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     It is both interesting and profitable to notice the several adjectives which are used in connection with the believer's Hope. In 2 Thess. 2:16 it is termed a "good hope." In Heb. 6:19 it is described as a hope "both sure and steadfast." In 1 Pet. 1:3 it is denominated "a living hope." In Eph. 4:4 it is styled the "one hope" of our calling. While in Titus 2:13 it is spoken of as blessed hope." The blessedness of our Hope is that which is now particularly to engage our attention. In what respects is our hope a "blessed" one? We answer -

1. Because of its bearing upon Israel.

     Israel's future blessings wait for the Return of their Messiah. When He was here before He was despised and rejected by His brethren according to the flesh, but when He comes back again to this earth they shall welcome and worship Him. That prophecy of Zechariah's which received a partial fulfillment when He was here before, is yet to receive a further and complete fulfillment, in the days of His Second Advent. This is clear from the words which immediately follow these which had reference to His entry into Jerusalem a few days before His crucifixion - "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and He shall speak peace unto the heathen: and His dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth" (Zech. 9:9,10). And note further the closing verses of the same chapter - "And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of His people; for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon His land. For how great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids" (vss. 16, 17). The real "Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem" is yet future. Our Lord is to enter the royal city again and at the time of His return He shall enter it as King in fact and in full manifestation of that fact. Then it is that Zion's King shall come to her "having salvation," and then it is that Israel shall marvel at His grace and at His excellency; and then it will be that the daughter of Jerusalem shall be exalted and be once more owned and blessed by Jehovah. It is on the return of Christ to this earth that Israel shall enter into the enjoyment of that inheritance which was given unto their fathers, and under the reign of their Messiah shall become a blessing to all nations. Again; the Redeemer's Return is a blessed Hope.

2. Because of its bearing upon the Gentiles.

     This aspect of our subject has not received the attention which it deserves. It has been assumed by some that the present dispensation is the time when God is blessing the Gentiles and that in the Millennium the Jews will be the special objects of God's favor. It is true that in the Millennium Israel shall enter into the enjoyment of their inheritance and that at that time they shall occupy the chief position, governmentally, among the nations, but it is a mistake to suppose that the Gentiles will receive less notice from God then than they do now. During this Age God is merely taking out of the Gentiles a people for His name, and hence it is that the vast majority of them are still living amid the darkness of heathendom. But it will not always be thus. The restoration of Israel to God's favor will result in wide blessing to the Gentiles.
     In the eleventh chapter of Romans, where the apostle is showing that Israel's present "blindness" is not to continue for ever, he declares, "I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them (Israel) be the riches of the world (i.e., the enrichment of the Gentiles by the Gospel), and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness? (that is, How much more will Israel's latter-day blessing enrich the Gentiles). For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" (vss. 11, 12, 15). How clear it is from these verses that, universal blessings for mankind are not to be brought about by the indefinite prolongation of this present dispensation and the preaching of the Gospel, but by the restoration of Israel, after Christendom has been cut off for its non-continuance in God's goodness. As another has said, "The end of apostate Judaism was judgment: the end of apostate Gentile Christianity will be judgment also. But just as blessing came to us when judgment fell upon the Jew, so when judgment falls upon Christendom, blessing will be restored to Israel, and Israel's restoration will bring still fuller blessing to the world than any it has had during the present dispensation; it will be as "life from the dead!" (W. Trotter).
     The words of Simeon recorded in Act 15 are in perfect agreement with the teaching of Romans 11 - "Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, after this, I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David (i. e., Israel), which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up; that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom My name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things" (vss. 14-17). It is to be noted that here again the "seeking of the Lord" by the "residue of men and all the Gentiles" is subsequent to the restoration of Israel.
     There are many prophecies in the Old Testament which speak of the Millennial blessedness of the Gentiles. We single out one or two without commenting extensively upon them. "And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it" (Is. 40:5). "O sing unto the Lord a new song; for He hath done marvelous things: His right hand, and His holy arm, hath gotten Him the victory. The Lord hath made known His salvation: His righteousness hath He openly shewed in the sight of the heathen. He hath remembered His mercy and His truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God" (Ps. 98:1-3). Once more the order is the same: God's righteousness is displayed before the "heathen" and His salvation is made known to the ends of the earth following God's dealing in mercy with Israel.
     One more quotation must suffice: "And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and My people shall never be ashamed. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh" (Joel 2:27, 28). Like all prophecy, this one receives a double fulfillment. It is to be observed that when Peter quoted from Joel on the Day of Pentecost he did not say, "And now is fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:16), because the words of Joel quoted above will not be filled until the Millennium, then and not till then, will God's Spirit be poured out upon "all flesh" - for that glad day, the earth waits the Second Advent of our Lord. Thus we see that the Return of Christ to this earth to usher in the Millennium will be attended with gracious and wide blessing to the Gentiles, for then it will be that "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Is. 11:9). Again, the Return of the Redeemer is a Blessed Hope.

3.Because of its bearing upon the Church.

