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The Coming of the Son of Man

Date: Nov. 30, 2014

Author: MIchael Mark

Isaiah 64:1-9, Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, Mark 13:24-37

Key Verse: Mark 13:26

“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”

How will the world end? I’m sure maybe some of you thought about that at least once in your life, maybe even watched a movie about it. Will the world end when a series of global catastrophic events set off a chain reaction of destruction in the year 2012? Oh wait, 2012 passed. Will the world end on some Independence Day, when aliens come to annihilate the human race in order to consume our resources? Will the world end with a disastrous virus outbreak, leaving apes to inherit the earth? Science may tell us in a few billion years the sun will turn into a red giant and swallow up the earth. This kind of makes sense, although I cannot fathom a billion years. World politics might suggest that World War III could erupt, and destroy most of the world’s population, but I imagine there may still be people left on earth. It wouldn’t really be the end. Now the Bible is very clear on this subject, and tells us that the end of the world will happen with the coming of the Son of Man. We may hear about wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes and natural disasters will happen, but the climactic event at the end of the world is the coming of the Son of Man, and our eternal life or death depends on him. Today we will look in 4 books of the Bible, all written in different time periods by different authors with one consistent, central message: salvation comes through the Son of Man. All four of the passages today relate to the end of the world and the coming of the Son of Man.

First, let’s look at why the end must come. We’ll start with Isaiah 64. Isaiah was a prophet of God who served under kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. King Uzziah was the 6th generation king of Judah descended from Solomon. God had warned the nations of Israel and Judah that if they continued in their sins and idolatry, he would raise up enemies and send them into exile. But God also promised that he would deliver Israel from captivity, restore its former glory and take vengeance on their enemies. Imagine that you were captured and held captive by your worst enemy, but you are given a promise by God that you will be rescued and honored, and your enemies will be punished. This is the context for Isaiah 64: it is Isaiah’s response of praise and prayer to God for his wonderful promise. Look at Isa 64:1-2, “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you!” God had promised to deliver Israel from the mightiest empire to hold the Israelites captive: Babylon. Isaiah wanted God to be glorified, and prayed that he would come down and terrify his enemies. He prayed that God would come down in great power, with so much heat that twigs would burn a glowing red-hot, and water would boil. This prayer is really a prophecy of the end of the ages.

Isaiah then makes a confession of Israel’s sin in his prayer. He was overwhelmed with praise for God’s promises, but he knew that Israel did not deserve it. Please look at Isa 64:5-6, “You came to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” God’s ways are good, but Israel constantly sinned against them. Rather than teaching God’s people, Israel’s leaders run after wine and fill up on beer. The Israelites visit sorceresses and prostitutes, they sacrifice their children in the worship of other gods. They turned their backs on God and followed after idols. This was the time Isaiah was living in. The Israelites were God’s chosen people, a people meant for devotion and love to God, but here you see them constantly going after their own appetites and lusts. So Isaiah confesses to God – all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. Even the best works that they do are tainted with sin. And then look at the imagery Isaiah uses after that – sinners shrivel up like a leaf, and they are swept away by their sins. What types of leaves shrivel up? Dead leaves and dry leaves shrivel up – they become useless, they are weak, brittle, and easily crushed. This is the effect of sin.

Isaiah continues in v.7, “No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins.” This is the ultimate consequence of God’s anger toward sin: He will give us over to our sins and hide his face from us. How bad is it when the Lord hides his face from us? That is the worst thing that can happen. That’s like the worst thing a parent can say to a child, “Just do what you want,” or, “You’re cut off,” or, “I disown you.” It’s not because the parent is lazy or bad, let’s say they were the best parent there ever was. But the child is so stubborn, and refuses to listen, and the parents try as hard as they can to persuade the child. Sin is not fun and games – the wages of sin is death, and sin seeks to kill and destroy. The Israelites have turned away to pursue their idols and their sinful pleasures. They don’t care about what God has given them, and they don’t bother to seek God, so God has hidden his face from them and gives them over to their sins, where they will suffer the consequences of their sins and slowly shrivel up and die.

