The Coming King
January 22nd, 1989 @ 10:50 AM
THE COMING KING
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-22-89 10:50 a.m.
And once again welcome to the throngs of you who share this hour on radio and on television. You are now part of our dear First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled The Coming King. Preaching through the Fourth Gospel, the Gospel of John, in chapter 18, in the trial of our Lord, beginning at verse 33, “Then Pilate,” the Roman procurator of the province of Judea:
Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto Him, Art Thou the King of the Jews? You?
And Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of Me?
Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the 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, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from hence.
Pilate therefore said unto Him, You, are You a king?
The lowly peasant, the Lord Jesus:
You, art Thou a king, You?
Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king.”
That’s the most emphatic affirmative by which the Greek language expresses an affirmation, to repeat what the question was. “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].
King Jesus, the coming King; He is the covenanted and promised King of Israel [2 Samuel 7:12-17]. By an unconditional covenant, God promised the land of Canaan—the land of Palestine—to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, Israel, and to their seed forever [Genesis 12:7; 26:3-4; 35:12; Psalm 105:8-11]. Whatever the United Nations may vote to do, and whatever the family of nations in the world today may seek to support, God says that the land of Palestine belongs to the seed of Israel. That is an unconditional, unabrogated covenant.
The same Lord God sent Nathan, His prophet, to David the king and said to David that he should have a Son who would be seated upon David’s throne forever [2 Samuel 7:12-14, 16-17]. Isaiah the prophet spoke of that glorious Child:
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.
Of the increase of His government there shall be no end. In judgment and in peace, 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 from heaven to a city in Galilee named Nazareth, to a Jewish maiden named Mary. And the emissary announced to her that she should be the mother of this foretold, foreordained Child [Luke 1:26-38]. And on a night of nights, when the heavens were filled with the infinite glories of God, when the very air was resonant with all the harmonies of the universe, when every star like a golden lamp was lowered earthward by angelic and invisible hands, the Child was born, the King was born.
A messenger from heaven appeared to the startled shepherds in the field of Bethlehem and said, “You will find Him in the city. Go see for yourselves” [Luke 2:8-12]. Then, suddenly, all God’s angelic choirs burst into singing. They flung upward to the throne the glory of their salutation, “Glory to God in the highest!” and then downward upon the earth their earthly benediction: “Peace on earth, good will to men!” [Luke 2:14-14]. The Child was born [Luke 2:15-116].
In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River [Luke 3:1, 21-22], and went forth to announce the covenant kingdom and to present Himself as the chosen, prophesied, foreordained King [Matthew 4:17]. He carried with Him the credentials of His royal majesty. Through His mother, in the line of Nathan, He was the Son of David [Luke 3:23-38], and through Joseph, Mary’s husband, through Solomon, He was of the line and lineage of the king himself [Matthew 1:1-17]. By birth and by legal right He was a King. Not only by birth and right did He ascend the throne, but He carried with Him the credentials of a sinless life [Hebrews 4:15]. He carried with Him the credentials of wonderful words: “Never a man spake like that Man” [John 7:46]. And He carried with Him the credentials of marvelous, incomparable works. “It was never so seen in Israel” [Matthew 9:33]. And at the exact moment prophesied by Gabriel to Daniel [Daniel 9:25], and in the exact manner of the angelic, prophetic announcement to Zechariah [Zechariah 9:9], at that moment, Jesus the Lord, the Prince of Peace, the Son of God, came riding up the slopes of Zion into the holy city of Jerusalem [Matthew 21:2-11].
The whole earth seemed to receive Him with incomparable, indescribable gladness and rejoicing. They laid down their garments before the feet of the beast on which He rode [Matthew 21:8; Mark 11:8]. They cried to heaven itself, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! Blessed be the kingdom of David, and blessed is He that cometh!” [Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9-10]. When the scribes and the Pharisees objected to what the throngs were crying, our Lord replied: “If these hold their peace, the very rocks of the ground will cry out” [Luke 19:39-40]. It was the great, consummate moment of time and eternity. The King had come [Matthew 21:5].
