The final book of the Bible is also about an unveiling. Yet unlike Oz who truly was all smoke and mirrors, the unveiling of Jesus in His glorious state, will be anything but a fairy tale. God has been revealing Himself to mankind throughout the grand story of Scripture. In the first chapters of Genesis He has intimately revealed Himself in the garden (Gen. 1:26-27, 2:7-8, 15), but that relationship is quickly severed by disobedience and sin (Gen. 3:8). Consequently God’s revelation of Himself becomes more selective after that. While some people have a close connection with God (Enoch, Abraham and Moses come to mind), others can “see” Him in the world He created (Rom. 1:20). During the wilderness wanderings He is visible in a miraculous but tangible way (Ex. 13:21; Num. 14:14; Neh. 9:12, 19). Later on His glory is seen at the Temple (1 Ki. 8:10-11), and He voice is “heard” through His prophets (1 Ki. 18:1; Is. 6:8-9; Jer. 1:1-7; Ez. 6:1, 11:14). God however is not satisfied with the restrictive constraints that sin has placed between Himself and His creation. Once again, He seeks to dwell among His people, but this time as one of them (Jn. 1:14), and through His Son, He does just that (Col. 1:15).
God Incarnate (lit. God in the flesh) does not appear to be God at all (Is. 53:2) during His sojourn amongst the people He comes to redeem, and only for a brief moment do those who live by His side actually see His glorious personage revealed (Mt. 17:1-9; Mk. 9:1-9; Lk. 9:28-36). In a fashion exactly opposite of “the Great and Powerful Oz”, the first revelation of Christ is understated and His divine attributes are mostly hidden (Lk. 8:22-25). But His second revelation will literally pull back the curtain of His humanity and reveal His glorious nature in all its fullness (Mt. 16:27, 25:31-33; 1 Thes. 4:19; 2 Thes. 1:7; Rev. 1:7).
The Apocalypse, or Revelation of Jesus Christ, is generally understood to be the mass destruction and upheaval which takes place on earth as God metes out His wrath on those who have rejected Him and affirms those who suffer for their faith. However, that is not the meaning of the word. Instead, apokalupsis is derived from the verb which literally means “to remove a veil or covering exposing to open view what was before hidden”. It can also mean “to make manifest or reveal a thing previously secret or unknown” as illustrated in Lk. 2:35 and 1 Cor. 3:13. It is particularly applied to the supernatural in passages like Mt. 11:25, 27 and 1 Cor. 2:10. Apokalupsis is one of three words used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ (1 Cor. 1:7; 2 Thes. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:7, 13). It is a grander and more comprehensive word than the other two words used concerning this event (epiphaneia- appearing & parousia-coming) because it emphasizes not only the thing shown and seen but the interpretation of the same. Christ’s first coming was “epiphaneia” (2 Tim. 1:10). His second is far more glorious!
A lot will be said at this time of year about the lowly infant child born in humble circumstances to a mother with a tainted reputation thanks to her pregnancy before the betrothal period was over. The helpless state of that little baby will be compared to Who He truly was. We will be focused on His first “advent”, His “epiphany”. Perhaps this year we might remember that His humble birth was only the beginning of the story. And while He graciously set aside His true nature while on this Earth (Phil. 2:5-11), when He returns to it, He will return in all His fullness. It is our inclination to think of Christ as “one of us” and to an extent He was and He needed to be (sacrificially speaking- Gal. 4:4-5). But He is also the Son of God (Col. 1:19, 2:9; Heb. 1:3) and therein He is also greatly different from us! Instead of a simpering and meek country peddler hiding behind a theatrical machine like the Wizard of Oz, when Christ returns there will be no question as to Who He is and His power. Perhaps this Christmas it’s time to give Him His proper place in our lives; not as a sweet little baby that we sing pretty songs about, but as the Lord of All who will one day reign over all (Acts 2:36, 10:36; Rom. 10:12) as the Book of Revelation proclaims (Rev. 1:12-18, 5:6-14, 19:11-16, 20:4, 6).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 12/27/2015