Friday, April 15, 2011

WHEN JESUS RETURNS WITH THE CLOUDS

WHEN JESUS RETURNS TO EARTH WITH THE CLOUDS


In frightening times of uncertainty, my thoughts always center upon, and revolve around, a wonderful promise of Jesus--that since He departed to heaven, rest assured, He WILL return! Christians have been waiting for Him to come back for almost 2000 years.  And yet my HOPE never wavers.  The worse this world system becomes, the more outrageous our government gets, the MORE I desire the return of Christ.

We find the promise, of which I point out, in Acts 1:9-11--"And when He (Jesus) had spoken these things (to the gathered disciples), while they beheld, 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; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, SHALL SO COME IN LIKE MANNER AS YE HAVE SEEN HIM GO INTO HEAVEN."

As I shudder at what our leaders and lawmakers currently do in our Capitol, I also settle my nerves with this thought.  "Fear not, Jesus is coming soon. Fear not, He has NOT left us desolate and abandoned.  He will take care of our every need.  And He will take us soon to our eternal reward."

The event of Christ's PRECIOUS RETURN that I look FORWARD TO with such joy and expectation is the "blessed hope" of the Church, the HARPAZO spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, our being caught up together in the CLOUDS, to meet Jesus in the air, and to PROCEED FROM the clouds to our MANSIONS that He's prepared for us in His Father's home--as declared in John 14:1-3.

The scripture we'll BEGIN to study today, Revelation 1:7, speaks of A TIME that's about SEVEN years AFTER the Rapture of the Church.  In this passage, joy is NOT the RESULT of Jesus' return.  Instead, we see a combination of deep sorrow and utter terror prophesied in this verse.  It's BECAUSE this event in the Second Coming of Jesus TO EARTH will happen AFTER a horrible SERIES of calamities, judgments and woes fall upon a sin-laden world--which is under the absolute dictatorship of the Antichrist!

Jesus will return to this EARTHLY scene with POWER and MIGHT, and He'll be WIELDING a sharp sword which brings about a FINAL and AWESOME judgment.

Let's now read Revelation 1:7--"Behold, He comes with the clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.  Even so, Amen."

"Even so, Amen."  These words summarize and end the verse 7 with both assurance and blessed relief.

In other words, regardless of HOW this passage PICTURES a sorrowful and a terrifying time (for THOSE who witness THIS ELEMENT of Christ's return to SET HIS FEET upon the EARTH)-- even so, let it happen.  The word AMEN means, "yes, let it be so."  These words often mark the ending of a prayer, and just like an answer to prayer, this PROPHESY will be fulfilled.  Jesus will DESTROY the enemies who have just about TOTALLY DESTROYED THE EARTH.  His Second Coming will bring BOTH judgment and rescue!

We notice that Jesus will come back to earth surrounded by CLOUDS.  Whenever we consider the events of our Lord's Second Coming, it's almost automatic that we think of Him coming in the clouds.

Jesus, Himself, proclaimed this FACT in Matthew 24:30--"And than shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall the tribes of the earth mourn, and they see the Son of man coming in THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN with power and GREAT GLORY."

Let's also consider Matthew 26:64--"...Hereafter shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN."

Jesus coming with THE CLOUDS is also pictured in the Old Testament.  We'll look at Daniel 7:13--"I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man came WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before thee."

The context of the Daniel passage is upon a time when the Antichrist dictates to the world, for the prophecy is referring to THE END of the "little horn's" dominion.  The "beast"--also a reference to the Antichrist--is slain, his body destroyed and given to the burning flame.  And as for the rest of the "beasts"--world REGIONS under the Antichrist's control--they had their dominion (their authority to govern) taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time (meaning that world regions will survive into JESUS' KINGDOM upon the earth, and these world regions remain on earth for the time and season of the Millennium). 

This passage from Daniel then goes on to describe the Son of man coming in THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN--to the Ancient of days, God, the Father--who THEN gives to Jesus the DOMINION, and glory, and a KINGDOM.  We understand by this, that the coming of Jesus pictured here IS that one at THE END of the "Great Tribulation"--in which Jesus returns IN THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN--at which TIME, Jesus RECEIVES His KINGDOM in the Millennium.

