Let’s take one last look at Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. This is our ninth lesson. I rather hate to leave these letters. I have had much to apply, have you? I’ve also wondered what happened to these new, embattled Christians. Did they learn to work hard and put aside their culture’s sexual freedoms? Did they plant churches in today’s Bulgaria and Turkey and Czechoslavokia? Did more of them have to die for the preservation of the gospel? Did they sing amidst their troubles? Did they give up when Jesus did not come back right away? Hmmm. Speculation is entertaining, but not nearly as profitable as applying the simple life model and doctrine of the Second Coming that Paul wrote about in these two letters.
Paul recommends self-control in both of these letters. Singing is one way to get control of your emotions when problems besiege you. “Singing In the Rain;” “Pick Yourself Up, Brush Yourself Off and Start all Over Again” are familiar refrains from America’s Songbook that speak to the power of singing to change our mood. Good words put to a quality melody also help us to think about great themes of the Bible and redirect our emotions when we are under stress. Paul advised these Greek Christians, who were also under stress, to think about the Second Coming of Christ (I Thess. 4:13-5:11). They were to remember God’s special love illustrated to them by His actions upon His return when they would be given rest on the Judgment Day (2 Thess. 7-8).
I found it hard to find familiar songs about the Second Coming. And when I thought about it, I realized how seldom we have sung about this theme in my adult years.
Charles Wesley wrote a poem about the Second Coming of Christ in the 1700’s. I don’t know if it was put to music then, but, in the 1800’s, it was put to a tune written by Henry Smart. It is the same melody we sing at Christmas, “Angels, from the Realms of Glory.” You probably know this melody or can find it, so try to sing Wesley’s words below to it.
“Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending.”
Lo, He comes with clouds descending, Once for favored sinners slain; Thousand thousand saints attending Swell the triumph of His train: Alleluia, alleluia! God appears on earth to reign.
Every eye shall now behold Him, Robed in splendor’s majesty; Those who set at naught and sold Him, Pierced and nailed Him to the tree, Deeply wailing, deeply wailing, Shall the true Messiah see.
Now the Savior, long expected, See, in solemn pomp appear; All who have not Him rejected Now shall meet Him in the air; Alleluia, alleluia! See the day of God appear.
Yea, amen, let all adore Thee, High on Thine eternal throne; Savior, take the power and glory, Claim the kingdom for Thine own: Oh, come quickly, oh, come quickly! Everlasting God, come down.
Notice that as you sing the last verse, you are really praying, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Wesley’s words help us to visualize our King on his throne, and then, suddenly coming down to earth. If we have only this one song, it is enough to lift our spirits as we think about the Second Coming of Christ in the midst of all our current troubles and the emotions they generate. You might find that you have to sing it several times to get yourself out of the dumps. The idea is to experience joy, thankfulness, comfort, anticipation, and awe instead of fear and worry and depression. After all, Paul was a “warm-hearted Calvinist” who believed that doctrine should never be separated from the emotional response generated through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Another great melody with words about the Second Coming is “The Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah.” George Handel was a contemporary of Charles Wesley. Some consider “The Messiah” to be the greatest praise and worship composition ever written. I have never forgotten standing, as a teenager, to sing this “Hallelujah Chorus” with full orchestra and choir. “The Messiah” is all over the internet so you can find the words and music easily. Part 2 and 3 are not as familiar, but the words and music focus our attention on the majestic wonders of Christ’s return. (Billy Ray Hearn’s production with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir is available on Amazon.)
What a delightful way to get control of ourselves and enjoy the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all (2 Thessalonians 3:18). …. the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22).
Comments are usually closed because I want the focus to be on the Bible passage. But, I think we might all profit by a good discussion now. So I am going to open our comments for awhile to give you an opportunity to tell others what is on your mind.