But here is another piece of election advice for us as Christians: the incoming President is seen in light of the soon coming of Jesus Christ. Our perspective of this election, as with all the rest of life, is looked upon as a transient sub-theme within the greater theme of God’s plans for all of history.
Nations are a funny thing that God invented. I was having a conversation this past week about politics and we discussed how Christians are supposed to live in this world as strangers and exiles while also being conscientious patriots. There always seems to be this tension between the Christian ideals we want our government to uphold and the bleak reality that it never does. Now, I say nations are a funny thing because there is no true, purely Christian nation – not in the sense that everyone who is a citizen is also a born again believer who is a disciple of Jesus Christ and who are governed by the New Testament which has been expressed into formal legislation with penalty for not living as a Christian. The reason is because the Church – that is all true Christians – are citizens of a heavenly kingdom. The Church is not an earthly institution or nation, like Israel was. The Roman Catholic Church and John Calvin’s Geneva are two testimonies in history of how warped the Church becomes when it declares “Statehood”. So how do we live in our respective nations while we have dual-citizenship – one here on earth and one in heaven? Every Christian in history around the world has had to face that question. But we today in America, with the unique privilege in human history of having a vote, and representation, and so much potential for shaping the nation’s political course, how do we as Christians vote?
Election advice: don’t vote for the person who most resembles Christianity. You’re not voting for the Messiah or your pastor. As a western Constitutional Republic we were founded on principles that were shaped by and informed by Judeo-Christian values. However, the New Testament is not legislation in our society. Our government is constrained and compelled by the constitution, and when that document is valued and honored we will see the correlation of religious freedom in our country. Therefore, if you want to see Christianity thrive, vote for the person who you believe will be most faithful to the Constitution – as they will commit to when they swear in with the Oath of Office which reads as follows from Article 2, Section 1, Clause 8 of our Constitution: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
But here is another piece of election advice for us as Christians: the incoming President is seen in light of the soon coming of Jesus Christ. Our perspective of this election, as with all the rest of life, is looked upon as a transient sub-theme within the greater theme of God’s plans for all of history. Translation: there are things much, much bigger God has going on. So I would encourage us and hold us back from despairing, because while a new US President is arriving soon, behind him or her is coming a King, the King of kings actually, upon whose shoulders the coming government will rest. We live in this age with the frustration of imperfect governments erected by men, but, I suggest this is God’s will that we taste this bitterness so as to find ourselves longing increasingly with every passing day for the one true government that is coming – the government not built by “human hands” (Dan. 2:35) but established by God Himself, with His Son, the Christ as its Head (Psalm 2).
The Return of Jesus Christ is one of the most common themes in the NT.
- Mentioned 318 times in NT.
- One out of every 30 verses.
- All nine authors of the NT mention it.
- Twenty-three out of the 27 NT books refer to the return of Christ to the earth again.
- Of the four that don’t mention it, 3 are 1 chapter letters to individuals and the fourth is Galatians.
This topic gets a lot of print in Scripture. Scripture is the words of God so we can say that God is pre-occupied with the return of His Son. I want for us to walk away from Revelation ourselves having a deeply embedded yearning for Jesus to come back.
You know that will change you too. It’s very simple principle and I say it like this: It’s a fact He’s coming back and so I’m changing how I act! I speed in my car. I am the guy in the fast lane who will get in your draft if you’re not speeding. I’m sorry you have to hear that (pray for me) but I speed. When I am driving in an area where I suspect there is a cop though, I slow down and make sure I’m not more than 5 miles over the speed limit. When I know that there is someone whom I’m accountable to nearby I’m typically much better behaved. It’s human nature, right? The boss is away the mice will play? I was talking with a guy this past week who is a business owner and he says that – when he leaves the employees relax and productivity drops. Human nature: when I know the person I’m accountable to is at hand I am much more motivated to be doing what pleases them. This is true in the Christian faith: When we have a growing conviction that Jesus is truly, actually, really, “for-real” coming back we will want to live our lives so that He is pleased with us.
Our doctrinal statement reflects this attitude, 4.111, “We believe in the imminent, personal, pre-tribulation and pre-millennial coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that this blessed hope has a vital bearing on the personal life and service of the believer.”
Also, one important aspect of Communion is looking forward to the return of Christ. Communion as we take it will cease when the Lord returns.
The Return of Christ is a major focus of Scripture, and, it should therefore be a major focus in the life of every believer.
Transition: The Return of Jesus is important in the entire Bible, and, it is also important in the book of Revelation. As a matter of fact, many scholars point out that verse 7 of Revelation chapter 1 is the theme of the entire book, which is why it would come so soon in the opening chapter. The entire book and all its content is pointed towards His return. All that takes place according to this prophecy is hinged upon Jesus’ return.
