The return of Jesus Christ will be the most profound occurrence of all time. Christ’s revelation will set into motion a chain if events that will forever change the affairs of men on earth. But what exactly is the revelation of Christ?
As the word implies, the revelation has to do with the revealing or unveiling of Jesus. To unveil means to make manifest something or someone that was previously hidden or kept secret. So, the unveiling of Christ is when he reveals himself to his chosen ones. Afterwards they will then not only become eyewitnesses of his manifestation, but also sharers in his glory; even as the apostle John assured us at 1 John 3:2, where he wrote: “Beloved ones, now we are children of God, but as yet it has not been made manifest what we shall be. We do know that whenever he is made manifest we shall be like him, because we shall see him just as he is.”
The parousia, the manifestation of Christ and the revelation of Jesus are essentially all the same thing. The apostle Paul used such terms interchangeably. For example, at 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 Paul indicated that the parousia is the end of our faith; a time when anointed Christians will be made to stand before the judgment seat: “Moreover, may the Lord cause you to increase, yes, make you abound, in love to one another and to all, even as we also do to you; to the end that he may make your hearts firm, unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the presence of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.”
At 1st Corinthians 1:7-9 Paul makes a similar statement as regards the end of our faith and our being found guiltless before God, only instead of saying this will occur “at the presence of our Lord,” Paul wrote of “the revelation of our Lord,”saying: “…while you are eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also make you firm to the end, that you may be open to no accusation in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into a sharing with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”
At 1 Timothy 6:13-14, Paul again refers to Christians standing before God in blamelessness, only he connects it to an event called “the manifestation of our Lord.” Paul wrote: “…In the sight of God, who preserves all things alive, and of Christ Jesus, who as a witness made the fine public declaration before Pontius Pilate, I give you orders that you observe the commandment in a spotless and irreprehensible way until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
That the Christ will be revealed or manifested before the eyes of the surviving chosen ones on earth prior to their resurrection is implicitly stated in the apostolic writings. 1 Peter 1:7-9 reads: “…in order that the tested quality of your faith, of much greater value than gold that perishes despite its being proved by fire, may be found a cause for praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you never saw him, you love him. Though you are not looking upon him at present, yet you exercise faith in him and are greatly rejoicing with an unspeakable and glorified joy, as you receive the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
The expression “though you are not looking upon him at present” surely implies that during the revelation of Christ anointed Christians will look upon him in some fashion. The question though, is, will Christians be made to look upon him merely by being transferred to heaven or will Christ reveal himself to the chosen ones while they are still in the flesh?
Continuing in his letter to Timothy, (quoted above) Paul wrote: “This manifestation the happy and only Potentate will show in its own appointed times, he the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords, the one alone having immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom not one of men has seen or can see.” 1 Timothy 6:15-16
Paul indicates that Jesus “will show” himself by means of what is called “the manifestation.” Synonyms for “manifestation” are an appearance, display, a revelation, materialization and phenomenon. These various terms indicate that the manifestation of Jesus Christ will take place in the earthly realm and not in heaven for the obvious reason that Jesus’ glory is already manifest to the angels in the spirit dimension. Besides, why would Christ need to reveal himself to resurrected immortal spirits in heaven? A visible manifestation of Christ only makes sense in relation to flesh upon the earth.
Although, as the scripture says, Jesus “dwells in unapproachable light,whom not one of men has seen or can see,” we should not suppose that the revelation of Christ precludes the chosen ones from seeing his manifestation. After all, Paul saw a glimpse of Jesus’ post-ascension blinding glory, which he later explained was due to his being born prematurely; meaning that Paul saw a preview of Jesus as he will manifest himself at the appointed time.
The revelation of Jesus to his chosen ones will serve a vital legal purpose by providing actual eyewitnesses to Jesus’ presence. As it stands presently, though, few of Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to realize that the Watchtower’s 1914 invisible parousia teaching violates one of Jehovah’s most basic legal precepts; that being, the foundational principle that no legal matter can be established except upon the testimony of two or three witnesses. That injunction was part of the Mosaic Law. It was also incorporated into the law of Christ. That being the case, the enigmatic “two witnesses” of Revelation are likely intended to fulfill the scriptural requirement of two witnesses during the manifestation of Jesus.
