The first coming of Christ was in obscurity and humility. He veiled the outward display of glory and took upon Himself ‘the form of a servant’, and ‘the likeness of men’.1 The next time He comes to earth will be markedly different, in that glory will characterize His appearance. He will appear then as He appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration, shining brighter than the noon-day sun; no longer the lowly Man of sorrows but rather the King of glory.
The word most often used in the New Testament for this event is parousia, which means ‘appearance and subsequent presence’. Theologically, the word ‘revelation’ is used to distinguish this visible appearance from the ‘rapture’. At the revelation of Christ, every eye will see Him, Rev. 1. 7, all the world will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, Matt. 24. 30.
Titus chapter 2 verses 11-13 present two appearances of the Lord Jesus. In both verses 11 and 13, the word rendered ‘appeared’ and ‘appearance’ comes from the word epiphany. It is a word that means to ‘make visible or to be manifest’. In verse 11, grace was made visible in the person of the Lord Jesus. In the Gospels, though primarily the Gospel of John, grace is associated with Christ as to His character and conduct. The figure of speech here in Titus is ‘personification’, where an object or concept is presented as a person.
In verse 13, it is glory that is personified, in the person of ‘our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ’ JND. ‘The blessed hope’ and the ‘appearing of the glory’ JND, are best viewed as applying to the same event. In the same way, Darby links ‘our great God and Saviour’ as one, as opposed to the KJV rendering of ‘our great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ’. The thought is that when the Lord Jesus comes to earth again, there will be, in His person, a manifestation of glory.
The scene is described in Revelation chapter 19 verses 11-21, with the Lord Jesus coming on a white horse, His eyes as a flame of fire and His robe dipped in blood. He has a name written, ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’. The Lord Himself compares His coming to lightning flashing from the east to the west, Matt. 24. 27.
In Zechariah chapter 6 verses 9-14 the prophecy relates to this same glory, as the ‘the man whose name is the Branch’ is introduced to the world. The same phrase that occurs at the beginning of verse 9 is also found in John chapter 19 verse 5, ‘Behold the man’. It is Pilate who makes the announcement as the representative of human government. This is the last the world sees of Him – the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. A man disfigured and beaten, His form so battered He no longer looks like a man.
When the world hears that phrase once again, it will not be the representative of human government but the Almighty God that makes the pronouncement. The volume will be greater, and the audience larger, and the response will no longer be, ‘We will not have this man reign over us’; no longer the Man of sorrows, but the Messiah in splendour. The Lord of Hosts says of Him, ‘He shall bear the glory’; He is seen as a priest on His throne. The passage goes on to say, ‘The counsel of peace shall be between them both’, likely meaning that the office of prophet and priest will be united in Christ. The silver and gold for the temple, Zech. 6. 11, are made into elaborate crowns, see margin, in anticipation of a crowning day that is coming by and by.
It is at this time that all of humanity will bow the knee, and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord. The Lord will be King over all the earth, and His reign will be glorious. The angels of God will worship Him, and all the universe will proclaim His worthiness.
The Lord Jesus will also display the greatness of His power when He returns to earth at the revelation. He will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels ‘in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ’, 2 Thess. 1. 7, 8. It is at that time the unsaved will be banished from the presence of the Lord, and the glory or majesty of His power, v. 9.
This coming of the Lord is in great contrast to His first coming. Isaiah chapter 42 verse 2 expresses the gentleness of the Lord Jesus at His first coming, ‘He shall not cry nor lift up’. The passage goes on to talk of His tender dealings with humanity. Later, in the same chapter, verse 13 says, ’The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man: He shall stir up His zeal like a man of war. He shall cry out, yes shout aloud; He shall prevail against His enemies’ NKJV. Two different words are used for ‘cry out’; the second phrase is rendered as ‘shall shout mightily’ in the Septuagint. In verse 3, the ‘will not cry out’ has to do with His compassion, whereas the ‘cry out’ in verse 13 has to do with His conquest.
In Isaiah chapter 63 the Lord Jesus is pictured as coming from Edom, as One who treads the winepress of the wrath of God. ‘He is glorious in His apparel, travelling in the greatness of His strength’, v. 1. Isaiah goes on to speak of the Lord’s fury, anger, and vengeance as He executes judgement on the earth. The coming ‘man of sin’ will, in a singular way, experience defeat when the Lord Jesus comes, and will ‘consume him with the breath of His mouth and destroy him with the brightness of His coming’, 2 Thess. 2. 8 NKJV. This beast, and the false prophet, will be cast alive into the lake of fire.
When the Lord Jesus comes, the sight will be spectacular, riding a white horse, His head crowned with many crowns, and clothed in a robe dipped in blood. He has a sharp sword that is seen coming out of His mouth with which He will strike the nations. The armies that gather to do war against Him will be destroyed by that sword, the spoken word of God.
Joel pictures the nations gathered in the ‘valley of decision’, the ‘valley of Jehoshaphat’ or, more common to us, the ‘plains of Megiddo’. The Lord will come in judgement because the wickedness is great. He will roar and cry out, and, in response, the ‘heavens and the earth shall shake’, Joel 3. 16. When His feet touch the Mount of Olives, the mountain will be split in two, and a valley will be formed.
The hope for the believer is linked first to the rapture of the church, but this hope also extends to the revelation of Jesus Christ at His second coming to earth. Our hope is to anticipate His glory, both seeing it and sharing in it. Collectively, the church, the bride of Christ, will be presented to Him as ‘a glorious church not having spot, or wrinkle’, Eph. 5. 27. When He appears for us, our bodies will be changed from these earthly bodies to be made like His glorious body. The gospel gives the guarantee of sins forgiven, but also that believers will share in the glory of our Lord Jesus. The Lord’s prayer in John chapter 17 includes the request that those given to Him might be with Him and see His glory. The prospect includes the promise that each believer will be presented faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, Jude 24.
The whole creation is groaning in anticipation of the day when it enters into the glorious liberty of the children of God, Rom. 8. 21. It is at the second coming that the church, the bride of Christ, is presented to the world in dazzling splendour. She is identified with the city that comes down from heaven and having the very glory of God. In 2 Thessalonians chapter 1 verse 10, it is the Lord Jesus who will be glorified in His saints. What an amazing fact that He will be glorified in us, sinners saved by grace but clothed in His righteousness!
When the Lord Jesus returns and establishes His kingdom, finally there will be peace on earth. This peace is linked to His person and presence. This is the One of whom Jacob spoke and referred to as Shiloh. He is the Prince of peace, Isa. 9. 6. Micah chapter 5 verse 5 says of Him, ‘this man shall be the peace’.
‘The whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea’, Hab. 2. 14. He will rule over the nations with a rod of iron, but that rule will be in righteousness and truth. All the nations will come to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts. When He enters the city the question will be asked, ‘Who is this King of glory?’ The response will be, ‘The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory’, Ps. 24. 10. The very name of the city will be changed to ‘Jehovah Shammah’, ’The Lord is there’.
Psalm 72 speaks of the reign of Christ and ends with these words, ‘and blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory’, v. 19. To which every believer should say, ‘Amen’; ‘Thy kingdom come’; and, ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus’.