He is a rejected King. They arrested Him, they arraigned Him, they brought Him before the chief priest who presided over the Sanhedrin, and they accused Him of blasphemy. And when the priest asked of the nature of the blasphemy, “He said that He is Christ, a King.” And the high priest rent His garments and said, “You have heard His blasphemy, what do you think?” and they cried in reply and in unison, “He is worthy of death” [Matthew 26:63-66; Mark 14:61-64].
At that time, capital punishment had been taken from the hands of the Sanhedrin and was placed under the purview of the Roman procurator of the province of Judea. His name was Pontius Pilate. And they carried the Lord Jesus to the governor of the province and accused Him of sedition and of revolution [Luke 23:14].
And Pilate said: “Why, what evil hath He done?” And they replied, “He says that He is Christ, a King [Luke 23:2], and we have no king but Caesar” [John 19:15]. And Pilate turned to that humble figure and form and said, “You, are You a king? You?” And our Lord replied: “Thou sayest that I am a king” [John 18:37].
I repeat, the strongest affirmation in the Greek language, to repeat it: “Thou sayest I am a king, for this cause have I come into the world” [John 18:37]. A king. And Pilate said to the blood-thirsty throng: “Shall I crucify your King?” and they replied, “Crucify Him, crucify Him, we have no king but Caesar” [John 19:15]. And Pilate acquiesced in their bloodthirsty demands, delivered Him to the soldiers who nailed Him to the tree [John 19:16-18]. And Pilate wrote above His cross, this superscription in Greek, and in Latin, and in Hebrew: “This is Jesus the King of the Jews” [Matthew 27:37; John 19:19].
And the high priest went to the governor and said, “Do not write, ‘This is Jesus the King,’ write, ‘This is Jesus who said He was a King.’” And Pilate replied that famous word, “Gegrapha, gegrapha”: “What I have written I have written” [John 19:21-22]. Jesus was crucified a King, and Jesus died a King. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” [John 1:11] King Jesus!
He is an exiled King. In the nineteenth chapter of the Third Gospel—the Gospel of Luke—our Lord told the story of Himself: “A nobleman who went into a far country to receive a kingdom for himself, and while he was gone, he said to his people, Occupy till I come” [Luke 19: 12-13]. Now that our Lord and King is away, what now, what shall we do? What program and purpose does God have for His people? Oh, oh, dear me, this great intermission, this vast interlude between the assumption of our Lord into heaven [Acts 1:9-11], and the day when He comes back again [1 Thessalonians 4:16]; this great intermission!
First: how Satan must have rejoiced, how he must have exalted when he saw Jesus die on the cross [Matthew 27:32-50]. Israel has slain her own Son, and the seed of Abraham are in unbelief. And all the prophecies of Jehovah God have fallen to the ground. Sin shall reign forever! Death shall reign forever! Darkness shall reign forever! And Satan the lord of hell and of damnation and death will be king forever! How he must have rejoiced! But there was a—and the Greek word is mustērion: there was a mustērion. When you spell it out in English, it spells out in English the exact word “mystery,” but the word has no connotation of mystery. Mystery, to us, is a riddle wrapped up in an enigma. A mustērion in God’s Book is a secret that God kept in His heart until He revealed it to His holy apostles. For example, three times in three verses here in the third chapter of Ephesians, Paul writes: “By revelation, God made known unto me, the mustērion” [Ephesians 3:3]. Next verse: “That you may understand my knowledge in the mustērion, which in other ages, was not made known, but is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets [Ephesians 3:4-5], namely that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs of the same body, partakers of the promise in Christ by the gospel” [Ephesians 3:6]. The mustērion that God kept secret in His heart; it is not revealed in the Old Testament. You will never find the ekklēsia in the Old Testament; it was a mustērion. It was a secret that God kept in His heart until He revealed it, after the atoning death of Christ, to His apostles [Ephesians 3:5], namely, that the kingdom of God is open now to all the families and people of the world—red and yellow, black and white, bonded slaves and free, men and women, male and female, children and teenagers; to the whole world God’s arms are outstretched [Ephesians 3:6]. Just like the arms of the cross, as far as the east goes east and the west goes west, so the great outpouring of the Spirit of God in this dispensation, in this age, in this intermission [Acts 10:44-46]; preaching the gospel anywhere anyone will listen. I have preached the gospel of Christ around this world—in Africa, in Asia, in the sub-continents, everywhere—and I have seen every kind of a people in this earth come forward, loving Jesus. It is a wonderful thing that God brought to pass in the death of our Lord and the outpouring of His love on the cross [John 3:16].
