Concerning the Second Coming, Answers For a Friend, and Maybe Some For You, Too

No one can write all there is to write on the Second Coming in one sitting, but hopefully, this is some food for thought.

For those who do not know, “Second Coming” refers to the return of the L-rd Jesus Christ.

While posting about the Second Coming, a friend of mine posted the following

This actually reminds me of something I’ve been genuinely curious about. Before the first coming, the Jews were expecting a conquering Messiah. They had every reason to expect one, given the tone and content of their scriptures. Instead they got Jesus and thus, perhaps understandably, did not recognize what he was.

Now, Christians all seem to be waiting for Jesus to come back and kick some serious butt. In other words, they are once again expecting a conquering Messiah and have every reason to expect one, given the tone and content of their scriptures. But why should it be any different this time around? The last people who wanted a conqueror got something completely unexpected, so what makes Christians so sure they are going to actually get a conqueror this time? Why the need for a conquering Christ at all, unless the Cross was not enough?

What follows is an attempt to answer some of these particular questions to the best of my G-d-given ability.  

On the first paragraph, I would respond in the following manner. The Jews did expect a conquering Messiah. Considering the issues they had with Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Greece, Rome, and most recently, Germany and the Middle East, it is understandable they would desire such a Messiah, and not just given the tone of their Scriptures, but also given the tone of their history. Theirs was a culture riddled with warfare and battle, destruction of idolatrous nations whose annihilation the L-rd explicitly commanded. Because of this history, the Hebrew language is one replete with battle and warfare terminology, unlike the more philosophically-oriented Greek language. The interesting thing is they were told by their prophets exactly where the Messiah would be born and the circumstances surrounding his birth. But by the way he acted the did not recognize him as the Messiah. They wanted one who would conquer Roman dominion, and He came to liberate them from an even deeper bondage, their own iniquities and bondages.


On the second paragraph, I would like to approach it in a little more inverse analysis.

First of all, the Cross was enough, if you have accepted and surrendered to the implications of its purpose.
The pre-redemptive implications are that (at the risk of sounding redundant):

1) All have sinned, period.
2) Jesus died on the cross.
3) Jesus died in order to liberate us from our sins, and then rose again from the dead in order to give us new life.
4) We can only be liberated from our sins and be thus transformed if we lay aside our pride, which prevents us from seing our sins and sinful state.

If we lay aside pride
and if we repent of our sins and sinfulness,
which means turn away from, leave, and forsake
and if we ask the L-rd to forgive us our sins,
then the redemptive implications of the Cross are applied to us

The Redemptive implications that follow are:

1) OUr sins are eradicated.
2) We are transformed. This is a loaded term, since many different things happen to us at once at this point. In fact, such a transformation takes place that we do not recognize the person we will become. The old person before Christ, and the new person after Christ are completely and totally indistiguishable, they are unique, singular, one-of-a-kinds.
3) A new creation comes into being.
4) We become aware of another voice within us that is different from all other voices. This is the voice of the Holy Spirit who indwells us.
5) We literally enter into a relationship with the L-rd, where He speaks to us and we are able to understand, and we speak with Him, and He readily listens to us and responds. It is a real relationship like that between brother and sister, or husband and wife, or between close friends, that involves back and forth communication and communion. However, this only can take place if we come ot the Cross He has provided and die to ourselves, or as the L-rd himself said, if we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. It is a realization of our need for his ability to meet needs we never even realized we had all along.

A Christ-follower does what Christ did. He emptied himself and submitted himself to death, and served, and lived, and by his example taught us how to live.

Beyond our acceptance of the implications of the Cross, the Cross itself is enough, if you are merely talking about getting into heaven and eternal life. I however, want more than eternal life, and I imagine most of my readers want the same. I want to make an impact on this world.

But the Cross at this point is only a beginning, for as we relate to G-d, the relationship, itself a living thing, has the capacity and tendency to grow, mature, and bear fruit. Beyond mere redemption comes immersion into His Spirit (we call this Spirit Baptism) among other things. From this fruit flows the byproduct of ministry to others, which occurs in His strength. Through this fruit of relationship, we heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out devils, cleanse the lepers, speak in new tongues, etc. These are the things the L-rd would have us do as part of our relationship with Him, and He is such a good teacher as to show us how to do each of these things.

