What a Glorious Day That Will Be
8 Oct 2005, Dr Barry Wright
(Barry is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
WHAT A GLORIOUS DAY THAT WILL BE
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is the great hope of the Christian Church. It is the grand climax of the Gospel and of the plan of salvation.
The Scriptures show us that the Second Coming is closely tied to the first. If Jesus had not come the first time and won the victory over sin then we would have no reason to believe that He would come again. However, the Scriptures make it abundantly clear that God is preparing a place for you. This new home will ultimately be on this earth - an earth that eventually will be restored to its former glory.
We have that wonderful promise of assurance from Jesus himself. These words are found in John 14:1-3. You know them so well. Let's read what it says. Jesus is talking here to His Disciples.
'Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.' (NIV)
The Second Coming of Jesus is one of the most solemn and yet one of the most glorious truths to be found in the Holy Scriptures. It is the keynote of all we hold that is sacred.
Ever since our first parents turned their sorrowing steps out of the Garden of Eden, God's faithful people have waited for the coming of their deliverer. A deliverer that would break the destroyer's power and bring them once again to that 'Paradise Lost'
The following words I am going to read this morning give us a small glimpse of what God has in store for you and me.
There is coming a day
When no heartaches will come
No more clouds in the sky
No more tears to dim the eye
Always peace for ever more
On that happy, golden shore
What a day, glorious day that will be
There will be no sorrow there
No more burdens for us to bear
No more sickness, no more pain
No more parting over there
And forever I will be
With the one who died for me
What a day, glorious day that will be
What a glorious day that will be
When my Jesus I shall see
And I look upon his face
The one who saved me by His grace
When He takes me by the hand
And leads me through the promised land
What a day, glorious day that will be
Dear friends, we have the assurance of God's Word that the King is coming. The King is coming and what a glorious day for those who have accepted His promises and are faithfully waiting for Him.
The apostle Paul makes it very clear in Romans 13:12 when he says that 'The night is far spent, the day is at hand.' The cup holding the sinfulness of this old world is almost full. The night of moral failures is just about spent. You cannot hold back the dawn. It is going to come. As Adventists we need to recognise that we are living in those last prophetic hours of this earth's history and it is time we all woke up. It is important that we recognise that the most significant event of this millennium is soon to take place.
This belief is reinforced by the fact that Bible prophecy has now almost reached complete fulfilment.
What do the Scriptures tell us?
About 600 years before Jesus was born the prophet Daniel received from God the interpretation of a dream that he had just presented to a pagan Babylonian king. The dream was to outline the procession of nations across the stage of history. It was to be at the end of this prophetic drama that the prophet makes a remarkable and startling comment. To understand the background Let's read Dan 2: 31-45. You know it so well. This morning I am reading a paraphrased version but I would like you to read along with me in your Bibles. Listen carefully to Daniel's report. Dan 2: 31-45
In the vision you saw an enormous statue of a man. The statue glowed with a brilliant light and as it stood there before you, it was frightening to look at.
The head of this statue was made of fine gold, its chest and arms were made of silver, its waist and hips of bronze, its legs of iron, and its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.
While you were looking at it, you saw a large stone break loose from a mountain without anyone touching it and come at the statue and strike its feet of iron and clay, smashing them to pieces.
The whole statue collapsed and the stone rolled over the iron, the bronze, the silver and the gold, turning them into fine dust like the dust of harvest on a hot summer day. Then a strong wind came along and blew the dust away, and not a trace of the metals were left. Next, you saw the stone getting bigger and bigger until it became a mountain that filled the whole earth.
This was what you dreamed, your Majesty. Now let me interpret it for the King.
You are seen as a King of Kings. The God of Heaven has given you the kingdom of Babylon, the power to rule, a mighty army and a great honour and respect among the nations.
He has given you control over different people and also over animals and birds. You and your kingdom are represented by this head of gold.
But after a time, another kingdom will arise and replace yours. It will be inferior to yours in glory and moral values, just as silver is inferior to gold. This kingdom will eventually be replaced by a third kingdom represented by bronze, and it will be still more inferior in glory and moral values, even though it will rule a larger part of the world.
The fourth kingdom will be as strong as iron. As iron can crush all other metals, it will crush everything that stands in its way. But it will be even more inferior in glory and moral values.
This kingdom will split into ten parts represented by the ten toes. Some of these little kingdoms will be strong and others will be weak, just as the feet and the toes were made partly of iron and partly of clay.
And as the feet and toes were partly iron and partly clay, so their relationship to each other will sometimes be strong and sometimes weak.
The rulers of these little kingdoms will try to hold things together by intermarrying and by mixing church and state, but these unions will not last, just as iron doesn't stick to clay.
