powerful preacher among us once said, “Ours is an evacuation message . . . a preparation to leave a sin-cursed, cruel, and immoral world for a home of peace and eternal relief.” If we are leaving here, where do we go? Our Lord has given us the answer: “I am going there to prepare a place for you. . . . If I go . . . I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” The glorious kingdom of heaven with its undreamed-of perfection and matchless provisions for our care and happiness is the place He is preparing for us. He is coming to take us to be with Him!
During the dark days of World War II, entertainers tried to lift the sights of people everywhere by making music that offered hope. One song proclaimed “There’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover, tomorrow when the world is free,” while another told of “When the lights come on again all over the world. . . .” All people of goodwill longed for the end of war and a life of hope to follow. Alas, since that war implacable hatreds and political intrigues driven by demons have made wars incessant. Jesus had said, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Matt. 24:6), as one of the signs His people might look to that His return was near. And wars have not ceased: the media report that 28 conflicts are going on right now, and more than 100 bloody skirmishes flare up almost daily.
Jesus is coming to take us with Him, but He in His infinite wisdom and patience has bade us “occupy until I come.” In John 17 He prayed not that we be taken out of the world, but that we be kept while in it. We are His witnesses. Lost, desperate, and frightened men, women, and children are caught in the gross darkness that covers the earth. Many are hopeless and murmur and blaspheme the very name of God. But there are others upon whom light will come and in them will be created by the Holy Spirit a yearning after God and the power of His Word. They will hunger and thirst for righteousness. God will not leave them as they search and pray. Their cry will reach the throne room; they, too, shall be gathered in.
Meanwhile, the people of the blessed hope will have their own hearts drawing after God. They will pray and anguish as never before; they will seek the “old paths” and follow the examples of that “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1). While the “shaking time” dislodges many who love this world and its pleasures, there will be a return to “primitive godliness” by others. As God’s Spirit is gradually withdrawn from the earth and a furious devil is loosed among those of unbridled passions, a time of trouble will intensify until lost men will long for death. But God will have people who trust only in Jesus as the means and proof of salvation, and who fearlessly keep His commandments in the face of threat, derision, persecution, and death. They will tenaciously hold on and refuse to allow death itself to deter them from praising, loving, obeying, and trusting their God. Many will join the ranks watching for the coming of Jesus, while others will be blown away like shifting sand.
An awful “shaking time” will occur as the enemy and his hosts seek to destroy God’s earthly disciples. A time of trouble such as never was will envelop this suffering planet. But we have this promise: “For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory” (Ps. 102:16).
Why Jesus Is Coming
Why is Jesus coming back to an earth that seemed to reject Him and His Word? The best answer is: because He said He would. Another great reason is to “take us to be with Him.” He will also bring down the curtain on the reign of sin. He will bring Satan and his hosts to judgment and destruction. He will give rewards that only His infinite wisdom can disseminate. He will save lost men who found Him before probation’s gates slammed shut.
Jesus is coming in person. “This same Jesus . . . will come back in the same way you have seen him go . . .” (Acts 1:11). He will come with power and glory. All the holy angels will be with Him. The glory of the Father will illuminate Him. At the revelation of His exalted person, the very elements will convulse. Mountains will move, islands disappear! There will be an earthquake such as never was. The dark planet of earth, so long defiled under the sinful inhabitants thereof, shall thrill with rejoicing!
At Christ’s command billions of angels shall disperse to the four corners of the earth on a mission. Among the sleeping ones are men and women and youth of every nation, kindred, tongue, and tribe who loved Jesus, trusted only in His merits, accepted the claims of His righteousness only, and went to their dusty beds in the earth with hope in Jesus and His resurrection. The angels will disperse to roll back the dusty blankets and assist them in their awakening to respond to the voice of their beloved Lord. At His call to come, they come from the north, the south, the east, and the west. They spring up and mount the air--going to be with Jesus, forever.
Look Beyond the Present
We must look beyond the play and counterplay of politicians, strategists, and prognosticators. We must look beyond the tears, pain, sorrow, and death to the only sure and blessed hope, the coming of our Lord to evacuate us, to take us to be with Him. He is the King! He is the Lord! He is the only God and Savior. He will not lie! He will not fail! The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever!
When He is ready, He will say to the North, give up; to the South, keep not back! Bring my sons from afar, my daughters from the ends of the earth. At the awakening, people of every age and race and color and stature will rise, and among the millions mounting the skies the business of reunion commences. Jesus knows of the broken hearts when we have said goodbye.
Questions for Reflection
1. In what ways is our message an “evacuation message”?
2. What stands in the way of my being among the saints who will meet Jesus in the air?
He understands the agony of loss. He wept at Lazarus’s grave, and from the cross He tried to comfort His darling mother. He understands! The greatest joy will be in seeing Him and the angels. After that, we long for mothers, fathers, children, and kindred who were cut down by the enemy. Babies will be brought to mothers’ arms, husbands and wives will embrace and rejoice together evermore. In their marriage vows they repeated “till death do us part”; now death itself is consigned to destruction. Jesus has come to take us to be with Him! O glorious thought, what comfort to us believers now.
This is not the time to be unconcerned or indolent. The Father has gone to the unimaginable expense of sending His darling Son to pay our debt, to justify us who were born in sin and were by nature the children of wrath. He has made a way through His own matchless suffering and the power of His own resurrection. He is alive forevermore and He ever lives to make intercession for us. Before He steps out of His role as High Priest of the heavenly sanctuary, He wants everyone of high or low estate, no matter how undeserving, to find in Him a Savior. He calls, He knocks, He knows time is short. He has given us signs so “that day come not upon us unawares.” He wants you to be ready--He wants us in His fold when He comes to take us to be with Himself. It’s a wise decision to make when one decides to turn to Jesus and be saved. Nothing on earth is worth our souls and the eternal recompense He has promised. Decide now--today! It is possible for all of us to be there with Him!
Eye has not seen nor ear heard the things that God has gone to prepare for them who love Him. We must be there! No apparent sacrifice is too much! No self-denial is too severe, no earthly treasure is too valuable. “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun.” And think of it--we will be with Him!
Charles D. Brooks, now retired from the General Conference, served for many years as a preacher and evangelist, and director of the Breath of Life television ministry.