Luke 21:29

Lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Jesus Christ led his disciples to think that beyond the redemption which he was working out for them, and subsequent to it in time, was another great deliverance which should prove of unspeakable value to them. This is true now of our discipleship; we look for and we sorely need a second redemption.

I. ITS CHARACTER. It is not, like the first, distinctively and purely spiritual. That was; men were yearning for a political revolution and redemption. But the kingdom of heaven was not to be "of this world;" it was to be wholly inward and spiritual; it was to be our redemption from sin and restoration to the favor and the likeness of our Divine Father. But the second redemption is not distinctively and primarily that of the soul; it is to be "the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23). It will have a gracious and beneficent effect, a redeeming and elevating influence, upon the soul; but in the first instance it is a redemption from a troublous and trying condition; it is being taken away, by the appearance of Christ, in the providence of God, from a state in which happy service is almost impossible; it is a removal from storm to calm, from hostile to friendly forces, from turbulence to serenity; from hard conflict, or tense anxiety, or painful suffering, to "the rest which remaineth for the people of God." It is a blessed and merciful change from unfavourable to favorable conditions.

II. OUR HUMAN NEED OF IT. We are not of this world, we who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ and renewed by the Spirit of God. And we may be nobly, even grandly, victorious over it, being "always caused to triumph" by that Divine Spirit that dwells within us, and "strengthens us with all might." Yet are we actually, and by universal experience, seriously affected by it, and we suffer many things as we pass through it. We may suffer, as the early Christians did (to whom these words were addressed), from persecution, and thereby be made "most miserable" (1 Corinthians 15:19). Our life may be made worthless, or worse than worthless, to us by the cruelties of our fellow-men. Or we may suffer so much from privation of privilege, or from the struggles of daily life, or from grief and disappointment, or from a steadily advancing decrepitude, that we may earnestly long for this second redemption, the redemption of our body. We may be in sore need of its approach, of its presence.

III. ITS KINDLY SHADOW. It will then be much to us, perhaps everything; that our redemption draweth nigh.

1. It is something that at any moment we may be within a step of the heavenly sphere; for anything we know, Christ may be about to say concerning us, "This day ye shall be with me in Paradise."

2. It is more that we may be confident that a life of holy activity will rapidly pass away and bring us to the day of rest and of reward.

3. It is very much indeed that the duration of the blessed future will prove to be such that any number of years of earthly trouble will be nothing in comparison.

4. It is also a truth full of hope and healing that every day spent in faithful service or patient waiting brings us that distance nearer to the blessedness that lies beyond.

"We nightly pitch our moving tent
A day's march nearer home." Beneath the varied and heavy burdens of time we are fain to bow our heads; but we shall lift them up with strength and eager-hearted expectation as we realize that every step forward is a step onward to the heavenly horizon. - C.

Behold the fig-tree and all the trees.

1. Shows course and sequence of events as certain and necessary as the processes of nature. All is in progress. Be sure of the issue. Be alive to the tokens of its approach.

2. The incongruity of the comparison is its instruction. Its purpose to fix attention not on an end, but on a beginning; not on what going, but on what coming; not on tokens of dissolution, but on hidden life stirring beneath, after last storm to break out into the "kingdom of God."


1. See that it belongs to you.

2. Live under the sense of what is coming. You need it —

(1)To prevent this present world from absorbing you.

(2)To prevent it from depressing you.

(Canon T. D. Bernard.)

