1.2.7 The Risen/Glorified Messiah: God as King
Volume 1: Foundations—Chapter 2.7
The Risen/Glorified Messiah: God as King
To a dyed-in-the-wool Trinitarian, listing the risen and glorified King Yahshua separately from the mortal, human Yahshua of Nazareth might seem to be evidence of a dangerously unbalanced mind. Are they not one person?
Indeed they are! That’s precisely my point: all six of these diminished Logos manifestations of Yahweh among us are, in fact, One Person, One identity, One God—a God whose name is Yahweh. The reason I feel this expression of God’s presence must be listed separately is that “form follows function.” Neither the form nor the function of the glorified Messiah-King bears any resemblance to that of the mortal Lamb of God, the Son of Man, Yahshua of Nazareth. Their identities are the same, but their “personalities” are as different as ice is from steam. The two Messianic manifestations have separate purposes in God’s plan, and as we shall see, their respective forms—the bodies that allow them to fulfill their divergent roles—are as different as night and day.
The human Yahshua came to offer us a choice: His sacrifice, in fulfillment of scores of transparent prophetic symbols in the Torah, divided us into two camps—those who willingly accept that He is Yahweh’s Anointed One (and rely on all that implies), versus those who do not. (He freely said He’d come to bring not peace, but a sword. This was what He meant.) Yahweh will never abridge our privilege of free will in this life: He will—in fact, He did—defend to the death our right to choose our own eternal destinies—for good or ill. But once we have all made our choices, there will be no more reason for Him to conceal His deity in a cloak of humanity. So the glorified Yahshua will offer no such choice: His very presence will demolish any doubt someone might have about who He is. It will be impossible to stand before Him and still deny that He is God. This explains why only believers were given the privilege of seeing the risen Christ during the forty days between His resurrection and His ascension in the spring of 33 A.D. He was seen by over five hundred people during this time, but they had already made up their minds—they had already trusted Him with their souls.
This implies, even necessitates, that the world will at some point experience a spiritual paradigm shift. Yahweh has appointed a time—yet future—when our choices will be supplanted by their consequences, a time when we will no longer walk by faith, but by sight. The “deadline” for making our choices has always been literally that: our deaths. Granted, hardly anybody learns when that will be ahead of time, but between birth and death, we’re expected to deal—as individuals—with the “God-sense” that’s built into every one of us. We can choose to accept it, ignore it, suppress it, deceive it, resist it, or attack it. We usually have a “lifetime” (whatever that is) to make up our minds. But there will be an entire generation for whom the decision process will be compressed.
Our generation has been playing “hide and seek” with God, and He’s “It.” One of these days, He’s going to shout, “Ready or not: here I come!” and the world will be instantly divided between those who are hiding from Him and those who are seeking Him. The Greek word used to describe this event (in I Thessalonians 4:17) is the verb harpazo: “caught up”—a singular incident known commonly as “the rapture.” How much time is left? Hardly anybody has heard Him counting: only those within earshot, those who are very, very close to Him know, even roughly, how long it will be before the game is afoot. For this generation—the last generation of our age—the choice we’ve already made will determine whether we will be kept out of the trial which will engulf the entire world (see Revelation 3:10), or be left behind to face it. As the five hundred post-resurrection witnesses discovered, awesome privileges await for those who embrace the fact that “Now is the favorable time—now is the day of salvation.”
In a very real sense, making the right choice is all we’re asked to do in this life. Yahshua was once asked, “‘What must we do to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God: that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’” (John 6:28-29) Sacrifices, tithing, and alms are not really what we’re called to do. Circumcision and ritual cleansing aren’t going to bring us into God’s presence. To refrain from murder, theft, or adultery is good, but it’s not the point. All of these things are secondary—they’re not the essence of “doing God’s will,” but rather the result. The Torah commands them because they’re all pictures of what it means to “believe in Him whom Yahweh has sent.” We are not only to believe Him, but to believe in Him—rely upon Him, trust Him. Perhaps the precept that illustrates this principle best is the Law of the Sabbath—the Torah/instruction that tells us that on the last day of the week, we are not to work to provide for ourselves, but rather rest in what Yahweh has already provided. It says basically the same thing that Yahshua said above: the “work” that God requires of us, in the end, is simply to rely on Him to do the work of our salvation.
