Behold, I Come Quickly
by Tom Stewart
June 24, 1999
"Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which
thou hast, that no man take thy crown" (Revelation 3:11).
To our best understanding, the Apostle John-- our "brother,
and companion in tribulation, and in the Kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ" (1:9)-- penned these words by inspiration in 96 AD. Now, some may say that
the Apocalypse was not intended to fix an idea of the timing of Endtime Events, i.e.,
"We should not set dates or become convinced that we will see the Coming
of the LORD in our lifetime, for we open ourselves to bitterness, disappointment,
and the ridicule of skeptics." But, none other than the LORD Himself
made the immutable Promise-- "I come quickly"-- four separate times (3:11; 22:7,12,20) in the Book of Revelation.
Why would the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17) seemingly mislead us with the idea that the LORD Jesus is returning quickly, or that the "time is at hand" (Revelation 1:3), if that return would not be for more than 1,900 years? Perhaps, some may feel forced to conclude that the Son of God was only using divine metaphors-- comparing His sense of quickness with eternity-- which is true-- but the Creator knows better than anyone how His little children would react to such inflammatory language as, "I come quickly" or "the time is at hand". "For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust" (Psalm 103:14).
"Don't let go!" "Hang on!" "Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown" (Revelation 3:11). These are the words of exhortation that accompany Philadelphia's Promise of our LORD's soon return. If we look at the context of this first Apocalyptic appearance of "I come quickly" (3:11), we will find that the LORD Jesus Christ had just finished promising to the Church of Philadelphia that He would deliver them from the Hour of Temptation. "Because thou hast kept the Word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the Hour of Temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the Earth" (3:10). Certainly, that assembly of Believers in 1st Century Asia Minor had been given a real Promise for their own deliverance; but, is not this Promise of Deliverance the property of the Saints throughout the ages? "Then touched He their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you" (Matthew 9:29). And, if God has given you the faith to believe that He has promised you a Pre-Tribulational Rapture-- "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36)-- then, hold fast to your faith until He fulfills His Word. So, when you are tempted to give up your faith, be encouraged that the Master said, "I come quickly".
The opposite of letting go of our confidence of what we find revealed in the Revelation, is to faithfully keep those "Sayings"-- and our confidence. "Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the Sayings of the prophecy of this Book" (Revelation 22:7). If we are the Just, then we should live by our confidence in what God has said. "Now the Just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him" (Hebrews 10:38). Keeping the "Sayings of the prophecy of this Book" (Revelation 22:7) may mean that you must "become a fool" (2Corinthians 12:11) in the eyes of the world for declaring your confidence in what the Comforter has revealed to you concerning "things to come" (John 16:13). But surely, keeping the "Sayings of the prophecy of this Book" (Revelation 22:7) means to order your decisions and life so that they are consistent with what you understand. "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience" (Luke 8:15).
The LORD Jesus Christ is both our Reward and our Rewarder. "And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be" (Revelation 22:12). The third incentive for our LORD coming quickly, is that He will reward us according to our works. What a confusion we have made of the word "works"! If the Spirit of God could only teach His people the concept of a "faith which worketh by Love" (Galatians 5:6), we would close this Church Age with the "greater works" (John 14:12) promised by the LORD Jesus for His people. (And, He will accomplish His Word, but maybe not in the way expected.) "And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them" (Isaiah 42:16).
Finally, the second to the last verse of the entire Bible is, "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly" (Revelation 22:20). As if to ensure that we would consider all of His Word and Revelation to apply to our individual situation, He concludes the New Testament with the encouragement that He is Coming quickly. If we truly Love the LORD, we will "keep the Sayings" (22:7) of not only the Revelation, but of "every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Just as the LORD Jesus laid down His life for us, we ought to return that Love by tenaciously clinging to Him in faith with His Promise, "Behold, I come quickly". We are the "children of God" (Matthew 5:9), and we have the same question that a small child asks a parent on a long trip, "Are we there yet?" The patient reply is, "Soon. Not much longer." Likewise, our LORD comforts and encourages us with His Promise, "I come quickly".
"Amen. Even so, come, LORD Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).
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