Do you know that God has a big clock, bigger than any one you have ever seen, bigger indeed than Big Ben at Westminster. But this big clock does not make any noise, you can never hear it ticking; and it does not strike, but yet it goes on, year after year, year after year, marking the time. What do you think is the face of this clock? It is the earth; the fields and meadows and hedgerows in every part of the world — that is the face of this clock. And what do you think are the figures upon this dial? They are flowers and birds and leaves. God's big clock does not tick, but it lives; it does not strike the hours, only some flowers open out or die away when the hour has come. Isn't that what Jesus meant when He said, Look at the fig-tree and all the trees; they are beginning now to put out buds. Very well; you know by that that this is spring-time, and by that you know that summer is coming near. The buds tell what o'clock it is by the time of year. When you were learning to tell the time on the face of the clock on the mantel-shelf, how did you begin? Was it not by first learning the quarters? When the long hand was half-way down on the right, you knew it was a quarter past; when it was half-way up on the left, you knew it was a quarter-to; and when it was down between these, you knew it was half-past; and when it was up between them you knew the clock was going to strike the hour. Well, just as there are four quarters in our clocks so there are four quarters in this big clock we are speaking about. The first quarter is springtime, half-past is summer, quarter-to is autumn, and when winter comes the year is ended. When you look at the trees and flowers you can pretty well tell what o'clock it is by the year. But standing between the quarters of the clock there are other figures. How many of these are there altogether? Twelve, are there not? And how many months are there in a year? You know — twelve. So, you see, this clock has got all the figures, and, what is stranger still, it marks all the figures by flowers and fruits; for there are different flowers that come out every month of the year. If a smart boy were to keep his eyes about him, and understood things as he walked in the country, when he found certain trees beginning to bud and certain flowers beginning to peep up, he would say, This must be the month of January; for these always come out in January. Later on, if he saw some others, he would say, This must be "February; for these always come out in February. And so through all the year, if he was clever, he would find the flowers and trees telling him what month it was. But there is something stranger still about this clock of God's; and you must remember it, so that from time to time during the year you may learn to use your eyes and notice what God is doing in the fields. It is this: God's clock tells the hours of the day as well as the months of the year. The months are the twelve figures; but you know that between the twelve figures there are the little minutes, and these minutes are made up of moments. Now the minutes in God's big clock are days, and the moments are hours, and the clock tells them all. What then can be the meaning of this big clock? Surely it is to tell us that time is passing. Does it not plainly say that if we do not grow right in the springtime of our life, we shall not be able, when the summer comes, to go back to the springtime and mend what has been wrong? You would not like to grow up wicked, would you? Then learn to grow as the flowers grow. How is that? By always looking at the sun, and taking its light, and following it, for the flowers follow the sun with their heads, and so they become beautiful. Do you the same with Jesus — follow Him with your hearts.

(J. R. Howatt.)

Heaven and earth shall pass away
It is something to startle us, and make us ask ourselves, if indeed such things can be; whether He is in earnest who says so, and whether the world which practises upon us by its looks as though it were eternal, is indeed such an imposter, and we who believe it, so foolish and so ignorant! Yet so it is. Now, it seems to some of you, I dare say, as to most men, that this is a great deal more astonishing than that anything so inconsiderable, materially considered, as a man, should pass away, as you see happen every day by death. It seems a pity to break to pieces so goodly a machine as heaven and earth, and uproot its adamantine basis. But if so, I think you are wrong. It seems to me nothing at all astonishing, that anything for which we have no longer a use should finally be thrown aside, or broken up, and the old materials put to some other purpose, be it an ordinary implement, or be it a world. It seems to me very reasonable and very likely in itself, that, in the infinite wisdom and power of God, one world should be ripened, so to say, out of another, as you see the fruit come out of the flower, and the flower out of the bud, so that the first shall decay before the higher one can be perfected. It is very reasonable that, as a mere manifestation of power, in order to show to his creatures the strength of His right hand, and the absolute independency of His will, God should dash in pieces, from time to time, or consume by the breath of His nostrils, what was made by His word, and stood only by His sufferance. Besides, in the elements out of which heaven and earth are made, there is no thought or feeling; they are brute, dead things; and are capable neither of pain nor pleasure. Whether they abide or not in the forms into which God has thrown them, it is the same to them; no harm is inflicted on them; they are as unconscious of change as they are impotent to feel or will. But, if heaven and earth must pass away, another consequence will follow, which is to every one of us of awful importance. If the earth, such as it now is, shall be utterly destroyed, manifest it is, that our present life, and cares, and pleasures, and occupations, all that men make their happiness of, will likewise he brought to an end. And this brings me to another point — and a reason for the passing away of the present world, which I have not yet mentioned, though it might easily occur to any thoughtful mind. It is a condemned world; sentence is passed upon it! And it is condemned, because it is guilty, and all over polluted! And do not wonder at this, for you know with what feelings we regard a chamber or a house in which a murder, or some abominable crime, has been committed; how we shrink from it and abhor it, and hate the sight of it, and should think it the greatest misery in the world, if we have any feelings worthy of man, to be compelled to take up our abode within it. A sort of guilt, as well as involuntary pollution, seems to attach to the very floors and senseless walls which have witnessed the crime, and have not fallen down or opened upon the wicked in the midst of their wickedness. And we should rejoice at seeing them pulled down to the ground, and the last memorial of the crime removed from our eyes! Well, so it is exactly in regard to the world in which we live, with all its majestic mechanism, its living forces, and all the ornaments which God's hand has thrown round about it. It is stained with six thousand years of sin. And this brings us to another portion of the question. If heaven and earth shall pass away, shall anything succeed into their room, or shall that space which they occupied be utterly blank and desolate? The answer is, no. So to say, there shall rise two new worlds, or such a change as comes to the same thing, out of the ruins of it; even as out of the earth destroyed by the flood there sprung forth that in which we now dwell. There shall be the new heavens and new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness, and the face of God's countenance shineth for evermore — the habitation of those who have lived and died in the Lord. And on the other hand, the world, where the light is darkness, and the life is death, and the good is evil, and weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth are the voice thereof — even the habitation of the ungodly for ever and ever. And this gives you the true reason, dear brethren, why the judgment is now suspended, and sun and moon are shining, and night and day, and spring and harvest, come and go, and all things remain as at the beginning. It is that God's last dispensation upon earth may have full room and time to display itself in all its combinations with human good and evil, before the voice from the throne shall proclaim that it is finished. It is that, in the sight of all His creatures, the patience and long-suffering of God, which leadeth to repentance, might have full space and opportunity in which to show themselves, and vindicate to the uttermost the exceeding forbearance of our heavenly Father even towards them that perish I It is that, year after year, His saints may be gathered in till, in the fulness of time, the flock which he has given to Christ shall have been called out of all nations and languages, and the Saviour be satisfied in the sight of His soul's travail.