Psalm 80 also paints a good picture of how bad it is when God hides his face. Psalm 80 was written by Asaph, who was a musician appointed by King David to perform music for the tabernacle. He also served under Solomon and Rehoboam as a musician in God’s temple. Asaph would have seen the kingdom rise to it’s height of glory under King Solomon, but also see it fall under King Rehoboam. This Psalm may have been written right at the time the kingdom of Israel was split in two, and the nation mourned. Interestingly, this is where we paused in our study of 1 Kings for Thanksgiving and Advent, but if you remember, we recently just covered the split of the kingdom. Look at what he wrote in Psalm 80:3-4, “Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. How long, Lord God Almighty, will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people?” The Psalm calls for the Lord to make his face shine on us. This is the opposite of hiding his face from us. It asks the Lord to look on us with favor, and be pleased with us. But instead, the Psalmist writes that the Lord’s anger is smoldering against the prayers of his people. Smoldering – it’s like burning, melting and destroying all at the same time. Wow, can the Lord be angry with prayer? Yes, if it’s the prayer of an unrepentant sinner who has caused God to hide his face in anger. The Israelites were engaging in open idolatry, that’s open adultery towards God, so God rejected their prayers.

The Psalmist continues in v.5-6, “You have fed them with the bread of tears; you have made them drink tears by the bowlful. You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors, and our enemies mock us.” This is another consequence of God hiding his face, and us being given over to our sins. Our sins cause us and others grief. I had an experience like this once. When I was in high school, I dated someone in the church against the better advice of friends and church leaders. Rejecting their sound counsel and advice I pursued the relationship. It was not out of pure motives. One fateful night, when I was supposed to go to prom, she broke up with me, said she wanted to date another guy. I cried hard that night, really hard. But I brought it upon myself. Because of my sin, I reaped tears. I ate the bitter bread of tears, and drank tears by the bowlful. The Israelites too, must have tasted the bitter brine of grief, as their glory had diminished so fast and so hard. They became an object of scorn – their neighbors, the Edom and Aram, laughed at their misfortune and gave them trouble.

Sin continues to drive the world into darkness and death – this happens on every level – at a global scale, at a national scale, and down to an individual scale sin affects all of us. We continue to sin, from the very first man to live on earth there has not been any one who was sinless. We sinned yesterday and we continue to sin today. Sin causes us to shrivel up, to dry up and become useless. Sin causes us pain, grief and many tears. Sin has caused death for everyone who ever lived on earth. Sin causes God to be angry with us, to hide is face from us, and leave us to our sins. But Isaiah says in 64:8, “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” He continues in v.9, “Do not be angry beyond measure Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh look on us, we pray, for we are all your people.” We are all the work of God’s hands. It seems necessary, but it should not be that God has to hide his face from his creation, but sin causes us to anger God. That is why one day, this world as we know it must end. God must come and do away with sin so that there will be no more barrier between us and God. This sin stained world must be destroyed, and a new world without sin must be created.

Now we know why the world must end. But how do we clean ourselves? How do we wash off our sin? We can’t walk into the next world with sin on our hands. We can’t clean ourselves though either. Isaiah wrote in 64:5, our righteous acts are like filthy rags. Have you ever tried to clean yourself with a filthy rag? I keep a towel in my bathroom to dry my hands with, but usually after 3-4 days I have to replace it with a new one. Imagine if I never replaced it for a month, and I decide to dry myself with it after a shower. What happens? I smell like corn chips, and my body is now covered with invisible bacteria. Also in that verse is the question, “How can we be saved?”

Now let’s look over to the Psalm 80 for the answer. Look at Psalm 80:17-18: “Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself. Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name.” Here we are introduced to a Savior, and notice – he is the son of man. This is not an angel, no angel was called to the right hand of God. This would be the Messiah, the chosen one of God to be the savior of all mankind. It was an who sinned against God, so it will also be a man who will save mankind. “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.” Notice again, it’s a man at the right hand of God. Mankind had sinned against God from the beginning – but the fact that a man is now at the right hand of God, means that God had made peace with man. The presence of a man, the son of man, at God’s right hand is the sign and symbol that God has made peace with men.

