The Sobriety and Joy of Christ’s Coming

By John Thiel, mp3

I feel more and more impressed with the greatness of the subject of the Lord’s soon appearing in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. This faith moves me greatly to observe due solemnity at all times and in all places, but while I enjoin upon myself and others to be sober, they are not to cherish sadness and gloom. . . .  {TMK 141.3}

According to those words I have entitled this study The Sobriety and the Joy of Christ’s coming. We have been made aware that the coming of Jesus is imminent.

This Generation

Luke 21:31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.  32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.

Which generation? The generation that sees verses 25 – 28.

Luke 21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;  26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.  27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

Then He spoke the parable of the fig tree saying, this generation that beholds the knowledge of the falling of the stars and the sun and moon that has also seen the distress of nations, the wars, the waves roaring, men’s hearts failing them for fear for the things that are coming on the planet, the First World War, the Second World War and after that men’s hearts failing them for fear, (Is not this our generation such a generation?) Jesus said this generation shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled; the coming of Jesus.

Why is solemnity and sobriety due for such a time as this? Why should we be sober and solemn at this time? He speaks of our time in this generation.

A Time to Be Sober

Luke 21:34 And take heed to yourselves,

Is that not something sobering? Be solemn, why?

Luke 21:34 lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and [so] that day come upon you unawares.

Here is the reason for being sober, for being solemn, not to be full of careless glee. Why?

Luke 21:35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.

Is that not something to make you serious?

Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Here is the reason for sobriety and solemnity.

Amos 5:18 Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end [is] it for you? the day of the LORD [is] darkness, and not light.  19 As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.  20 [Shall] not the day of the LORD [be] darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?

The day of the Lord is nothing to look forward to. It is a day of darkness, a day of running away from danger. As you run away from one danger, you meet the next, you run away from that and you meet another one. Isn’t that what we are coming to? The First World War and Second World War already gave that picture and there is worse to come. These are sober and solemn realities that we should be admonished to be sober.

Amos 4:12 Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: [and] because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.  13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what [is] his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, [is] his name.

Because these horrifying things are coming there is some preparation so we can escape those things that hinges with what Jesus said. There is this awe inspiring material that Jesus expressed that the Old Testament expresses a time of darkness where everything is falling down around your ears. Where your loved ones and friends are being crushed and destroyed. My own family can tell stories of that, my deceased family from the Second World War.

The horror of what is happening in the world even now, people are stressed out to the limit when flood after flood happens in Queensland and New South Wales. It’s the third year now and they are out of their wits. There are many different situations like that, earthquakes, etc. It is not a pleasant scene and it’s only going to get worse. This is a solemn time.

However, combined with that awful, fearful material, there is included a rejoicing for the person who opens his heart to God. This dark day is the day of the Lord and it’s the day of His vengeance

Isaiah 63:4 For the day of vengeance [is] in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.

Can you see the twofold? The year of my redeemed and the day of vengeance. The language here is the embracing of two expressions meaning the same thing. One day in prophesy equals one year. When will the plagues come? In a day, the day of vengeance and the year of my redeemed. Can you pick up the combination of solemnity and the realisation of great joy all in one package? That is what this message is about; the sobriety and the joy of Christ’s coming.

The description of God’s people during this time in which we are living is given in

 Those who travel in the narrow way are talking of the joy and happiness they will have at the end of the journey. Their countenances are often sad, yet often beam with holy, sacred joy. {1T 127:2}

Often sad but also often beaming with holy sacred joy. That is the reason for the admonition that we read as I introduced this study.

….while I enjoin upon myself and others to be sober, they are not to cherish sadness and gloom. . . .  {TMK 141.3}

This generation of believers will and does experience mind perplexing circumstances. Are you in them? You know them well. What I expected life to be was not real. I wanted to get married and be happy. There are many a person here that has with tears expressed disappointment. There is heartache socially, in nature and in politics. This generation is experiencing mind bending influences. If you are going to be a follower of Jesus Christ all the way, if you are going to do just what Jesus says in this generation, your relatives and friends will reject you.

2 Timothy3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

This is horrifying; your relatives and your friends will persecute and reject you. The way of Jesus is regarded as anathema to them. We heard this morning of the rejection of a father to his son’s ways which were the ways of pursuing the Lord. This is horrifying, this creates agony, but that is only one such experience, it’s around the world.

Everyone who takes hold of the way of Jesus will be rejected, but those who reject the way of Jesus will meet His vengeance. What is the vengeance of God? They will meet the fruit of their own doings. God is not a vindictive God. We have read many times in Psalms, Psalms 9 and 7 is man’s own doing that is the vengeance of God. God is known by the judgment that He metes out. Man is destroying himself, that is God’s vengeance. We see it in the world around us. Are not the wars man’s rejections of the mercy of God? The breaking of the everlasting covenant causes the destructive forces on this planet. Their own works have brought their own destruction upon them.

