Apocalypse (3)1 “The Second Coming”

In his second manifestation, in the first Throne Vision, in heaven he appears in the way John the Baptist had already seen him at the very beginning of his incarnation on earth: as “the Lamb of God , the bearer of the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). But here, in heaven, after his death and resurrection he appears “as though slaughtered” (5:6), and having experienced death and resurrection he brings something new into the heavenly world. Through him the kind of deadlock regarding the world’s ongoing evolution and transformation is brought to an end. He is able “to open the scroll and its seven seals” (5:5), which evolve into trumpets and bowls of wrath. What began on earth becomes a reality in the heavens, and from there transforms both the terrestrial and the cosmic situation in the world; so much, that the various powers of adversary have to make their stand, when in the third Throne Vision “God has begun to reign” (11:17).

In the fourth Throne Vision Christ once more appears as the Lamb on “Mount Zion”, the sanctuary and spiritual meeting place of Christians, also known to the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews (12:22). Here the “144,000”, who already at the end of the First Vision had been sealed with the name of the Lamb’s Father on their foreheads, are learning to join the widening circles of those singing a “new song” at the throne (5:8f to 14:2), accompanied from heaven. More and more, “redeemed from mankind”, they have been becoming part of the “in-between” realm of Christ, also taking a more active part in its realization. As if released to their tasks, a series of angels pronounce that “the hour of judgment has come” and show some of its consequences in various crises developing on earth.

After another call for endurance and a second beatitude (14:12-13), in the same vision the one “like a son of man” once more manifests himself, now seated on a white cloud. As in the Gospels, his heavenly manifestation here follows his terrestrial manifestation (Mt 24 and parallels). He is called to harvest the earth, as its harvest is fully ripe, assisted by an angel harvesting the vintage of the earth. By this fourth manifestation of Christ (14:14ff), the earth is prepared for the battle in which the triumph won in heaven will have to be won on earth, too.

In his fifth manifestation, Christ appears in an opened heaven as the Rider on the White Horse with his hosts (in the sixth Throne Vision, 19:11ff) – the “Word of God” which was from the beginning. The reign of God the Father having been fully established (see 19:6), the Son and those with him (“called, chosen and faithful” [17:14]) will begin the transformation into making final the separation which has to precede new heaven and new earth as they come into being.

When this final separation is in its last stages, Christ manifests himself for the sixth time as One Sitting on a Great White Throne, before whose presence “earth and sky fled away” (20:11) – the Creator once more unhindered at work who has become Lord of Destiny too In his presence, fulfilling the words of the One like a Son of Man in the opening Vision (1:18) and the promise of the second beatitude (14:13), Death and Hades have no place anymore in a world transformed, as neither have all those who go into the “outer darkness” now that their individual soul has died into the second death.

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