A Vision Of The King

“Your eyes shall see the King in His beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.”

Isaiah 33:17

This morning [See Sermon #533, Volume 9–THE QUEEN OF THE SOUTH, OR, THE EARNEST ENQUIRER–Read/download the entire sermon, free of charge, at http://www.spurgeongems.org.] I spoke to you concerning the visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon and tried to use it asillustration of the spirit in which sinners should come to Him who is far wiser and greater than Solomon. This evening I am going to continue in much the same strain while I try to speak to you, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, from the well-known words which I have just read in your hearing. This passage is a rather difficult one to explain–at least certain expositors have done their best to make it appear to be so! They imagine that we have here a threat that the Jews should be carried away to Nineveh as captives and that in that far-off land they should see the Assyrian “king in his beauty.” But I venture to say that if you read our text in its context, you will see that a threat would be altogether out of place here in the midst of so many precious promises to the people of God! There is nothing but love and kindness for them–where there are threats, they are for their enemies!

It is possible that the historical setting of the text is this–that the Jews who had seen their king, Hezekiah, in his “day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy”–when Sennacherib’s vile letter had been brought to him, should live to see that same “king in his beauty” when the angel of the Lord had so mysteriously smitten the great host in the camp of the Assyrians and Hezekiah had gone up to the House of the Lord to return public thanks for the miraculous deliverance which had been worked in answer to prayer and in accordance with Isaiah’s prophecy. But all students of Scripture must agree that “the King” here mentioned is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ–and that the promise of the text relates partly to the latter-day Glory, and more fully and more gloriously to the saint’s experience in Heaven–“Your eyes shall see the King in His beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.”

Without any further preface, I will try to direct your thoughts to these four things. First, a King pre-eminent. Secondly, a vision predicted. .

  1. First, dear Friends, we have plainly enough in the text, A KING PRE-EMINENT–“Your eyes shall see theKing.” No name is given and no name is needed. It is here as it was when the spouse began the Canticles by singing, “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth.” There was no need to say to whom she was referring, for the chaste bride wanted no kisses from anyone but her Beloved!

I am speaking to those who know the Lord and, therefore, I say to them–You know, Beloved, that our Lord Jesus is King by Divine right. He is the brightness of His Father’s Glory and the express Image of His Person. God has appointed Him heir of all things, and by Him God made the worlds. “For by Him were all things created that are in Heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.” He “is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.” Well did the inspired Prophet write concerning Him, “The government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end.” It is by His permission that other kings reign! And when He pleases, He can in a moment remove the mightiest monarchs from their throne! He is the only Sovereign who is King by Divine right–the absolute Disposer of all events, to whom all power in Heaven and earth has been given by His Father–in whose hands are the issues of life and death, and at whose belt hang the keys of the unseen world!

You remember too, Beloved, that our Lord Jesus Christ was a King even when He was upon the earth as a Man. Heruled over all the forces of Nature. Stormy winds were hushed to sleep by His commanding word, “Peace! Be still.” All diseases fled at His approach and the very demons proved that they, too, were under the control of His Sovereign Power! Even the king of terrors, Death, himself, had to openly acknowledge the sway of the far mightier King of kings and to yield up at His bidding those who had passed beneath the grim portals of his dread domains! Yet how shamefully wicked men maltreated this mighty Monarch, before whom the holy angels had bowed in lowly obeisance, or waited on poised wings ready to fly on any errand on which He might deign to send them! You know the sad, sad story of the shameful indignities to which our King was subjected. They hung a soldier’s coat around His shoulders in mockery of the imperial purple. They thrust a reed into His hand as a sham scepter. And for a crown, they twisted cruel thorns that pierced His blessed brow as they smote Him again and yet again, and bowed the knee before Him in the mere semblance of adoration. Yet there was a regal majesty about Him even when He was thus crowned King of Grief. When Pilate asked Him the direct question, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He did not deny it. And even when He hung upon the Cross as a condemned criminal, the official title set up above His head in Hebrew, Greek and Latin was, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” He was much more than that, for He was Lord of all men and all angels, too, and He could, in an instant, havesummoned all the shining legions above to come to His relief! But He resolved to go through to the bitter end with the great work He had undertaken–and to be both Prince and Savior to give repentance and remission of sins to all for whom, as the great Kingly Substitute, He was laying down His life–

“To the shameful Cross they nailed Him,
And that Cross became His throne.
In the tomb they laid and sealed Him;
Lo the Savior bursts the stone
And ascending,
Claims all empire as His own!”