(J. Garbett.)

My words shall not pass away
I. The words of Jesus Christ, the words which He spoke for our direction, for our purification, for our comfort, for our redemption, have not passed, and shall not pass away. Our human intellect accepts them with reverence, and must ever retain them. Our human passions acknowledge their salutary power, and look up to them for perpetual control and guidance. Our human fears are soothed by them, and cannot let them go. Our human hopes are informed, elevated, and sanctified by them, and constantly resort to them for refuge, and lean upon them for rest. All our human affections have borrowed from them Divine light and warmth, and must reflect that light and warmth for ever.

II. "Heaven and earth shall pass away." Giving to this sentence an individual application, we may feel that heaven and earth pass away from the sight of all of us. Fancies as brilliant as the blue vault above us, promises as fair, expectations and resolves as high, and possessions which we have deemed as firmly founded as the earth itself, have vanished, and will again vanish; and what is there left behind? The words of Christ are left, when the visions break, and the possessions disappear — words of patience, and courage, and comfort, always left for the strengthening of our hearts, if our hearts will hear and accept them. The words of Jesus arc the promises of God the Father to the souls of men. When eyes are growing dim, and the heart is ceasing to beat, and heaven and earth are passing away, as they surely will from all of us, what remains for the soul's help and reliance but the words of Jesus, which are the promises of God?

III. And let us remember that the words of Jesus, attested as they arc by the Father who sent Him, permanent as time has proved them, true, and satisfying, and lasting as the human soul has found them, are not only the promises of God for man's hope and trust, but the law of God for man's final judgment. As such they will remain, when heaven and earth, in any and every sense, have passed away. The words of Christ, essentially permanent, and surviving all change, will meet our souls in the last day, and be pronounced upon them, for acquittal or for doom. And certain and necessary it is, that the sentence which will be adjudged unto us hereafter by those words, will be in strict accordance with the observance or the neglect with which we treated them here, before our present heaven and earth had passed away.

(F. W. P. Greenwood, D. D.)

On one occasion when William Dawson, the Yorkshire Preacher, was giving out a hymn, he suddenly stopped and said: "I was coming once through the town of Leeds, and saw a poor little half-witted lad rubbing at a brass plate, trying to rub out the name; but the poor lad did not know that the harder he rubbed the brighter it shone. Now, friends, sing: —

'Engraved as in eternal brass

The mighty promise shines;

Nor can the powers of darkness rase

Those everlasting lines.'"Then, as though he saw the devil rubbing, he said:

"Satan cannot rub it off —

'His hand hath writ the Sacred Word

With an immortal pen.'"

An infidel in London had a wife who possessed a Bible which she regularly read; being annoyed at this, the man, who had frequently threatened to do so, threw the book upon the fire. This appears to have taken place at dinner-time. He then left home to go to his work, but soon returned to see if the last vestige of the volume had disappeared. The woman, who naturally felt distressed at her loss, said she thought it must be completely burned; but her husband stirred the ashes to see if such was the case, when he read what fastened itself upon his mind, and led to his conversion — "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My word shall not pass away." The sister of this man was the wife of a London pastor; and just when the Bible was burning she was earnestly praying for her brother's conversion.

(Sword and Trowel.)

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