The Second Coming of Christ, Part 2 (Matthew Sermon 126 of 151)
June 13, 2010 | Andrew Davis
Glory of God, Judgement Day, Second Coming of Christ, Prophecy, Return of Christ
Have any of you ever spent a night just stargazing, just out on a beautiful night, looking at the stars? Looking up and seeing the beauties there are up there, and the mysteries, really. I think, for centuries, human beings have done that. They're just laying on their backs on those starry nights and looked up, studied the sky, enthralled by its lights and its complex movements. Ancient peoples trying to predict the movement of the stars and the planets, which are very complex, erected elaborate observatories like Stonehenge in England, and Tonantzintla in Mexico. And there's this other place just south of Berlin, that's the oldest of them all.
Ancient Babylonians and Egyptians combined careful observations of the movements of the celestial beings, the stars and the planets, that science called astronomy, with superstitious religious ideas of how those stars affect events on earth, and that's astrology. First is astronomy, the second astrology. Kings like Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon would consult with the stargazers and the experts in the stars, to try to find out if the stars were favorable to a military invasion or some other grand endeavor. And so, astrology, the idea that the stars somehow affect events on earth. Now, the march of knowledge about the heavenly host is fascinating to historians of science.
Recently, I was watching a program that was aired on the History Channel about the history of the study of the stars and planets, and the human race, and this program gave me a sense of the infinitude, again, the infinitude of our universe, just its immense scope and how small the Earth really is. Our tiny planet revolves around the sun, massive sun, which converts 700 million tons of hydrogen to 695 million tons of helium every second, generating just almost incalculable power, which heats the earth, generates light. The Earth is just one of seven planets revolving around the sun. However, the sun itself is moving.
Our entire solar system, science tells us, is spinning and moving, flying through space at 134 miles per second, turning in circles as a tiny part out of a wing of the galaxy known as the Milky Way, where we make our home. Estimates put the number of stars in the Milky Way at 200 billion. Furthermore, astronomers tell us that the Milky Way is one of 125 billion such galaxies that together make up the visible universe. The universe is immense, and scientists tell us it's expanding. It's getting bigger.
Now, these facts make some Bible verses just explode with power. How about when King Solomon dedicated the temple? 1 Kings 8:27, he's kneeling down, he's got his arms spread up to the heavens. And he looks up, and after having dedicated this beautiful temple, I think he's struck with a moment of humility, and he says, “But will God really dwell on Earth? Heaven, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this temple that I have built?”
So also David in Psalm 8, verse 3 and 4, he says, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers.” Think about that, the word “fingers,” God's fingers making the cosmos. “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man, that you care for him?”
Now, the History Channel had a typically smug attitude about the Christian faith and its resistance to this inevitable march of cosmology. At the core of its presentation was a story of how man moved from belief in the Earth as the center of the universe, until we came to realize that it isn't. Following is a quotation from the program, wrote it down word-for-word, “Simple observations can lead to fundamentally wrong conclusions. When you look out at the universe, the first sense you get is that the universe is revolving around us, stars go across the night sky, the sun goes across during the day. The sense was that the Earth was fixed and that the universe was revolving around us, but that perception is completely wrong. Earth isn't fixed, it's not the center of everything. It's actually not the center of anything.” Hold on to that thought for a moment. “It's not the center of anything. The whole history of cosmology is Earth’s relentless retreat from center stage.”
They then traced out how Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, had stated the universe was somewhat like an onion, with the Earth at the center, and then concentric spheres around it. Ptolemy based his calculations on Aristotle and predicted, amazingly, accurately, the movement of the planets, even though the whole conception was wrong from top to bottom.
It wasn't until 1543, when a Polish deacon in a cathedral, with a nighttime hobby of astronomy, published on his deathbed, his Earth-shaking work concerning the revolution of the celestial orbs. Of course, that man was Nicolaus Copernicus, and his theory focused on two major changes. One, that the sun and not the Earth is the center of the solar system. And number two, that the Earth itself is revolving on its own axis, hence, we get day and night. The History Channel said Copernicus published on his deathbed for fear of reprisals from the dogmatic church, that was opposing this inevitable march of science.