This same Jesus is now King in Heaven. After His degradation came His exaltation. When He ascended up on high, leading captivity captive, He was welcomed back to His Throne with royal honors. The 24 th Psalm gives a graphic andpoetic description of the royal reception accorded to Him–“Lift up your heads, O you gates; and be you lifted up, you everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; even lift them up, you everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King Glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory.” This glorious King and Lord is also the Ruler in Providence–nothing can happen without His knowledge and permission! It is true that His universal Sovereignty is not yet recognized and that this Divine King is still “despised and rejected of men.” But the day is coming when He shall appear again upon this earth. And at the hour decreed from all eternity, He shall be acclaimed as “King of kings, and Lord of lords,” when “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ: and He shall reign forever and ever.” What “His beauty” is now, and ever shall be, mortal mind cannot conceive and mortal tongue can never tell. When John saw Him, as the “Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last,” he fell at His feet as dead! And when Paul “was caught up into Paradise,” he “heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful (or possible) for a man to utter.” Probably we can best express our anticipation of seeing our “King in His beauty” by singing, with Dr. Watts–

“There, where my blessed Jesus reigns,
In Heaven’s unmeasured space,
I’ll spend a long eternity
In pleasure and in praise!
Millions of years my wondering eyes
Shall over Your beauties rove;
And endless ages I’ll adore
The glories of Your love.”

I must not forget to remind you that our Lord Jesus Christ is still King in His Church on earth. That is the true Established Church, for it is founded upon the Rock and it is so firmly established that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” Christ’s Church is a royal Church, for it has a King–no, more–the “King of kings "at the head of it. "The Lord reigns” everywhere, but let us who are His loyal subjects especially set Him on high upon the throne of our hearts and–

“Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all!”

II. Now, secondly, we have A VISION PREDICTED–“Your eyes shall see the King.”

Mark well that this is not a vision to be seen by you who have never looked to Christ by faith and who have never trusted to His precious blood to cleanse you from your sin! The sight of the glorified Savior is only for those who have looked upon the dishonored Savior hanging on the Cross of Calvary–it is their eyes that “shall see the King in Hisbeauty.”

And, first, this will be a near sight. By faith we have had, as it were, a telescopic view of Christ, but we are yet to seeHim face to face, and to talk with Him as we talk with a dear familiar friend. Even a distant sight of Him ravishes the heart, but oh, what must it be to see Him without a veil between us? We need not envy John who leaned his head upon his Master’s bosom, for we shall have closer communion with our glorified Lord than even the beloved Apostle enjoyed while here below!

Then, changing only one consonant, it will be a dear sight, as well as a near sight! We shall look upon our heavenlyBridegroom with eyes shining with sinless love and we shall rejoice that He is our Husband, our Beloved, our All-in-All! I must leave your sanctified imagination to conceive what this sight must be, for I cannot possibly picture it for you. I look upon a child and see some comeliness in it, but the child’s mother can see beauties that no stranger can perceive–the love of the heart adds to the appreciation of the eyes. So is it with this near and dear vision of our King that is promised to the Believer–“your eyes shall see the King in His beauty.”–

“Then shall I see, and hear, and know
All I desired or wished below–
And every power find sweet employ
In that eternal world of joy!”

And further, as it will be a near and dear sight, so will it also be an assured sight. We often fancy that we see certainthings, but we are not sure that we really see them. There is much here that tends to cheat the eyes and pervert the vision, but when we see Jesus as He is, it will be an assured sight about which there will be no possible question. No one of us will then have to ask–

“Do I love the Lord, or no,
Am I His, or am I not?”

We shall not then have to search and see whether our spot is the spot of God’s children, for we shall know even as we are known! And the King Himself shall say to us, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

And then, Beloved, it will be a satisfying sight. There is no solid satisfaction in anything that the eye can see in thisworld. People say, “See Naples and die,” but I have met many who have seen even that fair city and they have all wanted to live to see something more! Even Naples could not satisfy them. The most charming vision that sea, or land, or even the starry sky can give, can never satisfy an immortal spirit! But the Believer in Jesus says with David, “I shall be satisfied when I awake with Your likeness.” When my “eyes shall see the King in His beauty,” my soul will exclaim, “It is enough, my Lord! My eyes have at last found the one Object upon which they can rest forever! I am perfectly satisfied with You.”

