AN ASSEMBLING SHOUT
Philip E Hogan
1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18
Nehemiah 4: 17-20 (to “us”)
Mark 6: 38-42
Hebrews 2: 12
We may say that we are gathered here tonight in the spirit of expectancy. We conduct our lives as Christians and believers in the Lord Jesus in the same spirit because it says in Romans, “but hope seen is not hope; for what any one sees, why does he also hope? But if what we see not we hope, we expect in patience”, chap 8: 24, 25. So you could say there are two things that would mark us: firstly, expectancy because we can all agree that we are all waiting for the moment when the Lord will come with an assembling shout; and secondly, the need to be patient.
What was in my mind was this phrase, “assembling shout”. You think of what that will actually and literally involve, bearing in mind that where we have recently read at the beginning of Genesis speaks about man returning to dust, chap 3: 19. Think for a moment about what that assembling shout will do. It says, “the dead in Christ shall rise first”. There will be persons who have been dead for hundreds and hundreds of years and all that will be left of them is just a handful of dust, and the Lord Jesus will be able to raise that. There will be some persons who have been dead for years and years at the bottom of the ocean and long since forgotten about! But the Lord Jesus will be able to raise them as well. Others who are alive in , different countries with different cultures, in different parts of the world, persons who may have come to know the Lord Jesus a long time earlier in their lives - some may even have believed and then forgotten about Him, and yet He has not forgotten about them so they will also be caught up. Think of children at school; think of persons in prisons, hospitals, the multitude of persons who will be drawn up by that voice!
Now my impression is about this same Person, and this same voice: He and only He has the power to assemble and, more to the point, it is only He who has the power to assemble us. You could say that is why we are here tonight. It is the same Person, a real living Person, and that One who will assemble all these millions and billions of people has the power and the means to assemble us now; so while we wait in expectancy, the hope that we have is a living hope because the relationship that we have is a living relationship. The love that we know is a love that is currently experienced, and that relationship is a known relationship. The One who has been into death but the One who is now living will take us very soon to be with Himself. It says here, “then, we, the living who remain”; that is present tense. It shows that is what characterised the apostle’s life. Nearly two thousand years ago, this characterised that man’s walk as he went through his life, “then, we, the living who remain”. It was present to him then, and it should be present to us now; and, as it is present to us, I think it has a formative effect upon us, (or it should have a formative effect upon us), to think that the Lord Jesus, the same One who will assemble all these persons then, has the ability and the power to assemble us now, and He does do that.
We experience this in different ways as we are gathered together. We go through our so-called wilderness lives and we go to work, some are at college, some are at school, and we all have different experiences; during that week of experience, different things happen to us. That is why I read in Nehemiah. It speaks about these builders, and it also speaks about “they that bore burdens” and “those that loaded”; so there are different persons doing different things. You could say they had different jobs to do, and as they were building that wall, they had a sword which meant there was something worth protecting, something that was valuable. If you are building a wall (and I know there are some here who know better than I do about building walls) and you look along that wall, you might see a point in your workmanship when there was a corner that had to be turned. Looking back on our own experience, we can see that, although most of us might be described as having been brought up in fellowship, there does come a point when each of us has to turn a corner. We have to have experience with divine Persons; we have to realise there is a corner there that has to be turned. And that is how we make progress.
Then there might be another bit on the wall. Perhaps they were going through a difficult patch where - without being too imaginative - the raw material is hard and was difficult to work with. What is the raw material? The raw material is there: it is you and me. The raw material is sometimes very difficult to work with, but the Spirit would help us, and the way He would do that is by directing us towards the Lord Jesus in all His perfection so that we find the building becomes easier. We also find then that we are less occupied with what we are naturally, with our weaknesses and our difficulties and all these things; and we are also less occupied with other people who are also building on the wall; especially when we look at the pattern. To build something properly you need a plan or a drawing, and in Christianity we have a pattern, and that pattern is the Lord Jesus.