How much more, then, was the same theme sounded when they turned to the case of Galileo. In the 17th century, a 1609 invention of the telescope, a wooden tube with two finely ground lenses at each end, magnified the sky a paltry 30 times, but still, that changed everything. Galileo was able to see some details and some things up in the night sky that nobody had ever noticed before. And one of those details was that the planet Venus actually goes through phases like the moon, waxing and waning, and this proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Copernicus was right, Venus was actually going around the sun.
He published his results in a 1610 book entitled “The Starry Messenger.” Amazingly, at first, the Roman Catholic church was somewhat open to his findings. As a matter of fact, one cardinal, Baronius, said famously this, “The Bible tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.” Later, however, the Catholic Church opposed Galileo because he sought to find a way to harmonize scripture with what he had been finding through his telescope, and that's where the Pope stepped in and forced him to recant.
What does any of this have to do with today's sermon? Well, you may think, “Not much, just our pastor likes lots of science and history stuff,” but it's not so much that. The fact is, we're in the middle of Matthew 24, discussing the events around the second coming of Christ. Did you notice what it said? The scriptures reveal that one of the aspects of the second coming will be the affecting, and that's an understatement, the affecting of the cosmos. Basically, dear friends, the end of the physical universe as we know it.
Amazingly then, astronomy is the study of the motion of the stars, as I've said. Astrology, that mythological superstitious religion, astrology, the prediction of how those stars affect events on Earth. But according to Matthew 24 and Revelation, the real question is, how will events on Earth affect the stars? Isn't that mind-blowing? And not so much, how do the stars move, but rather, how will the stars come to an end? So amazingly, the second coming of Christ will be a phenomenon we will see in the sky that will revert everything back again.
The Earth will indeed be the center of the universe. I don't mean the physical center, that's not necessary, or the sun revolving around the Earth, but rather the drama of redemptive history playing out is the center of what God is doing in the universe. And when that drama is done playing out, then the stars will be finished, as we know them. Look at verse 29, “Immediately after the distress of those days, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. The stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”
Just as it had said earlier in Isaiah 34 in verse 4, “All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll. All the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree.” Revelation 6:12-14, “I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to the Earth as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll rolling up.” Hebrews 1:10-12, “In the beginning, oh Lord, you laid the foundations of the Earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain. They will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe. Like a garment, they will be changed, but you remain the same and your years will never end.”
That's four different predictions of the same thing, the end of the starry host, as we know it. Now, Cardinal Baronius's statement, “The Bible tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go,” is only half true. The Bible does, in fact, tell us how to go to heaven, but it also does tell us how the heavens will go, or specifically, how the heavens will go away. And we have that in our text today.
So, this morning, we are going to learn to gaze at the stars again, to look up at the sky, to find the truth coming from the sky, not in the stars and the planets and their complex movements, but in the return of Jesus with the clouds. That's what we're gonna be studying from the sky, the second coming of Christ.
And why not? Because again and again, in redemptive history, God's people have been encouraged to look upward to study the sky. Think, for example, in Genesis 15, when God invited Abraham out of his tent and had him look up at the starry host. You remember that? Abraham wasn't sure how God was gonna give him anything, since Eliezer of Damascus was his heir. He had no son, he and Sarah were barren. They didn't have any children. “What can you give me since Eliezer is my heir?” He said, “Come out. I wanna show you something.” So he brought him out under the starry sky, and he said, “Look up at the stars and count them if you can.” Then he made him that promise, “So shall your offspring be.” Abraham believed the Lord and it was credited to him as righteousness. He, our father, in faith, believed as he was looking up at the stars, “I'm gonna have this number of descendants.”
Or how about at the birth of Christ, when the Magi were led by a celestial being? Some kind of mysterious wandering star that moved across the heavens and led them on a journey, and then eventually stopped in Bethlehem over the place where the child lay with his mother.
Or how about at the death of Christ, when there was a miraculous eclipse of the sun? From the sixth hour until the ninth hour, the sun turned dark. This eclipse was noted by pagan historians. Tertullian said, “Your own records,” he said to a Roman audience, “Your own records noted the eclipse at that time.” It was recorded in the scriptures. And they looked up at the heavens and they did not understand what was happening. Well, the Son of God was dying for the sins of the world. And so, there was a celestial portent, an eerie, a supernatural darkness coming because of the eclipse.