Let's consider another scripture, this time Hebrews 12:1--"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a CLOUD of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us."

The CLOUD of witnesses is a different kind of cloud than what we see in the passages quoted above.  What (or WHO) are these witnesses?  They are a CLOUD of people who have already passed into heaven by their deaths, and are immediately in the presence of God.  Once there, white garments are given to them, which is A PICTURE of the RIGHTEOUSNESS they enjoy through their faith in Jesus.  In heaven, these witnesses shine white, and a large group of them resembles a cloud.

We also need to remember that whenever the GLORY (the "shekinah") of God is mentioned in scripture, it's appearance is like a CLOUD.  When Jesus, on the Mount of Transfiguration, was GLORIFIED in front of Peter, James and John, He was OVERSHADOWED BY A BRIGHT CLOUD, the cloud of God's "shekinah" PRESENCE--His GLORY.  Matthew 17:5.

By looking carefully at THE CLOUD which comes WITH Jesus in His return to earth, THREE KINDS of clouds can be in view.  What are they?

(1.)  Natural clouds, white puffy cumulus in the sky.

(2.)  The "shekinah" cloud--the GLORY of God in His PRESENCE.

(3.)  A cloud of witnesses, an array of SAINTS (the Church dressed in white), who are returning to earth WITH JESUS.

(4.)  And let us NOT forget the powerful clouds of angels--who'll be there, too, as Jesus returns.

In the following section, I'll be focused upon people who experience grief and sorrow at the Second Coming of Jesus.  Why do these people MOURN at the coming of Jesus to earth?


THOSE WHO PIERCED JESUS


Another small detail from Revelation 1:7.  I'll quote it again to maintain the context.

"Behold, He comes with the 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."

The focus here is the LAST EVENT in a SERIES of things which will transpire in the return of Jesus Christ.  (1.)  The Church will be caught up--HARPAZOED--to be with Jesus in heavenly mansions at least SEVEN years PRIOR to the scene in this verse.  (2.)  The unfolding of the Great Tribulation will have transpired.  (3.)  The armies will THEN be gathered at a place called Megiddo for the final war known as Armageddon.

(4.)  Revelation 1:7 is an OVERVIEW of the FINAL event, the return of Jesus to earth with His Bride, and the armies of heaven, to establish the Throne of Jesus upon the earth, which will BEGIN a time known as the Millennium. 

When Jesus returns during the Armageddon scene, people who WITNESS the event will NOT be thoroughly overjoyed to see Him.  There will be TWO responses--and RIGHT NOW--we'll consider only ONE of them.  This response, we MIGHT SAY will be a joy OF SORTS, more like a RELIEF that the trouble is over, BUT it's ALSO something that's profoundly OVERSHADOWED by guilt, sorrow and weeping.

They who pierced Jesus will see him!  Who are these people?  How do they respond to His coming?

When we study the Gospels, and the CRUCIFIXION of Jesus, we see TWO groups of people who took part in it.  One group is the Romans who ruled over Israel, who FORCED the Jews to bow their knees to their dominion.  The second group are the Jews, a group of zealous religious people who FAILED TO RECOGNIZE that Jesus was their promised Messiah.

Jesus not only suffered under the cruel hands of the Romans at the time of His crucifixion, but sadly, He drew horrible retribution under the narrow-minded religious fervor of the Sanhedrin--the chief priests and elders--who felt they were protecting Judaism and God's laws.  The Jewish council REJECTED Jesus as God and Messiah.  They accused Him of blasphemy and handed Him over to the Romans who would carry out the crucifixion.  BOTH Jews and Gentiles stood GUILTY in the death of Jesus--because Jesus came TO DIE for BOTH groups, Jews and Gentiles--for ALL mankind!