Now, the first part of that sentence “why the need for a conquering Christ at all, unless the Cross was not enough?

Romans 8:19-25 gives us a good portion of the answer. It reads:
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of G-d. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of G-d. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, grown inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now, hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

The “whole creation” is everything that was from the creation of the world and is now is corrupted through the rebellion of humanity. That creation waits for the revealing of the sons of G-d, which is another term for the “heirs of the kingdom.” The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the kingdom becauses its own eventual redemption follows the completion of the redemption of all who will come to the cro
ss. The cross brings the firstfruits of redemption out. The judgment brings that redemption of the rest of creation to its conclusion.

Next piece: “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it.” That is because of humanity’s rebellion, the L-rd caused the rest of creation to join humanity. Mankind was intended to rule and care for a perfect world, but his rebellion created for him an imperfected state and that state of being colored everything else. Sin fed into the rest of the system around it, and was subjected to utter futility, or unavailing actions, by the L-rd himself in Genesis 3:14-19. Nothing in creation could avail for itself or anything else.

Next piece: “in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of G-d.” The purpose of creation’s subjection to the same fate as humanity was HOPE. The hope was provided in Genesis 3:15-namely the Messiah who would eventually crush the head of the serpent. The Messiah was the hope of the entire creation. Not only was he to set free humanity (the “children of G-d”) by the cross, but he was also, in his judgment to set the earth free. I find it marvelous and awesome that He is able to liberate individual people in the midst of a crooked and perverse world. That was His first mission since His frist coming, liberation of people from their sinful bondages, instead of physical bondage to Roman Oppression.

The first crushing of the serpent’s head occurs when someone turns from their sin to Christ. When someone denies himself or herself, lays down their pride, pick up their cross, and follows Christ, the serpent’s head gets used for target practice int he life of that individual. Satan does not just get one loss, but he looses on a daily scale. G-d does not win once, but over and over and over and over, and this repeated victory is symbolized by His train which FILLS the temple in Isaiah 6. When rulers went to war in that culture, the winner’s king would take the ruler’s train and sew it to the end of his own. The L-rd’s victories are numberless and countless. Cocky and arrogant? We might think this, but the all-powerful G-d of the universe is not proud or arrogant, just capable.

The second and ultimate crushing of the serpent’s head and the ultimate fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 awaits the time and day when the whole earth and heavens will pass away and the new heavens and the new earth take their place, which is still on the L-rd’s task list. We will get to what is keeping the L-rd from doing this later.

Next piece: “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” Matthew 24 speak sof wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, meterological anomalies etc. These are the groanings of the creation, and these things are increasing in rate and intensity.

Next piece: “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, grown inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Followers of Christ are the firstufruits of this redemption, and they also groan for the day when we will see our adoption takes place. They have a hope and a home that is not this strife-laden place.

So the earth waits for the revealing of the kingdom, for a liberation from bondage, and for an obtaining of the same freedom which believers already have.

The need for a conquering Christ is this. First of all, conquering and butt-kicking is not the point. Redemption is. His desire is full redemption. His nature as a just G-d demands redemption. Redemption of everything the canker worm and locust has eaten. The L-rd does not settle for peaceful coexistence with an entity whose chief and sole end is theft, murder and destruction, and who refuses to walk in deception and lies to obtain those ends. Permitting those to exist forever in the same plane as truth, light, honor, mercy, righteousness, and justice equals and absence of justice and the presence of perversion.

Ultimately, the L-rd who does not judge wickedness for any reason is a G-d of variance and weakness. That is a G-d who can be talked into making deals. Do we really want a G-d who is capable of bribery, usury, injustice, and the same perversions and wickedness as we are? No! Of course not. We want a G-d who is completely just, righteous, holy, and above all with deal with the wicked and the righteous accordingly.

But G-d does not use our standards for judgment. He uses his.

So, again, the question is begged. Why does G-d seem to stall in dispensing justice immediately on the wicked,and why does He seem to let evil go unabated?

It is the mercy and love of G-d that is prolonging the time that is left. If there is just one left who will come to the Cross and ditch his or her pride, then G-d permits the existence of the futility of the rest of this creation. For the sake of one person who will come the L-rd will postpone everything. That is His mercy and justice. And the L-rd in His omniscience knows when that is and who that is.

