WHEN JESUS RETURNS
The Son Of Man Returns
Jerry A Collins
ō What are the signs immediately preceding Jesusí return?
ō Why will the tribes of the earth mourn when Jesus returns?
ō Why are many of these signs seen in the heavens?
Each time a new season approaches we have signs that indicate its arrival. This autumn season has arrived and with the turn in the weather expected the next couple of days we will see signs of winter approaching. Jesus also says that there will be signs in the world that will herald His coming back to the earth. In what has been traditionally called the Olivet Discourse, so called because it was delivered to the disciples on the Mount of Olives, Jesus tells us what these signs are. So, what will this appearing look like? What are the events immediately preceding this return of Christ to reign?
1.† The 2nd Coming will be a public event for the whole world vs 26. Unlike the snatching away of the church, which apparently the world will not see or hear (possibly because insignificant in terms of numbers) and happens in a blink of an eye. The 2nd coming will be witnessed by both believers and unbelievers on earth then. Vs 27 describes the heavens being ablaze with the glory of God and according to Rev 1:7 every eye shall see him. His coming will be unmistakable. It will be a media event.
2. The 2nd Coming will happen immediately after the tribulation vs 29. After Danielís 70th 7 vs 15, 21. After the great tribulation of vs 21 (described in Rev 6-19) of 3 1/2 yrs culminates in the complete 7 yrs tribulation in vs 29 and Christís return to the earth. So it will immediately follow the tribulation when Godís judgment concludes.
3. The sky will be darkened vs 29. Whether from pollution of destruction, similar to something like the debris of the WTC (now they are concerned about the WTC cough) or war, or an act of God. The scene in the heavens seem it indicate† that the whole universe will begin to disintegrate. From Lukeís parallel account we learn that there will be dismay among the nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world, for the power of the heavens will be shaken (21:25-36). Isaiah 13:9-10 and Joel 2:21; 3:15 also foretold of these astral phenomena taking place. (a) These heavenly bodies will be falling or careening helter-skelter through space and all navigation for instance whether by stars, sun, magnetic will be futile because all stable reference points will have ceased to exist or become unreliable. (b) In Rev 8:12, 9:2, 16:10 darkness is mentioned as well. In 8:12 a third of the day is lacking normal light and a third of the night was without light from the moon and stars. (c) The darkness of 9:2 is associated with the opening of the abyss or pit allowing demons confined there to come out and afflict the earth. (d) In 16:10 The domain of Antichrist, the earth, becomes darkened and inflicted painful sores on people. Visually this is represented as a great smoke darkening the sky and the sun. People fear darkness and while the period of tribulation on the earth will be characterized by darkening, this will be intensified immediately before Jesus returns.
4. The Son will break through the dark sky vs 30.
The sign of signs will be the Son of Man himself, who will appear in the sky returning in clouds in which He had ascended (Acts 1:11). In the midst of this black chaos, with this backdrop, Jesus will return visibly (Rev 1:7) possibly in the lightning of vs 27 or in the brilliance of His own glory which will eventually illuminate the eternal new heaven and new earth (Rev 21:23). Jesus adds that He will return in His power (vs 30). It may be that this power will be demonstrated by binding and imprisoning Satan and his demons, and/or protecting His chosen people, and/or restoring the devastated earth, and/or establishing His rule over the earth, and/or conquering and destroying his enemies, and/or sending the antichrist and false prophet into the lake of fire! Noone has ever seen the full, complete unveiled glory of God in Jesus Christ even though some have had glimpses of it like Adam and Eve in the garden, the children of Israel in the pillar of fire or Peter, James and John at the Transfiguration. And noone will see the full thrust of His glory until He appears at His second coming and all of mankind will recognize Him as God though they will still refuse to honor Him as such. 5. This is very bad news for those unbelieving at this time vs. 30. Jesus says that the tribes of the earth will mourn. In spite of the severe† judgments† imposed††† upon them previously, in Rev 16:9,11 & 21 the people chose to curse God on account of the plagues revealing the hardness of their hearts neither repenting nor giving God glory! Now knowing Christ is returning they mourn or strike their breast as a reaction of mourning either because they now know their judgment has come or because they are now forced to submit and cannot act independently any longer or both! We know that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.....and every mouth should confess (whether willing or unwilling) that Jesus Christ is Lord... (Phil 2:10-11). We have some clues then that this is a second coming not a rapture;
(1) The action is down not up. (2) Bad news not good news. (3) Focuses on the world not the believer. (4) For judgment not comfort. (5) Immediately after the tribulation not at the end of the church age. Notice the church is never mentioned in a tribulation passage here or after Rev 3. (6) Believers are gathered called the elect in vs 31 on the earth and not meet Christ in the clouds/air. (7) Since many signs precede it, it is not an imminent event. (8) It is not in a moment like the blink of an eye (1 Thess 4:13) but a process that is observed long enough for the world to see it and fear.
6. The angels gather people for both blessing and judgment vs 31. Angels will be used to gather unbelievers for judgment and punishment (Matt 13:41, 49) and believers for reward, glory and rule with Christ vs 31. As a trumpet heralded an assembly to announce important news, so this trumpet will signal the assembling of Godís saints on earth from wherever they may be. Many are probably still hiding out in caves, fearful for their lives. These gathered ones will include the 144000 Jewish witnesses (Rev 7:4; 14:1-5) who were supernaturally protected by God, their converts and converts of the angelic preachers. These gathered ones not martyred will participate in Christís kingdom rule on earth and repopulate it.
1. Jesus will return right on cue. Each of these signs will set the stage for Him.
2. When he returns He will establish Himself as Ruler of the universe.
3. We should be ready and on the alert. In our case, we should be on the alert for the Rapture, but also those during the Tribulation waiting for the Second Coming should be on the alert. We will be on the alert when we are faithful, sensible, and doing our calling.
4. On the one hand, the Second Coming of Christ is unannounced, no one knows the day or the hour. On the other hand, itís preceded by signs, as with the fig tree and the days of Noah. There are two great signs todayó(1) the tendency toward global government and global religion, greatly accelerated since the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, and (2) the widespread availability of immorality, via the internet, videos, movies, television, homosexuality, divorce, and abortion.