Jehovah followed his own established principles in providing multiple eyewitnesses to the resurrection and ascension of Christ. And prior to that, Peter, James and John were also eyewitnesses to the glorious transfiguration of Christ, which, as the apostle Peter later explained, was a foregleam of “the power and presence (parousia) of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
But if Christ’s parousia began in 1914, who among Jehovah’s Witnesses has personally witnessed his promised presence? Have there been any eyewitnesses? The answer is no – not a single solitary soul has personally witnessed the presence of Christ!
THE SACRED SECRET BROUGHT TO A FINISH
In the Revelation the apostle John was transported by inspiration to the Lord’s day not only to witness but also to directly participate in a dramatic prophetic vision with Christ, similar to his transfiguration experience. In the 10th chapter of Revelation, John witnessed a powerful angel coming down from heaven and standing astride the earth and the sea. The angel that John envisioned can be none other than the glorified Lord Jesus Christ; as he comes down from heaven to lay claim to his inheritance – the earth – in order to make it subject to himself in accord with the mandate given him by Jehovah, as Paul explained in the 2nd chapter of his letter to the Hebrews. That the angel is Christ is evident from the symbolism employed. For instance, Revelation 10:1-3 states:
“And I saw another strong angel descending from heaven, arrayed with a cloud, and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as the sun, and his feet were as fiery pillars, and he had in his hand a little scroll opened. And he set his right foot upon the sea, but his left one upon the earth, and he cried out with a loud voice just as when a lion roars. And when he cried out, the seven thunders uttered their own voices.”
The prophecy of Daniel referred to Jesus as the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven. Jesus personally applied that prophecy to himself when on trial before the Sanhedrin. And upon his ascension back to heaven Jesus was taken up into the clouds. It is appropriate, then, that Bible symbolism should depict the returning Christ cloaked with the clouds of heaven. (The attending angels at the ascension informed Christ’s awestruck disciples that Jesus would return in the “same manner” as they had beheld him going into the sky. Only Jesus’ loyal disciples witnessed his ascension. Jesus’ returning in the “same manner” would seem to indicate that only his anointed disciples will see him after his descent from heaven.)
Furthermore, in the vision of Revelation John reports that “his face was as the sun.”No doubt the apostles immediately recognized the descending angel to be Christ Jesus, since in the transfiguration vision that John had witnessed some 60 years earlier Jesus’ face also shone like the sun. And the fact that the angel “cried out with a loud voice just as when a lion roars”ought to call to mind that Jesus is called “the lion of the tribe of Judah.”
With his feet firmly planted on the sea and earth the angel then “raised his right hand to heaven, and by the One who lives forever and ever, who created the heaven and the things in it and the earth and the things in it and the sea and the things in it, he swore: ‘There will be no delay any longer; but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to blow his trumpet, the sacred secret of God according to the good news which he declared to his own slaves the prophets is indeed brought to a finish.’”
“The sacred secret of God” pertains to the so-called seed of the woman, which is Christ in company with Jehovah’s hand-picked 144,000. Naturally, “the mystery of God,” as some translations have worded it, will not be finished until all the chosen ones have been approved and sealed and Christ manifests himself to them – as is portrayed by the interaction of John with the descending angel in the Revelation vision. That John participated in the vision as an awestruck observer of Christ’s descent to earth and that Jesus spoke to him and handed him the little scroll, thereby re-commissioning him to “prophesy again with regard to peoples and nations and tongues and many kings,” portends the manifestation of Christ to the remaining anointed ones on earth and their final assignment to give witness to Jesus’ presence in glory.