Then all the kingdoms of the world will try to hold things together. That's when the God of heaven will set up His kingdom. It will destroy all the kingdoms of this world. But God's kingdom will never be conquered or destroyed. It will stand forever.
In your dream, your Majesty, you saw how a stone broke loose from a mountain without anyone touching it and struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay. You saw the statue fall down and the stone roll over the iron, bronze, silver and gold, turning them into dust. God is telling you ahead of time what will happen in the future. This is the dream and the interpretation that you asked for.
'In the time of those kings, (the nations of Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire) the God of Heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. (NIV) (Repeat)
Dear friends, this is a message of triumph.
This prophecy tells me:
That God will finally take over the rulership of this world.
That Christ's kingdom will not exist simultaneously with any human empire.
That this kingdom will be set up at the Second Advent. -
That this is a promise of restoration.
That this is a promise to provide us with a kingdom that will last forever.-
That we are now living in the day of the stone.
The Second Coming of Jesus represented by the rock cut out without hands, is the grand climax of the Gospel.
This wonderful event is the blessed hope of the Church. It is a hope that has spanned the generations of time since the entrance of sin.
Let me ask you a number of questions this morning.
What does the Second Coming of Jesus mean to you today?
What are you doing in your life to prepare for this wondrous event?
Do you still believe that Jesus is coming soon?
Do you still have that blessed hope?
Can you still say with your fellow church members, in the words of one of our hymns, that:
We have this hope that burns within our hearts,
Hope in the coming of the Lord
That we have this faith that Christ alone imparts,
Faith in the promise of His word.
The word 'Hope' is defined in our dictionaries as: 'A desire, accompanied by an expectation of fulfilment'.
Many of us have probably experienced the anticipation of some special event in our lives and the feeling and sense of excitement that it gives. I can still remember an event that took place approximately 50 years ago while my family were living in the little timber town of Kyogle in northern NSW. The year was 1954.
For months leading up to this grand event, the Kyogle State Primary School, where I was a Grade one student, along with hundreds of other schools and rural communities had been preparing to join together for a special reception to be held at the Casino showground.
The brief visit of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh was the first ever by a reigning British monarch to this country. The response from the Australian people at large was overwhelming and this was seen particularly from those who lived in the Northern Rivers District of NSW.
What made this particular visit so memorable for everyone was that it was to be accompanied by torrential rain as a low-pressure system moved slowly across the northern coastal areas.
News reports at the time described how more than 5000 people had waited up to six hours in driving rain at the Evans Head aerodrome while they waited for the Royal party to arrive from Newcastle. The weather was so bad that there had been doubts that the plane would even make the journey. Not to be deterred, the Government of the day had a Vampire jet fly the proposed route at 7000 feet (2100m) in order to check the weather conditions prior to the royal plane making its journey at the same height.
It was 8 pm on February 9 when the royals arrived at Lismore. There, they were met by some 50,000 people who had crowded into the city centre. Many had been waiting patiently from mid-afternoon standing in the drizzling rain.
When the royal couple made their first appearance from a local hotel balcony that evening, the police had to restrain over 5000 people as they surged through the barriers to gain a better glimpse.
Many of those same people remained near the hotel until early morning. To cater for these loyal supporters many of the town's restaurants, cafes and milk bars stayed open throughout the night.
To cope with the expected crowds, more than 260 extra police were called in and they were to join with 600 troops from the Byron Scottish Regiment's North Coast units. Their responsibility was to maintain order along the proposed route taken by the royal party.
Buses conveyed people from as far away as Kempsey and 40 Dorrigo people had to be taken to casino by private cars after their bus skidded and overturned in the deteriorating weather conditions.
Amongst a crowd of 15,000 people who crowded the showground at Casino I remember sitting with my class in the pouring rain. We were right in front of the Queen and Duke who were sitting on a raised platform at the far end of the oval. The excitement we felt as a group of six-year olds, was not to be dampened by anything else and we were prepared to brave all sorts of weather for that front row view.
During this brief visit, sixty people collapsed and had to be treated by ambulance officers at the scene. By 11pm that evening the north coast's pacific highway was to experience its worst traffic jam on record. Thirteen hundred cars were to stretch more than seven miles (11km) to the north of the Harwood ferries. These ferries, during the 1950s provided a service to link the northern and southern sections of the Pacific Highway and at their peak could only move 70 cars an hour over the mighty Clarence River.
Flooding had cut roads, and a family was killed when their car plunged over an embankment on return from the royal visit at Lismore.
This rain was to be the precursor to the cyclonic conditions that were to sweep through that area only one week later. The result was the disastrous floods of 1954.
'Joyous Welcome to the Queen'. 'Huge crowds braved wet for a glimpse of the Queen'. 'Great crowds wait in rain for Royal Couple'. These were the Newspaper headlines that were flashed across the front pages of the daily papers during this special visit.
