Judging by the number of books written on the subject, we ought to be able to predict Christ’s return down to the minute, but the fact is nobody knows the hour or day. Jesus could return before the end of the year, or he might return after you have died of ripe old age. Only God knows.
From time to time a wave of paranoia sweeps over social media regarding the imminent end of the world and the physical return of King Jesus. Y2K. Mayan calendars. Planets aligning and blood moons. Pandemics and Presidential elections. The market for bad predictions is lucrative, but every misguided prophecy regarding the Lord’s return – and there have been thousands – has proven false. Every. Single. One.
You should not be troubled by these random outbreaks of hysteria, for the Bible declares that the when of Christ’s return is a mystery. You don’t know when, you don’t need to know when, you just need to be ready for when.
But while the Bible is silent about when, it says a lot about what. Here are six awesome things that will happen when Christ returns:
1. Jesus will arrive with a shout
Jesus’ first arrival was a largely unheralded birth in a stable in a one-horse town. In contrast, his return will be a glorious and loud procession that is visible to all.
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God (1 Thess. 4:16a)
If history is a play, then the final scene is where the Author and Hero of the story steps onto the stage to vanquish his foes. Jesus’ return is the climax of history. It will be beyond spectacular!
2. The dead will rise
And the dead in Christ will rise first. (1 Thess. 4:16b)
Paul wrote these words to people who were sad. “Do not grieve,” he said, “For those who sleep in death will rise to new life.”
Was Paul preaching a literal resurrection? Some say that Jesus returned in AD70 and therefore there is no resurrection. It’s metaphorical or symbolic. Paul would disagree. “How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Cor. 15:12).
On the day the Lord returns, I expect to see my father and grandfather who both died when I was young. Parents will meet their miscarried children. It will be a day of joyful reunions.
3. We will be transformed
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Cor. 15:50-52)
Not all of us will die – some of us will be alive when the Lord returns – but we shall all be changed. Just as we have worn the earthly image of Adam, we shall bear the heavenly image of Christ. The older I get, the more I look forward to my new resurrection body, a body not subject to death, decay, and dentist’s visits.
4. We will meet the Lord in the air
Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:17)
In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, the virgins go out to meet the groom and then return with him. That’s a picture of the second or final coming when we who are still alive are caught up to meet the Lord.
Recall what the disciples heard as they watched Jesus ascending into heaven:
Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)
On that occasion Jesus went up; on his return he’ll come down. When he ascended to heaven resurrected saints ascended with him (Matt. 27:52-53). So picture Jesus ascending with a crowd of people. “It’ll be like that, but in reverse,” said the angels, meaning Jesus will come return with a crowd of people.
And we’re part of the crowd.
5. God will judge the living and the dead
Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28-29, NIV)
Those who have done good are those who “hear and believe,” for those who hearken to the good words of Jesus will live (John 5:24-25). In contrast, those who have done evil jam their fingers in their ears and refuse to hear the good things God says.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27, KJV)
The word for judgment means decision or verdict. Every one of us makes a decision about Jesus, and in the end every one of us gets exactly what we want. Those who desire life shall have it and in abundance, for Jesus is the Giver of Life. And those who prefer to have nothing to do with him shall get their wish too.
6. We shall be with the Lord forever
I used to think that the earth was a bus station and that my permanent home was in heaven. I now realize that the earth is God’s gift to humanity (Ps. 115:16) and God’s gifts are good.
Our home is broken and marred by sin, but just as God has not given up on us, he has not given up on our home. He’s not moving us out; he’s moving in. He’s not sending us to heaven; he’s bringing heaven to earth.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and he will dwell among them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be among them, and he will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:3-4)
First Adam cursed the earth with his disobedience, but Last Adam blessed the earth with his obedience. Now he sits enthroned until his enemies are put under his feet.
A good day
Satan, although defeated and disarmed, still “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Happily, his time is limited and his end is coming. When Jesus returns, Satan goes, and that will be a good day.
Jesus healed the sick, but many still suffer. His enemies of cancer, heart disease, depression, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s are still with us. But when he returns they will go, and that will be a good day.
Many of us have buried children, parents, or spouses. Families have been torn apart by death. But when Christ returns death itself will be defeated, and that will be a good day!
And so we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thess. 4:17)
Now there’s a promise to shade all others. We shall be with him, not just in spiritual union, but physically with him. It staggers the mind.
The Second or Final Coming of the Great King is not something to fear but something to long for. All our lives up until then will seem like a waking dream compared to the life we will share with him in eternity.
Comfort and encourage one another with these words. (1 Thess. 4:18)
The King is coming! Are you comforted? Are you encouraged?
Extracted and adapted from AD70 and the End of the World.