"I Am Coming"

By James H. Brookes

Chapter 1



Our risen Lord had appeared on many occasions to His disciples, to whom He presented Himself, living, after His suffering, “by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” This naturally led them to ask of Him, “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel? And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath placed in His own authority.” As Jews, familiar with their prophets, they expected the cessation of Gentile dominion, and the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel; and the Lord gave them no hint that their expectation. was vain, but only that it was not for them to know the times and the seasons, which, in the office work of redemption undertaken by the persons of the Godhead, specially fell under the authority of the Father.

Then followed the promise of the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, and the great commission, “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven, as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white-apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up-into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a Sabbath day’s journey.” Luke adds in his Gospel, “They worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,” Luke xxiv. 52.

We are not told who these two men were, but it. 1s worthy of notice that the same inspired writer mentions the appearing of two men in white at two other momentous periods in the earthly history of our Lord. On the mount of transfiguration, “as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment was white and glistening.. And, behold, there talked with Him two men, which were Moses and Elias; who appeared in glory, and spake of His exodus which He should accomplish at Jerusalem,” Luke ix. 29-31. On the morning of the resurrection, when the women went to the sepulchre to anoint the body of their crucified Friend, “they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living One among - the dead?” Luke xxiv. 2-5.

It is not an improbable conjecture, therefore, that the same two men in white or lustrous clothing who spake of His exodus at Jerusalem, and who heralded His exodus from the tomb, were also sent to proclaim His second coming. Nor is it improbable that the same two men in white are the two witnesses who shall appear during the dreadful reign of the Antichrist; “and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth,” Revelation xi. 3. But whoever the messengers may have been, whether Moses and Elias, or angels in human form, the message itself was of sufficient importance to summon them from heaven, and it forms one of the three great announcements—the death, the resurrection, and the return of the Lord to the earth. Nor is it possible to mistake its meaning. This same Jesus who bore the marks of the nails in His hands and of the spear wounds in His side; this same Jesus who said to His disciples, “Handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and “bones, as ye see Me have;” this same Jesus who ate and talked with them; this same Jesus who ascended from their midst bodily, and personally and visibly, “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.”

Bengel has well said, “Between His ascension and His coming in glory, no event intervenes equal in importance to each of these two events. Therefore these two are joined together, and it accords with the majesty of Christ that during the whole period between His ascension and His advent He should without intermission be expected.” Rev. A. Maclaren, D.D., of Manchester, England, one of the ablest’ and most accomplished among living expositors, truly remarks, “He will “so come in like manner as’ He has gone. We are not to water down such words as these with anything short of a return precisely corresponding in its method to the departure; and as the departure was visible, corporeal, literal, personal and local, so, too, will be His return from heaven to earth. And He will come as He went, a visible manhood, only thronged, amidst the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. This is the aim that He sets before Him in His departure; He goes in order that He may come back again.”’; Hence we are not surprised to find that the prediction and promise of the two men in white became a prominent theme in the preaching of the apostles. Thus a few days after the ascension, Peter said to the people, “““Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began,” Acts iii. 19-21. The heaven, then, must give back “Jesus at the times of the restitution of all things, and this has been the subject of divine revelation through the prophets since the world began. It is wild exegesis which imagines that the heaven must receive Him until the end of the times of the restitution of all things. If a friend writes to another that he will stay where he is until Spring, it would be foolish to fancy that he means until the end of Spring. But the exegesis proves too much, for if Christ will not come until the end of the times of the restitution of all things, He will not come at all, since the times of the restitution of all things include the final judgment, and the new heavens and new earth. It is obvious to every unprejudiced reader that Christ comes from heaven to inaugurate and introduce these times.

The possible nearness of this personal return from heaven is shown by the fact that in the first epistle Paul was directed by the Holy Spirit to write, he does not hesitate to describe the Thessalonians as those who had “turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God: and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come,” 1 Thess. i. 9, 10. That this is a personal return cannot be doubted, for neither the Holy Spirit, nor death, nor the destruction of Jerusalem, nor any other providential event is ever called Jesus, nor were they raised from the dead, nor did they deliver us from the wrath to come. It is certain, therefore, that believers eighteen hundred years ago were taught by inspiration to wait for God’s Son from heaven.

