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Maranatha! - "Our Lord Cometh"

At the commencement of another year we take our bearings. Those who accept Holy Scripture as divine revelation watch with increasing awe as another page of human history unfolds. God's great Plan outlined in the prophetic word moves forward year by year to its grand consummation. Each year, each day, each hour takes its place in the over-all design.

The page of history at the outset of 1973 is dominated by certain world problems - political, industrial, economic, religious. In the Far East there still looms the problem of the Vietnam war. The protracted "peace" negotiations linger on. Will 1973 see some kind of settlement of that long and bitter conflict? Relations between Communist China and Soviet Russia deteriorate. Is open war between them imminent? And what of the Middle East? Will the stalemate there continue or will progress be made towards the pacification of this vital area? In the U.S.A. President Nixon has been elected to a second term of office. What will be the direction of his policy in the days ahead? Britain is beset by economic and industrial troubles, and the problem of Ulster remains an open sore. This month sees the commencement of the enlarged European Economic Community. Britain's decision to enter was reached after a bitter political struggle. What will this historic move mean to Britain and to the Commonwealth? And what will be the impact of the emerging European power group on the global struggle between East and West?

These are some of the questions facing mankind at the beginning of 1973. And to be realistic we must take into account other distressing symptoms causing deep disquiet. Racial strife, violence and vandalism are rife in many countries; near famine conditions are prevalent in others. There is heartless oppression of minorities in some emerging countries. And, although little publicized in the secular press, persecution of professing Christians in some totalitarian countries increases in severity.

While the Christian looks on this dark picture with heartfelt concern he is saved from despondency by the shining lamp of the sure word of prophecy (2 Peter 1:19). Glowing in the deepening gloom is the glorious prospect enshrined in the greeting word used by the early Christians, Maranatha - "our Lord cometh". May the thrill of joyous anticipation of our Lord's personal return be ours in increasing measure! It is this imminent event which will precede the final phase of the great Master Plan of the ages:

"Thou art coming, 0 my Saviour!

Coming, God's anointed King!

Every tongue Thy name confessing,

Well may we rejoice and sing!

Thou art coming, Thou art coming!

Jesus our beloved Lord!

Oh, the joy to see Thee reigning,

Worshipped, glorified, adored!"

To serve the counsel of God has been the consistent aim of the faithful in every generation. We turn now from the world scene to take our bearings as a remnant people, and to measure the challenge which faces us in 1973. We are called to a high and holy vocation. As we look at ourselves in this light we cannot but acknowledge that we have sadly failed on many counts. There is no need to particularize. The present need for confession of sin, and for humiliation before our God, is all too evident to those with spiritual discernment. Therefore,

"Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD" (Lam.3:40).

"And ... let us follow on to know the LORD; ... and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter rain that watereth the earth" (Hosea 6:3).

Maranatha ! - "our Lord cometh". Let this be our watchword in 1973. Past failure need not deter us. The present is ours with abounding opportunity. To each one of us personally comes the challenge, In the light of the Master's impending return am I fit, ready and willing to be used where and when He may choose?

If God's remnant people are to serve the counsel of God at this critical phase of human history we must stand together in defence of our spiritual heritage. And we must press forward in spiritual attainment; with a deepening exercise in prayer, an increase in the knowledge of God, a closer walk with our Master, and a greater sensitivity to the movements of the Divine Spirit. We must stand foursquare on the infallible word. We must maintain separation from the world and its ways, and from ecclesiastic error. But we must not confound separation with isolation. We must go forward with greater zeal in the proclamation of the gospel, and explore the most effective means of presenting it. We must speak truth in love to fellow-believers in the denominations in their ecumenical dilemma. And, as occasion affords, we must not neglect the opportunity to do good to all men in the practical ways presented to us by our esteemed co-worker J.L. Ferguson in his paper commencing on page 11 of this issue.

This, then is the task. May we rise to it today. Maranatha - "our Lord cometh".