When I look back on what people were prepared to endure and sacrifice so that they could have the privilege of being there to see the Royal couple and to experience first hand the excitement and anticipation of this event, it would seem that we are less excited about anticipating the greatest event this world is still yet to see and experience.
Unfortunately, with the passage of time, it is very easy for our hope to become dim. Consequently, we need to look to the future through the eyes of faith and we need to remember that if we are to behold Him when He comes, we are to behold Him now. We need to reach out and pull the future into the present. We need to keep before us the wonderful promises that God has given to us. We need to remember that the consumation of the Christian's hope is entrance into the Kingdom of God where we will have the privilege of face to face communion with Him.
It was in the first century AD that the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:12 dramatically described the hopelessness to be found in the human world. He talks of a sense of disorientation experienced by those who were without God. He talks of people feeling lost, of being aliens and strangers…of having no hope.
Coming down through the centuries to our day the apostle Luke in Ch. 21:26 describes the human condition in words that are starkly appropriate. 'Men's hearts will fail them for fear of the things that are coming upon the earth.' This condition happens to a people without hope and it takes place in the midst of a world where bad news dominates the media. The irony is that the Christian has access to the only news that is good.
In the Old Testament we find that over and over again man prays to a God who cares - A God who brings deliverance - A God who intervenes for the care of His people. When crushed by sickness, by enemies, by poverty, mankind has been able to turn to a God in hope.
We need to remember that GOD came to Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen 3:8,9). He came to Abraham (Gen 18:1). He came to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-6). He came to the Hebrew tribes in bondage (Exodus 6:2-8). He came to the Shepherd boy David (1Sam16: 1-13) and to the nation of Israel. He comes because He cares about you.
The New Testament amplifies this understanding and brings it to a glorious climax.
We see this in the ministry of Jesus representing a life full of loving and gentle deeds.
We see His unnumbered acts of care that liberated the body and the soul.
The Apostles' thoughts are well summarised in Acts 10:38 when it was said that Jesus 'Went about doing good.'
Jesus himself in Luke 4:18,19 was to say that 'He (GOD) has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.'
Matthew sums up the hope of the early Christian church in his opening and closing chapters. In his first chapter we are told of the coming of Immanuel -God with us (Matt 1:23) and in the last chapter the recorded words of Jesus ring out across the years when He says 'Lo I am with you always, even to the close of the age' (Matt 28:20)
Dear friends, the Christian hope not only looks back to the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but also points forward to the greatest event in human history - The Second Coming of our Saviour in power and great glory.
Paul's statement in 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 makes it very, very clear.
'For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.'
There is NO uncertainty here
Only positive assurance
This is an event worth the anticipation and the wait.
It is a time of rejoicing for those who have ever lost a loved one and who have placed their trust in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
This is the grand finale toward which the entire history of humanity has been moving since the fall of man.
Do you realise that 'hope' constitutes one of the great unquenchable characteristics of the human spirit. It was hope that kept England alive during the Battle of Britain. It was hope that sustained prisoners of war during some of the most discouraging and inhumane conditions ever inflicted on mankind. It was hope that enabled people to surmount massive physical disabilities and to overcome circumstances that would normally crush the very life out of the soul. There is a power to be found in this 'expectation of fulfilment' and we will never fully understand it. However, we need to accept that this power has the ability to maintain life in every sense of the word.
In situations of almost unyielding despair there is a need for sinful man to cry out for a 'saviour' - for someone or some thing that will bring that final release from those torments that are seemingly beyond our control.
Bill Griffiths was one person who had every right to give up on life. He had every right to give up hope of ever living a normal life again.
It was March 1942 and the place was Western Java. Bill was a British POW of the Japanese Imperial Army. He had just turned twenty-one years of age.
His life was to take a radical turn when he and a number of other POW's were ordered, at the point of a bayonet, to uncover some camouflage netting they had discovered by the side of the road.
Bill knew he was dealing with something deadly as he watched the guards move well back from the netting. As the men proceeded to remove the material, a violent explosion ripped through the air, hurling Bill some metres away.
Not far away from where this disaster took place was the hastily improvised Allied general hospital that, at the time, was under the command of an officer by the name of Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop. He had been posted to Java just before it fell to the Japanese forces. Sir Edward's war diaries record the harrowing years in which he was a medical officer in the prison camps and on the Burma-Thailand railway. With no medical supplies or instruments, the prisoners manufactured needles from bamboo and artificial eyes from mah jong tiles. One of his men wrote: 'When despair and death reached for us, 'Weary' stood fast, his only thought for our well-being…he was a lighthouse of sanity in a universe of madness and suffering.' Many of those who owed their lives to him looked upon 'Weary' Dunlop as their 'saviour', someone who was able to provide a glimmer of hope for the future.
