Waiting For the Apocalypse of Jesus
I really wanted to share this quote from John MacArthur in the sermon yesterday, but alas, something had to give in the interest of time. So I cut Dr. MacArthur.
In the text (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10) and sermon we saw that when Christ returns He will afflict those who afflict followers of Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:6). The Thessalonians are being afflicted and Paul writes to comfort them in the midst of persecution for their faith in Christ Jesus.
When will this comfort come? How will it come?
The answer that Paul put forward to give comfort is at least in part a future fulfillment. In verse 7 Paul promises there will come a day when Christ is revealed: “the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution (righteous vengeance) to those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus (8).”
Take special note of the words, “will be revealed”. Contextually this indicates a future moment when Jesus will apokolupsei. You likely recognize this word because it looks like the word “apocalypse”. It is used in Revelation 1:1 to describe John’s writings as “The Revelation (revealing or unveiling) of Jesus Christ”. He will be unveiled or revealed, and when He is, He will repay with affliction those who afflict.
Where is the comfort? It will come in the person of the returning Jesus and He will bring rest (2 Thessalonians 1:7) to the afflicted.
Here is how Dr. John MacArthur described the unveiling or revelation of Jesus Christ when He returns and how it will look very different from the first appearing of the Christ who was veiled in the likeness of of men (Phil. 2:7):
The first time Jesus came, the reality of who He was, was hidden. Were you to have gone into the stable in Bethlehem and looked into the crib, you would have seen a baby. There would have been nothing in that baby’s form to have revealed to you who it was. Were you to have lived in a village called Nazareth and to have known a carpenter and his wife by the name of Joseph and Mary and their boy by the name of Jesus, you would have seen a boy, perhaps an unusual boy, but there was nothing you would have seen in Him that would have revealed to you who He really was, the creator of the universe. Were you to have been on those hillsides and along those dusty paths in Galilee or down in Judea when Jesus was ministering as an adult, you would have seen a man, you would have heard a man, a man who walked and talked and slept, a man who ate, and you would have not known by looking at that man who He was, for it was veiled. Were you to have seen and heard Him teaching, no matter how profound the things that He said, there would have been nothing on the surface to have proven to you that this was an eternal being, the God of creation. Were you to have stood on a hillside called Golgotha and watched a man nailed to a cross, blood streaming from His body, there would have been nothing that you would have seen with your visual eye that would have indicated to you that this was eternal God who could never die.
That’s because the first time He came He was veiled. The first time He came, the reality of the fullness of His person was hidden. The next time He comes, it won’t be. The next time there will be no Bethlehem, there will be no stable, there will be no manger, there will be no carpenter shop, there will be no humble village. There will be no poverty, no dusty roads to walk, no sinners to attack Him and grieve Him, no false religious leaders to oppose Him. There will be no demons who will stalk His steps, no soldiers to pound nails into His hands and thorns into His brow. There will be no spear run into His side. There will be no cross – not the next time. The next time He comes it is the unveiling. There will be no humble form. There will be no servant form. There will be no human form alone, but only that glorified God-Man in full blazing presence.
It is better to embrace all of Christ now, than to have to bow the knee (Phil. 2:10-11) when He returns to “press the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.” (Revelation 19:15)
So we wait for the big reveal of the one who will come and right all wrongs, repaying those who afflict His people.