Then it says, “The work is great and extended, and we are scattered upon the wall”. You might look along the length of that wall and there are persons working here and there, and it looks as though they are scattered along the length of the wall, one far from another; but the Lord Jesus has the ability to assemble these persons, and He will and He does. Then it says, “in what place ye hear the sound of the trumpet, thither shall ye assemble to us; our God will fight for us”. Sometimes we get occupied with the difficulties and all sorts of things, but we can leave the matter with God, and we have to leave it with God. We have to know what it is to depend on Him. What He leaves us here to do is to carry on with the building. Sometimes along the way we may stop building for a while; that can happen. But the Lord Jesus and the Father would have in mind that we continue building. There is building work to be done and as we build, we build in relation to one another. Think of these stones it speaks about in Peter. These stones are interlocked together, and the Lord Jesus would have in mind that we should build according to Him. He is the pattern; so as we are building we look at the pattern and as we look at the pattern, we find the work gets done.
But then He would assemble us: “thither shall ye assemble to us”. It is all these different persons, all these different experiences, that are assembled to the Person of the Lord Jesus. I believe a result of that experience would be evident on a Lord’s day morning when something which has been accumulated during the week comes out in praise and worship towards divine Persons. As we gather in a simple way, which the world does not take any account of, we can do that; and we can remember the Lord Jesus in a world where He has been rejected. Think of all these years that have gone by and the many persons who have simply gathered to remember the Lord Jesus in a world where He has been cast aside! Think of what pleasure that gives to Him! Think of His joy at seeing persons do that and think of Him as seeing and knowing what has gone into that experience in order that this experience has brought about formation, and the formation has brought about a response, and that would rise to His heart; it would bring pleasure to Him. You and I can also benefit by it because other persons’ impressions can lead to something we can work with as well.
Where I read in Mark, these persons were made to sit down in ranks. Over the past few weeks we have been reminded locally that we need authority, food and direction, and I thought in this section of Scripture these three things come into play as you see persons who are gathered together. There is authority: He made them all sit down so they were brought together, made to sit down and given food and the result of that is they were given direction. There is an environment, an area, a circle, where these things are worked out when persons are assembled, where they come under the authority of the Lord Jesus, and as we are within that area of authority, I believe He would give us food for the way, substantial food, food that would build us up and give us strength for the pathway. But then He would not just leave us there. He would point us forward. He would give us direction, and that direction is not here in this world. You could say it is not horizontal direction. I would say it is vertical and heavenly direction, and at the moment I think that is what we need. We need to be looking upward. It is so easy for us to look around, horizontally, and what do we find there? We often find there is what disillusions us, what disappoints us, what discourages us, and sometimes unfortunately that can involve persons. The first person I have to think about in that regard is myself; so I need to learn that I have to look at Jesus rather than look at myself. As we do that, we find that our hearts are lifted, and there is something worked out there that would be for our blessing in a greater way.
But then it says, “And they all ate and were satisfied”. I think we can say we are brought there, brought where there is what can be partaken of, what can be fed upon, and it brings about satisfaction. We have been very blessed and very privileged, to be brought up in an environment where we can do this; and not only that but we can do it regularly. There is what is settled. The Lord has made us sit down. and He has made us sit down in companies; so that means we are able to sit down one person in relation to the other, a person sitting side by side with another person. First of all, we have been placed there in relation to the Lord Jesus, but then we are put there in relation to each other, and that is how the thing is worked out.
Finally, we read in Hebrews and what we see is how these things are worked out: “I will declare thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly will I sing thy praises”. Think of that in its entirety, the complete thought of all these persons brought together as one entity and in the midst of that the Lord Jesus is singing praises to His God and Father. Think of the pleasure divine Persons get from that! The persons are no longer looked upon as a mass of individuals but rather one entity, and divine Persons get immense pleasure from that, and as well as that, underlying all of this is the great matter of divine love in all its greatness. Well, the fact is the Lord Jesus is going to come soon; He will come soon with that assembling shout. In the meantime as we are gathered here in a state of expectancy, let us all be looking towards that point! May the Lord bless the word!
Word in meeting for ministry in Grangemouth
22nd August 2017