In the Christian life there are many outlooks. There is the outlook of faith, which counts upon the Lord to meet its need. There is the outlook of love, which sympathetically cares for others and supplies their wants. There is the outlook of carefulness, which by its forethought and service anticipates the emergency which may arise. There is the outlook of hope, which prepares itself for the future with the buoyancy of expectancy, and waits with ardent desire for the coming of the Lord; and there is the outlook of interest, which watches the current course of events, and knows by their developments what issues are in their portent.
Everything with God is an eternal Now, and known unto Him are all His ways from the beginning.
“When heaven and earth were yet unmade,
When Time was yet unknown,
Thou in Thy bliss and majesty
Didst live and love alone!
Thou wert not born; there was no fount
From which Thy Being flowed,
There is no end which Thou canst reach:
But Thou art simply God.”
Yet we find God speaks after the manner of men, and anticipates what is, as though it were to be. Thoughts are many, like the flakes in a snowstorm, as we think of God’s outlook. So let us haste away to that oasis of revelation, where God is associated with Christ in His suffering and glory. There is a two-fold pleasure spoken of in Isaiah 53, namely, “Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief; when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in His hand.” The “yet” with which this verse begins is important, for it connects with what goes before, and that which goes before speaks of the perfection of the Perfect Life of the Perfect Christ. “Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise Him.” Surely that pleasure was because of the pleasure of His purpose, for whom that pleasure was to bring pleasure ? And because of the pleasure which Jehovah had in bruising or crushing Christ, the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in the hands of the Bruised One. Thus a double pleasure is indicated.
The word “Pleasure” speaks of an inward pleasure and delight. It is rendered “Purpose” in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “Delight ” in Psalm 1:2, “Desire” in I Kings 10:13, “Willingly” in Proverbs 31:13, “Pleasant” in Isaiah 54:12, and “Acceptable” in Ecclesiastes 12:10. Each of these words may be used to express the outlook of God, for He will fulfil the “purpose” of His grace to glorify those whom He has called (Romans 8:30). He will “delight” to “rejoice” over a redeemed Israel “with joy ” (Zepheniah 3:17). His “desire” is expressed in the loving words of “I will betroth thee to Me … in lovingkindness and faithfulness, and thou shalt know Me as Jehovah” (Hosea 2:19,20). His willingness to bless is stated in the loving words, “I will rejoice over them to do them good” (Jeremiah 32:41). And there is a time coming when “Judah and Jerusalem” will “be pleasant unto Jehovah,” “as in former years” (Malachi 3:4).
When Christ first came He had two things before Him, namely, “His sufferings and the glory that should follow” (Luke 24:26). The bitterness of the Cross lies behind, and the brightness of the Crown lies before Him. When Daniel saw the world-powers depicted in the Image and Four Wild Beasts (Daniel 2 and 7), he saw also the powers and their “dominion taken away,” and further the Ancient of Days gave to the Son of Man “dominion and glory,” and all nations are made to serve Him (Daniel 7:12-14), What that glory will be in its manifold splendour we cannot fully comprehend, but at least it will be sevenfold in its manifestation.
He will have the glory of peculiar honour in having the Name which is above every name (Philippians 2:9). He will have position above every position, for He will be King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). He will have the outshining of majestic power which will crush the opposition of the Man of Sin (II Thessalonians 2:8). He will have the glory of unsurpassed victory for He will overthrow the great usurper and consign him into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20: 2,10). He will have the glory of a majestic reign as given in detail in Psalm 72. He will have the glory of being glorified in His saints (II Thessalonians 1:10). And He will have the glory of the glorified Lamb lighting up the New Heavens and the New Earth (Revelation 21:23). What an outlook for Him when He shall see the travail of His soul and be satisfied.
