Editor: Our recently departed friend, Don Robson, loved this season of the year. Oh, like most, he enjoyed the family gatherings, the special dinner and visits from neighbours and friends. But, what made it special for Don was the greater closeness he perceived amongst everyone around him for the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps it wasn’t Jesus’ real birthday but when he listened to the many hymns played on radio or in the stores, or the music he so loved playing on his piano, including his own compositions, it brought him even closer to the Lord. Don wrote the following article for last December’s magazine but it was received too late for publication. Maybe it was for the best because it makes for a great parting message to all of us, as we come to the end of a frightful year.
Once again the month of December arrives with its joyous season of Christmas and all the happiness associated with the birth of the Prince of Peace. Like Charles Dickens’ Scrooge, we would like to keep the mood and good cheer of Christmas all year long. This world, filled with iniquity and injustice, is not ready for peace and our Christmas hopes become dashed as we move through the celebratory days into the continuum of our despair. While the celebrations proceed, we are presented with our heritage of Christmas music which is extensive and beautiful and a foundation of the Christmas worship. Nevertheless, there is one advent hymn which is seldom heard in our churches; the hymn is, “Lo, With Clouds He Comes Descending.” It’s my opinion that this hymn should be a standard during Christmas and sung throughout the year. Why? Because it relates to the Second Advent. I would like to explore this hymn with my readers hoping they will request its use in the church this year.
Lo, He comes with clouds
See the lamb for sinners slain!
Thousand, thousand saints
Join to sing the glad refrain
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign.
Matthew 24:30, records Jesus’ words, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Verse 31, “And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Perhaps the expression, “clouds of heaven,” refers to the thousands, thousands of saints or angels descending with Christ. Unfortunately, seeing the Lamb for sinners slain, will not be a happy occasion for everyone but for His elect, it is definitely time for Hallelujahs! And finally, God appears on earth to reign. Many confused Christians have trouble with this concept. You see, they believe at death the spirit goes to heaven to continue life with God. (I personally believe that God does take our spirit into His safekeeping until we are resurrected and the spirit is clothed with immortality). In John 14:2-3, we read, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN AND RECEIVE YOU UNTO MYSELF: THAT WHERE I AM, THERE MAY YE BE ALSO.” So, Jesus confirms that he is coming back to reign on earth so we (here on earth) may be with Him. So, just how robustly can we sing, “God appears on earth to reign”?
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.
The book of Revelation states this verse in stronger language, as found in chapter 6:15-17, “Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the generals and the rich and the strong and everyone slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand before it”? Yes, in Matthew, Jesus used the word, “mourn”, and the hymn uses the term, “grieving”. But it is obvious that all but the elect from the highest to the lowest in the social strata fear the wrath of the Lamb seated on the throne. Those responsible for Jesus’ death are especially mentioned in the hymn and ironically, those, “who would not have this man to rule over us,” will see Him wield all power in heaven and earth, given Him by the heavenly Father. Yes, there will be no doubt about His status as, “true Messiah.”
Now 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!
So, six thousand years (more or less) Jesus redeems His people (as prophesied) and all gentiles that have accepted Him as Saviour. This is the great climax of man’s history. Those redeemed by the grace of Jesus Christ and His boundless mercy enter into everlasting life in the kingdom in which no iniquity can enter. Revelation 21:27, “And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” A kingdom filled with righteousness! What joy the elect will experience when others, in their consternation, are requesting the rocks to hide them from the Lamb! Yes, all humanity will see that day of God appear!
Yea! Amen! Let all adore You
High on Your eternal throne;
Crowns and empires fall before You
Claim the kingdom for our own.
O come quickly! O come quickly! O come quickly
Everlasting Christ, come down.
The book of Revelation describes the fall of Babylon and in 18:20, while the world is mourning her departure, we find these words, “Rejoice over her thou heaven and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.” Chapter 19 continues in this vein of worship with phrases like, “Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power unto the Lord our God. And Alleluia for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” “Claim the kingdom for OUR own.” Revelation 20:6, confirms this line from the poem with the most important statement, “Blessed is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but THEY SHALL BE PRIESTS OF GOD AND OF CHRIST, AND SHALL REIGN WITH HIM A THOUSAND YEARS.”
The hymn tells us to adore Him High on His eternal throne. Revelation 21:3 tells us why, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. As another well-known hymn enjoins, Come, let us adore Him! This hymn celebrates the realization of the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6-7, which we hear every Christmas. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom to order it, and to establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this.”
Even so, come Lord Jesus.