Sunday, January 16, 2011

Revelation Chapter One, Part 3 of 6

1:7 Behold he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
John’s language here hearkens back to the prophet Zechariah. One of the “minor prophets” Zechariah was a prophet of the post-exilic period and had numerous night visions and prophecies regarding the coming Day of the Lord. In one such prophecy, the Holy Spirit testifies: “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo,” Zechariah 12:10-11.

These passages in Revelation and Zechariah plainly refer to the visible, glorious second coming of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. As He departed visibly and was received up in a cloud (Acts 1:9) so too will His second coming to earth be, Acts 1:11. The prophet Zechariah records the result of our Lord returning. It happens that Jesus will indeed return to the exact place He ascended into Heaven: the Mount of Olives, Acts 1:12. “Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day (the Day of the Lord) His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east,” Zechariah 14:3-4.

Jesus testified of His second coming in glory, which would be visible and global in proportion. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days (the Great Tribulation; Matthew 24:21) the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory,” Matthew 24:29-30. What will our Lord do when He arrives? First, He shall destroy the Antichrist and his army (2nd Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:20-21); then He will sit on the throne of His glory and divide the nations of the earth, Matthew 25:31-32. It will be at this time that Jesus, Son of David, Son of Man, will restore the kingdom to Israel, Acts 1:6.

And it will be in this glory, as King of Israel and firstborn from the dead, that Christ will reign for the thousand years. Our Lord in His perfected humanity gained glory from God; this same glory He shares with His saints, John 17:22. This is not the glory of His intrinsic deity; God shares that with no created being, Isaiah 48:11. The thousand years will still be a time of sin and rebellion, and Christ, as King and Priest, will sit on the throne of David and judge the earth in righteousness. "Behold the Man whose name is the Branch! From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the Lord; yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory, and He shall sit and rule on His throne; so he shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both,” Zechariah 6:12-13.

How will the thousand years end? “For He [Jesus] must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death…Then death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death…now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all,” 1st Corinthians 15:25-26; Revelation 20:14; 1st Corinthians 15:28. Christ will have received the nations as His inheritance and reigned over them, as was promised to Him, Psalm 2:8-9. The Jews will have lived on their land in peace, with a Ruler descended from David, as promised, 2nd Samuel 7:12-16.

There will be no more opposing wills at this point; all will be judged and cast into the lake of fire that have not been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This passage from Corinthians does not teach Christ’s inferiority to God; in fact it is part of a larger eschatological picture that reveals Jesus the Messiah returned in glory to His people (the Jews) and reigning in this capacity. His era of earthly rulership is clearly outlined: until all His enemies are placed under His feet; a span of time enduring one thousand years, Revelation 20:4. When this is concluded, the Son will no longer be ruling earth as the Father’s representative in a theocracy; but God will be all in all. Though Christ as God has existed from everlasting (John 1:1; Micah 5:2), He was the Word before He became the Son; He was begotten in the sense that He took the mantle of the Son of God/Son of Man. As the Word of God He is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. The Triune God will govern a renewed and sinless universe of redeemed saints and holy angels. We must never forget that Christ our Lord “is all and in all,” as well, Colossians 3:11.

I have gone on a bit about this verse, and I hope it whets our mutual appetite to learn about the thousand-year reign of our Savior. This verse is important to Revelation, and important to our understanding of Jesus Christ’s literal second coming and millennial reign; not to be confused with the Rapture, which precedes the Tribulation. All of this we will thoroughly address in due time.

1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
To gain the proper context regarding this verse we must travel back several verses. (5) Jesus Christ washed us from our sins in His own blood, (6) He made the body of believers kings and priests to God the Father, (7) and that this same Christ was coming with clouds and every eye should see Him, and that this visible manifestation of the Lord’s return would invoke a world-wide mourning. On the heels of verse 7 we have the testimony of the One to whom John is referring: He is the Lord; yet He is the beginning (arche; Greek for “origin”) and the end. Alpha and Omega are the Greek equivalents for A and Z in our English alphabet. This same One also attributes to Himself omnipresence: He is and was and is coming, or is to come. This is the very Old Testament name of Jehovah or Yahweh: the I Am from Exodus 3:14.

Isaiah 41:4 Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.

Isaiah 43:10-11 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.

Isaiah 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

These three statements make several things crystal clear. God is the first and the last; there are no other “gods” either before or after God; God is the only Savior; God is both the King of Israel and its Redeemer. The men on the road to Emmaus testified that they believed that it was Jesus who would redeem Israel, Luke 24:21. Nathanael testified that Jesus was the King of Israel, John 1:49; a fact Jesus confirmed before Pilate, Mark 15:2. Later, Peter would testify that Jesus Christ was the only Lord and Savior, Acts 2:36; 4:12; 10:43. Paul declared the same, Acts 13:38-39; 1st Timothy 2:3-6; Titus 2:13.

This verse records the words of our Savior, informing those with ears to hear that He is Jehovah God. It cannot be the Father, because the Father has not and cannot be seen, being a Spirit, John 1:18; 4:24; 1st Timothy 6:16; 1st John 4:12. Yet Revelation 1:7 informs us that this One speaking will be visibly seen coming in clouds; the reaction of mourning certainly speaks of the unbelieving world seeing the Savior coming in His glory. Peter teaches this very topic in one of his first sermons: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began,” Acts 3:19-21. Peter was addressing a Jewish audience at this time and informing them that Heaven would hold the Christ UNTIL (note that word) the time of restoration, which Jesus alluded would certainly come, Acts 1:6-7. When the apostles inquired about the restoration of Israel’s kingdom Jesus did not rebuke them, but informed them that it was not for them to know when such a time would occur. Furthermore, we have these sad words from our Lord:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I have wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till (there is that word again) you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Matthew 23:37-39.

Jesus spoke as a lamenting God who longed to gather His children to Him in times previous, through the mouths and admonitions of His prophets, but Israel was unwilling. Now He foretold their curse: they would see Jesus no more UNTIL they blessed His triumphant and glorious visible return in power. It is this same God who speaks in Revelation, and we would do well to listen. See also verse 11, when the glorified Christ appears to John repeating this affirmation of Deity again.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Ian.

    So many treat the Lord's return as irrelevant. Others view it as just a symbol of what can be accomplished by people trying to straighten out the world. Scripture makes it clear, it is a literal series of events to be anticipated. Looking forward to your study.


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