Or simply just the church, as it was at the time, there with Jesus after his resurrection, on the Mount of Olives, and Jesus, after giving them the great commission, ascended before their eyes. And he went higher and higher and higher, until finally, a cloud hid him from their sight, and they're just standing there gazing up into the sky. I don't think we ought to spend our lives doing that. Okay. You're gonna get fired from your job, you're not gonna get a good grade on your final exam. Okay. We are called on to live our lives. I Thessalonians talks about that, II Thessalonians as well. We have to be hard workers, not lounging on other people. The fact of the matter is, in our hearts, at least, we're to be looking upward because our redemption is drawing nigh. And so, the purpose of this whole exegesis and all these sermons in Matthew 24 is to cause you to live your lives looking upward, waiting for the second coming of Christ.
Now, as I said, this is already the second message directly on the second coming of Christ, the word coming in the Greek is parousia. It's in Matthew 24, four times. In verse 3, it says, “As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘When will this happen, destruction of Jerusalem, and what will be the sign of your coming?’” Parousia. The end of the age. Again, in verse 27, “As lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Parousia. Again, verse 37, “As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man.” And again, in verse 39, “They knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all the way. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”
Four verses used this word “coming” and then the verse that we're studying today, verse 30, “At that time, the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and all the nations of the Earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. That is the second coming of Christ.”
The Second Coming Will Be Obvious to All
No Secret Second Coming
Now, last time, when we looked at it a number of weeks ago, I said, first and foremost, the second coming is going to be obvious to everyone. Look at verse 26. “If anyone tells you, ‘There he is out in the desert,’ do not go out. Or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.” There's not gonna be any secret second coming. It's gonna be like lightning, visible from one end of the heavens to the other, verse 27.
No Need for Faith
There'll be no need for faith. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for. If you are believers today, you have a solid hope in the second coming of Christ. You have assertitude that Jesus is most certainly coming back. Amen? And you're hoping for it. You're longing for it. Just like Paul talked about in 2 Timothy 4, You're looking forward to the day of God. You're longing for that day. It's the assurance of things hoped for, conviction of things not seen.
That's what faith has to do. And so, there will be no need for faith, Every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, the scripture says. And so, everyone will be able to see the second coming of Christ. No need for faith.
No Opportunity for Salvation
And therefore, I believe no opportunity for salvation, because throughout all of redemptive history, from that time of Abraham, in which it was clearly exemplified, but even before that, because Abel offered his offering by faith, right on through all the way through redemptive history, sinners have been made righteous in the sight of God, only one way, and that's by faith. Faith in the promises of God. Now for us, in this era of redemptive history, openly and clearly, faith in Jesus Christ.
Faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ saves your soul. And Jesus is invisible. He's proclaimed, he's preached all over the world, in almost every tribe and language and people and nation. Even right now, the name of Jesus is being proclaimed. The gospel is being proclaimed. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. And so, now is the time of salvation. Today is the day of faith. But when Jesus comes back, there'll be no faith required. Jesus will just appear, and everyone will see him. And therefore, there'll be on that day no opportunity for salvation. We talked about that last time.
The Second Coming Will Purify the World of Evil
The Spiritual Interpretation: A Carcass is the Focus of Spiritual Infection
Secondly, we said that the second coming will purify the world of its filth, of its evil. I talked about this strange verse, verse 28, “Wherever there's a carcass, there the vultures will gather.” I said that there's a physical and a spiritual interpretation of this. First, I gave you the spiritual one, that at the end of the world, there'll be a great escalation of wickedness and sin and lawlessness. 2 Timothy 3 in verse 2 and following. “But mark this, there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers to themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God.” That's what it's gonna be like in an increasing way, the increase of wickedness Jesus talks about in Matthew 24.
It's going to be a filthy time, consummated in the reign of the antichrist, the mark of the beast, and the open repudiation of all worship of the true God in favor of worship of this man, the antichrist. It's gonna be a filthy time. The world will be consummating its love and wickedness and sin. And so, the Lord is going to send out his angels, it says, and he's gonna weed out of his kingdom, everything that causes sin, and all those who do evil. The word vulture could be translated eagles, but either way, the vultures do us a good service, as I mentioned. They clean up the Earth from carrion. And so, the spiritual interpretation is that the second coming of Christ is going to purge the world of its evil.
