Friday, June 21, 2013
Revelation 1:7 "Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen."
In yesterday's post we considered understanding the second coming of Jesus Christ with regards to its fast approach. Revelation 1:3 tells the reader that "the time is near" or translated literally from the Greek: "the season is drawing to a close". We noted the the immediacy and imminency or uncertainty of when His coming will occur. All we know is that scripture asserts numerous times to be ready when He does return.
In today's post we endeavor to understand the Second coming of Jesus Christ as being a Fully Glorious event.
The Full Glory of Christ's Second Coming. Revelation 1:4-7
In this section of Revelation 1:4-7, verse 7 functions as the key verse and verses 4-6 serve to provide the detailed description of the One Who is coming in verse 7. Revelation 1:7 states - "Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen." With the command "Behold" written in verse 7, we need verses 4-6 to tell us what to look for and Whom we should expect to see, since the coming will be visible to all and glorious. In these verses we are told that Christ's second coming will be fully glorious due to it revealing His Shared glory, Saving glory and Sovereign glory.
1. His coming will reveal Shared Glory 1:4-5a
John is writing to seven churches located in Asia Minor or what is known today as Turkey. As much as Revelation is a Book of Prophecy and symbols, it begins as a letter to be preached and applied. In typical fashion of New Testament letters or what are termed "epistles", an introductory greeting is given: "Grace to you and peace". Conservative commentator Robert H. Mounce writes: "Grace is the divine favor showed to man and peace is that state of spiritual well-being which follows as a result." 1 The grace and peace that John communicates to his readers derives from the unified shared glory of the Triune God in which the Son shares with the Father and Holy Spirit. Glory by the way is simply God's visible expression of His Goodness and unseen nature. This One essence or Undivided life of God is shared between the Father, the Spirit and the Son as explained by John in Revelation 1:4-6a.
In Revelation 1:4 we read first about the shared glory of the Father: "from Him who is and who was and is to come." This interesting three-fold title speaks of the same God the Father that met in veiled flame with Moses in Exodus 3:14a "God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”. If we were to translate the name of "LORD" or "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" revealed to Moses, it would read: "I am who was, who is and who always will be".
Then John writes next about the shared glory of the Holy Spirit: "and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne." This seven-fold description of the Holy Spirit is that which is first revealed in Isaiah 11:2 of the Spirit Who would rest in power upon the Messiah. This same seven-fold description of the Spirit is seen again in Revelation 4:5, wherein the lightening and thunder of God's glory is communicated by the Holy Spirit. This same Holy Spirit was present with the Father and the Son at the creation of the world in Genesis 1:2 and shares in the undivided glory of the Father and Son as One God. (see Acts 5:4-5; 2 Corinthians 3:17, 13:14)
It is in Revelation 1:5 that we see the shared glory of One more Person in the Trinity: The Son - "and from Jesus Christ".
Now why is it important to understand that the glory in which Christ will Return to this earth is shared with the Father and Spirit? Because in order for Christ's claim in Revelation 1:8 of being "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" to be true, He has to share in the same glorious, Divine nature as the Father. Returning in the shared glory of the Father is stated by Christ Himself in Mark 8:38 - "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." Jesus also prayed in John 17:5 "Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." The shared Divine glory that the Son has with the Father and Spirit was proven as He testified as the faithful witness in His ministry, resurrected as the firstborn from the dead and ascended to begin the spiritual stage of His role as Ruler of the Kings of the earth. Unless the Returning Christ is fully God as the Father and Spirit are God, He cannot be deemed worthy of worship in Revelation 5:11-14 and thus nor worthy of unfurling the scroll of judgment that will be done later in Revelation 6-22.
2. His coming will reveal Saving Glory 1:5b-6a
Revelation 1:5b-6a states - "To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood— 6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father". Christ the coming King shares in undivided full Deity with the Father and Spirit and also shares in humanity with the sinners He died and raised to save. (Hebrews 2:14-18) Christ's second coming will be glorious because for the believer in Jesus Christ, the Savior is coming to rescue His church, His bride, prior to the final outpouring of wrath. (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9) He who rescued us from the tyranny of sin and threat of wrath also saved us to be a sanctified and Holy people. (Romans 5:9-10; Ephesians 2:10) Titus 2:13 tells us -"looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." Other texts such as Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 John 3:2-3 and many others speak of Christ's second coming as coming to rescue believers who by His grace believed and are preserved until His appearing. (1 Peter 1:5)
3. His second coming will reveal Sovereign Glory. 1:6b-7
This second coming of Christ described by John will be glorious because in it will be displayed His shared glory, His saving glory and thirdly His sovereign glory. Revelation 1:6b-7 explains - "to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.7 Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen." The spiritual reign which Christ exercises over his church and the nations will become visible and physical upon His return. John here is alluding back to Zechariah's prophecy of Messiah's Divine coming in Zechariah 12:10 - “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn." When Christ returns, Israel as a nation will be converted and gathered to Him while at the same time He defeats the nations gathered against him.
Now notice how it says He will "come in the clouds." Whenever you see clouds associated with God in scripture, it usually speaks of the Revelation of full Sovereign Deity to His people.
(Exodus 19; 40; 1 Kings 8:10-11; Matthew 17:1-13). The Son of Man spoken of in Daniel as "coming on the clouds" is the same identity which Christ claimed for Himself in the presence of his opponents prior to His crucifixion in Matthew 26:64.
Just think about it, if Christ is not Sovereign over all, He is not Sovereign at all, and thus cannot bring about any of the events spoken of in Revelation. As theologian Abraham Kuyper once noted: "There is not one square inch of creation over which Christ does not pronounce: "mine!' "
As we consider the shared, saving and sovereign glory of Jesus Christ to be revealed at His second coming here in Revelation 1:4-7, we come to understand why this event is central to our understanding of the Book. Steven Gregg the able commentator notes: "Revelation, then, attributes to Jesus Christ titles uniquely attributed to the Lord in the Old Testament. This data is death to any theology that withholds full Deity from Jesus Christ." 2
1. Robert H. Mounce. The International Commentary on the New Testament. Eerdmans. 1977. Page 68.
2. Steve Gregg. Revelation - Four Views: A Parallel Commentary. Nelson. 1997. Page 58.