Moses and the elders of the newborn nation of Israel saw Him on top of Mt. Sinai (Ex. 24:9-11); Isaiah later beheld His glory during a time of national crisis (Isa. 6; Jn. 12:37-41); John and the other apostles were eye-witnesses to His majesty as well (Matt. 17:1-13; Jn. 1:14, 18; 2 Cor. 12:1-4; 2 Pet. 1:16). And, now, we who are alive at the end of the age await our turn to see Him as He is, so that we may also become like Him in glory (Php. 3:20-21; Col. 1:27; 1 Jn. 3:2).
Why is the hope described by Paul in Titus 2:13 so blessed? Read on, because the “blessed hope” is connected to “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” All right, that sounds good. But a sincere believer might be asking, “Now that we see the signs of God’s day of judgment fast approaching, does this mean my hope is less-than-blessed in some way?” By no means! Part of your pre-trib privilege is seeing Jesus first, ahead of the rest of the world:
…[t]hose who believe without seeing are blessed” (Jn. 20:29).
And Peter echoes:
“You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy…” (1 Pet. 1:8).
Rejoice, brother. Be blessed, sister. Your help is on the way. Your Savior is coming, and He is coming to rescue you from His own wrath reserved for an unbelieving world (Jn. 3:36; Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10; Rev. 3:10).
The Last Will Be First
The Bible is full of paradoxes. As defined by Oxford Dictionaries, a paradox is: a seemingly absurd or contradictory statement or proposition which when investigated may prove to be well founded or true. Jesus revealed to His disciples many paradoxical statements that went against popular belief, and it was these hard-to-stomach truths that caused many to trust in Him and others to walk away from Him entirely (Jn. 6:60-69).
In a previous post Gary wrote about one particular paradox that relates to the resurrection and rapture of the Church (see here). The gospel writers record Jesus saying, “The last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matt. 19:30; 20:16; Mk. 10:31; Lk. 13:30). In a surprising turn of events, it will be the Gentile-dominant body of Christ who will see Jesus first; then, at last, the remnant of Israel and the rest of the world will see Him…much to the dismay of many who have already taken the mark of the Beast.
A foolish nation is taken first (Deut. 32:21; Isa. 66:7-8). It’s God’s gracious gift to an undeserving people but a blasphemous thought to the self-righteous Pharisee. It might sound too-good-to-be-true at times, but, regardless of our wavering opinions, those of us in the body of Christ will have the unique blessing of beholding the Lamb in heaven while the nations of the earth fawn over their own “savior” below.
And now that everything is coming down to the wire, the people of earth must choose between the Lamb and the Beast. These two figures will face-off during the final showdown, and to a deceived and unsuspecting world, the Beast will seem like a sure-thing. Vegas will bet money on him…if Sin City is still around by Armageddon.
Who is the ultimate champion of the world? To answer that question, we must understand a related paradox to “the last will be first,” namely, the least will be greatest (c.f. Matt. 23:11; Lk. 9:48). The Beast along with all the armies of the world will assemble together to prevent Jesus from taking Jerusalem. But all the aircraft carriers, cruise missiles, super-soldiers and stealth bombers in the world can’t stop the Christ and His armies. In the eyes of the world, it will be the greatest upset of all-time.
I’ve always appreciated a good underdog victory in a lopsided match-up. Let’s size-up the competition and get the stats for both the Lamb and the Beast. You’ll find some interesting comparisons, but one monumental difference: The Lamb is truly the GOAT (Greatest of All Time). Sorry, Ali. (Click to Site)