The Physical Interpretation: Dead Bodies Everywhere
The physical interpretation is, there's gonna be a tremendous carnage at the final battle. There's gonna be a lot of dead people. There's gonna be a lot of dead bodies, and the birds in the air will then come and feed on the flesh. You have both a physical and a spiritual interpretation.
The Second Coming Will Affect the Cosmos
Copernicus’s Revolution: The Earth is Not the Physical Center of the Universe
Alright, but now we get to the new stuff today, and that is that the second coming of Christ is going to affect the cosmos. Look at verse 29, “Immediately after the distress,” or tribulation, “of those days, the sun will be dark and then the moon will not give its light. The stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” Now, as I said, Copernicus taught us rightly that, physically, the Earth is not the center of the universe, or even the center of the solar system. And so, we accept that. We don't have any problem with that.
The Second Coming’s Restoration: The Earth is the Spiritual Center of the Universe
However, I believe that the second coming of Christ will establish the Earth as the spiritual center of the universe, where everything that God is doing in the universe is happening. It's all focused here. It must be that way because, if we're gonna go with the straight kind of blind mindless, evolutionary, atheistic way of looking at the universe, that there are perhaps, they estimate 6 billion stars in our own galaxy, supporting, with planets, some of them must be supporting life on it. Have you ever heard this kind of talk? It's all so random and godless. Each one of those has its own god, or is there only one God that creates the whole universe? The fact that all the stars fall from the sky at the end of events here on Earth say that the Earth is the focus of what God's doing in the world. This is the place dear friends. This is where it's happening.
We should have learned that right from the beginning of the Bible, Genesis chapter 1, why were the sun and the moon and the stars made to begin with? And what does it say? It says in Genesis 1:16-17, “God made two great lights, the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.” By the way, “he also made the stars,” one of the great understatements in all history. Genesis 1:16, “He also made the stars,” verse 17, “God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light to the Earth.” Now, what is that? The purpose of the stars is given there and the sun, the moon is so that they can give light to the Earth, that's why God made them. It's an earthly focus an Earth purpose for the sun, the moon and the stars. God said earlier in Genesis 1:14, “Let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.” Again, an earthbound purpose.
So that's at the beginning of creation, so also the end of time. We learn that the heavenly bodies have an earthly purpose. When history on Earth, redemptive history on Earth reaches its end, then their time up in the cosmos, as we know it, the stars as we know it, will come to an end. I keep saying, “stars as we know it,” I don't know God's plan for the sky in the new heaven and the new Earth. It's going to be spectacular. I know that the glory of Jesus is gonna be radiating the whole universe, but let's just let God do that. We know that star differs from star and splendor, and so there's gonna be bright, glorious, shining things in the new heaven, new Earth, and the new Jerusalem, but the stars as we know it, the cosmos, as we know it, will end with the second coming of Christ. So that means that the Earth really is the center of the universe, spiritually, not physically.
The sun and the moon, it says, will be darkened, think about that, I gave you that statistic earlier that the sun converts 700 million tons of hydrogen to 695 million tons of helium every second. That's immense, just almost immeasurable power, nuclear fusion going on all the time, a power that just infinitely dwarfs anything the human race can do. And God turns it off like a night light. He just shuts it down.
Because that's the power of God. It is shining now at the command of God, by God's word, the heavens are upheld, and all of the sun, and then the reflected light of the moon and the stars are coming because God wills it every moment. So what does it say? Well, Revelation likens the falling of the stars in the Earth, like the tumbling of ripe figs from a tree. What does that look like? How does that work? How does the Hubble Space Telescope and all that fit? I have no idea friends, I'm just telling what's in the Bible like four or five different times.
God has the power to do that. Just because we don't know how he can do it, or how it's going to work, it shouldn't trouble us. Think what it says in Isaiah 40, it says of the Lord, “look up to heaven, look up to the heavens and consider the starry host, who created all these? He brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and his mighty strength,” Listen to this, “Because of his great power and his mighty strength not one of them is missing.”
