A Preview Revealing His Coming in Power and Great Glory: The thoughts of the Judeo-Christian world are focused upon the events associated with the end of the age. At the time of His crucifixion the sun was darkened and the veil in the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom, while the mountains trembled and the graves were opened. Matthew states that many bodies of the saints which slept arose and came out of the graves and went into the holy city appeared to many. When the centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly and exclaimed “Truly this was the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:54)
Three days after the death of Christ, there was a great stirring at the tomb in the garden on that first Easter morning. The Jewish authorities had secured the placing of soldiers at the tomb to prevent the disciples from stealing Jesus’ body and thus pretending that He had arisen from the grave. They were responsible for His death and thus expected to thwart any attempt that might be made to remove the body of Jesus and proclaim that He had come forth from the tomb. His body as to remain in the tomb as evidence of His death and to justify their having condemned Him as an impostor. With the soldiers on guard, the High Priest and his associates felt secure in the knowledge that the body of Jesus would remain in the tomb and not be taken away. But alas for their expectation!
The account states that there was a great earthquake, for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and rolled back the stone from the door of the tomb and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning and his raiment white as snow. For the fear of hi, the soldiers guarding the tomb did shake and became as dead men.
Upon recovering from their fear and great terror, the soldiers arose and hastened to show the High Priest and Council what had occurred. The seal that had been placed on the stone had been broken and the tomb opened with Jesus no longer there, for He had risen from the dead. The soldiers were given a large sum of money to tell a lie, saying that His disciples came by night and stole His body while they were sleeping. The High Priest and Jewish Council knew that the soldiers had told the truth and that Jesus had arisen, thus fulfilling Jesus’ prediction, “Neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)
Mary Magdalene with the other Mary came to the Garden early in the morning to see the sepulchre. The stone had been rolled away from the door and they saw the angel whose countenance was like lightning sitting upon the stone. He told them to fear not but to go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead. The two women departed quickly from the Garden, in fear and great joy, and did run to bring work to Jesus’ disciples.
Peter and John, after being informed of the resurrection, make haste and ran to the sepulchre, John outrunning Peter. When John looked into the sepulchre and saw that the linen clothes which had been wrapped around the body of our Lord had collapsed without being unwrapped from the body, it is stated that he believed. The boy of our Lord had come out of its wrapping without disturbing the fine linen, the linen still remaining in the shape of the body around which it had been wrapped. The miracle of the resurrection was thus impressed upon John.
The wonderful day of Jesus’ resurrection runs on as the little company of disciples seek each other out, to pass the word and to discuss the amazing fact of that resurrection. In the even of this first Easter, the disciples of Jesus had gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem. The door was shut and fasted for fear of the Jews. Suddenly Jesus appeared standing in their midst. He addressed them, saying, “Peace be unto you.” (Luke 24:36) He then demonstrated the actuality of His resurrection by His bodily presence with His disciples who at first were in fear thinking they were seeing a spirit. Jesus assured them that it was He telling them, “Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” (Luke 24:39)
Following the resurrection Jesus began a most interesting forty day period with His disciples, ending with His ascension from the Mount of Olives when a cloud received Him and He disappeared from their sight. During these forty days, Jesus not only gave evidence that He had been resurrected and would live forevermore but He instructed His disciples in their assigned mission, the work which they were to accomplish until the day when He should return to the earth again. During those forty days the glory and majesty of our Lord, in His resurrected splendor, was withheld while He demonstrated that He was indeed Jesus of Nazareth who had come forth from the dead. In His resurrection He displayed the body that had died on the stake as now alive with the nail prints in His hands and the mark made by the spear thrust into His side, thus confirming His bodily resurrection.
