Watchman, what of the night?

George Muller of Bristol, preached a famous sermon with this title around 1870.,%20what%20of%20the%20night.pdf 150 years later the sermon still stands as a great exposition of Isaiah 21:11.

Early on in preaching, I would say that it did not matter if the Last Judgment came in my lifetime or in many thousands of years time, what mattered was how I had lived my life before God, in the light of the cross of Jesus Christ.  But Muller properly corrects that, when he says:  Some may say, “Why make so much of the coming of the Lord? Is not death the same thing, for it is our going to Him? I once thought so myself; but I was led to see that there is a vast difference between the two. The hope of the Church is not death, but the return of the Lord. If I am taken out of the world by death, I shall myself be happy so far as regards the soul; but, blessed as I shall be, my happiness, even as regards myself alone, will not be full; for I shall not yet have my glorified body, my redeemed body. But when the Lord comes, it is the whole family brought into happiness and blessedness – the whole family gathered home. Then there will be the resurrection of the just, the first resurrection, when, therefore, the whole elect family will receive their glorified bodies. Death has to do with the partial happiness of individual believers; but the coming of the Lord has to do with the complete happiness of the whole redeemed family! So you see there is a vast difference between the two events as to the hope connected with them; and we must not yield to the statements that are made to the contrary. We must be guided by the Word of God, and not frame our own notions about these things, nor follow the notions of good people around us, if their thoughts are not according to the Word of God.

Tomorrow, Hilary and I go for a week to a youth centre on nearby Ashdown Forest, with 12 twelve children and their parents, we will be using Scripture Union Bible teaching material: “Guardians of Ancora”.  Fifty years ago, I was with a group of Durham students running a Christian camp for a group of 15 boys from Sacriston, a mining village near to Durham.  The camp was at Tayvallich on the west coast of Argyll, Scotland.  It was within a few months of my acceptance by the Church of England, for training towards ordination.  As a 21 year old, the immanence of the Lotd’s Return was real enough to set up a meeting with the College Principal, Jim Hickinbotham to try to persuade him that I need not endure a third year of further training, when a 2-year period was extended to three for non-theological students.  I failed in that endeavor.  My blog of Feb 10th 2013 has a ten minute film which includes a picture of that Tayvallich camp.

I watched the last light of yesterday fade over the valley from my rampart walk. Now the dawn of another ‘Lord’s Day’ comes.  As I prepare for teaching the next generation of my own extended family, I wonder how Isaiah 21:13 -17 will be fulfilled?