But what of the kingdom, what of that great, glorious reign that the prophets so beautifully describe in the pages of the Old Testament, what of the King? What of Him? You see, in the Book of Romans—in the Book of Romans, chapter 11, verse 25—the apostle writes, “Blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the plērōma of the Gentiles be come in. And then all Israel shall be saved” [Romans 11:25-26].
“Well, pastor, what is that word plērōma?” It is translated here in the King James Version “fullness”: “until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” [Romans 11:25]. The word actually means the full number. “Blindness in part has happened to Israel”; he is speaking of this present dispensation, this interlude, this intermission. “Blindness has happened to Israel”: the great mass of the seed of Israel does not believe. They are outside the kingdom of Christ. “Blindness, in part, has happened to Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles be come in.” Up there in heaven, God has a book, and it’s called the Book of Life [Revelation 13:8; 20:12,15; Philippians 4:3], and in that Book are written the names of every Gentile who will ever be saved. Your name, my name, the name of all of God’s people who are elected; they are in that Book up there in heaven [Luke 10:20].
And when that last Gentile that is to be saved comes down this aisle, walks down that stairway, takes the pastor by the hand and says, “Pastor, today, I give my life in faith and trust to the Lord Jesus” [Ephesians 2:8], when the last Gentile comes in, the plērōma, when the last one comes down that aisle [Romans 11:25], then shall the end come [1 Corinthians 15:24]. Then shall our Lord return. And He returns under a twofold simile: first, He is coming as a thief in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:2], and second, He is coming as the livid lightening flashes across the bosom of the sky [Matthew 24:27]. He is coming first as a thief in the night with unsandled feet: furtively, quietly, clandestinely, secretly. He is coming to steal away His pearl of price [Matthew 13:45-46], His jewels, His people, to take us out of the earth. The dead and the living; these that are asleep in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive and remain in the coming of the Lord shall be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air [1 Thessalonians 4:14-17].
These who have fallen asleep will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain to that great day will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and then all of us will be brought up to meet our Lord descending from heaven [1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. There will not be a bone left in the region of death. There will not be relic left for Satan to gloat over. We will all be changed, whether we have fallen asleep in the Lord or whether we are alive unto the coming of our great King, coming to steal away His people.
Two shall be in a field; one taken, and the other left. Two shall be grinding in a mill; one taken, and the other left. Two shall be sleeping in a bed; one shall be taken, and the other left [Luke 17:34-36]. He is coming to take away His people. But He is also coming under the simile of the livid, vivid, lightening that crashes across the bosom of the heavens [Matthew 24:27]. The Revelation begins like that: “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also who pierced Him: and all of the tribes and families of the earth shall wail because of Him” [Revelation 1:7]; openly and publicly.
Jude writes that “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints” [Jude 14], coming back to reign over all of the Almighty’s creation [2 Timothy 2:12]. He is coming in the glory of the Father as God the Son, and the Son of God! [Matthew 25:31]. He is coming in the glory of the angels, the Captain of the hosts of heaven [Matthew 16:27]. He is coming in the glory of the church, as the Bridegroom with the bride [Ephesians 5:27]. He is coming in His own glory, as the Son of God, the Son of Abraham, the Son of Israel, the Son of Man [Matthew 19:28]. He is coming as the virgin-born Man [Galatians 4:4], as the crucified Man [Matthew 27:32-50], as the risen Man [Matthew 28:5-7], as the glorified Man [John 17:5]. He is coming to be the restorer of this earth and its re-creator. He is coming to be as the passage we just read; as the King of all the kings and the Lord of all the lords [Revelation 19:16]. He is coming as the Lord God Pantokrator, the Lord God Almighty [Revelation 1:8]. What a day! What a day!