Read verse 7, “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.” These words are an echo of the very words that got Jesus crucified. In Matthew 26 Jesus is on trial and asked point blankly if He is the Son of God, the Messiah. Jesus says in verse 64, “Yes, it is as you say. But I say to all of you: in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Earlier when describing the end times to the disciples he said, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” Going back even further, 500 years before Christ, to the OT Prophet Zechariah, chapter 12 verse 10, speaking of Christ’s coming at the end it says, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly as one grieves for a firstborn son.” We see this motif echoing through the Scriptures with the same elements in each prophet’s mouth: the catastrophic day of the Messiah’s coming to this world, the global visibility of his appearing, and the terrified nations will mourn and grieve and weep at His sight.
Notice 3 things about the return of Jesus in verse 7.
ONE: GIVE YOUR ATTENTION TO HIS RETURN
First, Give your Attention to His Return. “Look” John says. It is a forceful call for your attention. It’s like verbally grabbing your chin and pointing you towards this event. A couple weeks ago we went to Chuck-E-Cheese so I could play games and win some prizes. But we were sitting there eating pizza when kids started jumping excitedly and pointing over my shoulder. So with half a slice shoved in my mouth and sauce all over my face I was like, “Whoa! What’s going on?!” Well, I turn around and the Big Mouse on Campus himself appeared from his special door. All the kids went nuts and sprinted over to where he was. Chuck-E likes to toss a bunch of tickets on the floor and so all the kids have to scramble to get as many as they can. My size gives me an advantage over the kids so sometimes the kids feel jipped, but, I do it for Levi. Anyway, John is like those kids when they saw Chuck-E-Cheese appear – he’s pointing with awe and amazement and saying Look! Look! There He is! Give your attention to the return of Jesus.
But it is looking with awe too: be full of awe as you behold His coming. John wants us to import the awe of that future moment into our daily living now. The only way to do that is to fix your heart on that coming day. Faith in Jesus is not only faith that He came and died for your sins but it is also faith that He is coming back. Philippians 3:20 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” First Thessalonians 1:9-10, “They tell us how you turned to God from idols to serve the true and living God, and to wait for His Son from heaven…”
It is a high Christian virtue to eagerly wait for Jesus’ return. Second Timothy 4:8 says that a reward is waiting for all those who “long for His appearing” and in Titus 2:13 we are described as “waiting for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”.
John is saying this to us because we are to live with an unflinching confidence that what it says right here is in fact going to happen. He begins and ends Revelation with the appearing of Christ. Everything else in Revelation is the precursor of Christ’s coming, the cosmic catastrophes that Christ Himself is issuing on this world from heaven – all of it culminating and climaxing in His glorious, terrifying but glorious coming to earth. All the things in this book that scare the wits out of people is meant to be seen properly – that is that Christ is over and above it all in all His cosmic and divine authority.
But this injunction to “look” really is the thrust of a believer’s whole life: looking at Christ. We are always looking to Him. Colossians 3:1-2, “Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Or 2 Corinthians 4:18, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen” – that is, Jesus Christ.
Someday, after we have lived a life of seeing Him by faith we will finally see Him with our eyes. He prayed it in John 17 “Father I want those whom you have given me to see Me where I am…” Job said “I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” This is a life we live where we always are looking at Christ. “Look!” Give your attention to His Return.
TWO: THE GLORY ATTENDING HIS RETURN
Second, notice the Glory attending His return. You can see this by the words “He is coming with the clouds”. Clouds in the Bible are many times associated with the glory and presence of God. You know that in those events where clouds were the LORD Himself was present in all His glory.
- God manifested Himself as a cloud during the day when He led the Israelites through the wilderness.
- When He gave the Law to them at Mt Sinai a “thick cloud over the mountain” appeared.
- When God spoke with Moses at the Tent of Meetings, He would descend in a cloud.
- When the tabernacle, and later the Temple were dedicated, a cloud filled them to symbolize God’ glory was entering.
- When Jesus ascended to heaven in Acts chapter 1 it was a cloud that took Him to heaven.
- Paul describes the Rapture in 1 Thess 4, and at that moment we will be caught up together with the Lord in the clouds.
- And, as Revelation 1:7 says, He is coming with the clouds. Jesus said in Matthew 24:30 says, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” Mark 13:26 says, “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” Clouds attend Jesus at His second coming. According to Jesus in Matthew 26:64, these are the clouds of heaven.
Clouds symbolize God’s presence. When He comes on the clouds, all the peoples of the earth will see the glory of the coming of the Son of God. Glory will attend Him at His return.
THREE: THE GLOBAL WITNESS OF HIS APPEARANCE
Third, notice the Global Witness and Mourning. “And every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him.” Every eye will see Him, that means that everyone on the earth at that moment will witness Jesus coming to the earth in glory, with the clouds of heaven. No one will miss this.
Even the Jews, who currently reject Jesus, will see Him and they will all know. “Even those who pierced Him.” That is not a reference to the Romans, but, to the Jews. Zechariah 12:10 says, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”
This is the time when Philippians 2:9-11 will be fulfilled, “every eye will see, every tongue will confess in heaven and on earth and under the earth, that Jesus is Lord”