Then comes another statement in the next chapter: “What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” 1 Thess. ii. 19. Then comes another statement in the next chapter: “The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end He may stablish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints,” 1 Thess. iii. 12, 13. 14 Then comes another statement in the next chapter: “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout,” 1 Thess. iv. 16. No one pretends to make out of these passages anything except a literal and personal return of Jesus, and the ingenuity of the keenest criticism fails to discover a reference in them to any other event whatsoever. Then comes another statement in the next chapter: “Of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night,” 1 Thess. v. 1,2. How did the Thessalonians, who had but recently turned to God from idols, know this so perfectly? Plainly because the apostle during his brief visit had taught it to them. It was not, then, a subject of no practical value in his estimation, as so often affirmed now, and it cannot be right to dismiss it from the field of contemplation and discussion, as preachers and people generally do at present. No matter whether he is a pre-millennialist or post-millennialist, every ambassador for Christ is bound to testify of the Lord’s personal return from heaven; and to substitute for it the manifestation of the Spirit’s power, the progress of the church, or the advance of Christian civilization, is a dangerous and deplorable departure from the truth of God. Well may we join in the apostle’s prayer, “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,’’ 1 Thess. v. 23.

Turning now to the second epistle to the Thessalonians, and the second the apostle was inspired to write, we find the same great truth prominently brought forth. Thus to the persecuted Christians it is said in the first chapter, “To you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power, when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”

In the second chapter he says, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of the Lord is at hand,” or “is now present,” as the Revised Version renders it; or “hath arrived,” as Dr. Young translates it; or “is come,” as Alford gives it; or “has set in,” according to Rotherham. Our post-millennial brethren tell us we are solemnly forbidden to believe that “the Lord is at hand;” but surely they forget that the same Holy Spirit, by the same apostle, elsewhere declares that “the Lord is at hand,” Philippians iv. 5. Would they make the inspired writer contradict himself in this fashion? Dr. John Lillie in his admirable lectures on the epistle truly says, “The phrase is at hand occurs twenty times elsewhere in the New Testament, and not once does it stand for the Greek word so rendered here. The word translated is at hand occurs seven times, and is always rendered “is present’ but once.” It is simply impossible that those who were taught in the first epistle to look with delight for the coming of Christ, could be violently agitated by the thought that He might be at hand. Their trouble arose from a rumour that He had returned to the earth, and if this was true they knew that they had not been caught up to meet Him in the air, and hence their distress was extreme, as the Greek implies.

In the third chapter the apostle writes, ““The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ,” or “into the patience of Christ,” who is patiently waiting the times and seasons which the Father hath put under His own authority. So overshadowing is the doctrine of our Lord’s second coming in the two epistles, it is not strange that the translators of our common version speak of “the patient waiting for Christ.” It is the theme of every chapter, and no one pretends that the passages quoted refer to anything but His personal advent. It is impossible that any one of them was designed to teach the destruction of Jerusalem, or the descent of the Spirit, or the death of the believer.

It is surely also His personal coming that is in view when the same Apostle writes to the Corinthians, “Ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1 Corinthians i. 7; “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come,” 1 Corinthians iv. 5; “As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come,” 1 Corinthians xi. 26. All expositors no doubt would fully agree with Dr. Charles Hodge on the first of these passages: “The second advent of Christ, so clearly predicted by Himself and by His apostles, connected as it is with the promise of the resurrection of His people and the consummation of His kingdom, was the object of longing expectation to all the early Christians. So great is the glory connected with that event that Paul in Romans viii. 18-23, not only represents all present afflictions as trifling in comparison, but describes the whole creation as looking forward to it with earnest expectation. Compare Philippians iii. 20; Titus ii. 13. So general was this expectation that Christians were characterised as those “who love His appearing,’ 2 Timothy iv. 8; and as those ‘who wait for Him,’ Hebrews ix. 28.”