That’s not to say this whole thing isn’t maddeningly counterintuitive. First, God says, “Do these things, and refrain from doing these other things.” The list of do’s and don’ts is a mile long, and none of us is able to keep them all perfectly, especially if we use Yahshua’s criteria for compliance: mere hatred is tantamount to murder; lustful thoughts might as well be adultery, and so forth. But Yahweh says through Moses, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of Yahweh your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of Yahweh your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28) The word translated “commandments” here is the Hebrew mitzvot, the plural of mitzvah: a command, order, or authoritative directive, given as a prescription or instruction to a subordinate. It’s the terms of a covenant—the written, legal conditions that are binding in a contract. There’s nothing about the word that is “optional,” and yet the whole proposition is presented in terms of choice. Choose whether you want to be blessed or cursed—if you want blessing, obey Yahweh’s commandments, but if you’d rather be cursed, then don’t.
I realize that it doesn’t sound much like a choice, but it is. It’s like God is saying, Don’t jump off the roof of the seventy-story building, if you want to live. There’s a choice involved, as obvious as it might seem. Remarkably, most people do end up jumping. But they can’t logically blame God for the sidewalk that awaits them at the end of their journey. It was their choice to jump, and they were warned not to. Twice in the Torah (Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28) Yahweh informed Israel in detailed and graphic terms what their choices would result in—both what the blessed life on the “roof” would be like, and what the cursed “sidewalk” would feel like. Unlike my skyscraper parable, though, the curses for disobedience would be progressive and cumulative—if God’s discipline wasn’t heeded by His people, life would get worse, and then worse again, by stages. Things would move from misfortune, to tragedy, to catastrophe, to utter devastation. Nobody was going to be saying “So far, so good” as he whizzed past the twentieth floor. Yet Yahweh, in His mercy, promised to honor our repentance—our willingness to change our mind and our direction—at any point between our first infraction and our ultimate destruction. However, once we “hit the sidewalk” (so to speak), repentance is no longer an option.
Thus it’s clear that Yahweh wants us to observe the precepts of the Torah, and promises to bless us if we do. So it comes as something of a shock to discover passages like this: “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but You have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.” (Psalm 40:6) Or this: “With what shall I come before Yahweh, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will Yahweh be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does Yahweh require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:6-8) Or this: “What to Me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says Yahweh; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before Me, who has required of you this trampling of My courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them.” (Isaiah 1:11-14) The Torah was full of blood sacrifices, some mandatory, some voluntary. The olive oil, incense, new moon and Sabbath celebrations, and the seven appointed feasts were all things Yahweh had commanded Israel to observe. Has God changed His mind? Does He now want us not to do the things He previously told us to do? If all He really wanted us to do was “Do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God,” or as Isaiah would put it following the verses quoted above, “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before My eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause,” (Isaiah 1:16-17) then why did He tell us—command us—to do all those other things in the first place?
The answer lies in the fact that all of the rites of the Torah—those things the apostate Jews of the prophetic era were doing out of cold religious obligation, not out of love and reverence for Yahweh—were symbolic: signposts intended to point the way toward the Messiah. As I said, the human Messiah, Yahshua of Nazareth, came to offer us a choice—the same choice presented in the Torah’s precepts: trust Yahweh and receive life and blessing, or reject Him and bring the curse to your door. Did you notice, in the Deuteronomy 11 passage I quoted above, that “not obeying the commandments of Yahweh your God” was equated to “going after other gods that you have not known”? In short, disobedience to Yahweh’s commands is idolatry: the rebel has shown through his actions that he trusts some agent other then Yahweh to “save” him. It doesn’t matter if the “other god” is Ba’al, Zeus, Allah, or his own two hands. Like a hundred dollar bill, there are only two kinds, real and fake—and only the Real Thing has value.
