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1. The Lord’s descent from Heaven.

“The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout.” The Lord Himself—who had compassion on the multitude, shed tears at the graveside of Lazarus, and wept over Jerusalem; who healed the sick, cleansed the leper, and restored the dead to life; who stilled the angry waves, cast out demons, and emancipated the captives of Satan; who was despised and rejected of men, condemned to a malefactor’s death, and was crucified on the accursed tree; who rose again on the third day, ascended to heaven, and took His place at the right hand of the Majesty on high; who has been given the Name which is above every name, at which Name every knee shall yet bow, “of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Yes “this same Jesus” shall descend from heaven with a shout.

Forty days after our Crucified Saviour had risen from the tomb, He ascended into Heaven “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come,” and took His seat upon the Father’s Throne. There He has remained throughout this dispensation waiting, patiently waiting for the promised harvest. As He declared, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24). The Lord Jesus was the “Corn of Wheat” that died, and the Church which is His body is the “much fruit” that will be the immediate issue out of that death; we say the “immediate issue,” for in the Millennium many others shall then also enter into the salvation which was purchased upon the cross.

For nineteen long centuries has the Christ of God waited for the fruit of His travail. As the apostle James says, “Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it” (Jas. 5:7). Long indeed has the Lord of the harvest waited. Thus, too, we read of “The kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:9). Slowly but surely has the Church which is His body been growing, growing “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). And now the time of waiting is over. The last member has been added to the Body; the last living stone has been fitted into that Temple which the Holy Spirit is now building (Eph. 2:21); the last moments of the dispensation of grace have run out. Now has come that hour for which the Redeemer has waited so long. Now has come the time for the Head to be united to the Body. Now it is that the Saviour is to see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied.

“The Lord Himself shall descend.” Unspeakably precious is this word to the hearts of His own. Christ is coming in person to effect the object which He has in view. The joy of welcoming His blood-bought people must be exclusively His own. Angels can not be commissioned to perform it, as will be the case when He gathers His scattered people Israel (see Matt. 24:31). Gabriel was granted the honorus privilege of announcing to Mary the first advent of Christ, yet not even to him will be entrusted this work. Christ Himself shall give the gathering shout. The Lord Himself shall descent. “I will come again” was His promise. The same blessed Lord Jesus who loved His own unto death, and who has gone to prepare a place for them, is the very One who has pledged His word to return for them. He will not send the arch-angel to conduct us to the Father’s House. No; the Lord Himself is the One who shall descend from Heaven with a shout”—with a “shout” of triumph, with a “shout” of joy, with a “shout” of welcome. That Voice which summoned Lazarus from the tomb shall again be heard calling the sleeping saints forth from their graves. That Voice of the Shepherd who addresseth His own sheep by name shall then be heard calling His “little flock” from the valley of the shadow of death unto pastures ever green. That Voice which is “as the sound of many waters” (Rev. 1:15) shall then be heard summoning His people Home. “The Voice of my Beloved; behold, He cometh leaping upon the mountains skipping upon the hills” (Song of Solomon 2:8). And what is it that the Voice of the Beloved shall say? “My Beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, My love, My fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, My love, My fair one, and come away” (vss. 10–13). We turn now to consider—

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