by Eugene Higgins
Human Folly and Divine Footstools
Ours is a panic-stricken age. In proof of that statement, note that a collection of over 200 Hollywood stars and scientists recently signed an editorial calling on world leaders and citizens to embrace “radical transformation” of our economies and our values after the virus crisis in order to avoid what they say will be “the massive extinction of life on Earth.” As Christians, smugness should have no place in our attitude. But I sincerely feel mingled pity and sorrow for those who have no hope before them except what they can create for themselves. It must be terrible to live with the fear that the human race has the ability to pulverize the planet, end history, completely destroy mankind, and extinguish all life on Earth. I suppose that once you have eliminated (in your mind) the author of the narrative, you have no assurance that the story, now nothing more than a senseless jumble of meaningless words, will end well. Life becomes a gamble with the cruelest of odds against you. Your existence is reduced to being a train ride without a conductor, a flight without a pilot and a voyage without a captain. No steadying, guiding hand is on the wheel or at the helm; where the road leads you and where the tide takes you is all unknown and frightening.
On a Lord’s Day, with all the fear and uncertainty filling the minds of men and women, it certainly would refresh our hearts to think over a little of what we know of God’s program and His lofty plans for His lofty and glorious Son.
The entire “time” period between the ascension of the Lord to the throne of God in Heaven, and the advent of the Lord to sit on His own throne in Jerusalem, is contained in that previously-mentioned word “until.” Having risen from the dead and having appeared to His disciples for 40 days, the victorious Savior ascended to Heaven and was welcomed by His Father with the words, “Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1).
While we look forward with anticipation to the day when He comes for us, what a day it will be when He comes back with us – or rather when we come back with Him! Have you noticed the order of the words of the Lord Jesus when He answered the high priest in Matthew 26:64? He said, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” I do not want to build a doctrine on one verse, but notice that He did not say, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven and sitting on the right hand of power (as though “the right hand of power” were a reference to His throne on earth). He said they would see Him enthroned (undoubtedly in Heaven) and coming in the clouds.
Carry that in your thinking to the scene around Jerusalem, when the city falls and half of its inhabitants are captured. Here is what will happen next: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 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” (Matt 24: 29, 30).
Envision the skies darkening preternaturally, and then the hand of God cleaving the heavens, just as He rent the vail when Christ died. And as the darkness bursts into that brighter-than-the-sun glory that was seen at the Transfiguration, the world sees the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power – the Shekinah, the glory of God, surrounding the enthroned Christ – and He rises from that throne to come back as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They see Him coming in the clouds of Heaven “with power and great glory.” “He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.” The Gospel of the Kingdom will have been preached to all the nations, so I am not sure that there will be any ruler who will not have heard that the Lord was returning (even though they will deny its truth). But is it this – this display of God-head glory and overwhelming majesty – that closes the mouths of monarchs as “that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider” (Isaiah 52:15).
And He will come! The touch of His feet divides the mountain (Zech 14), the Word from His mouth ends the battle (Rev 19), the wounds in His hands break the heart of the repentant remnant of His ancient people and brings them to the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness.
Think of His majestic approach to the ancient city! When last He entered its gates, before the Cross, it was in the company of His enemies and in the rough hands of His captors who dragged Him from the garden. Within that city He had gone through mock trials, false accusations, shameful mistreatment, thorn-crowning, brutal scourging, searing mockery, and Cross-bearing. Now, wearing many diadems, He is returning. Here is the description: “He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall He lift up the head” (Psalm 110:7). What brook? Whose head?
Note that He is approaching the city from the rent and parted Mount of Olives on the east. He had once come to that Mount on that unforgettable night of darkness and loneliness – and He had crossed a brook to get there (John 18:1). Now, He is about to cross that same brook – the Brook Kidron – once more. But He stops. If, in fact, He is mounted on the white horse of the conqueror, then He dismounts. He stoops at that winter brook. What will be the thoughts in His heart? He will remember that night so long ago; He will not have forgotten the cup, the sword, the loneliness, the looming Cross. He will not have forgotten the wormwood and the gall. And with thoughts of the long-ago night still fresh in His heart, He will drink from the brook. David once needed to go to a brook – he faced a monolithic enemy and he needed weapons: 5 smooth stones from the brook. Gideon once came to a brook or river. The danger was real, and therefore vigilance was required; those who failed to keep in mind the danger were sent home. But the Lord is not stooping to obtain weapons from the brook – all foes are defeated; nor is He wary of attack: vigilance is not required – the battle is over and the victory is already His. With what joy He will drink from the very brook that witnessed His capture and shame.
“Therefore shall He lift up the head.” Do you remember how His earthly ministry ended? “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, ‘It is finished’: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30). A drink and a bowed head! How different it will be when He returns! A drink and a lifted head! He will drink long and satisfying from the brook, remount the white horse, lift His head in exultant victory and joy, and make His way to the city.
Jerusalem will ring with the welcome – finally! – of its rightful, long-awaited Sovereign. Psalm 24 depicts the scene, so imagination is not required, just tissues for your eyes as the Lord you love enters His capital: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.”
The reign of King Solomon was just a limited and faint foreshadowing of the everlasting reign of the Prince of Peace. Here are words that describe Solomon’s experience: “Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart” (Song 3:11). Those words will have their glorious fulfillment in the experience of the Lord Jesus. As the Father coronates His beloved Son, angel hosts will kneel in awe at the command “Let all the angels of God worship Him!” Gladly, the redeemed of all ages – you included – will join in the universal exclamation that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father. In the very city where His heart was broken with anguish and sorrow He will experience “the day of the gladness of His heart.” Everyone who loves that Savior should say, “God hasten that day!”
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of Glory. Selah.”
And all the people said, Amen (1 Ch 16:36).