John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
– Revelation 1:4-7
When Jesus comes back, not everyone will be thrilled about it. He’s not returning the way he first came. Not in weakness, or human frailty, but with glory and eternal dominion. “All tribes of the earth will wail on account of him.” That paints an eerily different picture than the poppy worship song that comes to mind written from this verse.
“He’s coming on the clouds, kings and kingdoms will bow down…”
Not that the song is wrong at all. I love that song, but the giddiness of the music strikes ominous discord between the lyrics and the passage.
The return of Jesus may be good news for us, but it will not be good for everyone. I even wonder if by “all tribes” he means that believers will be wailing as well. It will be a time of great loss. Though we will understand the justice of it more than we do now, I wonder if, at that moment, those who love Jesus will also be mourning for many people they cherished.
There are many applications for this.
Who am I going to be mourning? Several people come to mind. What am I doing now, as I see the danger coming? Am I laboring for their rescue, or looking the other way?
That day of the Lord’s return will be a mixed bag of emotions. It’s ok to be somewhat nervous, or fearful of it even, as well as longing for his return. I’ve sometimes felt guilty about being a little afraid of all the change that will occur when Jesus reclaims his throne, but it seems like John is telling me I should approach the day with a sober joy, not flippant joy.
John also makes a point to remind us in this very paragraph that this king who is returning in much power is still the king who loves us. He is not coming back to deal out justice without the rest of his character. Our God is love, and he will not lay that aside when he returns.
Thank you, Lord, for preparing us as much as we can be prepared for your return. I long for the day, and I’m also anxious about all the change. I don’t want to multiply my morning when I see you appear in the sky by taking lightly my calling to bear witness about you. You are still the God of peace, even as you crush Satan underneath your feet with finality. I trust your power to transform the world into the way it was meant to be, and that you’ll be just and gracious and loving throughout the coming ages.
This post is part of my Weekly REAP series. I’m posting these from my personal journal to share what God is teaching me, and to give some practical examples of the REAP method. I didn’t write any of these with publishing in mind, so forgive me if they don’t always wax eloquent. Here is some more information on the REAP study method.