LCN Article
He Will Return

September / October 2017

Gary F. Ehman

If you had all the physical wealth you needed, along with all the talent, political power, and resources available to you to accomplish it, what would you most desperately want to do in this, your physical life?

Some may want to cure cancer, stop wars or clean the environment; others may want to go on a prolonged vacation that would take them away from all of this.

I ask the question because deep within many of us, young and old alike, is a gnawing hunger to do something—anything! You know the feeling, a need to be in the middle of “where it’s at”—to be involved, to accomplish, to push back the feelings of frustration, futility, uselessness and inadequateness, which sometimes seem to govern our lives.

Some of us feel left out, passed by or unappreciated because all our life efforts either produce nothing or result in all the wrong things. Well, welcome to the human race: “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun… For what has man for all his labor, and for the striving of his heart with which he has toiled under the sun? For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 2:11, 22–23).

This is the natural condition of man—even with a man such as Solomon. You and I, with our feelings and hunger, are not individually alone. We share such feelings with our fellow humans.

So where are we going with this article? Please, be patient with me.

God Won’t Abandon Us

Jesus Christ knew, while He was in the flesh—and knows now—His creation. He knows our feelings. He knows our needs. He has always known His creation and from the beginning wanted to be with us and serve us.

Establish this thought before we proceed: Israel left Egypt in excitement and joy, with a high hand. But God’s presence was always there, even when Pharaoh pursued them: “And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. So, it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus, it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night” (Exodus 14:19–20). God separated between them, dark to one side, light to the other. It was God’s first act of protection for Israel since He delivered them out of direct bondage.

He was not about to abandon them. He, as Spirit, was with them—remarkably: “Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys” (Exodus 40:36–38). All this despite their rebelliousness.

Solomon built the first temple for God. But notice what happened when it was completed, and after the priests placed the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies: “And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:10–11). Solomon asks an interesting question: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” (v. 27). Many times, God has shown His presence on the earth, and for good reason. He has a desire to dwell with His chosen family. He yearns to do so. He seeks to be one with us individually (cf. John 17:20–23).

Scripture clearly shows that God loves His creation and wants to dwell with it. One of the most moving places in the Bible to demonstrate this is in the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel, in the eighth and ninth chapters, records God’s displeasure in Israel’s idolatry, and what appears to be His proclamation of divorce from her.

A Reluctant Departure

In chapter 10, Ezekiel begins describing the astonishing withdrawal of God’s presence from the temple—that place where He dwelt with man since the time of Solomon (Ezekiel 10:1–5). God’s presence begins to leave—to leave the temple. “When the cherubim stood still, the wheels stood still, and when one was lifted up, the other lifted itself up, for the spirit of the living creature was in them. Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim. And the cherubim lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight. When they went out, the wheels were beside them; and they stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them” (vv. 17–19).

The cloud hovers there for a moment. Ezekiel’s vivid description continues: “So the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was high above them. And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain, which is on the east side of the city” (Ezekiel 11:22–23). God’s presence moves from the temple to the Mount of Olives, stands there, seemingly reluctant to leave, as if contemplating on His time with them—considering His creation, the plans He had for them, His hopes for them.

Then it leaves earth.

But God did not abandon Israel or mankind. His plan for their salvation was still in place. One more point must be established. “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. … But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: ‘Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah’” (Hebrews 8:1–8).

Unveiling a Better Way

That point is simply this: Christ is still closely involved with His creation, remarkably, through His chosen ones—His Church. And He will continue that involvement, never abandoning that which He created. Please remember that despite the faults of ancient Israel that caused Him to reluctantly remove His presence, He continued to develop His plan for them. A new and better way was unveiled: “Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (vv. 9–10).

This required Jesus Christ to come in the flesh and become the blood sacrifice: “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:11–12). That is why we, earlier this spring, partook of the Passover.

This astounding sacrifice expresses the profound love God has for mankind, and opens the door to humanity’s place in the universe: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:1–2).