When God lets go of it all, when the angels let go of the winds of strife, what is the consequence? The vengeance of God but His redeemed who have been opposed by those who rejected His mercy, the relatives and friends of the redeemed will go through horrifying circumstances, and they are already. How do you feel as a relative, a mother, a brother, a sister, a father or child when those people who are suffering the consequences of their evil ways, suffering the vengeance of God and are crying, “Please, help, help”, what can you do? The agony, the sobriety of this kind of exercise must be understood otherwise we will go insane. This is the year of God’s redeemed and the day of His vengeance. We will see exactly that, but it will all be man’s rejection of God’s mercy. This is written in Psalm 91. This is what you will see if you are a believer and following Jesus’ way.

Psalm 91:7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; [but] it shall not come nigh thee. 18 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

If you read that glibly, you will think isn’t that nice and not regard that as wonderful. Let it come. When it comes it will not be pleasant because with your eyes you will see the reward of those who have rejected you because you have wanted to follow the Lord. You will see them, your own next of kin suffering while it does not come near you. That is almost a kind of torture. I know some people have already experienced some of these things. Why does it not come nigh thee?

Psalms 91:9 Because thou hast made the LORD, [which is] my refuge, [even] the most High, thy habitation;  10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

I have had to deal with these horrifying circumstances already. People I have loved, people I have laboured for, people I have given the gospel of Jesus Christ to and they were benefited but then were turned aside from it. Then I saw them suffering horribly. Unless I have the right answers my brain goes mush. There are answers that give us stability of mind to survive; not only to survive but to be solemn and sober and yet to rejoice.

A Reason to Rejoice

Here is the reason for rejoicing, for being able to be sober and yet joyful without gloomy depression.

Psalm 91:10 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

Remember what His name is?

Exodus:34:5 The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

That is His name. To know the name is not just to know that it exists, to know is that the mercy that God is becomes yours.

Exodus 91:15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I [will be] with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.  16 With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation. Ibid 14-16

That is why only with your eyes will you see the reward of the wicked In the midst of the doom and gloom that the world is rapidly plunging into, there is a ray of joy.

The truth of Jesus Christ does not tend to gloom and sadness. . {TMK 136.2}

The truth of Jesus Christ is the ray of joy, because the truth helps me to see my way through the gloom and doom and light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train coming the other way, it is truth. Many people think they can see light at the end of the tunnel, they think it is good but it’s more trouble whereas this one is opposite to the gloom and sadness that is coming upon the world around us.

Psalms 91:10 Because he hath set his love upon me.

My Beloved, my Jesus Christ, that is the joy.

Song of Solomon 1:7 O thou whom my soul loveth,

He is the one who is coming in the midst of the doom and gloom. He with whom I hold sweet communion, it is He. Behold the day of the Lord cometh. It’s the day of my Lord. Do you have such a Lord? It’s the horror of His vengeance which is the token of my salvation. He is coming to save us, It is the year of the redeemed. As He is coming, He is coming to redeem His people who are harassed and opposed and threatened and persecuted by those who have rejected His way.

If you choose to love Him and choose to love His way, you will be among the little remnant that He has come to redeem, to save. As He comes to redeem and save you, (if you will love Him), those who reject Him will cry for the rocks and mountains to fall upon them, and indeed they will.

The horror of His vengeance is the token of our salvation.

Psalm 50:3 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.  4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.  5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.

Have you had to make sacrifices to follow Jesus? Oh yes, you have had to go into His way and leave behind your way. All that you have loved that you don’t want to let go of their way for Jesus’ way, you also have lost. Now our God shall come to gather His saints. As He comes to gather His saints a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. These are the plagues. It’s to do with Jesus coming. It’s a year. It’s written in Revelation 19 where He is there with His angels conducting the closing affairs of earth’s history as He is making His way to redeem His saints.

These are the words of Jesus, the one I love, the one I really enjoy being in union with, He is my best friend. As all these things are happening, to be worthy that you may escape these things. He says as you see these things coming, look up for your redemption draweth nigh.

Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

To look up and know that my Beloved is coming to save and to gather His saints, isn’t that beautiful? It is very tempestuous round about Him.

Rejoicing While the Heavens Fall Around Me

We want to secure that rejoicing at such a horrendous time which is crowding around us already; to rejoice while the heavens fall and all humanity is in disaster. If we are going to rejoice with the beam of rejoicing upon your face as we read from 1 Testimony, we must know Jesus Christ and He must know us.