He thus demonstrated that He was Jesus who had been resurrected with no marked evidence of a physical change in His appearance as He was known prior to His death by crucifixion. Following His ascending into heaven, John was given a revelation of our Lord in the splendor and glory as He appeared in all His majesty. This was some 62 years after Jesus had spent the forty days demonstrating to His disciples that He had come forth from the Tomb and was alive again. John thus describes the glory of the Lord when He came to talk to him on the Isle of Patmos: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last ...And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw...one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire: and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.” (Revelation 1:10-15)
John further states that His countenance was as the sun shineth in His strength. The Apostle was so over-whelmed by this revelation of our glorified Lord that he fell at His feet as though dead. Then John declares that He laid His right hand upon me saying to me: “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” (Revelation 1:17-18)
What a contrast is thus shown between the forty day demonstration by Jesus to His disciples of His bodily resurrection and the revealing to John of His glory and majesty following His ascension into heaven. It was most essential that during the forty days following His resurrection, Jesus should appear to His disciples as they knew and saw Him as He preached the acceptable year of the Lord prior to His crucifixion. Thus they knew that His bodily resurrection had been accomplished; otherwise, they would have had an excuse for doubting. It was most essential that, in talk, appearance and action, Jesus demonstrated that He lived again. His Glorification, as revealed to John, became inevitable following His ascension into heaven. Jesus, during His earthly ministry, told His disciples: “Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Matthew 19:28-29)
The pattern of life, death, resurrection and glorification thus established by Christ will have its counterpart when the trumpet sounds and those classified as overcomers come forth from their graves. Thus the Lord informs the Prophet Baruch: “For the earth will then assuredly restore the dead, which it now receives, in order to preserve them, making no change in their form, but as it has received, so will it restore them, and as I delivered them unto it, so also shall it raise them. For then it will be necessary to show to the living that the dead have come to life again, and that those who had departed have returned (again). And it will come to pass, when they have severally recognized those whom they now know, then judgment will grow strong, and those things which before were spoken of will come.” (Apocalypse of Baruch, pp. 82-83)
Baruch is then informed that, after the living are made aware of the resurrection, the splendor of the resurrection will be glorified in changes, and the form of their face will be turned into the light of their beauty. Time will not age them and they shall be changed into every form they desire, from beauty into loveliness, and from light into the splendor of glory. Moreover, there will then be excellency in the righteous surpassing that in the angels.
Thus it is spoken of those who attain unto the goal of an overcomer and who will reign and rule with our Lord in His Kingdom. This is the prize set before those of whom Paul was speaking when He said: “If we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Romans 6:5)
Christ informed His disciples that the gathering of the elect, the firstfruits from among the dead and living, are those who will stand with Him on Mount Zion; that is, associated with Him in His government and ruling in His Kingdom. These are the elect whom Jesus sends His angels to gather following the appearing of the Sign of the Son of man in heaven. After predicting that the power of heaven would be shaken, that is, the splitting of the atom, Jesus stated: “And then shall appear (shine) the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30)
It is from this position on the clouds of heaven that John is given a vision of our Lord reaping the firstfruits of the earth, that is, gathering His elect. John thus states: “And I Looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.” (Revelation 14:14)
He is told to thrust in the sickle and reap, for the time to come for Him to reap, as the harvest of the earth is ripe: “And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.” (Revelation 14:16)
After this reaping from the cloud, an angel came out of the temple which is in heaven and he also had a sharp sickle. He is told to thrust in his sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, and cast it into the winepress of the wrath of God.
Thus, following the reaping from the cloud, the angel from the temple will mark the beginning of the Day of Wrath for all the inhabitants on the earth. But Jesus addresses those to be reaped from the cloud: “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Revelation 3:10)
These are those of whom, through Malachi, the Lord states: “I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” (Malachi 3:17)
Esdras is informed of this gathering from the cloud of the firstfruits of the harvest just prior to the beginning of the Day or Wrath and the Divine reason for thus moving to rescue His elect from evil to come: “So I considered my world, and, behold, it was lost; and my universe, and, behold, it was in danger, because of the devices (nuclear weaponry) of those who had come into it. And I saw, and spared them, not very greatly, and saved myself one grape out of a cluster, and one plant out of a forest.” ( 2 Esdras 9:20-21, Smith and Goodspeed Translation)
Following this gathering of His elect, Esdras is informed of great destruction that will sweep over the earth: “Let the multitude perish then, which was born in vain; and let my grape be kept, and my plant; for with great labour have I made it perfect.” (2 Esdras 9:22)
