The Blessed Hope

THE GREAT HOPE AND INSPIRATION of the Early Church was the return of their Lord, and the establishment of his kingdom. It was to them a “blessed hope.” (Titus 2:13) They were not then interested in reforming world society, for they knew that this present social order must come to an end during Christ’s return. In its place a new social order would be established, even the long-promised Messianic kingdom.

To win a place as reigning kings with Jesus in that kingdom, they gladly sacrificed all present advantages, even life itself, counting everything as loss and dross as compared with the “eternal weight of glory.” (II Cor. 4:17) This would be revealed in and through them if faithful in following in the footsteps of their Master, even unto death.

They also were inspired with a heavenly hope. They sought for “glory and honour and immortality, eternal life.” (Rom. 2:7) They understood that the “great salvation” (Heb. 2:3) which began to be spoken by their Lord involved not only to be rescued from the Adamic condemnation to death, but exaltation to the Divine nature, the “crown of life.” (II Pet. 1:4; Rev. 2:10) But they did not expect to enter into this reward at the moment of death. Paul said that a “crown of righteousness” was “laid up” for him, which he would receive at “that day,” that is, the day of the Lord. This was to be the time when the Lord returned to gather his church to himself and to establish his kingdom for the blessing of the world. “And not to me only,” Paul adds, “but unto all them also that love his appearing.”—II Tim. 4:8

There are still a few small Christian groups which, in a vague sort of way, have in mind this hope that is centered in the return of our Lord. With them it is as though this were something which would occur when the Lord decided that nothing further would be accomplished by trying to convert the world; so Christ comes to destroy the earth, and thus bring to an end God’s dealings with his human creation. To them, this will be the end of ‘time’ and the beginning of ‘eternity’—an eternity of bliss for the saints, and of torture for all others.


Those who are walking in the light of the Lord’s countenance have come to see that the work of God through his church in this age is but preparatory to a still greater work of salvation. Paul asserts that “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” He then explains that the first to be made alive through the Redeemer is “Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are [or become] Christ’s at his coming [during his parousia, presence].”—I Cor. 15:22,23

It is this ‘afterward’ of blessing for all mankind that has been so completely lost. No other fact of the Divine plan is more firmly established in the Word of God. In this connection we have another summary of the prophetic testimony presented to us by Peter. It is recorded in Acts 3:19-21. In this passage the apostle tells us about Christ’s Second Coming, and the purpose of his return, saying that then there will be “times of restitution of all things,” and adds, “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”


By the mouth of all the prophets has come this blessed hope, and it is recognized by those who have walked in the light of God’s countenance. It really is God’s voice, and the great theme song of his love. It is to accomplish this great purpose of God that the serpent’s “head” is to be “bruise[d]” by the “Seed” of the “woman.” (Gen. 3:14,15) It is the fulfillment of this Divine purpose toward the human race that is involved in God’s promise to bless all the families of the earth through the “Seed” of Abraham.—Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:16,29

The Spirit of God moved the Prophet Isaiah to write that all the blind eyes would be opened, that all the deaf ears would be unstopped, and that the lame man would leap as an hart. (Isa. 35:5,6) Tears would be wiped from all faces, and death would be swallowed up in victory. (Isa. 25:8) Obadiah also wrote that “saviours shall come up on Mount Zion; … and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.”—Obad. 21

Many promises of blessing for mankind are recorded in the Old Testament, and they are all beautiful, harmonious, and understandable. The Apostle Peter’s statement in Acts 3:21 states that they were pointing forward to the “times of restitution of all things.” This great blessing of restitution is the objective of our Lord’s return. How many are there in the world today who know this fundamental truth of the Divine plan? This is the joyful sound of coming salvation for the lost race—not an opportunity to escape torture—but to be restored to perfection of life as human beings, and to be privileged to live here on the earth forever.


The Scriptures associate the joys resulting from the fulfillment of prophecy with the return of our Lord. “Times of refreshing shall come from the presence [Greek ‘prosopon’—‘out from the face of’] of the Lord,” says Peter, for “he shall send Jesus Christ.” (Acts 3:19-21) The object of the return of Christ is to fulfill God’s promise of restitution. The return of Divine favor is first to the church—which favor started at Pentecost and proceeds to our day and later—when the church is complete—to the world of mankind. The Creator will no longer keep his back turned upon the human race, but will refresh the people by the light of his countenance in the order indicated.

In the outworking of the Divine plan, all the great dispensational changes are duly announced to the people concerned. It was so when the time came to destroy the world with the Flood. Noah was then the instrument used to make the proclamation, although none but his own family believed the report. John the Baptist announced the presence of Christ to Israel in his day, but the message was not heeded except by the few. The apostles and others in the Early Church were particularly equipped with knowledge to enable them to proclaim the purpose of God pertaining to the Gospel Age, which was then beginning.