In Matthew 27:16-26, there's a terrible scene where we see Pontius Pilate (the Roman governor), offer to release a prisoner (scheduled for crucifixion) and asked the Jews who they wanted to set free, Barabbas or Jesus?  The Jews clamored to have Barabbas set free.  Later, Pilate washed his hands before the multitude of fanatical Jews and said that he was innocent of the blood of a just person (Jesus).  The Jews replied, "His blood be upon us, and on our children."  Then Pilate released Barabbas and sent Jesus to His death.

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, and all through the long age of the Church, a QUESTION has been asked many times over.  Why are the Jews so scorned and persecuted?  ONE ANSWER--they ASKED to be HELD ACCOUNTABLE for the death of Jesus, and their children, too. 

There's a SECOND reason for all the scorn and persecution: the devil SEEKS to destroy Israel BEFORE Jesus returns.  Satan KNOWS how God will be RESTORING the Jews to their COVENANT PROMISES in the events of Jesus' Second Coming.  The devil figures if he can wipe Israel off the map, then he can PREVENT Jesus' return, and STOP the fulfillment of prophecy.

In the Old Testament, in Zechariah 12:10-11, we see a picture of the sorrow and mourning of THEY WHO PIERCED JESUS--THE JEWS.  Zechariah's prophecy is one which ADDS DETAILS to the scene--when Jesus returns on His great white horse with His Bride, and the armies of heaven with Him, to establish His Kingdom on the earth.

"And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications:  AND THEY SHALL LOOK UPON ME WHOM THEY HAVE PIERCED, and they shall MOURN for Him, as one MOURNS for HIS ONLY SON, and shall be in BITTERNESS for Him, as one that is in BITTERNESS FOR HIS FIRSTBORN.  In that day shall there be a GREAT MOURNING in Jerusalem, as the MOURNING of Hadadrimmon in the VALLEY OF MEGIDDON."  (Megiddo, Armageddon.)

Israel will WEEP over their ancestral FAILURE to recognize Jesus as their MESSIAH.  They will literally CRY and MOURN because of the SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS which prevented their FOREFATHERS (AND THEM, TOO) from knowing Who Jesus really is.

In other scriptures we see Jesus, in the act of setting up His Kingdom, and He will be WIPING TEARS from the eyes of His people, and COMFORTING those who MOURN in Zion.  We can picture that climactic event, when Israel PREPARES to enter the glorious Millennium with their Messiah--as Jesus RESTORES the THRONE OF DAVID which has been promised to them. Jews will CRY over the One they'd formerly rejected.  Tears stream down their faces and their hearts are HEAVY within their chests.  Jesus will do THIS for them:

"To appoint unto them THAT MOURN in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes--(Jesus will lift the rebuke of the world off Israel)--the oil of joy for mourning--(their sorrow will be turned into laughter)--the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness--(no longer will they be crushed and oppressed in the earth, but they will sing the praises of their Messiah)--that they might be trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified."  Isaiah 61:3.

I know I quoted a verse (above) that we sing in our Churches.  These beautiful words INDEED APPLY TO ALL in our Christian congregations who receive the hand of blessing from our Lord.

BUT this verse will ALSO RECEIVE ITS FULFILLMENT--when Jesus wipes the tears of sorrow from His people, Israel, AFTER His great return.  THOSE WHO PIERCED HIM will receive grace, comfort and joy.  And they will be invited into that promised time, when their MESSIAH rules the WHOLE EARTH from THE THRONE OF DAVID in Jerusalem.

THEY WHO PIERCED JESUS will cry, lament, sorrow and mourn as, with their eyes, they behold Jesus coming in great glory in the powerful scene at Armageddon.  Israel will experience heaviness and guilt.

But all praise be to Jesus!  He'll wipe away tears, comfort them and lift them up.

In the next segment of my blog, we'll look at the SECOND group of people who witness Jesus at that FINAL ACT of His second coming--THE EARTH DWELLERS.


THE EARTH-DWELLERS


Let's refresh ourselves with verse seven:  Jesus Christ's return will occur in a backdrop of CLOUDS.  Every eye will SEE this return, speaking about the EVENT of His Second Coming which coincides with the final Tribulation battle called Armageddon.