Who is this Son of Man? It is none other than Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus is the Son of God come in human flesh, born of the virgin Mary. He called himself the Son of man because he took on human flesh. The Son of Man was a designation for the Messiah. Daniel referred to the Son of Man once. In Acts, Stephen refers to the Son of Man once. In Revelation, the apostle John made reference to the Son of Man twice. And Jesus himself used the designation “Son of Man” 67 times. Jesus is the Son of Man, the Savior of all mankind. He came to die on the cross for our sins, to die the death we ought to have died, and having paid our debt we have been given full pardon, full forgiveness for our sins. In Christ we have been granted immunity from the wrath of God, we will not be called to account for our sins – we will be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. Having paid our debt and satisfying the wrath of God, Jesus Christ rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and today sits at the right hand of God.

Look again at v.17-18, “Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself. Then we will not turn away from you;” Do you see a connection between the two sentences? Notice the verse is not, “Give us more power, then we will not turn away from you,” or “Give us more blessing, then we will not turn away from you.” It’s “Let your hand rest on Jesus, then we will not turn away from you.” The verse is saying, God, give all your power and authority to Jesus, and he will make sure that we will not turn away from you. We do not maintain our faith because of our own power, we maintain our faith because Jesus gives us the power to. We should not trust in ourselves not to turn away from God, but we should trust in Jesus to remain faithful to God. This is the answer to Isaiah’s question – We continue to sin against God, how can we be saved? We are saved by Jesus Christ alone. We are not able, but he is able. This is consistent with 1 Cor 1:8, as Paul writes, “He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus will keep us firm and blameless by his power.

What is this “day of the Lord Jesus Christ” Paul speaks about? It is the coming of the Son of Man! It is the day of the end of the world. Let’s here about it from Jesus own words, in Mark 13:24-25, “But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ Can we all please read v.26: “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” This will be the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Ch. 64:1, “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!” The heavens are splitting apart. Somehow, the sun will be dark. The moon will not even give it’s light. Can you imagine what we will see? The stars falling from the sky, and the heavenly bodies shaken – and all people will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds. It will be a fearful and terrifying sight, especially for the enemies of God, and the nations will tremble.

See what Jesus will do, in Mark 13:27, “And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.” For unbelievers, this will be a dreadful day of judgment. For believers, this is the day of rescue, it is a day of victory and glory. On that day, it will be a day of deliverance from all our sins, and all the sins of the world. We will be taken out, and brought into a new heavens and a new earth, one in which God will always shine his face on us, because we have been clothed with the righteousness of Christ. The barrier between God and man has been removed, peace has been made between man and God through the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. 1 Cor 1:9 says, “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” There we will finally be able to see God face to face, and meet with Jesus – to see his body, and his nail pierced hands which bought my redemption and freedom forever. It will be like a glorious wedding day. I remember how excited I was for my wedding day, I think I was excited before we were even engaged, and when the wedding day came, what a wonderful day it was.

I would like to conclude with some urgent words from Jesus at the end of Mark 13. Jesus said in Mark 13:32-33, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” Jesus chose not to know about that day – could he have known if he wanted to? Maybe – but I believe he chose not to know to be completely obedient to the Father, and he chose not to know so that he would always be ready to come whenever the Father gave the signal. Jesus is ready. Jesus will come at a time no one will know – he may come suddenly, but he warns us not to let him find us sleeping. At God’s temple in Jerusalem, the captain of the temple guard would make rounds around the temple, and any of the guard he met had to salute him a certain way. Any guard caught sleeping would be punished. Maybe Orlando has some similar experiences or stories being on night watch duty. In any case, let us not be found asleep when Jesus comes again – that is, we should watch and pray every day. We should not slip back into sin, or indulge in any sins, this would be like sleeping. In Rev. 22:12, Jesus says, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” Don’t just watch or do your duty reluctantly – but keep in mind that the one who loves you will be on his way, and he brings with him gifts, eager to see you face to face. Be ready, and watch for Jesus, the Son of Man!

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