Christians today claim to be the children of Abraham and heirs of his promises. If you are in that company, your hope is the promised land, the restored kingdom, or (for those who qualify), the New Jerusalem. It is an earthly hope. Neither the hope of the land (the restoration of the Kingdom and David's throne as well as justice over all nations) nor the New Jerusalem have been realized yet.
"In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates..."
"By faith [Abraham] sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven say, “Behold, God's home is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and he will be God with them. And he will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor wailing, nor will there be any toil any more, for the former things will have passed away.” And he who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I am making everything afresh.” And he said to me, “Write it down, for these words are true and faithful.”
"Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?"
(The 11 Apostles, after the resurrection, with minds opened)"[Ye Men of Israel] Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began."
(Peter speaking to Israel after Pentecost)"And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.'""When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations...""when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, you [the 12 Apostles] also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.""Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him."
"It's surprising how few believers today (and we have a lot of people today who really are believers, they know the Lord, there's no question about that) who don't have anywhere in their teaching God's purpose for the Earth. Nearly all of them think that being saved means surely going to heaven. Isn't that right? In fact, that's a synonym for being saved, ('are you going to heaven?') ... The majority of people today think about people going to heaven. Now, what heaven is and where it is and so on, they don't know, of course. And so that which spans the future ages upon the earth is entirely beyond their comprehension ... These people have failed to see two lines of purpose; one for the Earth and one for the heavens, or heavenly places. So, the average Christian you meet on the street thinks, he's saved, so he's going to heaven. And if he doesn't know about the Mystery, he isn't. He'll be among the saved peoples of the Earth."
-Oscar M Baker (Excerpt from Audio: Steps to a Goal, Part 2)
The doctrine of the "rapture" must also be looked at here. The Lord will return as he left, in the clouds. And when he returns it will be as promised, to set up the Kingdom in Israel and fulfill the promises made to her. The Lord was sent to none but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. His ministry was to confirm the promises made to the fathers. These are the fathers of Israel. The Patriarchs.But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Paul writes a second letter to the these believers. Remember, both 1 Cor and 1 Thess are written to believers in the Acts Age. They are looking for the soon return ("at hand") of the Lord. These conditions will again be active when that age resumes at the end of the the current age.
In Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians, he continues to encourage them and continues to point to the soon return of the Savior. And the context of all the teaching concerning the earthly kingdom is obedience. The free gift of resurrection life is by grace alone, but placement in the Kingdom (or the New Jerusalem) is by works.
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God... when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our minds should take us right back to the Lord's words in the gospel accounts in regard to his coming in the clouds with the angels. And the picture of the judgment of fire. This is common to the parables of Matthew. 2 Thessalonians is referring to the same coming found in 1 Thessalonians.
Chapter 2 of 2 Thessalonians is a warning to the Acts Age believers of the coming Man of Sin (Lawlessness), the Antichrist. This is a relevant warning to them. It is not just information. And it, again, is given as part of the hope of his return to the Earth. It speaks of the expectation of the Day of the Lord upon believers.
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren, not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship...
Note verse of 1 of 2 Thess in Young's Literal Translation:
And we ask you, brethren, in regard to the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of our gathering together unto him
The Greek word translated "presence" is the word "parousía." This word speaks of the presence of the King to establish his kingdom, judge, etc. This word is never used of the Lord in Paul's seven Post Acts epistles. There (for the current age) we are told we are to look for the "epipháneia" of the Lord. We are to love his "epipháneia." This is the appearing of the Lord, not his coming as King to the Earth.
- 2 Thessalonians Clarifies 1 Thessalonians
- A Quick Look at the Rapture Verse - Part 1
- A Quick Look at the Rapture Verse - Part 2
- The Place of the Book of Acts
- Paul's Post Acts Ministry
- The Importance of Making Distinctions
- The Immediate Return of the Lord in the Acts Age
- Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
- Are You Immortal?
- The Hope of the Present Age -Part 1
- The Hope of the Present Age -Part 2
- The Bride, The Lamb's Wife
- Our Life, Our Hope, In the Present Age