… until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:14-17 ESV)
In giving his divinely-inspired charge to Timothy, Paul added this thought. He said that Timothy was to “keep this commandment,” or he was to fulfill his calling “until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The “appearing” is epiphanea in the New Testament Greek, and was an important word in the New Testament for the coming of the Lord and the end of the age. (See 2 Tim. 4:1 and Titus 2:13.)
We often say these words with a sigh, “until He comes,” aware more of the delay in His coming than the promise of it. But it is given here in an entirely different manner, in a completely different spirit. Here there is faith, hope, and enthusiasm for the coming King.
There is one view of life that sees old age dismally. We start out strong and then grow weaker through the years, losing friends, strength, mental abilities, and optimism. We die as a relief, exhausted by our long and tiresome journey through life. Even some Christians fall into this view, even though there is little Christian about this outlook on life.
The other view is that for the Christian there is always a brighter day coming. We grow old and despite whatever indignities are associated with age, despite the losing of friends, strength, etc., we can say with the apostle Paul, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16 ESV).
The hope of the pastor and of each Christian, is not that we will be recognized and rewarded on earth for our contributions to the work of God, but that we will be affirmed in heaven by Christ Himself, who says, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”
And in order for that to happen, He must return. Truthfully, we are more excited about His return than about our own reward. He will come at the right time, and all of history is moving and working toward this goal. He is the One worthy of praise:
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:11-12 ESV)
We do not serve for just the sake of resting. We do not serve in order to be forgotten. We do not serve a cause or a calling that is passing away. We serve and worship the coming King, who is and will be victorious. This is the hope that we are to keep before us at all time.
Art is made, whether in paintings, music, or literature, by contrasting light and darkness. Dark and subdued colors fade into the background and bright and vivacious colors leap off the canvas. The darkness of this age, the subduing of man’s spiritual nature and of God’s standard of holiness, the darkening of hearts across this world, has caused a shadow to pass over our age. But the light is not some “new” human idea, or some “new” charismatic leader. Those are just more of the subdued colors of darkness.
The hope is the coming King who is the Light of the World and the hope of eternity. He is the new bright “color” of the future. From the moment we trusted in Christ we began living for eternity. Each day is closer to His return. Each day is closer to this great event. This is what we look forward to. He is who we look forward to.