Posted by: rcottrill | March 4, 2016

Changed in the Twinkling of an Eye

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Words: Frances Jane (“Fanny”) Crosby (b. Mar. 24, 1820; d. Feb. 12, 1915)
Music: William James Kirkpatrick (b. Feb. 27, 1838; d. Sept. 20, 1921)

Wordwise Hymns (William Kirkpatrick)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Fanny Crosby’s skill at versifying in a simple, clear, and warmly devotional way, never ceases to delight me. It’s in evidence here again. I’ve used the original title. But in later printings this was compressed to In the Twinkling of an Eye. William Kirkpatrick was a friend and sometime collaborator of Fanny’s. (She called him Kirkie.) He supplied tunes, also, for Fanny’s Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It; and He Hideth My Soul.

We have a number of words and phrases we use to indicate a very short length of time. A split second is part of a second, but it’s usually used in a more general sense to mean very quickly. A nanosecond is one billionth of a second. In the twinkling [or blink] of an eye is a phrase that’s over seven centuries old. As originally written in old English it was, “Yn twykelyng of an ye.” It too indicates something happening in an instant, in a moment of time.

Apart from sensitive scientific instruments and high speed cameras, there are things that happen so fast our eyes cannot see them taking place. The speedy flight of a bullet, the beating of a hummingbird’s wings, the way light instantly floods a room when we flip the switch, these are all like that.

Sudden events in the Bible are described in similar terms. Of the destiny of the wicked, Proverbs says: “His calamity shall come suddenly; suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.” And “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Prov. 29:1). Of the enemies of Israel it is said, “The multitude of your foes shall be like fine dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones like chaff that passes away; yes, it shall be in an instant, suddenly” (Isa. 29:5).

In the New Testament, we read that when aged Simeon greeted Mary and Joseph, who brought the baby Jesus into the temple, Anna, a prophetess, was suddenly there. “Coming in that instant [at that very moment] she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Lk. 2:38).

But it’s in another passage concerning the prophesied second coming of Christ that we find the translators of the Authorized Version using the old expression mentioned earlier.

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep [i.e. die], but we shall all be changed–in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (I Cor. 15:51-52).

There, the Bible is saying that in an instant our mortal bodies will be transformed, and become incorruptible, never-dying resurrection bodies (vs. 53). Though we were not there to see it, I believe the Lord Jesus experienced that same instant transformation when He rose from the dead. The body that had died became a glorified resurrection body in a flash and, just as quickly, our bodies will become like His (Phil. 3:20-21). When Christ comes again, those who are alive at the time will not pass through death (cf. I Thess. 4:16-17).

In 1898, prolific gospel song writer Fanny Crosby wrote a song based on the Corinthians passage. It says:

CH-1) When the trump of the great archangel
Its mighty tones shall sound,
And, the end of the age proclaiming,
Shall pierce the depths profound;
When the Son of Man shall come in His glory
To take the saints on high,
What a shouting in the skies
From the multitudes that rise,
Changed in the twinkling of an eye.

Changed in the twinkling of an eye,
Changed in the twinkling of an eye,
The trumpet shall sound, the dead shall be raised,
Changed in the twinkling of an eye.

CH-2) When He comes in the clouds descending,
And they who loved Him here,
From their graves shall awake and praise Him
With joy and not with fear;
When the body and the soul are united,
And clothed no more to die,
What a shouting there will be
When each other’s face we see,
Changed in the twinkling of an eye.

CH-3) O the seed that was sown in weakness
Shall then be raised in pow’r
And the songs of the blood bought millions
Shall hail that blissful hour;
When we gather safely home in the morning,
And night’s dark shadows fly,
What a shouting on the shore
When we meet to part no more,
Changed in the twinkling of an eye.

1) What challenges and limitations do you look forward to leaving behind, when we as believers receive our resurrection bodies?

2) Whom do you look forward to reuniting with, when we are gathered to the Lord in that day?

Wordwise Hymns (William Kirkpatrick)
The Cyber Hymnal


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