Chapter 47 A Little While

For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be (Psalm 37:10).

A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me, because I go to the Father (John 16:16).

For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry (Hebrews 10:37).

It is evident from John 16:16 that, during our Lord’s discourse in the upper room prior to His death, His disciples did not understand Him. Spiritual things were slow to penetrate their mind. Our Lord’s two references to “a little while” baffled them: “A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me.”

The Reference to His Death

The reference of the first part of the verse was to His death. About His death the Lord added: “Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice” (John 16:20). It would be a time of great sorrow for His own. It would mean the loss of His personal physical presence. They were wont to fly to Him in moments of difficulty, to resort to Him in moments of perplexity, and to go to Him with their questions. Now He was going from them, and their hearts were heavy at the thought of His departure. The rock of their confidence, the delight of their eyes, the hope of their souls was to be taken from them. They would be left like orphans. They had left all for Him. Now He was leaving them.

It meant also the disappointment of their earthly hopes. They had been looking for an earthly kingdom. They believed the Roman yoke would be taken off. Israel would again be the chiefest of the nations. But without Him these hopes now began to vanish. There would be no kingdom on earth. So they thought, and, with the dashing of their hopes, they would weep and lament.

It meant also that they would witness His agonies. They would see Him falsely accused, insulted by menials, reviled by abjects, forsaken by friends, scorned and ridiculed by enemies. They would have to listen to the derision of the mad crowd. They would have to hear His cry as He became forsaken even of God.

It also exposed them to become the butt of the world’s ridicule. “The world [would] rejoice” to see Jesus bearing His cross. The world would rejoice that His influence was at an end, that soon He would speak no more. Nothing hurts so much in sorrow as the coarse laughter of adversaries. So His disciples would weep and lament—and within twelve hours it was to be so—“a little while” indeed! The only two bright spots in His death and burial were to be Joseph, who provided a place for His body, and Nicodemus, who provided perfume to anoint that body.

The Reference to His Resurrection

“And again, a little while” (three days in fact) “and ye shall see Me.” This was a reference to His resurrection. It would have this effect on His disciples: “Your sorrow shall be turned into joy… Your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you” (John 16:20, 22). He would rise from the dead, spend forty days with them before His ascension into Heaven, and fit them for their future task by sending the Holy Spirit to reside within them.

The cause of their sorrow—His death—would become the source of their joy as they would learn the value of the redemption purchased. His resurrection would assure them of that! The greatest possible blessings would accrue from His resurrection. Their sorrow would be turned into lasting joy. Their hearts would sing; their hopes revive.

Blessings untold would come to them. An inheritance in Heaven, incorruptible and undefiled, would be procured for them. He would see them again and would give them the deepest certitude of which the human consciousness is capable; He would bring this about by His appearances to them after His resurrection.

The Reference to His Coming Again

“For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37). The Hebrew believers, to whom the apostle was writing, were suffering under persecution. Trials are necessary if faith is to be found to God’s praise and honor. A vessel may have the appearance of gold, but a bit of scouring may show the gold to be only surface painting. Hirelings cannot stand scouring. They become changelings under trial.

“Yet a little while”—just a little while in God’s reckoning, and a little while in comparison to the endless ages when believers will be with the Lord forever. We are prone to compare time with time, but God compares time with eternity, and makes it a very small thing indeed! Lest some lament and ask: “Why tarriest Thou, O Lord?” He tells us that He will not tarry—not a single hour beyond what time is necessary to fulfill His purposes.

Soon, soon, believers shall raise triumphant songs. Soon we shall wave our verdant wands. Soon shall we cry our hosannas: “Blessed is He that cometh.” Oh, how we shall joy in final victory, in palm-waving ecstasy, in singing salvation’s hymn: “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Revelation 1:5). When the Lord Jesus comes, no distance shall intervene again—no separation again occur!

The Reference to the Judgment of the Wicked

“For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be” (Psalm 37:10). The wicked are a vile mass. There is no refuge to protect them. None shall break their chains. God is their adversary. God’s holiness must heat the furnace of His wrath. Death is to plunge them in a deep, deep woe, and eternity usher them into hell. How sad!

O child of God, there is for thee
A hope that shines amidst the gloom,
A gladsome hope that thou shalt see
Thy Lord, for He will surely come.

He’ll come, yes, He’ll come and tarry not;
He’ll come, yes, He’ll come and tarry not;
He’ll come, He’ll come, He’ll come and tarry not.

Then joy unmingled will be thine,
Earth’s tears and trials all forgot;
So cheer thy heart, no more repine,
His word is sure: “He’ll tarry not.”

T. D. W. Muir