What’s the purpose in Christ revealing himself to the world?

Part of the answer lies within the question itself; to reveal to the world the Son of God whom they’ve rejected or have not seen. Yet it goes deeper than that. Aside from the obvious purpose to redeem his saints, the firstfruits of salvation, Christ also comes to seal (mark) a faithful remnant from the descendants of Israel, the 144,000 spoken of in Revelation 7. That leaves two large groups of people who are not expecting his appearance that Christ comes to confront:

  • The disobedient of Israel and Judah who’ve been cut off from the root of the olive tree which is Christ our Lord (Romans 11)
  • The disobedient Gentile nations

To get a general glimpse of this purpose, we can enumerate some of the many scriptures that focus on Christ’s return. In this case we’ll note those scriptures that impact these two groups.

ScriptureParaphraseImpacts
Daniel 2:44-45Establish an everlasting kingdom.Humanity
Daniel 7:9-14Establish his kingdom upon the earth . . . an everlasting dominion which shall never pass away.Humanity
Zechariah 14:1-15Usher in the “Day of the Lord” to fight against those gathered against Jerusalem and IsraelJerusalem, Israel
Isaiah 31:4-9The Lord comes down to fight for mount Zion, to deliver, rescue, and help in JerusalemIsrael, Jerusalem
Matthew 13:41-43The final judgement upon the worldHumanity
Matthew 24:27,29-30To reveal himself to the world, who will see him coming in great power and glory.Humanity
Jude 1:14-15Come with tens of thousands of his saints to execute judgment and to punish all who are ungodly.Humanity
Revelation 1:7Come and reveal himself to all, even those who pierced him, and all nations of the earth shall mourn over him.Humanity
Revelation 19:11-21He returns on a white horse in righteousness
He judges and makes war
To smite the nations and rule with a rod of iron
To execute the wrath of Almighty God
Humanity
Revelation 22:12Coming to repay each according to his workHumanity
Christ’s Goals at his Return for Israel, Jerusalem, and the World

Clearly these are not in any particular order, and represent some of the things Christ will accomplish upon his return. Let’s start with the most relevant to the question.

Matthew 24:27,29-30
27 “For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

So significant is the visual appearance of our Lord, that preceding it is a great earthquake which will darken the skies, the sun, and the moon, and shake the earth like a fig tree shaken by a gale-force wind (Revelation 6:12-14). With the backdrop of the heavens darkened, the glorious appearance of our Lord, brighter than lightening, appears for all the world to see.

For those who’ve been looking for their Lord’s return, this is the fulfillment of their hope for glory; the glory of their Lord displayed, and the glory which he brings for them (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15; Colossians 3:4; 1 Peter 1:3-9). But is the glory of our Lord intended only for these firstfruits of salvation? What of the rest of humanity, the two groups remaining? We’re probably certain from our expectations of judgment upon the disobedient and wicked, what the Lord intends for the world. But is that viewpoint a complete one? Not if we consider a broader context.

In Christ’s prayer to the Father before his death, he speaks of the unity for those God has called to himself, to see and receive the Son of Man as the Son of God. Yet in that prayer, deeply immersed in the will of the Father, is another realization often overlooked. (Fourth Gospel 17)(1)

Fourth Gospel 17:20-26
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

In this prayer of our High Priest a contrast is drawn between those whom God has called to know him and the world which doesn’t know him. Those called by God to know him are called into a unity with Christ that ultimately leads them to dwell in the fullness of Christ and his glory through the resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:16-19,42-50).

If we read more intently, we can see that these firstfruits of salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13) are not the only intended recipients for the knowledge of who and what God is in Christ. The firstfruits of salvation are simply the first example of this reality. We’re told who the secondary recipients of this knowledge will be:

  • so that the world may believe that you have sent me (vs 21)
  • so that the world may know that you sent me (vs 23)
  • and that you did love them, the chosen, just as you loved me (vs 23)

Clearly the destruction of the disobedient and wicked brought through God’s wrath is not the primary goal, but the revelation of God in Christ is. Christ’s judgment of the nations begins when he establishes his kingdom on the earth, a kingdom with no end. The disobedient and wicked in the world must come to realize that Christ’s righteous judgment, which leads to life eternal, is only true for those willing to surrender to God’s will and Christ’s Lordship personally. For many, that realization will only come on the other side of death, when they are resurrected to mortal life and confronted with Christ’s righteous judgment. This is when the books are opened. (Micah 4:1-5; Romans 5:18-21; 8:32; 16:25-27; Revelation 20:11-13)

God’s Plan for Israel

The plans God has for Israel as a people are extensive, so we won’t go into much depth in this article, but we can focus on a few highlights. The primary focus, however, is God’s intention to fulfill his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s descendants in spite of their unfaithfulness. He remains faithful even though they did not. This is one of the methods God will use to reveal the truth about himself, so that they too will know who alone is the Lord.