It follows, then, that observing the Torah in spirit and truth is tantamount to receiving and owning Yahshua as your Savior. The Torah’s sacrifices were pictures of His sacrifice; the Torah’s rules were illustrative of what His mission would accomplish if our trust was placed in Yahweh. Or, they were pictures of our proper response (so murder—attacking someone’s mortal life—was a picture of preventing someone from having eternal life by purposefully leading him into idolatry and error). But it is at this point that we run into trouble again: if (for example) you slay and eat the Passover lamb (as required), he has sustained you, but the lamb no longer lives. If you eat the unleavened bread of life, if you pour out the drink offering as an oblation, if you kill the firstborn animal of your flock or herd—all things required by the Torah—then these things, all representative of the Messiah, are no longer available to you. Does this mean that Yahshua’s presence in our lives ceased when they laid His broken body in the tomb? Of course not. The Passover lamb was dead, but the flock thrived; the loaf of bread had been consumed, but the wheat field was still bursting with life; the wine had been poured out like the blood of the sacrifice, but the vineyard flourished. God blesses our trust with continuity of life, and this principle (like everything else in the Torah) is fulfilled in the Messiah: God’s Anointed died, and yet He lives—and through Him we live as well. Life does indeed go on.
This dichotomy between the slain Passover Lamb (the real one—Yahshua) and the subsequent life we enjoy as a result of His sacrifice (a pattern repeated a hundred different ways in scripture) is reflected in a parallel systemic “contradiction” we find scattered throughout the Tanach. On the one hand, we see passages predicting a “Suffering Servant,” prophesying how Yahshua of Nazareth would live and die in order that we who were dead might live. Perhaps the most striking example is Isaiah 53: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him [that is, we thought of Him—we judged or reckoned Him to have been] stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.” In other words, we made a horrible miscalculation: we (primarily the Jews) thought that God had forsaken and abandoned Yahshua, afflicting Him for some incomprehensible infraction. But in truth, He was only enduring this wrath so that we wouldn’t have to—the only guilt here was ours. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man in His death, although He had done no violence, and there was no deceit in His mouth. Yet it was the will of Yahweh to crush Him; He has put Him to grief.” (Isaiah 53:3-10) There are no fewer than twelve distinct prophecies in this passage that point unequivocally to the life and mission of Yahshua of Nazareth.
On the other hand, there are other prophecies that foresee a majestic, reigning King—Someone sitting on the throne of David ruling in righteousness forever with a scepter of iron—Someone who bears virtually no resemblance to the Suffering Servant described above. But they are the same Messiah. As if to make my point for me, Isaiah continues without taking a breath: “…When His soul makes an offering for sin, He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of Yahweh shall prosper in His hand. Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied; by His knowledge shall the righteous one, My servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the many, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:10-12) The temporal rewards we see in these verses (“a portion with the many”) and earthly authority (the “will of Yahweh prospering in His hand”) are fundamentally incompatible with having been despised and rejected by men, wounded, crushed, scourged, oppressed, afflicted, stricken, crushed, led to the slaughter, cut off from the land of the living, and interred in death in a rich man’s grave. No, the enjoyment of riches and power require one to be alive. Seeing one’s offspring, prolonging one’s days, and being satisfied all imply life. And causing people to be accounted as righteous, bearing the iniquities of others, and making intercession with God on behalf of us transgressors takes a special kind of life: the essential life only Yahweh has “within Himself.” The continuity of life that’s indicated through the rites of the Torah is thus brought to fruition in the continuity of life of Yahweh’s Anointed One.
