BE YE ALSO READY
D. M. PANTON
NEVER has our need been more urgent to do what Enoch did - the morning star of the Old Testament - to walk with God. The earth in his time was "filled with violence" - the violence of lawless movements, and raging nations; all mankind stood on the threshold of a universal judgment-flood; Enoch, alone of his generation, walked with God; when suddenly - for him only - all ended in instantaneous TRANSLATION. And never was the need more urgent to see the condition of translation. "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God translated him: for before his translation he hath had witness borne to him that he had been well-pleasing unto God" (Heb. 11: 5).
So on the promise of Christ our souls deeply, gladly rest. "Because thou didst keep the word of my patience" - the Saviour's patient waiting for His return, when His enemies shall be made His footstool - "I also will keep thee from the hour of trial, the hour which is to come upon the whole inhabited earth" - thus it is the Great Tribulation, the only judgment since the Flood to overwhelm the whole earth at once - "to try them that dwell upon the earth" (Rev. 3: 10). Here is the overthrow of the teaching that all the Church must pass through the Tribulation: total escape from that time of horror is possible for every child of God. But the promise is sharply conditional. It is to the Angel alone - 'thou': it is based solely on his action, not on his standing - "because thou didst keep": it is grounded on a specific action of the Angel, namely, his Second Advent attitude - "because thou didst keep the word of my Patience": and the escape is made wholly contingent on this attitude of the Angel - "because thou didst keep, I will keep." It is 'kept' for 'kept'; it is a quid Pro quo. It is a specific reward for a specific service: and since this is "what the Spirit saith to the churches," all who are in the spiritual position of the Philadelphian Angel are certain of total deliverance.
then, since escape is thus conditional
on conduct, our Lord drops an exactly correspondent warning. "If thou shalt not watch" - again it is Second
Advent truth, with a life squared to it, which is the deciding factor - "I will come (arrive) as a thief, and thou shalt not know what
hour I will come upon (arrive over) thee" (Rev. 3: 3): the Parousia will have
begun, and the Angel, because un-rapt, be wholly ignorant of the Saviour's
arrival. Here is the overthrow of the
teaching that all the Church will escape the Tribulation: the unwatchful
child of God is certain to be caught in the last whirlpool. God has decreed neither our deliverance
nor our overthrow, for the threat, like
the promise, is sharply conditional. If the un-watchfulness ceases, so does the
danger: "God appointed us not
unto wrath" (1 Thess.
5: 9): only if the salt have lost its savour, like the 'dead' Sardian Angel, will it
be trodden under the foot of men. For if
out of the promise, and the warning, springs the inevitable command. "Watch ye at
every season, praying that" - so that, in order that - "ye may be accounted
worthy to escape all these things that shall
come to pass upon the earth" - the Great Tribulation is in the
immediate context - "and to stand (be set) before the Son of
man" (Luke 21: 36). What is the 'worthiness'? (1) Not Christ's
worthiness, imputed to us on faith: for that we have already; and all believers
have it, whether watchful or not, and to pray for what we already possess is
unbelief. This is a
worthiness towards which, and for which, we have still to pray; and that
always, until the End: "watch and pray always." After an address in
Nor (2) is it sinless perfection, - that saints will not die because they cannot die, having become sinlessly perfect: for even the First-fruits - the first-rapt before Harvest - are offered with leaven (Lev. 23: 17): in the old body, no soul of man can be sinless. The worthiness is obviously a relative worthiness, - Christ's being the sole absolute worthiness a measure of sanctification known only to God: a fact put beyond all doubt by the word our Lord uses, "that ye may prevail (have the upper hand, succeed, prevail - Liddell and Scott) to escape"; that in the stiff, long battle we may "win through," "prevailing over" world, flesh and devil, to reach the holy rapture of God. "If a man keep my word" - watchfulness, or the conscious squaring of all life to the Second Coming; and prayer, for hourly grace to persevere: these are the supreme words of Christ on Translation - "he shall never see death" (John 8 : 51).
