“There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves.” Catastrophic changes showing the world coming unglued. God’s good and orderly creation will become unstable and revert to chaos. It’s what happens when God withdraws His loving, creating hand. It’s also what happens when God steps into His creation to bring His redemption.
“People fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world.” Jesus’ future coming will be alarming and cataclysmic for every person, all peoples, every nation, all round the globe. Those who do not hear His Word will have nothing but fainting, fear, and foreboding. But those who do “hear the Word of God and keep it” (Lk. 11:28) will receive the ungluing of creation and the alarming cataclysm with comfort and hope. You see, the coming universal cataclysm points to the coming of our Savior, the Son of God, bringing His redemption near. “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
So when you see these things taking place, stand up, raise your head, and rejoice. Your redemption, your rescue, is coming!
Now this Day of Judgment stuff can get quite confusing and misleading because of false teachings that run rampant. One of those false teachings is “Millennialism.” Millennialism teaches a literal one thousand-year visible reign of Jesus on earth before His final judgment. Like the Jews of Jesus’ day, some believe such a visible reign of the Messiah would bring a whole millennium of earthly peace and prosperity, with believers serving as Jesus’ cabinet members, so to speak.
This false view comes from a literalistic reading of Revelation 20—where those who did not worship the beast “came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4). What Millennialism misses is that the Bible often uses numbers symbolically. Taken with all of Scripture, the thousand years refers to the fully complete time of Jesus’ reign over His Church from His ascension until the Last Day.
A second false teaching about the end of time and Jesus’ return is “the Rapture.” Rapture teaching says that Jesus’ followers will be “caught up…in the air” and removed from the earth. And this will be a secret snatching by Jesus. Think the Left Behind books and movies popular several years ago. One person—the believer—will be taken, and the other person—the unbeliever—will be left, this teaching claims. And Rapture teachers even debate and dispute among themselves. Will this secret taking be “pre-“ or “post-“? Pre-millennium—before the thousand years—or Post-millennium—after the thousand years? Just when will Jesus secretly snatch His followers so they can avoid enduring the time of tribulation?
The problem with Rapture teaching is that it turns the simple, comforting hope of Jesus’ return into complicated stages of uncertainties. It also denies that Christians do indeed suffer before the Last Day, and it claims, against the Bible, that those who reject Jesus will have a second chance to believe in Him and receive salvation during His earthly reign.
And a third false teaching about the end of time is “Reincarnation.” Simply put, Reincarnation believes that when people die, they are reborn in other earth-bound bodies or a series of other bodies. Think chiefly of Hinduism or Buddhism. As a kissing cousin belief, we might also think of that often-heard saying at funerals, that when a loved one dies, he or she “becomes an angel.”
Whether it’s Reincarnation or human beings transmuting into angelic beings, such teachings deny our Lord’s promise of the resurrection of the body at His return. Jesus did say, “An hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (Jn. 5:28-29). Hebrews also says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27).
So when you see these things taking place…and when you hear such false teachings running rampant…stand up, raise your head, and rejoice. Your redemption, your rescue, is coming!
What will happen on that great and glorious Day when our Lord Jesus returns? Scripture keeps it clear and simple and comforting.
- Jesus will visibly appear in glory with His angels (Matt. 25:31), and everyone will see Him. No secrets.
- The many vying, conflicting kingdoms of this world will give way to the one eternal reign of Jesus, and “the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it” (Rev. 21:24).
- The dead will be raised bodily. The bodies of all believers—both those still alive and those raised from the grave—will be glorified (1 Cor. 15:51-52).
- King Jesus will judge all people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (Matt. 25:31-46).
- Satan will be vanquished and banished forever (Rev. 20:10).
- The current fallen creation will be cleansed and purified by fire, and we will get to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell the “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:7-13).
- We will be reunited with all who have died in the faith (Rev. 7:9)—our Christian loved ones, friends, mentors, and so on.
- We will rejoice and exult at the great marriage feast of the Lamb and His Bride made ready, clothed with fine linen, bright and pure (Rev. 19:6-9).
- And, finally, we will see God face to face, and He will dwell with us forever (Rev. 21:3; 22:4), just as He intended in the beginning.
So, whether you see the whole universe coming unglued as Jesus says, or whether your own personal universe comes unglued in smaller ways, “straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” Raise your heads because your redemption began drawing near when the sun hid its light and the earth quaked on Good Friday as Jesus hung lifeless on a tree for you. Raise your heads because your redemption drew nearer when the Sun of righteousness—the Word made flesh—rose bodily on the third day with healing in His wings for you. Raise your heads because your true and only King has ascended to the right hand of the Father where all things are under His feet, where He rules over all authority and power and dominion, and where even now He blesses you with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3).
Your coming redemption is also already here. It draws near in the washing of regeneration and renewal. It draws near in Jesus’ words that will not pass away. It draws near when you feed on Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood. “Whoever feeds on [His] flesh and drinks [His] blood has eternal life, and [Jesus] will raise him up on the last day” (Jn. 6:54).
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13). Amen.