What Does “Great Glory” in Bible Prophecy Really Refer to?
After a Bible study meeting, Pastor Huang left hurriedly, clutching the Bible under his arm. I and several other co-workers began to talk about today’s meeting. Sister Li looked thoughtful and said: “Brothers and sisters, all these years we have been waiting to welcome the coming of the Lord. According to what the pastors say, we watch and pray, look up to the sky, and wait for the Lord to come upon white clouds with great glory and to take us up into the kingdom of heaven. But year after year, disasters become ever greater. The four blood moons have appeared. Yet, why haven’t we seen the Lord come upon the clouds with great glory? These days, I am thinking: Is the way of our waiting for the Lord right? If there is something wrong leading us to miss the Lord’s return, then isn’t our belief in Him all in vain? I attended the wedding ceremony of my niece yesterday and heard several brothers in the Lord talking in a low voice. They said the Lord has returned to flesh and is doing a stage of new work of judging man and purifying man through His words …”
Sister Zhao hurried to interrupt her: “Impossible! Matthew 24:30 says clearly, ‘And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.’ The Lord shall definitely return by descending on clouds in His glory and with His angels. At that time, all people on earth could witness the Lord’s return.”
Sister Wang agreed with her: “That’s right. The Gospel of Matthew 25:31 tells us clearly, ‘When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory.’ I’m sure the Lord will come again with His authority and power. The scene will be very spectacular: The Lord Jesus shall be sitting on His glory throne with majesty, and all people on earth will be bending the knee to Him, worshiping Him, and accepting Him as the only true God.”
At this moment, brother Chen took the thread of the conversation and said seriously, “As to these verses of the Lord’s second coming with great glory, I don’t think we should simply receive them literally. Besides, we need to ponder their inner meanings. Because the Bible says, ‘Who also has made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life’ (2 Corinthians 3:6). These years, I’ve been thinking of this question: If the Lord really comes upon white clouds with great glory, it’s obvious that all people will kneel down and leap in joy. But why does the Lord say, ‘And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn’? (Matthew 24:30). I think ‘great glory’ here should contain some unfathomable mystery …”
Instantly, we several brothers and sisters all focused our eyes on brother Chen. I became confused: Brother Chen said that the spectacular scene of the Lord’s descending upon the clouds with great glory came from our imaginations. That reminded me of a scripture: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). “The light of the glory of God” mentioned here did not refer to the glorious light which could be seen with our naked eyes, but the glory that the Lord Jesus gained by defeating Satan and successfully redeeming us from the death and Hades of the Law. So, “the glory” in the prediction of the Lord’s descending again with great glory seem to contain mystery? Thinking of that, I asked curiously, “Hey, Brother Chen, how do you receive ‘great glory’ here? Hurry up to fellowship with us, please.”
Brother Chen continued, “Regarding the real meaning of the ‘great glory’ said by God, I studied some verses and saw the Lord Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John 12:23–24, ‘The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it stays alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit.’ And John 17:1, ‘Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you.’ From these verses, we can clearly see the ‘glory’ of God in the Age of Grace means that the work of redemption was completed through the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion. The Lord Jesus lived in the flesh for thirty-three and a half years, bore men’s cruel persecution and great humiliations in silence. Finally, He accomplished the work of redeeming mankind at the expense of being nailed His holy and innocent flesh to the cross, and saved men from lifeless laws. And thereby the gospel of the Lord spread throughout the world. The believers who followed the Lord and prayed to Him could be forgiven of their sins and enjoy the grace and blessings bestowed by the Lord. That was a part of glory obtained in His incarnation. So the Lord Jesus said ‘It is finished.’ on the cross, that is, God had completed a stage of redemptive work and thus gained glory. Obviously, the ‘glory’ here means God has completed His work and His work has achieved a result, rather than the outward majesty and splendor in our imagination.”
I suddenly understood it and said, “Hearing what you said, I am a little clear. The ‘glory’ turns out to be the result achieved by the completion of God’s work instead of the splendid pictures formed in our mind. The glory we think is vastly different from the actual glory of God! It seems that on the matter of welcoming the Lord’s second coming, we cannot guess and define God’s work by imagination any longer; we should urgently seek the actual meaning of God’s appearance with glory in the last days. Otherwise, if we still keep looking up to the clouds in the sky, the consequences will be unimaginable: We won’t even know we miss meeting the Lord when He comes.”
Sister Li said earnestly, “Right! It offends God’s disposition to define God’s work by our conceptions and notions. It’s easy to be forsaken by God. Now we should seek what work God is going to do when the Lord descends again. Only in this way can we follow the footsteps of the Lord.”
Brother Chen said excitedly, “Thank the Lord! In the Age of the Grace, God just gained a part of glory. In the last days, God will receive greater glory, then what work will be done in order to receive glory completely when the Lord returns? I search many chapters of the Bible and find the Lord Jesus predicted long ago: ‘I am come a light into the world, that whoever believes on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:46–48). 1 Peter 4:17 mentions, ‘For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God’ (1 Peter 4:17). From these verses, we can see when the Lord returns in the last days, He will express the truth to judge man. In the Age of Grace, the Lord only redeemed us. Though our sins have been forgiven, our sinful nature is still deeply rooted within us, so that we live in the state of committing sins in the daytime and confessing them at night, and are not completely gained by God yet. Thus, the Lord comes back to do the work of judgment beginning at the house of God, to completely save us from Satan’s domain, and to purify and transform us to be those who thoroughly obey God, worship God, and love God. Only in so doing can we be worthy to enter into God’s kingdom and then God will gain all the glory. Hence, when the Lord appears to the public with ‘great glory,’ the work of judgment in the last days will have been accomplished. At that time, God will have purified and perfected a group of overcomers. They will be raptured before God’s throne of glory; the others who resist God, condemn God’s work, and who don’t accept God’s work of judgment will be destroyed in the great disasters. This is the reason why the Lord says, ‘And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory’ (Mat 24:30). So, if we missed the opportunity of the Lord’s work of judgment and were unable to be purified and perfected, I’m afraid we would beat upon our breasts and weep unceasingly when the Lord appears with glory. So, wherever God’s work of judgment in the last days is testified, we should hurry to find it, seek and investigate humbly. Only in this way can we gain the opportunity of being purified and perfected by the Lord, and be qualified to be taken into the glorious kingdom. Just as Revelation 2:7 says: ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the middle of the paradise of God.’”
At this moment, we suddenly saw the light, and felt that Brother Chen’s fellowship regarding the practical meaning of the Lord’s coming back with “great glory” in the last day was really full of enlightenment and well-founded. This also allowed us to have a correct goal and direction in welcoming the return of the Lord. Thank God for His guidance!
At this point, Sister Li said with remorse, “Alas … It seems that we had a muddled belief in the past. We wait for the Lord’s return by our imaginations and according to the superficial meaning of the Bible. If we keep waiting bitterly and do nothing, we will surely be foolish virgins and lose the salvation of the Lord. Yesterday I heard several brothers say the Lord has come back, and done the work of judging and purifying man through God’s word — that seems to be true. We shall arrange a time and invite them to fellowship with brothers and sisters, so as to investigate whether or not the Lord has returned and done a stage of new work.” I nodded approvingly.
While Sister Zhao and Sister Wang turned back angrily, we several co-workers all agreed to seek and investigate, since the Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:3).
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