Mr. Barnes, too, certainly expresses the views of all kinds and classes of commentators, when he says on the same verse, “The earnest expectation of the Lord Jesus became one of the marks of early Christian piety. This return was promised by the Saviour to His anxious disciples when He was about to leave them, John xiv. 3. The promise was renewed when He ascended to heaven, Acts i. 11. It became the settled hope and expectation of Christians that He would return, Titus ii. 13; 2 Peter iii. 12; Hebrews ix. 28. And with earnest prayer that He would quickly come, John closes the volume of inspiration, Revelation xxii. 20.” Both of these eminent expositors were post-millennialists, as is Professor Beet, who says of the words here expounded, “The Corinthians already possessed spiritual gifts which were a proof of God’s favour; while at the same time they were eagerly looking forward to that day when Jesus will visibly appear to bring in the final glory.” Upon the next verse He remarks, “To the day of Christ’s return the early Christians looked forward, as Israel did ages before to the day of Jehovah.”

But leaving for the present the inspired writings of Paul, it will be found that each of the apostles dwells upon the great subject of our Lord’s personal return. Thus James says, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord,” James iv. 7. Peter writes to his brethren, “that the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ,” 1 Peter i. 7; “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God,” or as the Revised renders it, “earnestly desiring the coming,” 2 Peter iii. 12. John says, “And now, little children, abide in Him; that when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming,” 1 John ii. 28. Jude says, “Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, “Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints,” Jude 14; and John opens the Apocalypse with the announcement, “Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen,” Revelation i. 7.

Not a text thus far quoted can be forced to refer, even by the wildest license of the most audacious criticism, to any event whatever except the literal and personal return of the Lord Jesus. The thoughtless habit of skimming over such testimony with a passing impression that it may relate to death, or the destruction of Jerusalem, or the outpouring of the Spirit, or some striking providential event, is little less than trifling with the sacred Scriptures, and betokens a state of mind far from intelligent, and a condition of heart far from reverential. If Christians will ask themselves why they believe that Jesus was born, that He performed miracles and uttered the sayings ascribed to Him, that He died upon the cross and rose from the grave, they can easily see that they have precisely the same evidence, only multiplied tenfold, to convince them of

His coming again. It is the one object set before us, the “one hope of your calling,” Ephesians iv. 4. As Graham on Ephesians, “a capital book issued by the Presbyterian Board of Publication, well says on these words, all other hopes are “united in the one great hope which has animated the Church from the beginning—the hope of the coming and kingdom of Jesus Christ, which is therefore called, by way of eminence, ‘that blessed hope,’ Titus ii. 13. I think, therefore, that this is the one hope of our calling, and includes all the others. The Jews had the coming of Christ in the flesh as their great national hope, and we Christians look fur His coming in glory as the substance of things hoped for. This is the hope of the New Testament as distinguished from that of the Old, and the Gospels and Epistles are full of it. It animated the early Christians in their contendings, it is embodied in the Lord’s Prayer, it is the cry of the widowed Church and the groaning creation: Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. . . . The cross and the crown, the coming of Christ in the flesh and His coming in glory, being the historical and prophetical, and so the proper food for memory and hope, are the two centres of the Divine Word and the Divine administration around which all | the systems of grace and providence revolve. There is | one faith in the dying Lamb, and one hope in the coming King.”

“For the vision of the Bridegroom
     Waits the well-beloved Bride,
Severed only for a season
     From her well-beloved’s side.
For the hour when morn ascendeth
     And the shadows disappear,
For the signs of heavenly glory,
     She is waiting, waiting here.

For the coming of the Bridegroom,
     Whom, though yet unseen, we love;
For the King of Saints returning
     In His glory from above;
For the shout that shakes the prison,
     For the trumpet loud and clear,
For the voice of the archangel,
     She is waiting, waiting here.

For the light beyond the darkness,
     When the reign of sin is done;
When the storm has ceased its raging,
     And the haven has been won;
For the joy beyond the sorrow,
     Joy of the eternal year,
For the resurrection splendour,
     She is waiting, waiting here.”