Of course, the aged apostle was not personally re-commissioned by Christ to go on some sort of missionary tour of the Mediterranean region. John was a very old man and a prisoner on the remote island of Patmos at the time. His earthly ministry was nearly over. The apostle merely represented in the vision those anointed servants of God who will be on earth when Christ actually comes down to finish the mystery of God. The fact that John was commissioned to “prophesy again” immediately after the strong angel had declared the sacred secret of God to have been accomplished is significant. It indicates that there will be a final witness given to the world after the calling and choosing of the sons of the kingdom has come to a finish.
(It should be noted that the Watchtower’s “John class” tag is a legitimate concept. As the last surviving apostle John typifies the surviving sons of the kingdom who will be on earth after the first resurrection begins. Unfortunately, the Watchtower has prematurely applied the “John class” designation to the 1914-generation of anointed.)
In harmony with the fact that the two witnesses come on the scene after the sealing has been accomplished, the 11th chapter of Revelation concludes with a vision of the curtain in God’s heavenly sanctuary being drawn back to reveal the ark of the covenant. Of course, it is not the literal Ark of the Covenant that used to sit in the Most Holy compartment of the tabernacle and temple, and which housed the actual stone tablets of the Law covenant. That ark disappeared after the Babylonians sacked Jehovah’s temple long before the Common Era began. No, the Ark of the Covenant in Revelation must symbolize an ark of the new covenant, which is between Jehovah and those whom he adopts as spirit sons. The significance of John seeing the ark in its proper place in heaven’s sanctuary would seem to confirm what John had previously been told regarding the sacred secret of God coming to a finish. With the resurrection of God’s two witnesses to heaven the new covenant will have accomplished its primary purpose. It means that the kingdom is complete and the covenant comes to a successful conclusion.
“AND I WILL CAUSE MY TWO WITNESSES TO PROPHECY”
The two witnesses are also commissioned to prophesy, as was John, indicating that the John class is the same as the two witnesses. The designation of “two witnesses” signifies that they will have visibly witnessed the very presence of Christ, just as Peter, James and John visibly witnessed the transfiguration and John also witnessed Christ in the vision of Revelation.
The two witnesses of Revelation are symbolized by Moses and Elijah, not only because Moses and Elijah both appeared in the transfiguration vision, but because Moses and Elijah had personal encounters with Jehovah when they were alive. Significantly, both Moses and Elijah were forced to flee into the wilderness and it was in the wilderness that Jehovah spoke to them. Moses spoke to Jehovah at the burning bush and also talked to Jehovah face-to-face upon Mount Sinai. (In reality it was the manifestation of an angel)
Elijah lived in the wilderness for the duration of a three and one half year drought that came about at his order, during which time Jehovah miraculously fed the prophet by means of ravens that brought meat and bread twice a day. This puts us in mind of the description of the two witnesses, who prophesy for 42 months and have authority to shut up the heavens so that it should not rain during the period of their prophesying. Later Elijah encountered Jehovah’s awe-inspiring manifestation when he was holed up in a cave in the wilderness.
Moses and Elijah have another experience in common: They were both taken by Jehovah. Moses was ordered by God to ascend Mount Nebo in order to view the Promised Land. But he would not descend. Moses was to die for acting “undutifully” towards God on one occasion. The account says that even though he was 120 years old at the time Moses’ strength had not diminished and his eyesight had not grown dim. In other words, he did not die of old age. God simply took him and neither his body nor his grave was ever found.
Elijah was also symbolically taken when Jehovah’s fiery war chariot swooped down from the sky and whisked the prophet heavenward. The departure of Moses and Elijah stands as two prophetic dramas – enactments of future events.
After their mysterious departures, it is as though Moses and Elijah showed up together centuries later in the transfiguration. Their symbolic departures earlier and their sudden re-appearance in the transfiguration of Christ, and afterwards their depiction as the two witnesses in Revelation, is intended to convey how Jehovah will take the remaining holy ones off the earth after they finish their witnessing and are subsequently killed by the resurrected wild beast.