 A Time of Correction 

To get an understanding of where that plan is at now and how the appearance of Yeshua, the Christ, relates to it, we can start with Luke’s account of Christ’s warning to the rulers and authorities in Jerusalem of their pending fate. Their rejection of the Messiah sealed their fate for millennia to come. In addition, Yeshua was well aware of the change he was bringing to the nature of Godly worship (Fourth Gospel 4:21-26), and how the physical forms of worship were insufficient to the spiritual result God intended. The pending destruction of the temple in A.D.70, proclaimed by their Messiah (Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:5-6), is just the beginning.

Luke  21:20-24
20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

There are several points Christ makes about his plans for Judah (this people) that we don’t want to overlook. They involve the scope of correction for Judah and Jerusalem, and when that correction comes to an end.

  • These are days of vengeance to fulfill all that is written
  • Wrath against this people
  • They will fall by the sword
  • They are led captive among all the nations
  • Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles

Note the important range of time that Christ gives for this correction; from the time the temple is destroyed until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Though a remnant of Israel and Judah have been called into Christ, the majority remain, what the apostle Paul calls, enemies of the gospel due to unbelief (Romans 11:17-24,28).

To discover more about the plans Christ has for Israel, when the times of the Gentiles ends, and its relationship to the mystery of God, read my recent book –
The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View

Paul also clarifies that Israel as a whole, if it does not remain in this state of unbelief, can be grafted again into the olive tree that is rooted in Christ our Lord (Romans 11:11-12,15,23-24). This understanding comes from the promises made to them as God’s chosen people. Promises which God intends to fulfill in spite of their disobedience.

To Lead Israel & Judah to Repentance

Israel and Judah’s disobedience became the means by which God would open the pathway to righteousness through faith in Christ to the Gentiles. That serves to unite the two through their disobedience (Romans 9:30-33; 11:28-31). More importantly it will unite them together in God’s grace – For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all (Romans 11:32).

To lead disobedient Israel and Judah into repentance, there are a couple of realizations they will need to come to see, and the Lord will lead them to see it:

  • Your idols cannot save you (Jeremiah 2:26-28; 10:11)
  • Your salvation is in the Lord your Righteousness

For the religious leaders in Jerusalem and Judea of Christ’s day, their own oral tradition had become an idol, leading them further from the truth of God, preventing them from embracing the Messiah sent to them (Matthew 5:20-38; 21:23-27,42-46; Fourth Gospel 5:18,37-47).

Even before their time, God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah of a future time when they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, but only after they’ve been disciplined.

Jeremiah 30:8-11
8 “And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him. 9 But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.

10 “Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the Lord,
    nor be dismayed, O Israel;
for behold, I will save you from far away,
    and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
    and none shall make him afraid.
11 For I am with you to save you,
declares the Lord;
I will make a full end of all the nations
    among whom I scattered you,
    but of you I will not make a full end.
I will discipline you in just measure,
    and I will by no means leave you unpunished.

Yet the Lord intends good for them after they’ve recognized their sin, and he will make them prosperous again in their own land.

Jeremiah 23:5-6 (Jeremiah 33:14-16)
5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

This will lead to the return of dispersed Israel and Judah to their own land from the many nations where the Lord has driven them; a greater exodus than that from Egypt.

Jeremiah 23:7-8 (Jeremiah 30:3; 32:37-38)
7 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 8 but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.”

To Give Israel & Judah a New Heart 

There is a time yet future when the Lord will be the God of all the clans of Israel and Judah, and all their cities shall dwell together in peace. The Lord will watch over them to no longer pluck up and break down, but to build and to plant (Jeremiah 31:1-30).

Yet the blessing of the Lord will not stop there, for he intends to go beyond the covenant he made with their forefathers, and make with them a covenant which leads to eternal life in Christ, their Messiah.

Jeremiah 31:31-34
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Israel and Judah will no longer endure the shame of the nations because the Lord will turn their shame into honor and glory (Joel 2:18-27), and they will be an example to the nations at a time when the Lord our Righteousness rules (Isaiah 49:22-23; 66:18-23; Joel 3:17-21).

God’s Plan for the Nations

In an effort to redeem his name among the nations, God repaid Israel and Judah with wrath (Ezekiel 20:33-39; Luke 21:22-24), but in the end he will have mercy on them (Ezekiel 20:40-44). Ezekiel goes so far as to record repeatedly the connection between God’s redemption of Israel and the restoration of his name among the nations.