     Concerning this point we shall here merely generalize, for this precious aspect of our subject will come up for consideration again in a later chapter. In a word, we may say that, the Hope of the Church lies in the future and not in the present, is heavenly and not earthly. To His disciples our Lord said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation" (John 16:30). This is the present portion of the Church which is His body: this is all that the believer is to expect from the world in which he is now living. We are not to be surprised if the world "hates" us, because it first hated our Divine Master. Said the apostle "Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake." Yea, we are assured that "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." The Lord's path to the Throne was via the Cross, and we are called to "follow His steps." The Hope of the Church then lies not in this world, but above it; not in the present, but in the future.
     At first sight it may appear strange, especially to unbelievers, that the Christian should speak of his hope. In contrast to the wicked who have "no peace," the saint has a satisfying portion. The believer has already drunk of that "living water" of which those who drink shall "never thirst." The believer is already in possession of "eternal life," but he has not yet entered into the full and unhindered enjoyment of it - that is still before him as the object of his hope. In one sense then, the Christian is satisfied, in another sense he is not. The believer already knows One, yea, is not indwelt by One who can satisfy him. He knows Christ, possesses Christ, enjoys Christ; but, as yet, he has not seen Christ. It is by faith (not feelings) that we know and enjoy Christ, but the more we know and enjoy Him thus, the more we long to behold Him - "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls" (1 Pet. 1:8, 9).
     "Yes, my brethren, believing in Christ, whom we have not seen, we love Him; we rejoice in Him with unspeakable joy; we receive the salvation of our soul. But to see Christ - to have the salvation which He wrought out on the cross applied to our bodies as well as to our soul - to have it perfected in our experience even as it respects our soul - to have it consummated thus in all who are follow-partakers with us of Christ - to be with Him, and with them, in our Father's house - to behold His glory which the Father has given Him - to appear with Him in glory when He appears - to reign with Him over a ransomed and redeemed and happy creation - to fulfill our part in the universal harmony of all in heaven and all in earth, when all shall bow the knee to Jesus, when every tongue shall own Him Lord, and all voices shall join to celebrate His praise, - this, and far more than this - far more than heart can conceive or tongue explain, is what we wait for; and, above all, we wait for Him whose return shall introduce us to all this perfect blessedness - we wait for God's Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. HE IS OUR HOPE. We know Him now by faith as our Saviour, our Lord, our life, our peace, our joy, our all. AND HE IS OUR HOPE. He is plainly said to be so in 1 Tim. 1:1 - "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ OUR HOPE." And what He is thus in so many plain words expressly declared to be in this passage, He is shown to be by the uniform, unvarying testimony of Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Revelation ("Plain Papers on Prophetic Subjects" by W. Trotter[4]). Again, the Redeemer's Return is a "Blessed Hope" -

4. Because of its bearing upon Christ Himself.

     Our Lord Himself is waiting that blest moment when He shall rise from the Father's Throne, descend to the air and catch up His loved and redeemed ones to be for ever with Himself. What other meaning can possibly be given to that remarkable word recorded in Rev. 1:9 - "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ." And again we read, "But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God. From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool" (Heb. 10:12, 13). Yes, for well nigh two thousand years, our Lord has patiently waited for the last predestined member to be added to the Church which is His body. Nay, may we not go further, and reverently say, from all eternity the Lord Jesus has been waiting to possess that people given to Him by the Father before the foundation of the world! It was for this "joy" that was set before Him that He despised the cross and endured its shame (Heb. 12:2). It was for this "one pearl" which He esteemed of "great price" - oh! wondrous thought - that He went and sold all that He had to buy it (Matt. 13:46). It is for this blood-purchased people that He has been interceding on high since the day of His ascension. And at His Second Advent the time of waiting, the long interval of His "patience," will be ended. Then it will be that He shall come to receive us unto Himself. Then it will be that He shall present the Church to Himself "a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27). Then it will be that "He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied" (Is. 53:11). O blessed Hope. Well may we cry "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." For Him, too, as well as for us, this is "that blessed hope."
     And now, dear reader, What is your hope? What is it that is occupying your heart and filling your vision? Is it the prospect of a speedily returning Redeemer? If you are truly the Lord's then do you not yearn to see Him face to face? Do you not long to fall at His feet and say "my Lord and my God"? Surely you do, for you cannot be fully satisfied in this world. How could you be? How can you find satisfaction in a world from which your Saviour is absent? "Earth is a wilderness, not merely (no, nor chiefly) because of its trials and its hardships, its sorrows and its pangs, its disappointments and reverses, but because He is not here. Heaven would not be heaven to the saint if Jesus were not there. He, His presence (as that which introduces us to it), His coming is our hope - the hope of the Christian, the hope of the Church. May our hearts cherish it as we have never done! May its brightness so attract us that earth's fairest, loveliest, most enchanting scenes may be weariness itself to our hearts, as detaining us from the object of our hopes! May that object so animate us that earth's heaviest afflictions - the narrowest, most rugged, and most thorny portions of the narrow way - may be welcome to us, as the path that leads us onwards to the goal of our expectations the home of our heart, the Jesus whose presence makes it what it is, whose love made Him tread a narrower and a darker path than this, and whose smile of ineffable satisfaction shall crown the faith that has trusted Him, the love that has followed Him, and the patience of hope which has waited for Him, throughout this dreary journey, along this narrow way, amid the darkness and solitude of this long and dismal night" (W. Trotter).

[4]600 pp. $1.25. Bible Truth Depot, Swengel, Pa.

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