We are now approaching the end of the Gospel Age. A new age is about to open, even the age when restitution blessings will flow out to the people. This will also begin that promised world to come “wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (II Pet. 3:13) In the Divine plan, it is the time for another proclamation to be made—a testimony concerning the end of the present social order and the glorious blessings of restitution to follow. And the Lord has chosen the last members of the body of Christ to make this timely and necessary proclamation.

How can they do this unless first of all they are made acquainted with the truth concerning God’s plan? The Lord tells us how this is accomplished. It is directly related to the return of our Lord, that ‘blessed hope’ of the Early Church. Before he went away, Jesus explained to his disciples that his followers would not be informed in advance concerning the time of his return. They would need to ‘watch’ in order to know of his Second Presence.


“Blessed are those servants,” said Jesus, “whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.” (Luke 12:37) This is a remarkable promise! Our Lord would also serve them with ‘meat in due season’ through an appointed faithful servant.—Matt. 24:45

‘Meat’ is one of the symbols the Scriptures use to picture the truth of the Divine plan. The Master’s promise means that his true people at this end of the age would enjoy a special serving of the truth—that they would be given ‘meat in due season.’ Such people in the world today who have come to know the Divine plan of the ages and the kingdom of God which will provide blessings of restitution for mankind, are proclaiming this message all over the world.

The world at large knows little or nothing about it as yet. Neither did the world in Noah’s day really believe that a flood was coming. Neither did the Israelitish world in Jesus’ day believe the testimony of John the Baptist, nor later, of Jesus and his disciples. The proof of the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to serve ‘meat in due season’ is not how many would believe the truth, but that those of the family of God would thereby learn about God’s plan and would be walking in the light of his countenance.

The implications are staggering! The facts, however, are definitely stated in the scriptural testimony that all the holy prophets foretold the times of restitution which were to follow the return of Christ. Certainly this is one of the principal themes in the Word of truth. But who knows about it? Look where we will among the great and small religious groups of the world, and it rarely can be found. Those who are enlightened with present truth, those saying that Christ is soon to become the king of the world, are among these blessed ones.


Many churches teach that Christianity is a way of life, and if the world could be induced to accept Christ’s teachings instead of modern day philosophies, there would be peace and good will among nations. Truly, Jesus’ way of life is certainly far better than even the best of our humanly conceived ideologies. But those who espouse this cause are looking to man to accomplish this, and man, as the Scriptures clearly show, will utterly fail, no matter how good his intentions might be.

One of the time prophecies recorded in Daniel speaks of the blessedness of those who would be living at the time when knowledge would be increased, and when the prophecies concerning the ‘time of the end’ of this present evil world would be fulfilled. (Dan. 12:12) It is the ‘blessed’ privilege of those found watching when the Lord returned.—Luke 12:37

It is this ‘blessedness’ which we are enjoying now. It is a joy which results from recognizing God’s hand in the affairs of men, and of knowing that such a wonderful time of blessing is near for all mankind. This knowledge gives us peace of heart and mind, while others are plagued with fear as they look ahead to the “things … coming upon the earth.” (Luke 21:26) It is a blessedness which comes from the knowledge of the opportunity of suffering with Christ now, that we may reign with him later. And this is blessedness indeed, for with it is the knowledge that not only are we to be blessed, but that there is to be an ‘afterward’ of blessing for all the families of the earth.

Therefore, the blessedness we enjoy is the assurance that we are walking “in the light of thy [his] countenance” (Ps. 89:15), and that we are being specially favored by God. How wonderfully ‘blessed’ it is to know this! It is not presumption to acknowledge this fact, for it is the testimony to us of God’s Spirit, through his Word of truth, by the mouth of all his holy prophets. Assurances of future blessings are to be found throughout the New Testament, not only for the true church, but also for the world.


Let us rejoice that we have been counted among God’s ‘blessed’ people, and endeavor day by day to measure up to the responsibility our knowledge of God’s truth has placed upon us. It is not ours merely to enjoy for ourselves. By it we have been made bearers of the testimony of kingdom blessings to the world. We are the “ambassadors for Christ,” and the Lord is looking to us to be faithful.—II Cor. 5:20

If we continue to tell the joyful sound of God’s plan, our appreciation of it will increase, and our joys will also increase. Our continued appreciation of the truth depends on our faithful use of it for the blessing of others. God has highly favored us. We are walking in the light of his countenance. May we ever seek to keep ourselves in his love by obedience to every requirement of the truth in our personal relationship with the Lord.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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