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Long-View Living in a Short-View World

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This coming Sunday (August 11, 2019), I have the privilege of bringing the word of God to the family of faith at Victory Christian Fellowship in Lynden, Washington. We will be talking about the nobleman who went away to receive a kingdom and then returned (Luke 19:12-27). With so many unknowns in the world, so much uncertainty, one thing we can be sure of, King Jesus is returning. Bank on it.

Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. - Revelation 1:7, NIV-1978
Be very clear - Jesus IS coming, not "will come." Later in this same book, we read, "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed" (Revelation 16:15, NIV-1978).

His coming is a sure thing, but it will happen with no preamble, no "ready, set, go." Thus, it is something for which we need always to be prepared, expectant.

The Timing

The coming of Jesus is a future event for those of us alive today. Yet, in Revelation 1:7 it is spoken of with such surety, as though it had already taken place. The verse says he "is coming," or "cometh," as though it is happening as we speak.

We humans are time-bound and linear. We have a past, and we remember it. We have right now, and we have what is yet to come. It is difficult (but helpful) for us to grasp what it means not to be bound by time, to exist outside of time, where it is always "now," which is itself an expression of time.

That's where Jesus is - outside if time - so, he can say he "is actively coming" even though, for us, it is a future event, just as Jesus can say, "Before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58).

Just bank on it, and be ready. Though it is a future event, Christ will return.

The Clouds

Revelation says he is coming with the clouds. The cloud theme is popular with God. You'll recall that a pillar of cloud led the Hebrew people on their exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:21-22). Now, Jesus is coming "with" the clouds just as the prophet Daniel prophesied.

I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. - Daniel 7:13, NASB
Jesus echoed this reality in Matthew's gospel. "Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, 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 24:30, ESV) That sounds very much like what the apostle John said above in our focal verse from Revelation.

Similarly, Jesus said this in Mark's gospel, "And Jesus said, 'I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.'" Following Jesus' resurrection, he was talking with the disciples and was taken to heaven in a cloud right before their eyes. It had to mess with their minds just a bit to watch that happen.

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." - Acts 1:9-11
According to the German scholar Friedrick Düsterdieck, later Jews referred to the Messiah as the "Cloud-Man."

The Clatter

When this cloud return happens, it will be no secret. Everyone will know!

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. - 1 Thessalonians 4:16, NASB
I'm not certain what the shout from an archangel and the trumpet of God sound like but I fully expect it will have my complete attention!

John says, "Every eye shall see him," and he does not specifically say that includes only those who are alive at the time. This seems to include the living and the dead, Jew and Gentile, saved and unsaved. We will all see this amazing return! For some it will be thrilling, and for others, terrifying.

Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." - John 20:29, NASB

The Response

Though John does not specify this, for those who are in Christ, the bride of Christ, this will be a very exciting event. Not so much for those who are not in Christ.

The tormentors of Christ will be in great distress. Those who pierced him will be in anguish as it becomes clear what are the consequences of their actions. Clearly, this is a reference to Israel, but by extension, the collective sins of all humanity pierced Jesus.

Some have been reconciled to God through the sinless blood of the Lamb (Jesus), and we will delight at his appearing. Others have not been reconciled and refuse to be so. Even so, he is coming. Trim your wick and keep your lamp lit. When you least expect it, expect it.

Blessings upon you. I hope to see you there.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

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Acts 17:28 - ἐν αὐτῷ γὰρ ζῶμεν καὶ κινούμεθα καὶ ἐσμέν