Yet even the word, satisfyingit will be a ravishingsight, a rapturous, ecstatic, entrancing, transporting vision! I cannot find words that are adequate to describe this sight! One must see it to know how glorious it is. Heaven will be a place of many surprises, but the vision of our glorified King will astonish us forever! We shall be amazed to all eternity that such a wondrous Being as God’s eternal Son could ever have loved such worthless worms as we are–that so glorious a King could have stooped so low as to take up for Himself our nature–and then that He should have been willing to endure for our sakes the death of the Cross! That will be a marvel that we shall never be able to understand! We shall also be surprised that we did not know Him more fervently and that we did not do, and dare, and even die for Him who had loved us so much that He did die for us! Perhaps some of us, now and then, have had such rapturous experiences that we have felt like the Apostle Paul when he wrote, “whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell.” But the extraordinary seasons have never been permanent with any of us, and usually they have been very transient. Yet, up yonder it will be our normal ambition to be lost and swallowed up in a never-ending ravishing vision of our glorious and beauteous King!

I must not omit to remind you that this will be an assimilating sight. I don’t like that long word, but I mean that itwill be a sight that will make us like He, upon whom we shall then be gazing! “We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like He, for we shall see Him as He is.” It is looking by faith to Christ that gives us any likeness to Him which we possess even now–but a clear view of our gracious “King in His beauty” shall transform us into a perfect likeness to Him. “In all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren–and His brethren shall, ultimately, in all things be made like unto Him!

I will add only one more characteristic of this vision of Christ–it will be an everlasting sight. When our Sabbathservices are over, some of you go out of the Tabernacle with heavy hearts. You have to go home to a sick household, perhaps to a persecuting husband or an ungodly wife. You are coming with us to the Communion Table and when you leave the assembly of the saints, you will have to go where you will cry with the Psalmist, “Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!” I do not wonder that you sang with such heartiness just now–

“Oh when, you city of my God,
Shall I, your courts ascend
Where congregations never break up,
And Sabbaths have no end?”

Ah, well, that everlasting Sabbatismos–that eternal keeping of Sabbath may be nearer than you think! And when onceyou enter into that blessed state, you will remain in it forever. “Your eyes,” my poor Brother or Sister, “shall see the King in His beauty,” and you shall never lose that rapturous vision!

III. Time fails me, so I must go on to the third point, A PECULIAR BEAUTY–“Your eyes shall see the King inHis beauty.”

Now, the “beauty” of a king consists, first, in his person, so you shall see the beauty of Christ’s Person. It is delightful to think of the priestly, prophetic and royal offices of our Lord Jesus Christ, but our choicest meditations must ever cluster around His blessed Person. All His garments smell of myrrh, aloes and cassia. His name is as ointment poured forth, but He, Himself, is “altogether lovely.” It is no phantom, no shadow at which we are to look, but we are to see the King, Himself–that King who once was the Babe in Bethlehem, the Carpenter at Nazareth–who went about doing good, preaching the Gospel, healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding the fainting multitudes–that same Jesus who agonized in Gethsemane and died on Calvary–this is the King whom we are to see in all the Glory of His combined Deity and Humanity, very God of very God, yet just as truly Man!

The “beauty” of a king also consists in part in the glory of his official robes and jewels and ornaments. “Your eyes shall see the king in His beauty–not as men saw Him when His ruby robe was formed from His own blood, when His only diamonds were His tears or the flashing of His eyes in pity for His foes–and who the only crown He wore was made of thorns. Pilate mockingly said to the Jews, "Behold your king!” But the heavenly heralds, with sound of trumpet, will cry to the saints in a far different fashion, “Behold your King!” and they shall behold Him “crowned with Glory and honor.” On His head shall be many crowns–the crowns which His Father has given Him, the crowns which He has won from His enemies, the crowns which shall be cast at His feet to tell of His universal Sovereignty–and they shall see Him “clothed with a vesture dipped in blood…and on His vesture and on His thigh a name written– King of kings, and Lord of lords.”–

“Sinners in decision crowned Him,
Mocking thus the Savior ’s claim;
Saints and angels crowd around Him,
Own His title, praise His name;
Crown Him, Crown Him;
Spread abroad the Victor’s fame.
Hark! Those bursts of acclamation!
Hark! Those loud triumphant chords!
Jesus takes the highest station:
Oh what joy the sight affords!
Crown Him, crown Him,
‘King of kings, and Lord of lords.’”