Now, you say that's just poetical language. Dear friends, God upholds the universe. The stars come out at night, they come out and shine on the Earth because God wills that they do so. When God stops willing that, they'll stop shining on the Earth. And if he wants to do one last thing where they're kind of falling to the Earth, like the big end of a fireworks display, God can do that. I'm just saying it's the end of the cosmos as we know it, this is immense power at the second coming of Christ.
Zechariah 14:6-7 also testifies to the oddity of that day. It's gonna be a day unlike any other, he said. Zechariah 14, it says, “On that day, there will be no light, no cold, no frost. It will be a unique day without daytime or night time, a day known to the Lord, when evening comes, there will be light.” It's an unusual day, a day unlike any there has ever been in history, the Second Coming of Christ.
The sun's light will fail, but Christ's splendor and his glory will shine in the sky, and everyone's going to see it. It says when the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, it's gonna be an awesome display of power and glory.
The Powers of the Heavens Shaken
And it says the powers of the heavens will be shaken. NIV gives us the heavenly bodies, but the Greek Word is “dunamis,” the word for “power,” from which we get the word “dynamite.” The powers of the heavens will be shaken. I think it goes beyond just the planets and the stars and all that. I think this is referring at this point to Satan's power, talks about in many verses, the powers and the principalities, and the rulers and the authorities and all that.
Remember that the last seven years of history, Satan is openly reigning on Earth, all of his demons reigning and openly reigning through the antichrist, it's Satan's time on Earth. And so therefore, I think this could very well refer to Satan's kingdom, the spiritual forces or powers of demons and archdemons, rulers and authorities and powers in the heavenly realms will come to an end when Christ returns. Satan and his forces have been dominating the Earth in one sense, from the fall, and all the more under the reign of Antichrist, but they'll come to an end. They will be shaken.
Now, I love that word “shaken.” It's a powerful word. More powerful than any earthquake will be the shaking that comes when Jesus returns. And so the author to Hebrews, talking about what it was like to stand on Mount Sinai, or at the base of Mount Sinai. When the Lord came down in a dark cloud with thunder and lightning, and this powerful voice of God speaking the Ten Commandments, and the very ground under their feet was shaking, and everyone was terrified, Moses was... He said, “I am shaking with fear.” He was afraid of death at that moment, everyone terrified, even Moses.
The author to Hebrew says that was in the past, when the law came on Mount Sinai. What about the future? Well, Hebrews 12:26 and 27, “At that time, his voice shook the Earth, but now he has promised, ‘Once more, I will shake not only the Earth but also the heavens.’ The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken - that is, created things - so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” I love the next verses in Hebrews 12, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God with reverence and awe for our God is a consuming fire.”
That should bring you so much joy, the kingdom that you entered when you believed in Jesus cannot be shaken, and why? Because God himself upholds it by his own promises, you have entered a permanent abode, a permanent house, and it will never be shaken. You've built your house on the rock and it will not come crashing down, but it will stand forever, but everything else is gonna come down around us, difference, everything else. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken and brought down, and those are created things. And so the cosmos, the power of the cosmos, will be shaken.
The stage is now set for the glorious second coming of Christ, heavenly bodies will bow and get out of the way, their light will be extinguished like tiny candles blown out in a hurricane, the vast immense powers of heaven and Earth will be shaken. Everything's ready for Jesus to make his glorious entrance.
The Second Coming Will Be Powerful and Glorious
The Sign of the Son of Man
And so he comes. Look at verse 30, “At that time, the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the Earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.”
That is the second coming of Christ, here in Matthew 24, verse 30, it says, “The sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky.” Chrysostom thought this would be the sign of the cross, that there's gonna be just this appearance of a cross up in the sky. The word “sign” usually meant something pointing to the coming kingdom, something like that, usually referred to miracles, signs and wonders, healings, that kind of thing.
Remember that the Antichrist has been doing great signs and wonders to deceive even the elect, if that were possible. And he is deceiving the world who are not elect, and they're drawn in by the sign. Well, this is the one sign that reigns over all others, but I don't think it's really a sign. Well, what is the sign? It's Jesus himself. He'll be here, and we'll see him with our own eyes, and he will appear in the sky with power and great glory.