“THE REVEALING OF THE SONS OF GOD”
According to the writings of Paul the revelation of Christ is accompanied by another phenomenon – the revelation of the sons of God. Paul worded it this way at Romans 8:18-19: “Consequently I reckon that the sufferings of the present season do not amount to anything in comparison with the glory that is going to be revealed in us. For the eager expectation of the creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God.”
For a certainty, Jesus and his fellow sons of God making up the new creation will be the most glorious beings in the entire universe. The question is, though, does the “revealing of the sons of God” take place from heaven after all the chosen ones have been raised to Christ’s side, or “is the glory that is going to be revealed in us” an earthly manifestation that occurs prior to the departure of “the remaining ones”? The historical account of Moses’ own glorification and his portentous place in the transfiguration and Revelation indicates that the sons of God are destined to be glorified before they are harvested from the earth.
The concluding portion of the 34th chapter of Exodus reads: “Now it came about when Moses came down from Mount Sinai that the two tablets of the Testimony were in the hand of Moses when he came down from the mountain, and Moses did not know that the skin of his face emitted rays because of his having spoken with him. When Aaron and all the sons of Israel got to see Moses, why, look! the skin of his face emitted rays and they grew afraid of coming near to him. And Moses proceeded to call them. So Aaron and all the chieftains among the assembly came back to him, and Moses began to speak to them. First after that all the sons of Israel came near to him, and he began commanding them all that Jehovah had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. When Moses would finish speaking with them, he would put a veil over his face. But when Moses would go in before Jehovah to speak with him, he would take away the veil until his going out. And he went out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he would be commanded. And the sons of Israel saw Moses’ face, that the skin of Moses’ face emitted rays; and Moses put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with him.”
The significance of Moses’ transfiguration is explained by Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians, where he said that the glory that is to be conferred upon those in the new covenant surpasses the glory that Moses possessed as the mediator of the old covenant. Paul wrote:
“Moreover, if the code which administers death and which was engraved in letters in stones came about in a glory, so that the sons of Israel could not gaze intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, a glory that was to be done away with, why should not the administering of the spirit be much more with glory? For if the code administering condemnation was glorious, much more does the administering of righteousness abound with glory. In fact, even that which has once been made glorious has been stripped of glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels it. For if that which was to be done away with was brought in with glory, much more would that which remains be with glory. Therefore, as we have such a hope, we are using great freeness of speech, and not doing as when Moses would put a veil upon his face, that the sons of Israel might not gaze intently at the end of that which was to be done away with.” – 2 Corinthians 3:7-13
Paul went on to explain that anointed Christians reflect Jehovah’s glory in their own faces and that the unbelievers are perishing as a result of the god of this system of things having placed a veil over their powers of perception – spiritually blinding them to the glorious good news. Of course, Paul was not saying that Christians literally emitted rays from their faces, as did Moses. Paul was speaking very generally. But considering that the judgment had not begun in the first century, and it has always been Jehovah’s purpose to resurrect both the righteous and the unrighteous, why did Paul say that those who had been blinded by the Devil were “perishing”? After all, the apostles perished too. And no doubt those who were blinded by the Devil so as to not comprehend the message of the first century Christians will receive an earthly resurrection.
Apparently Paul’s words are intended to apply to the actual judgment period during the time of the end. That is when God’s judgment is executed against those who prefer the darkness of the Devil’s world to the glorious illumination of Christ.
Christ himself foretold that during the conclusion of the system of things the angels will permanently remove from Jehovah’s kingdom all those weed-like persons who are doing lawlessness and heave them into the fiery furnace – causing them to perish. It is at that time when the sons of God “will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
The sons of God shining like the sun in the kingdom of Jehovah means that they will have been fully accepted into the then-established kingdom; and not only that, but they will have conferred upon them the very glory of Christ – a glory that they will then reflect to illuminate others – those who have not allowed themselves to have become blinded by Satan. In a miraculous manifestation reminiscent of Moses, the anointed will then be transfigured so as to radiate Jehovah’s glory in their own faces and in that way the sons of God will be revealed before creation as an earthly reflection of the glorious revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.