When the Lord returns, how can we recognize His voice and welcome Him?
Hello brothers and sisters of Our ,
There is a question that I’d like to ask. As it is said in, “You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven” (Act 1:11), I’ve always thought that since the ascended to heaven bearing the image and clothes of a Jew, He shall descend among us in the image of a Jew when He comes back. However, during a meeting, the preacher said that this prophecy doesn’t exactly say the Lord will descend in the image of a Jewish man, and that as we human beings are unable to fathom the mysteries in the prophecies, we cannot determine that the image of the returned Lord will be that of a Jew based on our imaginings, otherwise we will be very likely to miss the opportunity to welcome the Lord. So I’m very confused now. Will the Lord appear to us in the image of a Jewish man when He comes back? If He changes His image, how can we recognize Him and welcome His return? As for this question, I hope I can receive your answer.
Hello Sister Xiying,
Before, I also held the belief that when the Lord Jesus comes back, He will still assume a Jewish image. Later, however, through closely studying the Bible and some other materials, I found that my understanding was not tenable, because God’s image is not something that we can define. As we all know, in the Age of Law, God appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of the bush (See Exo 3:1-4), and in the Age of Grace when the Lord Jesus was doing His work, He changed forms in front of His disciples, just as Matthew 17:1-2 say, “And after six days Jesus takes Peter, James, and John his brother, and brings them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” From this it can be seen that God’s image can change, and that it cannot be defined by us humans.
The Bible says, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (Jhn 4:24). “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Phl 2:5-7). From these verses we can see that God is of the Spirit, formless and amorphous. Because of the needs of the work, He needed to do a stage of work to redeem mankind in Judea. Therefore, He was incarnated in Judea in the form of a Jewish person to better complete the work of crucifixion. But we can’t use the image of the Lord Jesus to define God’s image and come to the belief that when the Lord returns, He will still arrive in the image He bore in Judea. If the Lord changes His image when He returns yet we refuse to accept Him just because He is not in the image of a Jewish person, then we’ll lose the opportunity to be raptured. It’s like the Pharisees of the past who, based on the prophecies in the Scripture, determined that the coming Messiah would be born in the palace and with extraordinary grace and a lofty image. But when the Lord Jesus appeared and worked, He took the form of a common human. Moreover, He did the work which didn’t conform to their conceptions and imaginings. Therefore, the Pharisees determined that the Lord Jesus wasn’t the Messiah, and eventually nailed Him to the cross, thus offending God’s disposition. Since we know the failure of the Pharisees, we mustn’t use our conceptions and imaginings to define the image of the returned Lord.
Now is the critical moment of welcoming the arrival of the Lord. If the Lord changes His image when He comes back, how should we recognize Him and welcome His return? When the Lord Jesus came to do His work, the disciples and believers that followed Him all recognized from His words and work that He is Christ, the coming Messiah. It is written in John 1:47-49, “Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael said to him, From where know you me? Jesus answered and said to him, Before that Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. Nathanael answered and said to him, Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” At first, Nathanael didn’t believe that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah, but when the Lord Jesus said that He knew what he had said under the fig tree, he recognized that the Lord Jesus was the coming Messiah and thus began to follow Him. The Samaritan woman is another example. She didn’t know the Lord Jesus was the coming Messiah in the beginning, but when He exposed her secret—that she had five husbands, she immediately recognized that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah because she knew that only God examines the innermost heart of human. Other people like Peter, John, Matthew and Mark all recognized that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah in what He was teaching, and thus started to follow Him and gained His salvation.
Regarding the return of the Lord, there are many prophecies in the Bible, such as “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (Jhn 16:12-13). “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (Jhn 10:27). “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). Besides, it is prophesied in the Book of Revelation, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:29). From these prophecies we can know that when God appears to work in the last days, He will speak and utter His words. God’s sheep are able to hear His voice and come out to welcome the Lord, thus being brought up before God’s throne. The Lord Jesus once said, “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Mat 25:6). We don’t know the way the Lord will knock on our doors when He returns. We may hearfrom our brothers and sisters in the churches, or our relatives and friends who come to preach the gospel to us, or from the internet or elsewhere and see to all the churches. But no matter what way the Lord knocks on our doors and whether it is in accordance with our notions and imaginings, we should be the wise virgins, open-mindedly seeking and investigating and listening for God’s voice. I believe God will surely guide us to recognize His voice from His utterances and welcome the Lord’s return!
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