The Believer’s Outlook
Briefly summarised, we may say there is a sevenfold outlook of blessing before the believer. We shall “meet” Christ (I Thessalonians 4:17), and that means, as the word “meet” suggests, we shall be caught up to meet Him in the air, and come back with Him to the earth. We shall “see Him as He is” (I John 3:2), not as He was, in humiliation and death, but as He is in glory and incorruptibility. We shall be received by Him (John 14:3), as He promised, “I will receive you to Myself,” which means He will take us to His heart. We shall stand before Him that our life and service may be tested, and our conduct towards our fellow-believers scrutinised (Romans 14:10; I Corinthians 3:12-15; 4:5; II Corinthians 5:10). We shall be rewarded by Him, for when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ it is that “each” may have his “praise from God” (I Corinthians 4:5). We shall be “like” Him in all the beauty of His manhood, and His body of glory (I John 3:2; Philippians 3:20,21); and we shall be with Him and have the joy of His companionship forever (I Thessalonians 4:17).
The World’s Outlook
Long ago Jehovah asked the question, “Why do the nations tumultuously assemble, and the peoples meditate a vain thing?” (margin RV., Psalm 2:1). When the Great War was in progress we were told, “It was a war to end war,” but, alas! the ideal has not become actual! Leagues, conferences, and representatives of the Powers have met, and broken up; but we are still wanting a working and peaceful policy. The rulers “take counsel together,” or gather by appointment, as the sentence is; but how apt is the Spirit’s word: their assemblies are tumultuous, and they “meditate” an empty thing.
How much wiser is the “Blessed Man ” of Psalm 1:2, who meditates on the law of the Lord! The nations are out to get what they can for themselves; whereas, if they sought what is given in God’s Word, and acted accordingly, they would benefit themselves and others. What does the world itself want? It wants a great ruler to consolidate things, and lead the nations. The Times some years ago said, “What is it that all Europe is looking for? It is the King of men… He must be a scholar, a statesman, a man of unflinching courage and irrepressible enterprise, full of resource and ready to look the world in the face of a rival.” Such a man will be found in the Man of Sin, described in II Thessalonians 2:3-12.
Creation is waiting for “the manifestation of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19). Believers are waiting for the Son of God, but creation is “waiting for the sons of God.” God’s fair creation was blasted and blighted by man’s sin, and brought into bondage and limitation; but when believers are glorified, creation will be delivered into the “liberty of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21, RV). One has well said, in speaking of creation’s outlook: “Nature with its melancholy charm resembles a bride, who at the very moment when she was fully attired for marriage saw the bridegroom to whom she was to be united die on the very day fixed for the marriage. She still stands with her fresh crown and in her bridal dress, but her eyes are full of tears.” But, besides the “tears,” her eyes are full of hope, hence, she is waiting. The word “waiteth” is a compound one, and suggests one who is waiting to receive something out of the hands of another, who extends it to that one from afar. That “something” will be “liberty of the glory ” when she will no longer “Be bathed in tears and blood,” but “Be blessed with the sons of God.”
The Jewish Outlook
One has said, “Keep your eyes on Palestine. True in Disraeli’s day, truer to-day. Jews, Arabs, Turks, British, French, Italian, all realize that Palestine is the coming centre. The Jews are gathering back in thousands, millions of vines have been planted, property is stabilised, the latter rain is falling, railways are spreading, electric and other schemes developing, and the desert beginning once more to blossom as the rose. The land is getting ready for the people, the city is getting ready for the King. When ye see these things, ‘Look up,’ ‘the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.'”
While all these things are in the present Jewish outlook, before the Lord comes with His saints, the time of “Jacob’s trouble” must take place (Jeremiah 30:7), the like of which has never happened before in the history of the world (Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21), when a covenant will be made with the Antichrist (Daniel 9:26,27), when two-thirds of the inhabitants of the land will be “cut off” (Zechariah 13:8); but it is just at that time the Lord will appear in Person and deliver His earthly people (Zechariah 14), and the Jewish nation will own Jesus of Nazareth, the pierced One of Calvary, to be their Promised Messiah (Zechariah 12:10).
