Friday, October 15, 2010

Joy at the End of the Road - Part 1

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24

On the mount of transfiguration Peter, James, and John were given a preview of the glorious second coming of Christ. It was only a preview, but what courage and boldness it gave to Peter as he later wrote of the Second Advent, for he could say, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” 2Peter 1:16.

Even So during the years of the past world war God has given to thousands of us a preview of the end of the world, a preview of the day of judgment, and many of us have been eyewitnesses of the things that happen when we come to the end of the road, when we come to the last, last day-the day that has no morrow.

Turning to the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew, we read, beginning with the thirty-first verse: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:” As we read on, we recognize these good people as the same to whom He says in the twenty-first verse: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” But of the others we read verse 41: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:”

During the ministry of the Lord Jesus, He was very, very anxious to keep the eyes of His disciples on this great day. By many parables He opened unto them an understanding of the day of judgment, and the time when Christ should come and set up His kingdom. Repeatedly He tried to take their minds from the temporal kingdom that they had in their hearts to the kingdom that would be His in the day that He would come in His power. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:24,33

He knew there was a danger of waiting until the time would pass away before we made a choice of the kingdom of God. He knew that there was a danger of people waiting until they came to the end of the road before they made their decision as to whether they would be found among those on the right hand of God or those at His left, and in many and varied parables He taught them the necessity of making their choice now.

I would like to tell you about the great day when the good and bad shall be divided, and I woull not talk to you in cunningly devised fables, for I was an eyewitness of the things that I have seen. God gave me a preview of that day, and I know how the good and the bad are separated. I was there; I know the joy that belongs to those on the right hand of God. I have seen the weeping and the wailing and the gnashing of teeth of those who have waited until it is too late.

I have always carried with me a little poem entitled “What Then?” that I prize very highly. It is from the pen of J. Whitfield Green:

What Then?

“When the great plants of our cities
Have turned out their last finished work-
When the merchant has sold his last yard of silk
And dismissed his last tired clerk-
When the banks have rolled in their last dollar,
And paid out their last dividend-
And the Judge of the world says,
'Close for the night' and calls for a balance-
What then?

“When the choir has sung its last anthem,
And the preacher has said his last prayer-
When the organ has pealed its last echo,
And its sound has died out of the air-
When the Bible has closed on the altar,
And the pews are all empty of men-
And each soul stands facing his record,
What then?

“When the actor has played his last drama,
And the mimic has made his last fun-
When the movie has flashed its last pictures,
And the billboards displayed their last run-
And gone out into the darkness again-
And a world that rejected its Saviour,
Is asked for a reason-
What then?

“When the bugle dies out in the silence,
And the long marching columns are still,
When the millions of earth are gathered
From ocean and valley and hill-
When the Day that has no marrow
Has come to the last, last end,
And the voice of God from the Heavens,
Says, 'It is done,'-
What then?

-J. Whitfield Green

That poem always inspired me, but now that I know the answers to all those questions, it means so much more to me. I was in Rangoon when the merchants closed their shops and dismissed their tired clerks. I saw them fleeing for their lives. I saw the banks close their doors, and the bankers flee for their lives. I saw the post office close, and the post office workers flee for their lives. I was in Rangoon when the doctors and nurses in the general hospital put their weak, sick patients out on the sidewalks, and then fled for their lives. The Japanese Army was within seventy-five miles of the city, and our last supply line had been cut. Out at the zoo the keepers of the animals shot the lions and the tigers to keep them from starving to death, then they fled for their lives. Out at the leper and insane asylums the warders opened the doors and let the loathsome and unfortunate people come into town, while they too fled for their lives. And out at the jail, just three miles from our mission station, the prison doors were opened, and three thousand criminals came walking into town, while the keepers of the jail and the policemen fled for their lives, I was there; I saw it. I saw the last boat leave for India; I saw the last train leave the depot. I saw the government headquarters move out of the city. I saw the military headquarters move out, and I know what happens then.

To be continued... Read Part 2 here.... Read Part 3 here
A Chapter from the book "Fullness of Joy" by Eric B. Hare

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