One Biblical topic that has always fascinated me since a young teenager has been the end times and the second coming of Christ. In my teenage years, even before I surrendered my life to Jesus, I couldn’t get enough of the Left Behind series. I can remember reading the Book of Revelation with little to no context and being absolutely stunned by the imagery and the promise of what was to come.
Since surrendering to Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9) in 2011, my fascination with the end times and the second coming of Christ has only intensified. In fact my fascination reached an unhealthy level that led to a paralysis, spiritually speaking, that led me to a place where I was looking so intently for the second coming of Christ that I was no longer fulfilling the Great Commission in my life (Matthew 28:18-20).
With all that said, the Bible has much to say about the end of days, the second coming of Jesus, and all we can expect as history reaches it climax in the fulfillment of all God’s promises. A quick cursory search reveals that over 20% of the Bible is prophetic in nature. Jesus Himself spoke at length (and in detail) concerning the end of days and His second coming.
Before we move forward I want to share a few reminders… it doesn’t matter if Jesus comes back today or a 1000 years from now, He is coming again. Jesus said it this way in the Scripture: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3 NIV) Before you dismiss this promise as some type of “spiritual” reunion only, remember that the sum total of all Scripture points to a physical, bodily resurrection and a physical, literal second coming of Jesus.
To be sure, the second coming of Jesus is a physical, visible event. Scripture says: “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30 NIV) There are literally tens of thousands of books, messages, podcasts, websites, and other media devoted to discussing the end times. I would strongly encourage you not to fall into the trap of debating other Christians about their view of the tribulation, the rapture, etc. Instead, I would focus on the truth: Jesus is literally coming again and all those who trust in Him as Lord will enter His eternal rest in a place free from death, pain, hunger, suffering because all the former things will pass away. (Revelation 21:4)
So the truth we’ve explored so far is this: Jesus promised to come again and His second coming is a physical, literal event that all humanity will witness. Now, and the primary point of this message, since Jesus promised to come again and we believe this promise is true, did He have anything to say concerning what to expect before He comes again? As it turns out, entire chapters in the New Testament are dedicated to answering this question.
It turns out that we aren’t the first people to ever wonder when the end of time will be. The disciples asked Jesus this same question as recorded in Matthew 24 and Luke 22. Jesus told the disciples: “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” Matthew 24:6-8 NIV) Notice a few important thoughts: Jesus told us not be “alarmed” when we see these promised things unfolding (they shouldn’t catch us unaware). Also all the things Jesus describes are “birth pains”, so we could expect the frequency, volume, and intensity to increase as it gets closer to His coming.
Some of the signs that Jesus gave us can speak to many different times throughout history. But an honest, critical examination of events we see unfolding in the world today point to an increasing frequency in every sign Jesus said we would see (in dramatic fashion).
In case you are like some who claim that the events in Matthew 24 have already occurred… a parallel account of the teaching of Jesus is found in Luke 21. Remember this promise: “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:25-27 NIV) If we aren’t careful this type of promise can really drive anxiety, fear, and despair as we think about all the awesome signs and wonders that will proceed the second coming of Jesus. In fact, Jesus promised people would “faint from terror”, but this doesn’t have to scare us as His followers. Jesus tells us: “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28 NIV)
Question… knowing that Jesus is coming again (spoiler alert: there is no doubt about this truth), how do we respond? I think our response must be one of joy, refreshing, and commitment. We should be serving Jesus every day like He could arrive at any minute. We should be sharing the Gospel with family, friends, colleagues, and our community as if today was the day that Jesus returns.
The Apostle Paul challenges us concerning the second coming: But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6 NIV) The second coming of Christ should cause us great joy! The hope we have in Christ is sure, His promises are true, and we can rejoice knowing that His coming (and our being with Him) is not something just to hope for but something to look forward to. More simply… we don’t have to wonder if these things will happen, we know they will.
The entire point of this message is to remind every follower of Jesus of His promises. As Paul says: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV) So brothers and sisters, be encouraged! Our hope is sure. Our God’s promises are true. Jesus is coming again! The other hope for this message is to tell every man and woman who hasn’t trusted in Jesus yet: time is running out. None of us are promised tomorrow… the most important question you will ever answer in life is this: what are you doing about Jesus?
If you find yourself here today and you aren’t really sure about Jesus, who He is, how you can know Him, or what all this is really about… please visit www.myemanuel.com/i-am-ready/
Disclaimer: This entire message is intended to simply remind the reader of the Scripture concerning the second coming of Christ. This is not a theological statement or defense of any specific view of the end times (i.e. pre-tribulation rapture, etc.).