Remember with the false wonder workers in the time of the Exodus, remember how Pharaoh's magicians were able to imitate a few of those things with the blood and a couple of other things like that? But there came a point, I think it was the gnats, where they said, “We cannot do this. This is the finger of God.” This is the finger of God. They said that when a bunch of gnats showed up, but they recognized the finger of God. Well, how about better? This is the Son of God. Not merely the finger of God, antichrist can't imitate that. Satan can't imitate that. They'll all be bowing down because Jesus is returning. This is the sign of the son of man appearing in the sky. It's Jesus himself reigning.
“They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” Why Son of Man? Well, you know this was Jesus' favorite title to refer to himself, I think he's harkening back to Daniel chapter 7, Daniel 7 talks about the beast coming up out of the sea. One empire after another, they're like beasts, mindless, ripping, flesh-eating, dominating. And in the middle of all of that, Daniel 7, you have this vision of the heavenly court. The Ancient of Days, Almighty God seated in his throne and the river of fire flowing from his throne, and thousands upon thousands of angels attended him. 10,000 times 10,000 stood before him ready to serve.
And the beasts are stripped of their power and authority, and suddenly this figure, this one, like a Son of Man, comes into the presence of the Ancient of Days. He comes to the throne of Almighty God, he approached the Ancient of Days. He comes one like a Son of Man with, it says, the clouds of heaven. And “he approached the Ancient of Days, and he was led into his presence. And he was given authority.” Do you not see the perfect unity of the Bible? All authority in heaven and Earth has been given to me. The Ancient of Days in Daniel 7's vision, gave the Son of Man authority and power and glory over all peoples and nations and many of every language, he gets it from God, and he brings it back down to the Earth with the clouds of the heavens.
Will Appear in the Sky
He's got authority and power over every nation on Earth, and he brings it back down. It’s the very thing that Jesus said at his arrest and his trial before the Jewish authorities. He made them a prediction. He said, “In the future, you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” It's amazing to me how the clouds are never far from second coming passages. There's always clouds, awesome clouds, it's gonna appear in the sky, and everyone's gonna stop what they're doing and they're gonna look up. People will be marrying and giving a marriage, we'll talk more about that in another sermon, shopping, working, laughing, playing. Suddenly the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and everything stops. Clouds and glory are mentioned in so many different passages to give you a sense of the immense majesty of the presence of Jesus.
Imagine the most awesome display of clouds you've ever seen. I referred to one I saw from an airplane a few weeks ago when I was preaching, but Carolyn and I saw some pretty awesome ones, remember as we were flying into Pune. It's monsoon season coming and boy, those were impressive clouds. She asked, “Dad, are these as good as the ones you saw from flying from New York?" I said, “They're better.” There was some awesome turbulence too, really exciting, kind of like a carnival ride, the plane bucking and moving and all that, people starting to make sounds. I was wondering if I was gonna get a chance to preach the gospel one last time to the people on the plane, and what I was going to say. It was very dramatic, the buffeting we got and then the awesome clouds flying through that, as I said, like a valley of giants.
Sights and Sounds
So I picture something like that. I picture them ignited with the glory of Jesus, radiantly shining brightly. Perhaps even lightning will be there as Jesus enters the Earth. Power and great glory, and an army of the heavenly host with him. Sights and sounds. What will we see? What will we hear? The voice of the archangel giving out commands?
I think that's where he sends out the angels to get us. We'll talk about that next week with the rapture. That's next week, friends, the rapture thing, you've got one week to think of me as an orthodox pastor, and then next week I get to preach on the rapture. But I do believe in a rapture, and we'll talk about that in detail next week.
All Nations will See It
The trumpet call of God and the appearance of glory and the majesty of the clouds, and the armies of heaven, and all the nations will see it all over the world.
The Second Coming Will Result in Judgment on Sinners
Why Will they all Mourn?
And the second coming will result in judgment on sinners. It says in verse 30, “All the nations of the Earth will mourn.” Why will they mourn? Revelation 17 says, “Look he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. And all the peoples of the Earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.” They are mourning because it's Judgment Day, the time has come for their sins to be judged.
