Dear readers, in this time of famine for hearing the Word of God, we have our Bibles and our musical heritage which has been assembled over hundreds of years by men and women of God who incorporated the original faith into our hymns and anthems. I have continually sung in church choirs since 1956, and there were many occasions where the music in the service eclipsed the “word” from the pulpit. A prime example occurred over many years at Easter. The clergy would skate around the awkward theme of resurrection (a scientific nightmare) with abstract references, thereby stealing the power of the Word. Then, a soloist would rise and sing, “1 know that my Redeemer liveth and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall l see God!,”Job l9: 25 & 26. Now, there is the message coming from one of the oldest books in the Bible!
I thought it might be useful, as last month we celebrated the First Advent, that we look to a hymn of the Second Advent, “Lo. He comes with clouds descending.” The Scriptures quoted following each verse reproduced below, are my own interpretation of what the verses reference. There may be other verses which also apply and indeed which the author, John Cennick, may have had in mind in 1750 when he composed it. It was revised by Charles Wesley in 1758 and modified by Martin Madan in 1769. It was sung to the tune Helmsley composed, which was also revised by Wesley and Madan presumably to fit their version of the words.
“Lo, He comes with clouds descending, see the Lamb for sinners sla
Thousand thousand saints attending join to sing the glad refrain:
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah! God appears on earth to reign.”
Rev. I:7 “Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him.” Of course, “the Lamb for sinners slain,” refers to the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. “Thousand thousand saints” is a poetic way of expressing a congregation of innumerable quantity, which is described in various ways in the Scriptures. Revelation 5:11, “And I beheld and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” The reference to clouds can be to clouds (crowds) of saints. I Thessalonians 3:13, “To the end He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ with ALL His saints.” God appears on earth to reign, refers to the many references to God being with man; in Revelation 5 : 10, “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: And we shall reign ON THE EARTH.” However, I personally relate to the quote from John 14:2-3.”In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you; And if l go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.”
“Every eye shall then behold you, robed in awesome majesty;
All who jeered, and mocked, and sold you, pierced and nailed you to the tree.
Deeply grieving, deeply grieving, deeply grieving shall the true Messiah see.”
My favourite Scripture covering the first line of this verse is found in Matthew 24 : 27, “For as lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Would that be awesome majesty? I guess! The next two lines remind us of two quotes, the first from Revelation 1:7. “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, A-men.” And the second is Revelation 6:15-17, “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains: And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of His wrath is come and who shall be able to stand?” Of course, the true Messiah is the Lamb.
“No redemption long expected see in solemn pomp appear;
All the saints by us rejected, thrill the trumpet sound to hear:
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah! See the day of God appear!”
This verse is summed up nicely in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians 4:16-18, “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: And the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then, we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.”
“Yea! Amen! Let all adore you, high on your eternal throne;
Crowns and empires fall before you, claim the kingdom for your own:
O come quickly! 0 come quickly! 0 come quickly! Everlasting Christ come down.”
Finally, two quotes from Revelation, l:5&6. “And from Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” The second is chapter 22, verse 20, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely, I come quickly, Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
As we move day by day closer to that great day of God Almighty, we should be singing this hymn in every church, meeting hall, public gatherings and Sunday school regularly. It is a powerful hymn; it is relevant, it is worthy of Him who shall be adored and for whom, every knee shall bow!