It was into the care of this man that young Bill Griffiths was brought that day. As 'Weary' looked at the bomb-shattered body lying before him, he was placed in a terrible dilemma. It seemed less than kindness to do anything that would prolong his life. His eyes were shattered in the wreck of his face, his hands had been blown away, one leg had a severe compound fracture; he was peppered everywhere with imbedded shrapnel, he was suffering from a severe loss of blood and was in a deep state of shock. Bill wanted to die. His distressed, compassionate Dutch nurse said to 'Weary', 'If you don't have the fortitude to kill him, I will.' However, 'Weary' saw in this flickering candle of life something precious in a world collapsing around them where many or all could possibly die. He sternly forbade any such action and took the illogical decision to allot him top surgical priority and then placed him under his special care.
As the faint thread of life responded following lengthy and difficult operations, there began the awful challenge of his total helplessness for even the most basic bodily functions, and the blank wall of darkness and the hopelessness of the future. Bill was only in hospital one month when the Japanese made a decision to close it, sending all patients back to the labour camps.
Bill returned to the prison camp for the next three and a half years and was regarded by many of the Japanese guards as somebody whose life was expendable. Life in the POW camp was like living on an active volcano. For Bill, it was the same, but, in one sense, he did it blindfolded with his arms tied behind his back.
After surviving the war, Bill found coming home to be more of a test of his hopes than ever before. His marriage had collapsed, his business was gone and his widowed mother was beyond helping with his personal care.
However, against all the odds, Bill was able to surmount the obstacles of his life. He remarried, took up singing and entertaining along with the support of his new wife and, in time, succeeded the famed Douglas Bader as the new 'Disabled Man of Courage'. He became the Disabled Sportsman of the Year, was decorated with an M.B.E. by the Queen and became a popular speaker travelling widely in many countries overseas including several visits to Australia.
This remarkable man who overcame a very limited education and appalling disabilities, under the initial encouragement of Sir Edward Dunlop, was to become a national inspiration to many people.
However, notwithstanding the achievements of men like Bill Griffiths, we need to recognise that hope, for many people, can just be a blind optimism that says somehow, somewhere, things will work out, or that something will turn up to resolve their difficulties.
I am thankful to God this morning that the Christian hope is of a different order.
The Christian's hope is different in that:
It involves absolute certainty and assurance
It has its origins outside of us. It looks beyond one's self to God
This hope continues, even when feelings grows faint
It hopes when reason says it is no longer of any use
Dear friends, God's promises are sure. Therefore, we need to listen and accept the counsel found in the book of TITUS 2: 12,13 where we are told to '…say no to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self controlled, upright and Godly lives in this present age while we wait for that blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.'
Our lives should reflect His life.
We all need to be ready '…For we know not the hour. (Matt 24:42)
Our sharing of the gospel with others should be a top priority and we should be familiar with the signs of His coming.
One day soon, if we are alive and have remained faithful, we will have the opportunity of seeing that small black cloud, about half the size of a man's hand, appearing in the east.
A dramatic description of this event, based on Scripture, was written by author Ellen White in 'The Great Controversy' pp. 640,641. Listen to what she says
'Soon there appears in the east a small black cloud, about half the size of a man's hand. It is the cloud which surrounds the Saviour and which seems in the distance to be shrouded in darkness. The people of God know this to be the sign of the Son of man. In solemn silence they gaze upon it as it draws nearer the earth, becoming lighter and more glorious, until it is a great white cloud, its base a glory like consuming fire, and above it the rainbow of the covenant. Jesus rides forth as a mighty conqueror. Not now a 'Man of Sorrows', to drink the bitter cup of shame and woe, He comes, victor in heaven and earth, to judge the living and the dead…With anthems of celestial melody the holy angels, a vast, unnumbered throng, attend him on His way. The firmament seems filled with radiant forms - 'ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands. No human pen can portray the scene; no mortal mind is adequate to conceive its splendour…As the living cloud comes still nearer, every eye beholds the prince of Life. No crown of thorns now mars that sacred head; but a diadem of glory rests on His Holy brow. His countenance outshines the dazzling brightness of the noonday sun. 'And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written 'King of Kings and Lord of Lords' (Rev 19:16).
Dear friends, the King is coming, and what a glorious day that will be.
What a glorious day that will be
When my Jesus I shall see
And I look upon His face
The one who saved me by His grace
When He takes me by the hand
And leads me through the Promised Land
What a day, glorious day that will be.
GRIFFITHS, B. & POPHAM, H. (1989) Blind to Misfortune. Great Britain: Mandarin Paperbacks
WHITE, E. G. (1950) The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan. Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association
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