Because they didn’t really understand that the two Messiahs were to be the same Messiah, the people of Yahshua’s day had a hard time seeing Him as the promised King. They understood and eagerly anticipated the reigning King, spoken of so often in the Tanach, but the Suffering Servant, who would be “cut off, but not for Himself”—i.e., not because of His own sins (see Daniel 9:27)—was harder to comprehend. It occurred to practically no one that the sacrifices prescribed in the Torah prophesied the sacrifice of a Man on their behalf—the Son of Man, the Son of God.
No one saw that these two personalities would have the same identity, though appearing in radically different forms. After all, most of the Old Covenant prophecies concerning the reigning Messiah actually placed God on the throne, making it a bit difficult to understand precisely what was meant without resorting to allegory. For example, we read, “For Yahweh, the Most High, is to be feared, a great King over all the earth…. For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne.” (Psalm 47:2, 7-8) Or how about this? “Give ear to my words, O Yahweh; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to You do I pray.” (Psalm 5:1-2) The “King,” the One to whom we rightly direct our praises and our prayers, is identified as Yahweh—Elohiym’s self-revealed name.
But there are glimmers of light that—if we’re willing to take them at face value—help us sort out Who is doing what. “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness beyond Your companions.” (Psalm 45:6-7) The key here is the phrase “anointed You.” This anointing of a descendant of David to be the everlasting King, worthy to sit on the very throne of Yahweh, is what defines “Messiah”—it’s what the word means. The King is not only anointed by God, the King is God.
And consider this: “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against Yahweh and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst Their bonds apart and cast away Their cords from us.’” Yahweh and His Anointed (that is, Messiah) are seen here as distinct personalities but acting in one accord and with one mind. It’s the same “father and son” relationship we looked at a few pages back. “He who sits in the heavens laughs; Yahweh holds them in derision. Then He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘As for Me, I have set My King on Zion, My holy hill.’ I will tell of the decree: Yahweh said to Me, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your heritage, and the ends of the earth Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’” Yahweh says He will make His Son (who we now know to be Yahshua) the King. But as we learned in Psalm 47, Yahweh is the King. So Yahshua and Yahweh are both “the King,” sharing the same identity, though not the same form. “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve Yahweh with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 2) Reverence for Yahweh and affection for Yahshua are in effect the same thing. Those who fancy themselves “kings” in this earth should heed the warning: take refuge in Yahshua, for there is no such thing as refuge from Yahweh.
When manufacturers wish to introduce new products into the marketplace, they can’t just put them out on the store shelves and hope for the best. First, they have to persuade their retailers and affiliates to stock them. They advertise, trying to create interest in the marketplace. They create packaging and point-of-sale materials. And sometimes they arrange publicity events, sneak previews, or grand product-launch happenings. Yahweh too used a “multiple warhead” approach like this to prepare the world for His reigning Messiah. Through His prophets and apostles, Yahweh laid the groundwork, first with Israel, and then with the Ekklesia. By the time Yahshua of Nazareth began His ministry, the word was out—half-understood perhaps, but still, there was great anticipation that the Messiah was coming to rule the earth from Jerusalem. All the prophets had said so, and Daniel had even told them when—or so they thought. (Right Messiah, wrong manifestation, as it turned out.)