So our sharpening crisis calls urgently on us to walk with God, as Enoch walked with God. For it is the Bride, not the Bridegroom, who contributes the trousseau of marriage readiness. "His wife hath made herself READY: and it was given unto her" - from the inexhaustible reservoirs of grace on which she can draw - "that she should array herself" - her active application of that grace to her own heart and conduct - "in fine linen, bright and pure: for the fine linen is the righteous acts" - the holy behaviour, the sanctification and not the justification - "of the saints" (Rev. 19: 8). "Therefore be YE also ready" (Matt. 24: 44).
The Walk With God
Brother Lawrence, in The Practise of the Presence of God, has expressed his own walk with God. "The time of business," said he "does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees at the Blessed Sacrament." His one method of going to God and abiding in His Presence was to do all for the love of Him. "The littleness of my work does not lessen the value of the offering, for God regards not the greatness of the work, but the love which prompts it." It was enough for Brother Lawrence to turn the cake in the frying-pan for love of God, or to pick up but a straw from the ground. "To be with God," he said, "there is no need to be continually in church. Of our heart we may make an oratory, wherein to retire from time to time and with Him hold meek, humble, loving converse." The spirit in which Lawrence spent the last years of his life finds expression in two of his Maxims: "I would suffer not for ten years but till the Day of judgment if it were God's will, and I hope that He would continue to aid me with His grace to bear it": "I am doing what I shall do through all eternity - blessing God, praising God, adoring God, giving God the love of my whole heart. It is our one business to worship Him and love Him, without thought of anything else."
So therefore readiness is vital to escape the horrors that are coming. Bodily removals from earth to heaven have always followed the ripening of the wheat. Plurality of rapture is proved beyond dispute. (1) Our Lord, probably with those who broke out of the tombs accompanying Him, has been rapt, and as 'the first-fruits' (1 Cor. 25: 20) of the harvest; a body of saints, specifically named 'firstfruits,' are on high before the Tribulation (Rev. 15: 4); (3) two prophets are visibly taken up in a separate rapture during the reign of Antichrist (Rev. 11 : 12); and (4) the martyrs under Antichrist, on high (Rev. 14 : 4), could not have been rapt before the close of the Tribulation. "BE YE ALSO READY; FOR IN AN HOUR THAT YE THINK NOT THE SON OF MAN COMETH" (Matt. 24: 44).
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THE truth stated by Scripture - that the translation of Enoch was a reward - is obvious to commentators, and is undeniable.
John Angel James, a leading Nonconformist of the nineteenth century, says:-
"Enoch's translation was a testimony to the whole world of God's approval of his conduct."
Dr. Gouge says:-
"To be translated from earth to heaven is a great reward. Enoch did that which moved God to translate him: work must be done before reward can be expected."
"One reason why this honour was conferred on him was to show his transcendent excellence."
"The Scripture shows that this translation was a proof of the Divine love towards Enoch by connecting it immediately with his pious and upright life."
John Gill, Spurgeon's predecessor by a hundred years, says:-
"He was a walker with God, and, the course of his conversation was holy and upright; which was the reason of his translation, a high honour which was bestowed upon him."
"God translated him; FOR before his translation he hath had witness borne to him that he had been well-pleasing unto God" (Heb. 11: 5).
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THE LORD'S WARNING
R. H. BOLL
"But watch ye at every season, making supplication that ye may prevail to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man" (Luke 21: 36).
This sentence concludes our Lord's prophetic discourse as recorded by Luke. It is very evident from this:- (1) that certain things shall come to pass; these are in part mentioned in the preceding part of the discourse (v. 25 ff); (2) that by watchfulness and supplication we may prevail to escape all those things; (3) that those who so escape shall stand before the Son of man.
First let us examine some of the peculiar and meaningful words the Saviour used in this sentence.
