In recent weeks in our rare evening "spare" time, my wife, Sallie, and I have viewed several PBS and other specials such as "Liberty - The American Revolution," "Lewis and Clark" and "The Civil War." As an avid American history buff, I often reflect on our great founding fathers and their faith in the Bible, God's holy word.
The Civil War period strengthened and reunited our nation which had been divided, North and South, over slavery and states' rights. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, even as our Lord said in Matthew 12:25 and Mark 3:25, KJV, "And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand" (Psalm 133:1; John 10:16, 17:16-23; 1 Corinthians 1:9-18; Ephesians 1:9-10, 3:9-12).
About 28 AD, on The Horns of Hattin (or mountain) in Israel, Christ, the son of the living God, after being divinely revealed to Peter, set his "one true" church in order. He told his disciples, "Upon this rock of divine revelation; I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18; Isaiah 54:17; Acts 20:29-31; 2 Peter chapters 2 and 3; Jude 1-25; Revelation 2:6,14, 20-24 and 17:1-8; Isaiah 60:1-8).
Mark 13:34-37 tells of Christ's house or church being "watched" and "cared for" until his return. "For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his 'house' and gave authority to his servants and to every man his work and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the 'house' cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch" (Psalm 127:1; John 14:1-4).
In selecting the title of this article, I was Holy Spirit inspired by at least three things: First, our son, Jonathan, 22, who this week enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, will begin his basic training at Parris Island, S.C., in January. Please remember him and us in your prayers.
Secondly, the song "Battle Hymn of the Republic" written by Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) and set musically to the same American melody composed by William Steffe to "John Brown's Body" and "We'll hang Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree."
Thirdly, my inspiration for this topic was: The church of God is metaphorically mentioned as "terrible as an army with banners" (Song of Solomon 6:10b). "Christ the Royal Master, leads against the foe, forward into battle, see his banners go." (Onward Christian Soldiers, Baring-Gould and Sullivan, mid 1860s.)
While visiting Gettysburg National Park and Cemetery several years ago, verse two of Howe's anthem touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. "I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps; They have builded him an altar in the evening dews and damps; I can read his righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps; his day is marching on." During one of his powerful speeches, Dr. Martin Luther King declared, "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."
Yes, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is coming and will "present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:27).
Verse four of the Battle Hymn mentions the word "lilies." "In the beauty of the 'lilies' Christ was born across the sea." Son of Solomon allegorizes the Son of God, "I am the rose of Sharon and the 'lily' of the valleys. As the 'lily' among thorns, so is my love among the daughters" (2:1-2); "My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather 'lilies.' I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the 'lilies" (6:2-3).
Christ's return, the rapture, is also compared to the budding of the fig tree. "Now learn the parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh. So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (Matthew 24:32-34).
Most Bible scholars and theologians believe that Jesus, when referring to the fig tree, was speaking of the national rebirth of the Jewish state of Israel in May 1948 and the subsequential reclamation of Jerusalem during the six-days war in June of 1967. Many of those living during these events would still be alive when Christ returned for his "blood bought" church.
Solomon writes again in allegory, "Behold, he (Christ) standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice. My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up my love, my fair one, and come way."
"The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away" (Song of Solomon 2:9, 10, 13).
When thinking on these verses, I'm reminded of a man and woman who are ready to elope; or Christ and his bride. He'll come as a "thief in the night."
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the arch-angel and with the trump of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
"He has sounded forth the 'trumpet' that shall never sound retreat; He is sifting out the hearts of men (Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17), before his judgment seat. O be swift my soul, to answer him, (Revelation 3:19-22); be jubilant my feet. Our God is marching on. Glory, glory, hallelujah, Glory, glory hallelujah, Glory, glory, hallelujah, Our God (and his truth) is marching on."
(The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author's church affiliation.)