Glory and Judgment
For I know their works and their thoughts; the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory. (Isaiah 66:18)
I am rather certain that I could continue to discover more and more strong links between the two chapters I am looking at that were initially connected by the quotations of Jesus near the end of Mark 9. As I sat and meditated on both of them again this morning I saw yet another compelling detail that reminded me of the multiplicity of the function of prophecies. In fact, there is a rather consistent pattern of many prophecies generally being indicative of at least three main applications, and many times those three or more applications involve the life of Jesus as one of them.
In this case I can see that the above verse could easily be focused on three main times in history in relation to the great war between Christ and Satan. The first of these particular three could have been the events that are reported in Mark 9 where Jesus stated at the very beginning that some would see His kingdom coming in power. This power was at least partly descriptive of the glory that three of His disciples beheld in the very next verses as Jesus was transfigured before their stunned vision.
I have felt for some time that another of the applications of this verse points to the final day of full revelation of the glory of God as His ultimate glory is finally revealed and the full intensity of His beauty and perfect character of love is so fully exposed that anyone in the universe who has not allowed themselves to be fully synchronized with that intense purity will be overwhelmed by His power and will be destroyed from the intensity of it.
But this morning I noticed a third application that well may belong in this set of prophetic references. There is another significant time in history where the glory of God is going to be displayed in a most amazing and attractive manner and that will take place in such a way as to attract millions, maybe even billions of people to come to believe and trust in the goodness and grace of God before it is too late.
This stunning time in history is going to happen very shortly before the second coming of Jesus at the end of this world's history as we now think of it. This time of revealing of God's great glory is spelled out in the first verses of Revelation 18 and symbolized in the analogy of a great angel coming to fill the whole earth with the glory of God.
I don't believe that this glory is necessarily the same kind of physical light that the disciples were overwhelmed with on the mount of transfiguration, although that may certainly at times be involved. I have come to understand over the years that the deeper meaning of the glory of God is a revelation of the real truth about His character of love, kindness, compassion and true justice. When the real truth about God is once again demonstrated in the lives of human beings who have so abandoned themselves over to the absolute possession of Jesus Christ living within their hearts, they will emulate the perfect character of God in the spirit of compulsive kindness, compassion, love, mercy and true justice in a way that has never been seen since the Son of God Himself lived on this planet.
When Jesus is demonstrated through the lives and witness of a select group of people in the last days, it will be clearly seen by all that it is totally possible for anyone to be perfected into the full character and maturity of God's original design for human beings created in His image if they will embrace the grace of God. In addition, there will not be seen any taint of self-righteousness marring that beautiful revelation of glory. And as the lives of thousands of people totally given over to the control of the Holy Spirit living out in their daily lives the same kind of testimony about God's character just as Jesus did when He was on this earth, the resistance against God's goodness in the hearts of others who refuse this testimony will become fierce and violent. But at the same time, all those who have not hardened their hearts against God's goodness will be drawn to respond to the grace demonstrated in the lives of these representatives of Christ on earth and there will be an ingathering of souls such as has never been witnessed since the beginning of this earth's history.
This is born out in the verses following here in Isaiah 66 where it describes events that I believe will happen just before Jesus comes and the final closing of earth's period of probation. As Jesus lives out His own life and demonstrates His perfect character of love under fire from the hearts of all those who have totally submitted to His control and His presence in their lives, the reaction upon the rest of the world is going to be both electrifying and extremely polarizing at the same time. Everyone will be compelled to take a stand on one side or the other and there will never again be any middle ground of indecision or ambiguity about who's side we are on.
These verses in Isaiah also alert me to the fact that most of God's true children who are going to be saved are likely outside of what many consider to be Christ-based religions in this world. Just as the Jews reading this passage would tend to feel scandalized by the inference that people from all these heathen nations will come to worship and some of them will even be selected to act as levites and Priests before God, so too, in the last days I believe that millions, if not billions of people will suddenly be discovered to be true in heart and earnest in their searching for God and for real truth.
But the effect of these people emerging as true believers who were formerly despised by the Christian world as hopelessly lost because of the religions they come from, as they are seen coming into fellowship with true Christians who themselves seem terribly out of step with the mainstream of popular Christian thinking, all of this will combine to produce a situation that will cause the worst persecution in history to break out. I also believe, based on my emerging understanding of other prophecies in Revelation, that this persecution may well result in such horrendous levels of bloodshed that we could hardly wrap our minds around it or bring ourselves to even believe it if we were to be more fully aware of it today.
But God is not so much in the business of trying to keep people alive in their current situations as He is preparing willing people to embrace His true salvation and be admitted into His more glorious kingdom of the future. That will be assembled more completely during the millenium after Jesus comes the second time. God has a plan that will once again prepare a people to even more fully express His glory one last final time, and it will evidently take one thousand years to complete the growth and maturing of His chosen ones to prepare all those who are saved to be ready for the final exposé of the day of Judgment. That day will be the final and greatest time of full revelation of the glory of God when all the nations of the earth will be confronted all at the same time with the full and real truth about who God is and what He is really like.
So, in these three instances referred to that I see in this prophecy, I see a progressive size in the magnitude of the perfect revelation of God's glory. The first time was in the perfect representation of what God is really like in the life and teachings of Jesus when He lived among us here on this earth. The second time will be a very similar revelation of God's character, but this time in the lives of possibly 144,000 people during the last days of history as we know it that will draw into God's family possibly billions of other new believers who will respond to the ministry of this special group of people just as many responded to the outreach of Jesus previously.
Then, as the final and greatest fulfillment of this prophecy, I can foresee a grand and full revelation of God's character in the final day of Judgment. This is going to take place after the millenium when all of humanity, indeed, all of the created beings who have ever existed will be assembled together for the final display of the real glory of God. At that time God's people will be ready to fully reflect the more complete revelation of the real truth about God as He unveils Himself and that glory will either light up the lives of all those prepared to receive it fully or it will meet with such resistance that most will be overcome by that glory and will suffer the pain and destruction that resistance always creates.
We have the opportunity right now to make decisions as to which direction our lives will move toward and which side we will end up on in that day. Everyone of us will be there whether we want to or whether we believe it or not. All will face the judgment seat of Christ. The question before each of us is whether we will allow God to transform and heal and supplant our rebellious hearts with His perfect heart of love or whether we will choose some other conducive path to find life. There is only one door into the kingdom of God and one Source of life, but it may be found to be rather different than what most Christians think it is at this point.
Jesus is the only door to life and to salvation. But the kind of belief that is needed to be saved through Him is not nearly so much an intellectual exercise or a subscription to a dogmatic set of doctrines as it is a willingness to humble ourselves and allow our hearts to be healed and awakened and our affections to be aroused to respond to fresh revelations about how God really feels about us right now. This can actually be taking place secretly in the hearts of millions of Muslims, Hindus, Communists and all sorts of other people where we might least expect it to be happening. When we allow prejudice and bigotry to dwell in our hearts against such people, it may be seen too late, that our own pride and prejudice in thinking that we have the only 'truth' will itself be the cause of our own souls being lost in the end while those we despised may go into heaven instead of us.
Father, please remove all prejudice from my heart today. Give me the eyes of heaven instead of my distorted vision of who is right and who is wrong. Pluck out my messed up eyes and give me the eyes of heaven to see others as You view them. Live Your life of selfless love and real, spontaneous compassion through me so that I can be one of those who are prepared to reflect Your incredible glory anytime it is more fully exposed.