When He returns, redemption will again be the object. It should be different this time around because the heavens and the earth and the rest of creation are the object of that redemption. We have no idea what that redemption looks like, but my question to you, the reader, is do you want to be part of that redemption? It can happen for you right now. Now is the season, according to Romans 8, for each of us to answer whether or not the Cross is enough of a demonstration for us to know that He really does love us.


Q? Curious…My Thoughts On the Source of the Gospels

During my time in seminary, and before, when I read “The Case for Christ” in high school, I learned about a source for the Gospel narratives that attempted to explain where we got the Synoptic Gospels in their final and current written form.  This document is called “Q” (from French “quelle”, meaning “source”).  If memory serves correctly, the following is a description of what Q actually was.
Q was described as an oral tradition that developed over years after the events portrayed in the Gospels took place. Between the middle of the First Century AD and the middle of the Second Century, the Gospels began to take written form.  Q’s material comes into final form around 60-65, Mark was written using Q around 75-80, Matthew using Q and Mark was written around 85-95, and then Luke-Acts, using Q , Mark, and Matthew was written between 115-130.
Now, having said that and seeing that it is a hypothesis put forward to explain what happened in the writing of the Gospels to account for similarities and differences that occur between the Synoptic Gospels, I would like to give my hypothesis.
Quite simply, I think Q violates Occam’s Razor, which says “do not multiply arguments beyond what is necessary.”
We first serve a G-d who revels in making possible the impossible.  Given He desires to do the impossible on a regular basis precisely because it fosters faith in us, and Yeshua was a prophet par excellance, at least one of the Synoptics, if not more, could have been written before the destruction of the Temple.
Further, it seems to me that, Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote their accounts, with a missiological purpose in mind, regardless of whether their accounts are chronological. That is, their purpose in writing these accounts was to evangelize the lost among their target auidences, Matthew to a Jewish audience, Mark to Peter’s audience, and Luke to Paul’s non-Jewish audience.
Further, I would say Mark could have been incorporated in the writing of both Matthew and Luke-Acts.
But the differences seem to me to be missiological.  The authors home in on particular details that would have relevance to their given audience or leave aside details that would not.  Hence all the attention to the fulfillment of prophecies in Matthew, for example.

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2 Cor. 5:17


ωστε ει τις εν χριστω καινη κτισις τα αρχαια παρηλθεν ιδου γεγονεν καινα τα παντα

How I translated it:
Insomuch as anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation 
The old has passed away 
Behold, all has been created new.

Many of us in the church have read this in a translation that has said something along the lines of “Therefore, if any man is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has passed, and all things have been made new.”  

Not only does the person become new, reborn as those of us who are “born-again” say, but more than that.  We get so caught up, in the conservative church world, in being born again, that such words become trite after decades of use, and we just pass it off with an “amen” and no second thought.  However, the words require us to think through them again.  

We can be “in Christ” in varying degrees, to the extent that we actively trust Him.  Hopefully we choose to be completely “in Christ” and not in ourselves.  That may not happen every day, but we can choose day by day whether or not we will fully trust Him, and that means not trusting whatsoever in our own abilities.  And as we trust fully in Him, we become that new creation, and not only do we become a new creation, more happens.  For when we become a new creation, we recieve new eyes, new ears, new hands and feet, and new faculties, for then to us is opened up a set of senses by which we may perceive the world as the L-rd perceives the world, we may see others as the Son sees them, we may hear with the L-rd’s ears, and taste and smell as He does.  

Excuse the metaphor, but the metaphor is nevertheless effective for communicating the mystery of what happens to us when we become followers of Yeshua ha-Mashiach.  Not only do you become new, but your perception of reality changes and transforms.  Your mind transforms, your heart transforms, your desires and affections transform, as you yield yourself to Him.  

Permit Him to transform and redirect you, for in that you will never be the same.  You come apart from  the worldly influences of the darkness in this place. And your coming apart from the worldly influences is for the purpose of reconciling the world to Him.  

And coming apart from the worldly influences does not mean you sever all contact with your unbelieving friends, but rather it means the internal changes that occur in you result in external changes your unbelieving friends can see and as you hang around and the L-rd in you begins to work his changes in them, this then will result in the praise of His glory.  “Let your light so shine that they may see your good works and praise your Father who is in heaven.”