The Personal Outlook
When Christ came the first time, there were those who were “looking for redemption,” and among them was the godly Anna (Luke 2:36-38). That same attitude should be ours in relation to Christ’s return. To this we are exhorted to be “looking for that Blessed Hope, and the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). To be occupied with present things only, is to become like the things with which we are occupied. The word “look” in both of the above passages signifies to receive to one’s self, and when used of things in the future, to wait for with an ardent expectancy. In worldly callings men have recognized the influence of looking ahead. The following incident illustrates:
“One day I ventured,” said the secretary of the late Lord Northcliffe, “to ask him, ‘Tell me, did you ever imagine in your very young days you would have such a successful life?’ He replied, ‘I attribute my success, as you call it, to seeing ahead. I did not think my school-fellows were stupid, but I could always see further than they could.'”
Are we looking for the coming of our Lord personally? This is a personal message. We cannot truly live in the present of our Christian life if we are not expecting Him.
A writer in The Times says of the future: “‘He hath set eternity in their hearts.’ This phrase, as it stands, represents a truth of large significance. There is infinity outside us, and over against it we find eternity within us. We can never fully gauge or apprehend either. We are unable to reach far into their mysterious borders, but there is always something both within and without us beyond our understandings, our affections, and our moral powers. They are the source of the most real, the most powerful, the most awful and most inspiring experiences of life. Professor Edward Caird declared that we must first discover the infinite in the impossibility of being satisfied with the finite, or limiting our thoughts to it.
“The recognition of the infinite is the silent presupposition of true manhood. Man is never content to rest in an object which he can entirely apprehend. He must go out into the unknown, into the infinite. And when he turns within himself, he finds that there also he is carried beyond the range of things temporal to experiences which imply the existence of spiritual realities deeper than those he is able to fathom. In the secret fountains of personality the supernatural is real and satisfying. We could have but little happiness in the world and could recognize but little of our meaning of human life if they did not lead us beyond ourselves.”
The Condition for True Outlook
One other character who is mentioned, as well as Anna, who was looking for Christ’s first coming, is Simeon; and what is said of him and her may suggest the condition we should be in, in heart and life in order to be ready for His arrival. Of Simeon it is said, “He was just and devout, and the Holy Spirit was upon him,” and Anna is described as serving God with fastings and prayers, and that she also “spake” of Christ’s advent (Luke 2:25-38).
Simeon was “just,” that is, he was a man who was in a right condition of life and was fulfilling all claims which were right and becoming. He is also described as being “devout,” and to be devout means to be taking hold of things in a circumspect way in relation to the Lord. And further, the Holy Spirit is said to have been put upon him, as indicating the power which enabled him not only to wait for Christ, but to be what he was. Anna is described as serving God, and the word “serve ” indicates to sacrifice; hence, to truly worship the Lord. Coupled with her serving, she is said to have prayed and fasted. Fasting, of course, indicates abstinence from food, and prayer speaks of seeking aid in a consciousness of personal insufficiency. Further, it is said of Anna that she “spake” to others about the coming Christ.
Shall we not have the same characteristics if we are looking for Christ in His second Advent? We shall be just in all our transactions with men, and righteous in our personal life; and devout, that is, ardent in all the things which relate to the service of the Lord, recognizing the only power that can qualify us for the things of God is the Holy Spirit Himself; serving the Lord in glad surrender till we feel its sacrifice; abstinence from things which are proper and necessary in the ordinary course of things, but counting it a privilege to give up the ordinary for the Lord’s extraordinary service; prayer will ever express itself in a sense of personal need, for true prayer is ever the recognition of our inability which gives God the opportunity to display His efficiency and sufficiency; and with these things operating in our hearts and lives, we cannot but speak of Him Who is coming again, and there will be response to our testimony, even as there was from Anna’s, to all who are looking for the coming Christ.
The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: https://www.peterwade.com/.Check out our Bookstore.