The reigning King, at the moment, rules in absentia. As He put it in some of His parables, He is “on a long journey.” His faithful servants watchfully anticipate His return, but the King is not presently in our midst, not physically, anyway. In terms of my marketing metaphor above, the “Product” has not yet hit the stores. But the Manufacturer (Yahweh) provided a sneak preview, so to speak, allowing a few selected “media personalities” (in this case, three of Yahshua’s disciples) to witness and report the glory that would characterize the King when He finally returned. After reminding them of the cost of following Him in this world, Yahshua revealed why they should do so anyway: “The Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay each person according to what he has done.” There’s the “continuity of life” I was talking about: the Son of Man, the human Messiah, was going to appear in the “glory of His Father.” Only after the function of “seeking and saving that which was lost” had been fulfilled could God address the function of “ruling with a rod of iron” as the promised King. No judgment (the prerogative of the King) would occur until this paradigm shift took place. But rather than merely telling them about it, Yahshua promised to show them: “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Matthew 16:27-28)
That was pretty exciting stuff, though the disciples still had no idea what He meant. But “after six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light.” (Matthew 17:1-2) For one brief moment, He dropped the mask of humanity that defined His “Suffering Servant” role, and revealed a bit of the magnificence that was His by virtue of actually being the Son of God. In this glorified form, Yahshua was seen speaking with the souls of Moses and Elijah. Peter, who was apparently never struck speechless (even when he should have been) began blathering on about providing accommodations for the esteemed visitors. But he received a lesson we should all heed: Shut up and pay attention. “He [Peter] was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.’ When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and have no fear.’” (Matthew 17:5-7) Easy for You to say: You’re used to hearing the audible voice of God! But Yahshua was perfectly correct, of course: when we rise and stand upright before Yahweh, cloaked in the white light robes of His imputed righteousness, we will have no reason to fear, for “perfect love casts out fear.”
This brief encounter with the glorified Christ was necessary, I believe, because Yahshua’s disciples were about to have their faith tested to the limit: their Master was about to be betrayed, crucified, and entombed, and He would rise from the dead under His own power on the third day. The fact that all of this had been symbolically prophesied in the Torah (in the celebration of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Firstfruits) doesn’t mean that anybody actually understood what these things meant—yet. They wouldn’t “get it” until the risen Yahshua explained things to them—after His resurrection (see Luke 24:25, 44).
Why were Peter, James, and John chosen to see this? Perhaps the reason was the wide-eyed, unrestrained enthusiasm toward Yahshua and His Kingdom that they had in common. The most child-like of the twelve in their faith (as far as I can tell), they were chosen to lead the Messiah’s flock into the post-ascension world. All three had made disastrous blunders—and had learned valuable lessons from them. But they had also soared to unprecedented heights of spiritual insight. Their love and trust in Yahshua was unreserved and passionate, if sometimes misapplied. There was nothing “lukewarm” about them. In short, I believe they represent those of us who, in the coming age, will also see Yahshua resplendent in glory. They are precursors of those among us who crave Yahshua’s presence with every fiber of our being.
We note however, with some confusion, that the risen Messiah did not manifest Himself precisely as the “transfigured” Christ had. There was no glowing countenance or wardrobe of pure light, but rather Someone who looked like an ordinary human being, with flesh and bones. That’s not to say He was “human” at this point, a corpse raised back to life as Lazarus had been. This “body” had properties never before seen among men. The risen Yahshua could cloak His identity among people who had known Him quite well as a Man—only to “turn on” their recognition whenever He wished. He could move from place to place instantaneously, and enter a locked room without bothering to open the door. Although He no longer needed nutrition to sustain life, He could eat food—When’s the last time you saw a ghost do that? And—when He wished—He could manifest the scars of the torture He endured for our sakes. Clearly, this resurrection body was more unlike our mortal bodies than it was similar.
Paul explains how it works (sort of). “But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.” In other words, expect transformation from one form to another to be part of the process. “For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory….” This transformation, he says, involves an upgrade: we trade in an acorn for an oak tree, a caterpillar for a butterfly, a star for a supernova—or a mortal human body for one that cannot perish—ever.
