Lightning from the East
by Robert Murray M'Cheyne
"For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:27).
WHAT A SOLEMN and glorious event is that spoken of in these words, the coming of the Son of man! His first coming was infinitely wonderful, when He left the bosom of His Father, emptied Himself of His glory, and Himself bare our sins on His own body on the tree. His second coming will be very different, but still infinitely wonderful. "Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:28). May we be among the number of those who "love his appearing," who are "looking for that blessed hope," and who are "waiting for his Son from heaven, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." Surely they have but cold love to Jesus that do not burn with desire to see the fair brow that was crowned with thorns.
1. Christ's coming will be terrible as lightning to His enemies. Nothing is more terrific than the lightning. It is so powerful, so sudden, so deadly in its stroke. The strongest man is like a straw before it. Much more terrible will Christ's appearing be to all unbelievers. To His own dear people it will be like the approach of summer. When they see the signs of His coming, they will say to one another, "the summer is nigh" (verse 32). "He shall come down like rain on the mown grass, as showers that water the earth" (Psalm 72:6). To poor waiting believers "He shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds" (2 Samuel 23:4). To those that fear God's name in this dark world, "The Sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in his wings" (Malachi 4:2). The cry shall be one of ineffable joy to them, "Behold the Bridegroom cometh."
How different that day shall be to unconverted souls! "Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord. To what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness, and not light" (Amos 5:18). That day shall burn as an oven to you. "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8). Then will be fulfilled that awful word, "All kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him" (Revelation 1:7), O! thou that obeyest not the gospel, where wilt thou hide from the lightning of His eye? Thou wilt say, Ah! there He is—the crucified One—whom I lightly esteemed. O! mountains and rocks fall on me and hide me from Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.
2. Christ's coming shall be sudden as lightning. What can be more awfully sudden than the lightning? A curtain of dark lowering clouds is hung over the sky. A death-like silence reigns over all nature. Not a leaf is stirred by the wind. When suddenly, "the voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire." "The lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west." And the loud pealing thunder shakes the wilderness. So shall the coming of the Son of man be. Whenever that glorious event shall take place, one thing is certain, that it shall be awfully sudden. A thief does not send word what hour he is coming to break up the house. "The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night." It shall come "like travail on a woman with child." "As a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth." Many will be saying, I think the Saviour will not come at such and such a time. What says the word? "The Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not." Am I ready to meet him? Would it be a grief and terror to me, if what some Christians think were true, that Christ may come even now? Do I love His appearing? Do I obey that command, Song 3:11? Am I a wise or foolish virgin? Have I not only a lamp, and wick, and flame, but oil in the lamp? All these are infinitely momentous questions. Happy the soul that can answer, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
3. Christ's coming shall be conspicuous as lightning. Lightning cannot be hid. By all it is seen at the same moment. The labourer in the field, the artizan in the workshop, the servant of the mill—all see the flash; but in a far more perfect manner shall be the coming of the Son of man. "Behold he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him." Jesus said to the high priest and all his accusers, "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Matthew 26:64). And again it is written, "they shall look on him whom they pierced." O amazing truth! Those who will not look to Christ now must look then. Those who will not "behold the Lamb of God," to be saved by Him, must behold the Lamb coming in wrath to destroy them. O happy believer, you shall cry in that day, "This is our God, we have waited for him." "This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend." "My Lord and my God."
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