Then shall come to pass all of the wonderful prophecies that we read in God’s Holy Book, such as in Micah: “The nations shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks. They will not lift up sword against each other. Every man will sit under his own vine and his own fig tree. And nobody will make him afraid” [Micah 4:3-4]. What a day! Or as Isaiah says, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the carnivorous lion will eat straw like an ox. They will 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 11:6-9].
This earth is destined not for darkness and damnation and death, but God made it to be beautiful, and He made it as a paradise for us. And some glorious, triumphant day, when the great Restorer of God’s purpose comes to pass and is in our presence, we will see it as the Lord made it and intended it and purposed it from the beginning [Revelation 21:1-2]. The same Lord God that purposed your salvation, that elected you to that grace and glory and goodness [Romans 8:28-30], shared in the love of Jesus our Savior.
It may be at mid-day, 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.
O, joy! O, delight! should we go without dying,
No sickness, no sorrow, no dread and no crime,
Caught up with our Lord through clouds into glory,
When Jesus comes for His own.
O Lord Jesus, how long, how long?
Ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Amen. Hallelujah! Amen.
[“Christ Returneth,” H.L. Turner]
Any day, Lord, anytime, if I know my heart, I am ready. And what I pray for me and mine, I pray for you and yours. Lord, when that day comes, that You find us ready, into the kingdom of God, into the glory of His heaven, prepared for those who love Him [1 Corinthians 2:9].
While our orchestra makes room for these who are coming, may I say a word? To all of the throngs of you who have listened on television, what a wonderful day it would be if this day you gave your heart to that blessed Savior.
What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sorrows and griefs and burdens to bear [Isaiah 53:4], and what a wonderful Somebody to stand by us in our hour of need [Hebrews 4:16] and ultimately at the gate of death [Acts 7:59]. How precious that He is there to open for us the gates of heaven [John 14:3]. Wherever you are is a good where to accept Jesus as Savior; to look up to Him, to kneel down and pray and ask the Lord to come into your heart. Let us know, write us a note: “Pastor, today I accepted the Lord Jesus as my Savior,” or “I’d like to know the way more clearly.” You call and we’ll answer. And in the great throng of God’s people in the sanctuary this solemn, morning hour, a family you, a couple you, a one somebody you, “Pastor, today I have decided for Christ, and here I stand.” As the Spirit of God shall press the appeal to your heart, answer with your life, make it now, and a thousand times welcome, while we stand and while we sing.
I. The covenant King of Israel
A. Promised Seed of
Abraham; a Son to sit on David’s throne forever (Isaiah
announcement to Mary (Luke 1:32-33, 35)
C. The Child born in
Bethlehem (Luke 2:8-14)
D. Went forth to
present Himself as the prophesied King
1. Carried with
Him the credentials of His claim (John 7:41)
exact prophesied moment, He came riding into Jerusalem (Luke 19:38-40)
II. A rejected King
A. Arrested, arraigned,
accused of blasphemy (Matthew 26:63-66)
B. Accused of treason
and sedition before Pilate (John 18:37)
C. He was crucified a
King (John 19:5, 19, 21-22, 1:11)
III. An exiled King
has gone away into a far country, waiting the consummation (Luke 19:12-13)
IV. The great intermission
A. How Satan must have
exulted in the day of the cross
musterion, hidden in the heart of God until revealed to the apostles (Ephesians 3:3-6)
V. The coming kingdom
A. The fullness of the
Gentiles (Romans 11:25)
B. He is coming again
As a thief in the night to steal away His treasure (1
Thessalonians 4:16-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Luke 17:34-36)
2. As the
lightning splits the bosom of the sky (Revelation
1:7, Jude 14)