Again, a king’s “beauty” consists in the trophies that tell of his triumphs. When kings return from their wars, theydelight in displaying the flags that have been captured from their foes, or the prisoners and other tokens of victory by which they are surrounded. In the olden days, the great warrior kings would have their stricken foes chained to their triumphal chariots, or marching as slaves in the victor’s possession. And the Lord has given to Christ the necks of His enemies and they will gladly grace His triumphal procession, for they are captives who have been made willing in the day of His power and who, strangely enough, share in the Glory of His triumph, for they are now His friends, His brethren with whom He delights to divide all that He has!

Further, the “beauty” of a king sometimes consists in the splendor of his court and the excellence of his courtiers,and our eyes are to see our King in His beauty surrounded by “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues…clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands,” crying with a loud voice, “Salvation to our God who sits upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb.” “These are they which came out of great tribulation and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Beside these sinners saved by Grace, there will be the innumerable host of holy angels who have never sinned and who all yield unfaltering obedience to our great Lord and King. What a sublime spectacle it will be when the great Commander-in-Chief shall have the whole army of the redeemed gathered before Him for the final review–not one soldier of the Cross missing, not one dead, or wounded, or captured by the enemy, but all of them more than conquerors through Him that has loved them! May you and I, Beloved, be among them!–

“With them numbered may we be,
Now and through eternity!”

IV. Now I close with but a brief mention of A LAND POSSESSED.

Read the text thus, “the land that is very far off” from sinners. They look upon this world as something that ispresent to their senses, but they regard the world to come as so “very far off ” that it hardly seems to concern them at all! They take no more interest in the “Land that is very far off” than a poor farmer in a country village takes in some Republic in South America of which he has only heard the name. They know no more about Heaven than swine know about the stars in the firmament, perhaps not as much, for the swine can see the stars, but Heaven is “very far off” from sinners so long as they remain in their sins! Yet if they will but leave their sins and look to Jesus in all the beauty of His substitutionary Sacrifice for the guilty, that far-off land shall be brought very near to them and, in God’s good time, they shall enter it and abide there forever and ever!

Sometimes, Heaven is “the land that is very far off” from the doubting Christian, so that he fears that he shall neverget there. He dreams of a rough road that has no end, or cries out that he has no hope of escaping from the Slough of Despond. Yet, to a Believer in Jesus, Heaven is not “very far off.” No, it is so near that he may be there before I have finished my sermon, or even before I have finished this sentence–

‘One gentle sigh, the fetter breaks:
We scarcely can say, 'He’s gone!’
Before the willing spirit takes
Her mansion near the Throne!"

Do not fret about tomorrow! You may be in Heaven before tomorrow. Even if we have to abide here a while–

“Though in a foreign land,
We are not far from home;
And nearer to our house above
We every moment come.”

I find that the marginal reading is “the land of far distances.” Heaven is a land of magnificent distances where there shall be abundant room for the multitude that no man can number and where in all things, even in the number of the saved, Christ shall have the pre-eminence. Shall Satan capture the most of men? I do not believe that he will–if he could do so, he would have the pre-eminence, but that can never be! Christ “shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.” But do you think that a small number of souls saved would satisfy Him? Would that be a fitting sequel to His soul-travail? Oh, no! I believe in a great Heaven and a great multitude of great sinners saved by the great Sacrifice of the great Savior, who shall bring great Glory to His great name and the great Grace of the great Father, Son and Spirit forever and ever! But, my dear Hearer, however great it all is, of what use will it be to you if you do not have a share in it? My text says, “Your eyes shall see the King in His beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” That applies toevery Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ! Is that what you are? If so, my text is a promise to you as surely as if your ownname had been mentioned in it! If you will now believe in Jesus, if you will trust Him, if you will rely upon Him–it all means the same thing–this promise is for you and it shall be fulfilled in your experience in God’s own time! May God the Holy Spirit give you the Grace to turn your eyes by faith to the Lamb of God who died for sinners upon the Cross of Calvary! And then to you, even to you, I can repeat the promise of the text, “Your eyes shall see the King in His beauty:they shall behold the land of far distances.” The Lord grant it, for Jesus' sake! Amen.