This Can Only Be the Mourning of Terror at the Glory of God
It says in John chapter 3, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” People are running and hiding, they wanna find a place to hide, but they can’t. The glory of the pure light of Christ means instant judgment for the sinners on the Earth, they'll mourn because judgment is coming on them forever and ever. Their fleshly pleasures are ended, they'll mourn because the Bible thumpers were right after all, they'll mourn because they're going to spend an eternity in torment, they'll mourn because they will spend eternity in regret that they did not redeem the time when they heard the gospel.
The Second Coming Will Result in the Gathering of the Elect
And so the second coming of Christ will result in final judgment on sinners, and as we'll discuss next week, the second coming will result in the gathering of the elect. Verse 31, “He will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds from one end of the heavens to the other.” More on that next week.
Come to Christ
Now, what applications can we take from this second coming of Christ? Well, first is very open and obvious. Dear friends, today is the day of salvation, now is the time of faith. We are called on to believe in the gospel, no matter who God sends to proclaim it. So today, you get to listen to my gravely nasty voice telling you the good news of Jesus.
But here's the good news, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, born of the virgin Mary, lived a sinless, miraculous life, and he came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom, as a substitute ransom for you and me. And if you are a sinner and you know that you cannot stand before this holy God, blameless and unafraid, unless Jesus Christ is your savior, flee to Christ today while there's time. You don't know when you'll die, and you don't know when the second coming of Christ will be, you don't know either one of those, none of us does. Prepare today. Listen, believe now. Look to Jesus, dead on the cross, his blood shed for sinners like you and me. Trust in him and believe that God raised him from the dead on the third day, and you will be saved.
Be Not Dismayed at the Apparent Triumph of Christ’s Enemies
Secondly, don't be dismayed at the rhetoric of the godless and the atheist who say, “Look, everything goes on as it always has, it's never gonna come,” and they talk like this, you know, “The whole history of science is the retreat of Earth from center stage.” Well, Earth is gonna make a big comeback, it's definitely gonna be the center when Jesus Christ returns. Don't be dismayed at it.
One of the experts, a physics professor that I actually knew at MIT, is still there at MIT, he said, “Anyone that doesn't believe in such and such is considered a crackpot.” Well behold a crackpot. I believe in the second coming of Christ. And you know the scripture already tells us, we're crackpots anyway. Alright, we have this treasure in what? Earthen vessels, jars of clay, we're cracked all over, dear friends. I think if Professor Guth would acknowledge that he also was a cracked pot, then Jesus can save him, but the fact of the matter is Jesus is coming back, don't be dismayed by what they say.
Live Every Moment in Light of the Second Coming of Christ
Thirdly, if you can live every moment in the light of the second coming of Christ, you will live a godly life. We're gonna talk more about this at the end of the chapter. I don't wanna steal my thunder from that, but you need to be ready. Jesus basically tells multiple stories saying, you need to get ready, you need to be ready. Five wise and five foolish virgins. It's all about being ready, the five and the two, and the one talent is about making the most of what God's entrusted you while you have time here on Earth. Let's live our lives always in light of the second coming of Christ.
Never Look at the Sky and the Clouds the Same Again
When you see a beautiful sunset, when you look up at the clouds and you see them, just think Jesus is coming back some day, just make it more real and more vivid in your heart and your mind than it's been up to this point. Never look at the clouds again the same way. Always think about Jesus coming back.
As You Struggle With Sin, Do it in Light of Your Future Transformation at the Second Coming of Christ
And as you struggle with sin, and we all do, struggle in light of the second coming of Christ. I John 3:2-3 says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are.” We know, he says, “We are children of God, and when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
That's glorification, in an instant, when you see Jesus, you'll be instantly made perfect. Awesome. A transformation, instant perfection. But listen to what John says, I John 3:3, “Everyone who has this hope in him, purifies himself just as he is pure.” That means now, today, by putting sin to death, by leading a godly life, by laying before Jesus and saying, “Lord, search me and know me and show me my defilements now, so that I'm not ashamed that you're coming, I don't wanna have anything to hide, I wanna live an open and godly life, purify me and make me ready for your coming.”
Long for that Day!
And long for that day. Yearn for it and long for that day. And look forward to the day of God and speed its coming by your witness, by outreach, and evangelism. It's what God's called on us to do. Would you close with me in prayer?