Are we EAGERLY WAITING for the RETURN of JESUS CHRIST?
December 25 Bible Reading: Revelation Chapters 1-3
“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” (Rev. 1:7)
Today is Christmas Day, the world’s most famous holiday that is associated with the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He arrived on our planet 2000 years ago as a baby born to a virgin in Bethlehem. This is a unique historical event that is worth celebrating, for it reveals the extent of God’s love and the enormous sacrifice that He undertook in order to save humanity from eternal death. The same Jesus is going to return back to earth someday, and the revelation given to Apostle John highlights the events that must take place in the future (v. 19) including the event associated with the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. With the words “Behold, He is coming”, we are introduced to the theme of the book of Revelation.
The above scriptural passage is the actual fulfilment and in congruence with what had happened when our Lord Jesus Christ had ascended up to heaven in the sight of all His disciples after being on the earth for forty days in His resurrected body: Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11). The ascension of Jesus described as “a cloud received Him out of their sight” corresponds to the manner of His return: “will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (1:11).
The scriptural passage (Rev. 1:7) also contains the first prophetic oracle of this book and it summarizes the main features of the revelation to follow, which include the return of Jesus Christ back to earth in chariots of clouds recalling Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man (see Dan. 7:13). Our Lord Jesus also applied Daniel’s vision to His glorious second coming (see Matt. 24:30). According to this prophecy, Christ will be universally visible at His second coming, in contrast with His first coming in Bethlehem. At that time, the people who were guilty of His crucifixion will be aghast with consternation. Zechariah has prophesied that Israel will come to a point of mourning their rejected crucified Messiah (see Zech. 12:10; John 19:34, 37). In fact, all the people groups of the earth will be plunged into sorrow because Jesus will come to judge His enemies and set up His eternal kingdom on earth.
When Jesus Christ returns to the earth, four aspects of His return are mentioned in this key prophetical verse, each of which alludes to another passage of Scripture: Jesus will come with the clouds in the sky (Dan. 7:13); every person living on the earth at that time will see him (Matt. 24:30); these include those who crucified Him (Zech. 12:10); and, those who had rejected Him earlier will wail over Him (Zech. 12:11). Thus, the principal features of the prediction are: Christ coming back; His coming with clouds; every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth mourning at His coming. The key feature of this prophecy is that the return of Christ to the earth will be seen by everyone on the earth at that time, including Israel and all the other nations.
Bible scholars have taken different approaches concerning the actual timing of the return of Christ mentioned in Rev. 1:7. The futurist approach takes this statement somewhat literally, seeing in it a prediction of the Second Coming of Christ in the clouds at the end of the present age in order to establish His kingdom. The spiritual approach sees this as one of several references to the Second Coming of Christ through the ‘Rapture’. Some other Bible scholars suggests that the passage does not predict the literal Second Coming of Jesus, but is a figurative description of Christ’s coming in vengeance to destroy Jerusalem. However, the broad consensus is that the return of Jesus will be actual, personal, and visible to everyone, and He will be coming back to judge the earth.
The writer of Hebrews sums this up very well: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Heb. 9:27-28)