“As I watched, thrones were set in place, and an Ancient One took his throne, his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames. . . As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.” (Daniel 1:9, 13-14)
Before Jesus was born, prophets used images and allegory such as “branch”, “seed”, “shepherd”, or “king” to describe the coming Messiah. Once we met him in the flesh, all these allusions made sense. When he ascended to heaven, 40 days after his resurrection, the angels told his followers: “Why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
The church has expected Jesus to return again since that time. In fact, the earliest believers expected it to happen in their lifetime. As the years went on, the promise dimmed and believers resumed their lives. But the promise still stands. Daniel and Revelation use apocalyptic language to describe his second coming. It is a coronation of the King of Kings; the marriage feast of the lamb to the church, his bride. A time when all will be made right, the devil will be defeated, and justice will reign. “There shall be no more tears” and “no more death”. Heaven and earth shall be made one. The dead in Christ shall rise and we will live with him forever.
How exactly this will happen is not clear to us, but just as surely as he came in the flesh to Bethlehem two thousand years ago, he will return to us on the final day. Noone expected him on that quiet night in Bethlehem. The event went unnoticed for decades until it was revealed during his ministry, death and resurrection. God fulfills his purposes in his time and his way. What we do know is that there is an end to this cosmic struggle between good and evil. Sin and death will be destroyed, and Jesus will be declared the one true God. What a day it will be when “every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD.”
“LORD, we know that our minds and imagination are limited by our experience. We cannot conceive of a time when there will be no more pain, evil or death. We desire to be reunited with our loved ones, but the only time resurrection happened was 2,000 years ago. Help us not to lose heart as we wait for that final day. It will come as surely as it did the first time. We wait in hope.” Amen
Mindi Oaten’s painting “God of Eternity” is from God’s Garden of Grace collection.