send an airplane over our city and over Norway, and they would dump out from the sky messages from him, the king.  Sometimes,” he said, “it would be a little tiny disk.   Sometimes it would be a leaflet.  Sometimes it might be a little Norwegian flag.”  He said, “The Nazis on pain of death interdicted our picking them up.  But,” he said, “we picked them up.  And in the evening,” the deacon would say to me, “I’d gather my family round, and with the shades pulled down, and even the keyholes plugged, we would play the little disk, and listen to the voice of our king as he would say, ‘I’m coming back.  Don’t be discouraged.  Don’t lose faith.  Don’t lose hope.  I’m coming back.’“  And he said, “We’d pick up surreptitiously those little pamphlets that he’d write.  ‘Don’t be discouraged; I’m coming back.’“

Then one day in our visit, he drove down to the port and stopped the car.  And he said, “Do you see that place there at the edge of the water?”  He said, “The day came when our king arrived in Oslo, and his ship came to that port right there.”  The deacon said to me, “We were here by the thousands and the thousands and the thousands to welcome our king.”  And he said, “Everyone shouted to the other, ‘The king is coming!  Look, the king is coming!”  Then the deacon said, “When he stepped out of the ship and stepped on the shore,” he said, “we went wild with joy and with gladness!  We threw our hats up in the air.  We cried, we wept, we hugged one another.  We said, ‘Our king has come.  Our king has come!’“

The Book of Zechariah says “And His feet that day shall stand on the Mount of Olives” [Zechariah 14:4].  And when the feet of our coming King touch the Mount of Olives, it shall split wide open; and there will be a great valley, so that those from the east and those from the west can come from the ends of the earth to worship our great and living Lord, King Jesus, coming again [Zechariah 14:5].

This is the covenant of Almighty God, who will not fail, who could not lie, and who intends and purposes for us an ultimate and a final victory over death, over the grave, over hell, over every dark abysmal discouragement [1 Corinthians 15:54-57].  God lives and Christ reigns! [Revelation 11:15]. That’s why He would say to us, “Lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” [Luke 21:28].  King Jesus is coming [Acts 1:11] and we will be present, whether raised from the dead or translated in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye [1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17], we shall be there to receive Him, to praise Him, to bless Him, to love Him, to serve Him forever and ever.  Hallelujah!  World without end; God’s purpose covenant for us.

May we stand together?

Our Lord, there is no one of us but somewhere, sometime, somewhere will face great discouragement, all of us; finally and inevitably, a day of death.  Seemingly, the grave triumphs over us, age overtakes us, unspeakable discouragement and difficulties overwhelm us; sadness may endure for a while, but joy and triumph and glory comes in the morning.  Wonderful Savior, may we find refuge in Thee [Psalm 46:1].  May any discouragement we ever know be lost in the rapture, the glory of the promise of Thy presence and Thy personal coming [1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17].

And in this moment that our people pray, just for you, what a glorious time to give your heart and your life and your home to the Lord Jesus.  A family you, “We have decided for God, and we’re coming.”  In that balcony round, down one of those stairways; in this lower floor, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, we have decided, and we’re on the way.”  A couple you, two friends, or a man and his wife; or just you, “God has spoken to me, and I’m answering with my life” [Ephesians 2:8].  Do it, it’ll be the greatest decision you’re ever make.  In this moment when we sing our hymn of appeal, take that first step, the most meaningful you’ll ever make.  And God bless you and angels attend you while you come.  And thank Thee, Lord, for the sweet harvest You give us this victorious day.  In Thy saving name, amen.  A thousand times welcome, while we sing, while we wait.