Two kinds of people (in verse 7) SEE Christ's return.  We looked at the first group, Israel, in the previous segment.  The Jews, those whose ancestors PIERCED JESUS at His crucifixion, will sorrow, lament, weep and mourn at the return of THE ONE Who they NOW realize was truly their Messiah.  Christ, in His love and compassion, will wipe tears from their eyes.

In this section, we'll finish Revelation 1:7.  We'll look at a group of people who are called ALL THE KINDREDS OF THE EARTH.  We'll discover how this group DWELLS UPON THE EARTH (I call them the EARTH-DWELLERS).

As we continue studying Revelation, we'll grow MORE AWARE of this group of people, FIRST mentioned here in chapter one, verse seven--"all the kindreds of the earth."  These people will WAIL because of Jesus Christ, and their WAILING will involve TERROR.  Christ's climactic return will bring a final judgment upon this group.  WHY?  AND WHO ARE THEY?

When the seven seals are broken, when the seven trumpets blast, when the bowls of God's wrath are poured upon the earth, "the kindreds of the earth" REFUSE to REPENT of their murders, their sorceries (with ties them to BOTH drugs and the occult), their fornications (including promiscuity, adultery, a lengthy list of sexual misconducts), and they REFUSE to repent of their thefts (cheatings, extortions, defrauding laborers and the poor, etc.).  The EARTH-DWELLERS harden their hearts against God in the same way Old Pharaoh did when God sent plagues upon Egypt.  The EARTH-DWELLERS, by hardening their hearts, insure their own destruction.  Pharaoh's armies drowned in the Red Sea, the EARTH-DWELLERS will face a God Who'll annihilate them at Armageddon.  Therefore, they WAIL in agony over that which will NOW befall them.

Should we feel sorry for these people?  Of course, with the LOVE of God in our hearts, we REGRET and MOURN that these people were so stubbornly set AGAINST God (especially when we KNOW how Jesus paid THE ULTIMATE PRICE to set them free).

But as we consider the CORRUPTION these people perpetrated upon the earth, when we remember how God reached out to them time and again, beseeching that they would REPENT, and that they HARDENED THEMSELVES against God EVERY time, WELL THEN, we come to understand that these people BROUGHT God's WRATH down UPON THEMSELVES.  They REFUSED to heed ALL WARNINGS.  They MAKE their OWN CHOICE and they will pay the penalty.

[I want to make note at this point that there's a THIRD GROUP of people who live through (or more likely get martyred in) the Great Tribulation (who are NOT mentioned in Revelation 1:7).  This group is known as TRIBULATION SAINTS.  These people, NOT part of the Church, were NOT READY when Christ appeared to CATCH UP His Bride in the "Rapture."  Unlike THE EARTH-DWELLERS who REFUSE to REPENT, the TRIBULATION SAINTS will REPENT and COME TO FAITH in Jesus Christ during the FIRE of the great judgment.  The TRIBULATION SAINTS who MANAGE to LIVE THROUGH the most awful time on earth, will enter the Millennium, along with repentant Israel, at the climactic return of Jesus Christ.]

This is how scripture DEFINES the EARTH-DWELLER:  "And ALL that DWELL UPON THE EARTH (shall WORSHIP Antichrist)...WHOSE NAMES are NOT written in the book of life of the Lamb (Jesus)."  Revelation 13:8.  The EARTH-DWELLER is a CHRIST-REJECTER.  The NON-BELIEVER.  The UNSAVED.  Revelation 17:8.

The EARTH-DWELLERS are those concerned ONLY for THIS LIFE upon the earth.  They spend their time DWELLING upon mortal and earthly existences.  They do NOT consider a future in eternity, because ALL they see are THE LIVES they EXPERIENCE in the HERE AND NOW.

Revelation 1:7 calls these people "all kindreds of the earth," but in other places in Revelation they're seen as "those who dwell upon the earth"--they're the SAME group of people who FOCUS upon earthly matters.

I looked for the word "dwell" in the Strong's Concordance.  I want you to see the definition and the ROOT of a word translated in English as DWELL.  We understand HOW, in English, "dwell" MEANS to live and reside somewhere.  But in the original language "dwell" carries a DEEPER meaning.