Agrupneite - watch ye; not the usual word gregoreo, but a term implying sleeplessness, as of a burdened heart. It is the word used in Mark 13 : 33; also, significantly, in Eph. 6 : 18.
Deomenoi - making supplication; meaning to make urgent request; stronger word than proseuchomai, to pray.
Katischuste - prevail; ischuo means to prevail; katischtio, to prevail against or over something or somebody; to overcome, to get the upper hand. The mob cried out till their voices prevailed; (Luke 23: 23) and they got their wish.
Ekphugein - to escape; the simple word "phugo" means to flee when strengthened with "ek" it means to flee out of some danger or evil situation, to escape.
Stathanai - to stand; but to be exact it means "to be stationed," for it is a passive form of "histemi," to stand.
Emprosthen - before; more literally "in front of."
These are remarkable words. That the heavenly wisdom of the Lord Jesus used them with purpose and determination needs not to be said. Let us then, having examined these outstanding words, try to take in the meaning of the verse. It forms the final word of the conclusion. To get its force we must look at the two verses preceding :- "But take heed to yourselves, lest haply your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come on you suddenly ... as a snare; for so shall it come upon all them that dwell on the face of all the earth" (Luke 21: 34, 35).
It is worthy of particular notice how the Lord distinguishes between His own, the disciples He addresses, and "them that dwell on the face of all the earth." These latter are "earth-dwellers," in the bad sense; people who have settled down here below, "men of the world whose portion is in this life" (Ps. 17: 14) as contrasted with those who are "sojourners and pilgrims" (1 Pet. 2: 11). Upon such "that day" will come "suddenly, as a snare" - which obviously, in the Lord's warning, must be considered as a dreadful calamity, by all means to be avoided.
He solemnly cautions His disciples not to let their hearts be taken up with self-indulgence, drunkenness or the cares of this life which choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful (Mark 4: 19); for in that case would "that day" come upon them "suddenly, as a snare," precisely as it will upon the earth-dwellers (Comp. Rev. 3: 3).
Now to our verse. Here the Lord Jesus marks out the course necessary for His own who are to escape the terrible things that shall come to pass and who shall be permitted to stand before the Son of Man. It is for them:-
To watch at every season. Though He points out certain signs, at the inception of which they should look up and lift up their heads, for the time of their redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21: 28) - there is never a time when they should not watch - signs or no signs. For the signs may go unnoticed, and we may easily misjudge our times. The only safety lies in watching always. (See here Mark 13: 35-37).
Making supplication. This, being a participle, shows that the supplication is to go on during the constant watching. If they are to watch at every season, so must they be making supplication at every season, constantly.
And for what this constant, urgent prayer? That they may prevail to escape all the things that are to come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. Both the escape, on the one hand, from the calamities and judgment of that day and the privilege of being placed "in front of" the Son of man are here made contingent on watchfulness and prevailing prayer.
If anyone asks how this harmonizes with the widely-held tenet of "the eternal security of the believer" and the doctrine of salvation by grace - I would be far from detracting one whit from the plain face value of any of God's precious promises. But let me say this - that if your faith in those promises sets your soul on fire to serve God, to work and watch and pray, and to do all His good will gladly, then there is no doubt that you have truly understood, and your faith in His gracious promise is having its intended result and manifestation. But if yours is a sort of pleasant fatalism that tends to make you careless and easy going, you have surely misunderstood something and you surely need the Lord's warning.
Let us watch and make supplication
always that we may escape the things that shall come upon the world and be
accounted worthy of the
- Herald of His Coming.
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THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM
The Lord is now selecting and training the kings and rulers for the coming new age in His great plan of redemption. "Unto him that bath loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father" (Rev. 1: 5, 6). "And we shall reign on the earth" (Rev. 5: 10). A warless world to last 1,000 years will some day be a reality, but only those who have parted company with sin and the world will ever have any place in that greatly to be desired "New Order."
"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection of such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."
- W. F. BEIRNES.