Paul refers to this gathering of the elect-that is, the grape from a cluster and the plant out of a great forest- in a message addressed to the overcomers: “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming (revealed presence) of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God (like a thief in the night, with great commotion to frighten the people): and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)
John refers to this gathering of the elect as the two witnesses stating: “The Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud (that is, into the cloud); and their enemies beheld them.” (Revelation 11:11-12)
Those who thus ascend to meet the Lord in the air will be the invited guests to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. John was informed to write, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:9) It is at that Supper with the friends of the Bridegroom present that our Lord Jesus Christ, as seen in vision by Daniel, acquires authority and power to become King of kings and Lord of lords. He will then return to earth in triumph as a world conqueror and to take over the throne of His father David and establish justice in righteousness in the earth. Thus, Daniel declares: “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:q3-14)
Daniel thus states of those who inherit the Kingdom; that is, the overcomers who ascend to meet the Lord and who will be present to witness His inauguration when He stands before the Ancient of Days: “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” (Daniel 7:27)
Following the close of the Marriage Supper is the triumphant return to earth of our Lord with the armies of heaven following Him all clothed in fine linen white and clean. When our Lord makes His presence known, prior to His triumphant return, Jesus informed His disciples that, as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth unto the west, so His presence would be made manifest. Ezekiel beheld the coming of the Glory of the Lord from the way of the east stating, as did John: “And his voice was like a noise of many waters.” (Ezekiel 43:2) Ezekiel adds another dimension to our understanding of the effect the appearing of the Sign of the Son of man, with the accompanying Glory of His Father, will have upon the earth. The Prophet declares; “The earth shined with his glory.” (Ezekiel 43:2)
Looking to the day of the coming revelation of His presence, Malachi exclaims, “Who shall stand when he appeareth?” (Malachi 3:2) John informs us that the Spirit of life from God will enable the witnesses to stand, causing great fear on those who behold them. (Revelation 11:11)
This brings to mind that, while Jesus had twelve disciples, He selected but three only from among the twelve to whom He was to reveal His coming appearance in Glory to receive His Kingdom. He called upon His disciples to deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Him. Then the assertion: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
Then looking forward to the coming day of blessing for all who conform with His instruction, Jesus exclaimed: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” (Matthew 16:27)
In order to confirm the actuality of the coming day when He would be revealed in the glory of His Father, Jesus then stated: “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28)
Following this assurance by Christ, the account states: “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up unto 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. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him...Behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were soreafraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.” (Matthew 17:1-7)
As they came down from the mountain Jesus charged them, saying: “Tell the vision to no man, until the son of man be risen again from the dead.” (Matthew 17:9)
Why did Jesus select these three disciples from the twelve to behold this vision of His coming glory and majesty? Why also did He charge them to tell no man, not even the rest of His disciples, until after He arose from the dead? Did the three who were thus selected to witness the transfiguration represent the few who, as overcomers, will be selected from among the great body of Christians as the firstfruits of the dead and living to ascend to meet the Lord in the air and to thus behold His Majesty and Glory?
Does Jesus’ instruction to tell no man until after He arose from the dead account for the general failure to acquaint Christians and their leaders today as to the coming revelation of His presence prior to the triumphant return? To a great majority of Christians, our testimony falls upon ears that cannot hear and only when the wave-sheaf resurrection becomes a reality at the time of His appearance will they heed and understand.
Let it be noted that the transfiguration revealed Christ in majesty and glory and present with Him are the privileged dead as represented by Moses and Elijah, as stated by Paul, will be changed: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52)
At that time, “we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” Peter calls for us to be diligent and to make our calling and election sure that we may gain entrance into the everlasting Kingdom. He states that we are not following cunningly devised fables when we inform you of Christ but on the contrary we were eyewitnesses of His grandeur. Peter then refers to the vision on the Mount of Transfiguration: “For having received from God His Father honour and splendour, a Voice was sent to Him from the Supreme Majesty, declaring, ‘this is My Son, My Beloved, in Whom I have delighted!’ And we heard this Voice coming from heaven when we were with Him upon the holy hill. And we possess in this prophetic message firm support, to which you will do well to pay attention, as to a lamp shining in a gloomy place, until the day dawns, and the Morning Star arises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:17-19, Ferrar Fenton Translation)
Therefore, it is clear that the three who were present when Christ said that some of them would not taste death until they saw Him in His Glory; for they did see Him Shining in His Glory on the Mountain.
It is imperative today to heed Jesus’ admonition in Luke 21:36: “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”