In the Greek, "dwell" is KATOIKEO, which is to DWELL with a peculiar emphasis.  The word "katoikeo" is formed from a ROOT, "kato" which carries the FURTHER understanding of "opposition" and "intensity."

Thus those who DWELL UPON THE EARTH harbor an OPPOSITION, which is seen to be AGAINST God.  They also possess an INTENSITY--the STRENGTH of their HATRED, their HARDENED HEARTS, which are set in OPPOSITION AGAINST anything that has to do with God. 

Also, the EARTH-DWELLER lives by seeking "after"--the things of this world--they SEEK worldly prestige, knowledge, sciences, leadership, success, material possessions--ALL the things that THIS LIFE can give them.  The EARTH-DWELLER lives with a focus--"desiring and touching upon" EARTHLY REWARDS--they want to be President, leader, boss or a star.  They want to be rich; they want to be famous.  They want to own everything they can get their hands upon.  They want to have power; they want to have control.  The EARTH-DWELLER lives "against" and in "opposition" to the set standards, morals, rules, laws (anything that would restrict them from obtaining what they want)--they are APART from God and SEEK to remain that way.  ALL THESE SHADES OF MEANING ARE INCLUDED IN THE ROOT WORD "KATO."

The EARTH-DWELLERS can be said to be SELFISH.  They may be full of PRIDE.  They may be NARCISSISTS; they may be FILLED WITH DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR.  They may be CRUEL; they may be VIOLENT.  These people would think nothing of STEPPING UPON OTHERS in their EARTHLY AMBITIONS.

By understanding WHO and WHAT an EARTH-DWELLER is, we can question ourselves, DO WE WANT TO BE ONE? 

Not unless we want to face Jesus, at His return, with TERROR jolting like electricity through our nerves, and settling like a clamped vice upon our racing hearts.

At the return of Jesus, the earth-dwellers WAIL.  Having joined forces with Antichrist, they'll get the same judgment as he does.

True believers of Jesus Christ ARE NOT "kindreds of the earth."  Instead, Christians are PILGRIMS on this earth, ALIENS, FOREIGNERS.  Hebrews 11:13.  The Church is IN the world, but not OF it.  John 17:15-16.  The HOME of the Church is in HEAVEN.  We have MANSIONS being prepared there.  John 14:2-3.  The Church looks for THE CITY OF GOD, that has FOUNDATIONS, whose BUILDER and MAKER is God.  Hebrews 11:10.

Let's take the time right now to THANK God that we've seen THE TRUTH about the Jesus Christ.  We NEVER need to FEAR the heavy hand of God in judgment.  We REST in God in PERFECT PEACE, because Jesus has SET US FREE.

And while we have the time, LET'S PRAY FOR PEOPLE.  Pray for those who live in opposition to God.  Pray that God's Spirit will remove cataracts which BLIND people to God's LOVE, MERCY AND GOODNESS.  Pray that these people will come to understand that a Christian life is NOT BORING, that it's NOT JUST A SET OF RULES which restrict fun and enjoyment (by the way, Christians DO enjoy FUN in life, a PURE fun).

Let people see HOW being SET FREE from the wages of sin and death brings absolute PEACE, and a JOY of living, that they NEVER IMAGINED could exist.  That they can KNOW what it means to SOAR LIKE EAGLES.  Unless a person actually experiences a TRUE Christian life, they fail to comprehend it's many blessings.  PRAY THAT THEY COME TO KNOW WHAT THIS LIFE REALLY IS--BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE FOR THEM.

ALL GLORY BE TO HIM, FOREVER AND EVER.  AMEN.

Be blessed!  Be joyful!  Have a beautiful and positive day!  (I say this to myself as much as to you--BECAUSE a litany of PERILOUS end time ISSUES surround us every day:  more earthquakes, the Middle East on a fine hair-trigger of tension--with Russia ready to stocking nuclear fuel rod's into Iran's reactors, and a President who panders to Muslims (who just gave a speech on the U.S. deficit which has enfuriated so many people!).

In the precious name of Jesus, keep looking up.  For our redemption draws near.


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