“And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Unto the end of the world!
Not the cosmos does the Lord have in mind, that is, the world from the point of view of its created organic unity, as it came forth from the hand and by the efficacious Word of the Creator. For, though that world has undergone a change through the deluge, and it shall be changed again when its very elements shall be burned up with fervent heat, it shall through this renewing process become the habitation where the righteousness shall forever dwell.
But the world from the point of view of its historical development—this is the world of which the Lord speaks! It is the world as it is developing through the ages—as it progresses from the moment time was created—as it continues from the creation of the first Adam unto the appearance of the last Adam, the Lord from heaven. It is the world as it moves onward from the disobedience and fall of the first man unto the manifestation of the Man of Sin, who represents the highest possible development of iniquity the world could possibly produce. It is the world that always persecutes and kills the righteous all the day long, which in the very center of history killed the royal Seed of David, Whom God raised from the dead and exalted at His right hand and gave Him power to unravel the counsels of God until all is fulfilled according to His perfect will. It is the world which discovers the secrets which God has put in all His creation, while it holds the truth under in unrighteousness and emblazons its own name on all it discovers and not the name of the Creator. It is the world which invents the machinery wherewith its men of science may fly through the stratosphere and plow under the depths of the seas, crying loudly: How great is Man! and never acknowledging the wisdom and power of God. It is the world in which the covenant of God with His people has its historical development from generation to generation, until the very last son or daughter is born that must inhabit the house with its many mansions.
That world has an end!
Of that end we are reminded through the passing of the old and the beginning of a new year. For the years come and go until they have an end, determined by Him Who is eternal and not subject to time.
But with the passing of the old, year and the beginning of a new one the world has not come to an end. The church of Christ is very really still in that old world which is fast developing in sin and iniquity. She is still beset on every side by manifold temptations. She is still the object of hatred and reproach by that evil world. And according to God’s prophetic Word she must expect the days of this evil age will become increasingly evil. The year 1969 which has just been ushered in rides on the tide of the greatest upheavals history has ever recorded. Riots and rebellions, disrespect for authority, unleashed profanity and obscenity are the order of the day. Increasing unrest among the nations, and the sharp crescendos of racism crying for recognition and equality threatening to cast the world into a blood bath, is stirring the hearts and minds of those seated in pinnacles of authority, as well as the hearts and minds of the governed. The demoniacal grabbing as it were by the throat the age-old doctrine that God is and drowning it under the cry that He is dead—this is the spirit of our age.
Into that world the Lord commands His church to go and preach the gospel, “Teaching all nations to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” And adding the comforting promise: “And, lo, I am with you alway; even unto the end of the age.”
Promise of the resurrected and living Lord!
Who declared in the immediately preceding context: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”
Lo, I am with you alway!
O, do not fail to notice this—I AM!
He is the revelation of the immutable Jehovah Who is speaking! The immutable over against all our change! The I AM which covers all the varieties of: IS, WAS, and WILL BE! I am with you ALWAYS! That is, all the days. All the days that must yet continue unto the consummation.
But how shall He be with us all the days, Who left us to ascend to the Father’s right hand? Did- He not really leave us? Was not this the very fear of His disciples, that their Lord would leave them orphans?
O, you remember how He comforted them whose hearts were fraught with fear. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for. you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also . . . And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
“But is not Christ then with us even to the end of the world, as he hath promised?” Such is also the question our fathers asked in the Heidelberg Catechism. And they answer: “Christ is very man and very God; with respect to his human nature, he is no more on earth; but with respect to his Godhead, majesty, grace and spirit, he is at no time absent from us.”
Indeed, He is present with us with respect to His Godhead, which is illimitable. And His majesty, which is His absolute, exalted authority to govern all things, not only in heaven where He resides in His human nature; but also on earth, so that all things are so governed that they coincide with the eternal counsel of God. And by His grace and Spirit He is ever present with us, having taken up His abode in our hearts.
O, there is more!
He is with us with His truth, with His defense and aid.
And you wish to feel His presence? Then you must be on the dusty road of life, doing His will, and obeying His commandments. “If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
Never will He leave us, so that we have to meet the vicissitudes of life alone. Always He is near to comfort us with His Word and Spirit, and to supply us with His grace. Listen to the apostle exclaim: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
For the disciples, first of all, to whom the promise was directly given! O, how their hearts must have been filled with fear. Was not their Lord about to ascend into the highest heavens and leave them to carry on the mandate to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all that He had commanded them? And had they not already experienced severe opposition when they followed Him in His earthly ministry? Had they not all witnessed what happened to Him Who spoke freely of all the Father had given Him to speak? Must they not as faithful disciples expect that world to give them the same treatment as it gave their Lord?
Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world! I the crucified but now resurrected and glorified Savior! I, the great Shepherd of My sheep! I Who came to save you and did redeem you through the shameful and bitter cross, shall I ever allow that anything should happen to you that would negate that work? O, have no fear, I am and will always be with you to the very end.
How that Word must have lifted them up! Though He leaves them, yet He abides, and will never leave them!
But this Word of comfort cannot have been intended for the disciples alone. Surely they did not abide unto the end of the world. Perhaps in less than a century the very last of them entered the vale of death.
It is the promised comfort for the church!
Lo, I am with you, My church, even unto the end of the age!
Militant church, which must yet fight the good fight of faith!
Obedient church, which must yet carry out His mandate to carry the gospel into all the world! And in the discharge of that calling must be expected to bear the cross after Him! That church which preaches only the truth, and not the philosophy of men. That church which is willing to remain small and despised if necessary, so long as she remains pure in doctrine and in life.
And therefore a promise which is directed to every believer! To each child of God who must daily struggle with that monster—his own flesh; who must withstand all the temptations the world of our age has to offer; who must battle against the spiritual powers in high places which are disciplined by the devil.
To us is this promise given, who so often are of the thought that the heavens touch the earth on the horizon in front and behind, but that they are at their highest point and remotest from us just at the point where we stand. To us who are inclined to think that the Lord was very near to His own in the hoary past, and that no doubt He will be near to His beloved in the dim future, but for the present He is far from them. Though we may invent our imaginary arches that extend from the earth to the heavens and back to the earth again, and suppose that where it touches the earth the Lord was nearest and where the arch is highest He is farthest away—with Him there is no such arch, nor is there any time He is not present with us.
He remains the faithful—I AM!
Lo! That is, Behold! Observe well!
I am with you, even I your Lord and Savior!
Unto the end of the age!
And therefore He will be with us unto the very last moment of this present time. And if He is with us, what then?
We will be working while it is day, realizing His mandate to evangelize the world. And we will not fear what man can do unto us. And when the day becomes dark, as it surely will, we will not be troubled, for with Him we are more than conquerors.
Amen! So it shall surely be!