“So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” This is precisely what we saw in the case of Yahshua: the spiritual body with which He rose from the dead was fundamentally different from the natural one in which He had been crucified, though their identity remained unchanged. “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.” You want evolution? That’s evolution, the way Yahweh does it. “The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” Paul is comparing Adam’s race to Yahshua’s “race.” If we’re born from above (as required in John 3:3) we have acquired a whole new type of “DNA.” And why does it matter? “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” (I Corinthians 15:35-50)
I’ll skip over the really cool part, where Paul describes the event, yet future, in which not only the dead in Christ, but also an entire generation of living believers will be “raised in glory.” (As I said, it’s known as the “rapture,” the harpazo, in Greek: the “catching up.”) I’ll just cut to the chase: “The dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’” (I Corinthians 15:52-55) In a roundabout way, we have discovered a stunning truth: the same kind of transformation that took place in Yahshua’s case will also take place in the lives of us who are counted among His redeemed: we too will someday be equipped with “spiritual bodies” like His—the ultimate “upgrade” from these vulnerable, sickly, sin-prone carcasses we have today. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the marvelous machine that is the human body. It is perhaps Yahweh’s finest piece of engineering—and He’s got a lot of stuff worth bragging about. But what’s in store for us who are in Yahshua’s family is infinitely better, literally. Our new bodies will never die.
But we were considering the type of “body” the reigning Messiah will inhabit. The question is, which one—the resurrection body or the transfigured body—represents the form Yahshua will assume when He returns to reign over His Millennial Kingdom? Based on the magnificent visions of Ezekiel, Daniel, and John, I’d be inclined to say the latter, the glowing, brilliant presence that Peter, James, and John saw on the mountaintop. But to insist on this would be to put limits on Yahweh’s volition. The truth is that, within the confines of His character, there are no limits to how Yahshua may manifest Himself. This final Logos permutation will, I suspect, reveal Yahweh’s true nature (Love, Light, and Life) more clearly than ever before. But remember, during Yahshua’s Millennial Kingdom, the world will still be populated by mortal men, the redeemed remnant of Israel, the gentile “sheep” who put their lives on the line on their behalf during the Tribulation years (see Matthew 25:31-46), and their offspring. In other words, Yahweh can’t reveal Himself in His full glory without damaging some of His beloved children—not yet, anyway. So the reigning Messiah-King must still manifest Himself in a diminished form: His love for humanity requires it. That being said, I rather suspect that the transformed body in which Yahshua appeared during the forty days between the resurrection and the ascension is the type of body we’ll inhabit as immortal individuals sharing the earth with the belatedly redeemed mortals of the Millennial Kingdom. Yahshua’s Millennial manifestation, on the other hand, need not be quite that restrained any more.
One thing’s for sure. There will be no question that He is God. His authority will be absolute, and His beneficence will know no bounds. This is how John saw Him in his apocalyptic vision: “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The One sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a name written that no one knows but Himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which He is called is The Word [Logos] of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On His robe and on his thigh He has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:11-16) This description is literally peppered with Old Testament allusions. One that jumps out at me is the description “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
In Daniel 2, the young prophet has been called before the most powerful man on the earth at the time—Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon—to interpret a dream. And Daniel complies, placing the credit for his wisdom where it’s due: upon Yahweh. Nebuchadnezzar’s response is to acknowledge an authority even greater than his own (which, humanly speaking, was absolute and unprecedented). It’s a remarkable scene: “Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. The king answered and said to Daniel, ‘Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.’” (Daniel 2:46-47) If the greatest, most powerful, monarch of his day—someone who himself had been rightfully called a “king of kings” (Daniel 2:37)—could honor Yahweh like this on the basis of merely having had his dream explained, how do you suppose the “kings” and “lords” who lead nations during the Millennial Kingdom will respond to the Ultimate King, the Logos of Yahweh? If they’re smart, they’ll take Nebuchadnezzar’s cue, for as King Yahshua, the reigning Messiah, Yahweh will no longer be restricting His involvement in the affairs of man to a spiritual presence indwelling His followers; He will no longer be cloaking His identity in the guise of human flesh. He will no longer sporadically appear in human form to select individuals in need of guidance. He will no longer rely on dreams and visions to communicate His word; And He will no longer present Himself as smoke, fire, lightning, and thunder in order to get our attention.
No, when our Messiah returns, He will assume a form that is as God-like as a human witness can endure. After all, we will be only one step away from dwelling with Yahweh in His undiminished glory for eternity. I can’t imagine what that will be like, but it’s something Yahweh has been planning since before creation.