Summary: View the Second Coming with 3 images, pictures (Material adapted from Daniel Overdorf's book, What the Bible Has To Say About the Church: Rediscovering Community; Chapter 15 Eternally Worshiping, pgs. 380-387)
It seems like stores put out their Christmas merchandise earlier every year. Let’s start selling Christmas stuff in July, beat the holiday rush. Song by Brave Combo- The president was passing laws, Gave a call to Santa Claus He said, "get that toy machine on high. Economy is in a slump I know what could pick it up This year let's have Christmas in July" Oh, we'll have a christmas, a summer Christmas We'll have one fine fun-time unwinding In the sunshine Christmas Oh, we'll spend Yuletide, down by the poolside This year let's have Christmas in July.
How bizarre this would be. It would be bizarre for those who started the tradition of Advent and Christmas to see how we celebrate this today. Advent is observed in December. Advent means coming. During Advent we remember Jesus Christ first coming into this world. However, since Advent means coming, we also need to remember that Jesus Christ is coming again, the Second Coming. At the start of this tradition many remembered and celebrated Second Coming more than first. How bizarre to remember Christ’s first advent but to forget about His Second Advent.
Discussing the community of the church the past several months. Started in the past, in the OT and discussed the background of the community of the church. Working our way into the present and discussing struggles, trials and persecution. Now we are moving into the future.
We are going backwards. Last Sunday night talked about the new heaven and the new earth. We discussed briefly our ultimate eternal existence.
Christ’s return will serve as the transition- a grand, glorious transition- between the present creation and the new creation. Following His death and resurrection, Jesus commissioned His disciples. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”” Acts 1:8-11, NIV.
Jesus had promised this return on multiple occasions. Later, as John’s vision in Revelation came to a close, Jesus promised 3 times in the Bible’s last chapter that He would return soon. Jesus last words in the Bible are recorded: “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Revelation 22:20, NIV.
Thesis: View the Second Coming with 3 images
Christ returning as Emperor
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no-one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron sceptre.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:11-16, NIV.
This image would have been vivid with John’s original readers. This image shares aspects with a Roman general returning from a decisive triumph over his enemies. White is a color of victory in the NT world. This goes back to when the Roman Senate granted Juilus Caesar permission to drive a chariot drawn by white horses through Rome to celebrate his victory. During such parades, Rome became a “city in white.” On that day, Everywhere white robes citzens were marching. Revelation pictures Jesus triumphant, and the armies of heaven dressed in white linens celebrating with their emperor.
At the Second Coming, “the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, NIV.
N.T. Wright describes how Paul’s original readers would have understood these words, and clarifies a common misunderstanding about our meeting the Lord in the air: When the emperor visited a colony or province, the citizens of that place would go to meet him at some length from the city. It would be insulting to have him arrive at the gates as through his subjects couldn’t be bothered to greet him properly. When they met him, they would escort him as he went about. When Paul speaks of “meeting the Lord in the air” the point is not- as in the popular rapture theology- that the save believers would then stay up in the air somewhere, away from earth. The point is having gone out to meet their returning Lord, they will escort him into His Eternal Kingdom.