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

People say that they know glibly. When they say it like that, they don’t know. To know somebody, according to the Bible is to know intimately and the living reality of the love that God is. We touched on this when we read of the mercy and longsuffering and kindness of God. Knowing His loving-kindness to a wretched sinner like me, that I open my heart to and receive communion with Him in the Atonement, in all its reality, this is what it means to know Him. Then these words are words of reality:

Song of Solomon 2:3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so [is] my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit [was] sweet to my taste.  4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me [was] love.

Do you know Him like that? Have you sat under His shadow with great delight and have tasted of His fruit?

Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD [is] good: blessed [is] the man [that] trusteth in him.

You have tasted that in your depraved, hopeless, sinful condition, His beautiful love and compassion warmed your heart. Indeed, the banner over you was love. Do you know this?

Song of Solomon 5:16 His mouth [is] most sweet: yea, he [is] altogether lovely. This [is] my beloved, and this [is] my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

Yes, all the daughters, all the wives that have fallen. They all claimed to be named by Christ.

Isaiah 4:1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.

Here is the person who is speaking that they know a sweet relationship with Jesus.

Song of Solomon 5:16 His mouth [is] most sweet: yea, he [is] altogether lovely. This [is] my beloved, and this [is] my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

Do you have such an experience? Do you really know it? Are you prepared to submit and make a covenant by sacrifice with Him? Then and then only will you experience such a love. It’s a love that is indescribable. I stand here to testify of it brethren and sisters. It’s a love that is not seen in humanity. It is a love that makes Him the dearest person on earth to me. I hope you have a Saviour like I have. It means that if others don’t love Him then they can go, I am going to stay with Him. When I do that and all the terrible consequences that take place because I do that, I experience a closeness that cannot be described. Is He the dearest person on earth to you? Can you say what is written in Psalm 16?

Psalm 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me: because [he is] at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

While everything moves around me, while the horror of the day of vengeance is there for me to behold, because I have the Lord always before me, the moment the horror happens I am immediately comforted. It is imperative that we have this. If we do not have Him always there ready to receive His smile, ready to receive His beam of comfort, I will be undone, I will not survive. It is He, the dearest person on earth, that I must have.

Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence [is] fulness of joy; at thy right hand [there are] pleasures for evermore.

Do you know that? Or do you look for pleasure and joy elsewhere? Brethren and sisters, if you do not have the pleasure of the Lord as the sole and only pleasure in your life you will come unstuck, I promise you. Everything on this planet that you have set your heart to enjoy will be shattered in front of you and all you’ve got is the pleasure of the presence of the Lord. If there is anything that you and I are still unwilling to let go because it is a pleasure to me, if it is part of my heart and life, when the time comes for it to be torn away from me then I will have nothing. Nothing.

Jesus whom my soul loveth, my friend who is altogether lovely. If this is the intimate reality of your soul with His and you see the events of doom gathering around you, very tempestuous around Him, you will not be moved because the tempestuousness around Him is Him in your heart. So let the heavens fall, I will not be moved. Encapsulated in this fiery tempest is my beloved. In this encapsulated darkness, in this encapsulated fiery indignation and vengeance, there is my beloved. What will we be able to say when my beloved is revealing Himself with the tempestuousness of the plagues all around me? This is a question that I have been puzzling over for many years, where does this statement fit? When I read the statement in Amos, those of you who are looking for the day of the Lord, we have been looking for the Lord saying, “Don’t you know me?” When is this statement applicable?

Isaiah 25:9 And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this [is] our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this [is] the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

Why; because it’s the year of His redeemed. So as we see all these calamities as we see all these horrifying dark days, not light, darkness because darkness is surrounding Him, as I see it all I will lift up my head and say, this is my Lord, my friend, my precious love, my beloved. I have waited for Him and here He comes encapsulated in the plagues. I will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.

Isaiah 25:10 For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest, and Moab shall be trodden down under him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill.

Moab is the description of the wicked.

Isaiah 25:11 And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth [his hands] to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands.  12 And the fortress of the high fort of thy walls shall he bring down, lay low, [and] bring to the ground, [even] to the dust.  1 In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will [God] appoint [for] walls and bulwarks. 2 Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. 3 Thou wilt keep [him] in perfect peace, [whose] mind [is] stayed [on thee]: because he trusteth in thee.  4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH [is] everlasting strength:

These are beautiful words but not a reality unless my Lord is the real Lord and my Lord is the one that reveals to me all my sins, shows me all my calamities and reveals to me all my diseases. When I hunger and thirst for Him and He shows me His love, his banner over me is love, as I submit, confess and tell Him all my woes, He draws near and tells me all His woes that He experienced which were my woes, we eat and drink together, we sup together and then when I see the woes of the last world events I will say, ”This is my Lord, I have waited for that.”

Isaiah 26:4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH [is] everlasting strength.


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Posted on 23/03/2012, in Divine Service Sermons and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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