Jesus provided the key—the main ingredient to this final reconciliation: “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that [it] may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, [which] the world cannot receive, because it neither sees [it] nor knows [it]; but you know [it], for [it] dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:15–18). Please note that this is conditional, based on loving Christ and obeying Him. And brethren, this is not a new or a different concept; it is what was expected of Adam and Eve at the very beginning.

This “helper”—or “comforter” in the KJV—in the Greek is parakletos, one who pleads another’s cause before a judge as an advocate or a counsel for defense. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, [which] the Father will send in My name, [it] will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (v. 26). God and Christ once more reached out to their creation with help! They were going to repair the fault in the first covenant—man himself.

What Christ’s presence on Mount Sinai, giving the law—and in the temple through the sacrifices—could not produce would be accomplished by infusing into the mind of man the “earnest” of the mind of Christ. Paul describes this “guarantee” in the New King James Version, or “earnest” in the King James Version, in his letters to those in Corinth and in Ephesus: “Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 5:5, KJV; cf. 2 Corinthians 1:22).

The word “earnest” or “guarantee” here means money given as a pledge or down payment for a larger purchase, assuring that the full amount will subsequently be paid. Understanding this will help us to understand what Paul was saying about Christ: “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, [which] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13–14). We see here, too, that we are “sealed” with the Holy Spirit—marked with an emblem of God’s ownership, secured from destruction and set apart for reward.

Profoundly Involved with Their Creation

The Father and Christ know Their creation. They understand the needs, wants and hungers deeply embedded in us—the need to be fulfilled, and to be fulfilling. The “Comforter” is God’s answer. It will work if we allow it to work: “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied” (Acts 9:31). Note the words: peace, edified, comfort. This is what the Feast depicts not only to us, but someday to all the world.

God’s Spirit—the Comforter—makes it possible to be fulfilled and fulfilling: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4). This focuses on the reason behind the creation of man. We are not empty organisms, as in, “Here today, gone tomorrow.” We have meaning, value, importance to God—but only if we fulfill the plan of God in our limited physical ways, now!

There is no need to be doubtful about how the Father and the Son feel about us. Christ’s work while on earth set the standard for the relationship: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1–2). The Greek word “walk” is peripateō, meaning to walk purposefully, but the context means to conduct, regulate, or pass one’s life as Christ did in the flesh. They have given us the power to do this.

This was not a new concept to God. It has always been what God and the Word wanted from Their creation from the beginning. Notice Job’s understanding of this: “If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes. You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands” (Job 14:14–15). God “desires”? As the NASB translates it, “You will long for the work of Your hands”—in this case, the product of His hands, mankind. Our Father has shown, through the sacrifice of His own Son, that He is ready to go to exceptional lengths for those of us who are His people today and, eventually, the world.

God is involved with us and He is a lot more patient than you think when you obey Him: “For now You number my steps, but do not watch over my sin. My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and You cover my iniquity” (vv. 16–17). “To cover” means to “plaster over” our iniquities.

It’s All About the Plan

In all I have written here, you may not have realized that this article is about the meaning of the Feast of Trumpets. The Feast of Trumpets is all about God’s plan for mankind, and you, Christians, are that plan. Without you, there is no plan. We must come to an understanding that we who keep this Feast day are being prepared to rule and to someday demonstrate to mankind that we, when we are presented to them, are the result of keeping God’s plan while we were in the flesh. This article is about us—His Church—and our role in His plan, the meaning of that role, the establishment of His Church, as the core reason supporting His plan of salvation.

One final scenario is needed. “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9–11).

Why do you gaze and live in such pain, sorrow and anguish, brethren? This same Jesus who left the temple in Ezekiel’s vision, who came in the flesh, who died and was taken up into heaven, shall come in like manner, back to His temple: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19–22).

We must trust in these wonderful words of Jesus: “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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2–3). This is the hope of the Christian who observes this Feast of Trumpets. This is the promise God has given you.

He will return!