Ezekiel 36:22-28
22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

In cleansing Israel from her ungodliness and restoring her amidst his favor, God will demonstrate to the nations the faithfulness of his covenants, not only with Israel, but with all humanity. It seems a reasonable question to inquire as to why God is concerned about his name among the nations if his final judgment upon them is destruction?

Ezekiel 39:21-24
21 “And I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid on them. 22 The house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God, from that day forward. 23 And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity, because they dealt so treacherously with me that I hid my face from them and gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and they all fell by the sword24 I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their transgressions, and hid my face from them.

If we recall from our Lord’s prayer prior to his death (Fourth Gospel 17), he was reflecting God’s will when he claimed who the secondary recipients of the knowledge of the Father would be:

  • so that the world may believe that you have sent me (vs 21)
  • so that the world may know that you sent me (vs 23)
  • and that you did love them, the chosen, just as you loved me (vs 23)

By showing his willingness to correct his disobedient, chosen people, God also confirms his faithfulness in forgiving their sin when they acknowledge it, and more than that he will pour out mercy and grace with abundance in this life, and hope for their future. It doesn’t take a converted heart to recognize the example God is setting for the nations in his treatment of Israel (Ezekiel 36:21-28,33-36; Isaiah 62). It’s a necessary process as his son, Yeshua, leads the world into the truth and knowledge of God (Fourth Gospel 17:6-26).

Ezekiel 37:24-28
24 “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. 25 They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”

To achieve this feat of leading the nations to obedience to God, Yeshua will repeat a similar process with them that he has with Israel:

  • To correct the nations by avenging the blood of the saints and the oppression of Israel
    (Isaiah 14:1-11,22-23,24-27; Isaiah 34)
  • To break the pride of the nations and lead them toward repentance
    (Psalm 9:11-20; Isaiah 2; 13:9-22; 24; Jeremiah 25:15-38)
  • Make the Son of God known in all the earth
    (Psalm 67; 110; Isaiah 41; 42:1-9; 52:13-15)
  • Redeem the earth and his people
    (Isaiah 25; 42; 45:18-25; 49:6; Jeremiah 3:17-18)

All this God will accomplished when the Lord rules upon the earth (Psalm 22:27-31; 46:6-10; 47; 96; 98; 102:12-22).

Conclusions

The work of God in Christ was first to redeem all humanity through his death and resurrection. The work that remains isn’t one of judgment for the sake of vengeance, but for the completion of the kingdom to be handed over by Christ to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:20-26). Sin has been resolved, so that when our Lord returns it will be to complete his work to lead Israel and the nations into obedience to God. This involves humbling those who would oppose God, yet always providing the opportunity for repentance (Revelation 2; 3; 8; 9; 14)

Romans 16:25-27
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.



There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.

To discover more about what the work of God in Christ Jesus tells us about the fall of Adam, look for my coming book –

The Mystery of God in Christ Jesus: the New Creation from Beginning to End

Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
  2. God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity
    1. A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
    2. Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
    3. All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
  3. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death.
    1. The death spoken of in God’s command to Adam – in dying you shall surely die does not refer to spiritual death, but the second death – which results in separation from God and from which there is no hope of resurrection.
      (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:14-21; 5:24; 6:40; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6, 14-15)
  4. God is not calling the entire world to repentance at this time – the time of the Gentiles. (Luke 21:23-24)
    1. It is only given to some to hear and believe (Matthew 13:10-13; Mark 4:10-12; 1 Corinthians 1:22-24; Ephesians 1:3-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10)
    2. The elect of God are a subset called out of the world (Matthew 24:22,31; Romans 1:1-6; 8:28; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2)
    3. Some are created as vessels of dishonor at this time (Romans 9:14-15, 20-24; Luke 23:35)
    4. God’s elect are the first to be saved. Those who are the firstfruits are not the only ones who will be led to obedience in Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 2:9-10; Ephesians 1:11-13; Romans 8:23,29; Hebrews 12:22-24; James 1:17-18; Revelation 20:4-6)
    5. Israel’s descendants will receive the new covenant that leads to everlasting life after Christ sets up his earthly kingdom. (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 11:17-20; Joel 2:1, 28-32; Romans 11:11-15, 25-27)

Footnotes:

  1. Due to the dispute over the authorship of the Fourth Gospel, traditionally attributed to John, I will refer to this book as the Fourth Gospel. I have concluded on the side of such authors like J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved.

Follow My Blog

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.

Published by GMajella

Husband, father, and author on theological topics, with a focus on the underlying presuppositions which either cloud or enhance our view of reality. My focus is to challenge and guide fellow Christians into a deeper knowledge of God; his work, his will, and his overall purpose. My primary methods will be through books, blogs, and virtual or personal events.

We welcome collaboration with other members of the Body of Christ. Please leave a reply