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Words: Frances Jane (Fanny) Crosby (b. Mar. 24, 1820; d. Feb. 12, 1915)
Music: William Howard Doane (b. Feb. 3, 1832; d. Dec. 23, 1915)
Note: This gospel song was published in 1876. To read some things of interest about Fanny Crosby that you may not have known, check out the Wordwise Hymns link.
Prophecy is a fascinating subject. We’d all like to know what’s going to happen tomorrow, and there are countless would-be prophets ready to tell us–sometimes for a price. They may prove to be good guessers but, more often than not, they’re wrong.
Bible prophecy is in a class by itself, in that regard. Early on, the Lord told His people how to identify a false prophet. If what he prophesied did not come to pass, then they could be assured that he was not speaking for God (Deut. 18:20-22). Or if the prophet’s message contradicted truth already revealed by God, or if he promoted some false god, he must be rejected (Deut. 13:1-5). God’s Word is always accurate, and consistent with itself.
One of the most frequent prophetic themes in the Bible is the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself promised that. “I will come again,” He said (Jn. 14:3). Then, at His ascension into heaven, angel messengers reiterated the promise: “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Christians are “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:11).
But when will this happen? The Bible is silent there. The answer is, in blunt terms, that the precise timing is none of our business. We are to leave the matter with an all-wise God. Jesus said:
“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7). “Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matt. 24:36). “You know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matt. 25:13).
It is passing strange, therefore, that over the centuries dozens and dozens of prognosticators have ignored these clear statements, claiming they know the date of Christ’s return. They have all been wrong! One guess that has surfaced recently concerns the “blood moon” (a lunar eclipse, when the moon takes on a reddish hue).
In several places the Bible speaks of a coming time of great judgment, when the moon will “become like blood” (Rev. 6:12)–perhaps from pollution in those days of terrible judgment. It is questionable whether that is the same thing as what current theorists mean, but some adherents of the theory assure us they can prove from it that the Lord will return on a specific day in September of 2015 (in fact, the very day this article is posted!). But that’s reading a lot into Scripture about something God has pointedly kept to Himself.
There is another question to be asked–one of more practical importance than, “When?” That is, “So what?” What does the certainty of His return mean to my goals and conduct today? Since we know, on the basis of the Word of the living God, that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back again, we need to follow that with a consideration of what we should be doing in the meantime.
The Bible is certainly not silent on that subject. Holy living and faithful service for Christ, not fruitless date-setting, are to be our response to the promise of His coming. The Word of God says, “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (I Jn. 3:3). “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven” (I Thess. 1:9-10).
In 1876, a couple of years after another flurry of end-time predictions (none of which came to pass), Fanny Crosby published the present song that puts these things in perspective.
CH-1) When Jesus comes to reward His servants,
Whether it be noon or night,
Faithful to Him will He find us watching,
With our lamps all trimmed and bright?
O can we say we are ready, brother?
Ready for the soul’s bright home?
Say, will He find you and me still watching,
Waiting, waiting when the Lord shall come?
CH-3) Have we been true to the trust He left us?
Do we seek to do our best?
If in our hearts there is naught condemns us,
We shall have a glorious rest.
CH-4) Blessèd are those whom the Lord finds watching,
In His glory they shall share;
If He shall come at the dawn or midnight,
Will He find us watching there?
1) How should the Lord’s promise to come again affect our attitudes, conduct, and Christian service?
2) What would you like to be doing at the moment of Christ’s return? (And not be doing?)