The Second Coming of Christ, Part 1 (Matthew Sermon 125 of 151)
May 23, 2010 | Andrew Davis
Glory of God, Second Coming of Christ, Return of Christ
Turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 24. We're looking today at the topic of the second coming of Christ as we go verse by verse through Matthew, focusing on 26-31. There is no way I'm going to finish this topic in one message either, so it's gonna be this time and the next time. We also have the joy of celebrating the Lord's Supper, so just relax and let's see if we can learn what the Lord has to say about the events and the circumstances surrounding his second coming.
At the end of his life of suffering and fruitful ministry, the Apostle Paul sat isolated, forsaken by many of his closest friends in a jail cell, awaiting his own execution. You can read about the circumstances of his feelings and what was going on in his life in 2 Timothy, his last epistle. In 2 Timothy chapter 4, he said these words that are very familiar to you, you hear them perhaps frequently at funerals. But he wrote this to Timothy, he said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” That part is very familiar. What follows is not so familiar, listen to what he says. “Now there is in store for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
Is that you? Do you long for the appearing of Jesus Christ in the clouds, for the trumpet call of God? Do you long for that? And if you'd longed for it a little, my goal is you long for it more as a result of this sermon today. And that if you don't long for it at all, that you'll be converted, and by the end of this message, you'll long for it. Surprised by grace today, surprised by the sovereign act of God in saving you, you will long for the second coming of Christ at the end of this message. That's my prayer, I prayed for that today. For you Christians that you'll be heated up inside you and yearn for the day when Jesus will appear in the clouds. Yearn for that day. Be hungry for it, and yearn for it. And if you're not a believer, that you'll come to faith in Christ, and you'll realize that one who's coming in the clouds, he's your savior, he's your king, and he's coming back in glory to get you. That's my desire and my prayer.
Feelings, strong feelings of a yearning for the second coming of Christ have come on me at different times in my life. It's not all equally, and I'm not feeling it all the time, but I can remember three in particular. I remember the summer after I graduated from college, I went on a trip with a friend of mine, crosscountry, just the two of us, probably the greatest time of freedom in my life. No, dear family, that's not my favorite time in my life, but it was a time of great freedom, you know what it's like. And I had a job waiting for me when I came back, and we just did whatever we wanted to do for two weeks. It was fantastic. And as we went across, we came to Montana, big sky country. Well, you have to see it to believe it, it's just amazing
And we came to the edge of this valley and were starting to go across, and our destination was Butte, Montana. Now, that's a different matter. At any rate, anybody been to Butte? It's a strip mining place. It's not necessarily that beautiful, but this valley was beautiful. And as we came, the clouds started to darken the sky, very, very dramatic out there. And this big sky was filled with these very dramatic clouds, and suddenly an electrical storm started. And I saw lightning appear in the east and go all the way across to the west. It was awesome, absolutely awesome.
And we got out of the car to watch until we felt personally threatened by the electrical storm, got back in the car. And having been to MIT, we'd learned, inside the car, Coulomb's law, you're safe. So, stay in there. Ask me later about Coulomb's law, it has nothing to do with theology, but you're safe inside the car. And so I was looking at that, and I thought about the second coming of Christ as lightning that flashes in the east is visible even in the west. And I'd never seen such a big and dramatic sky in my life, that was 1984.
Ten years later, I was serving as a missionary in Japan, and I went every Saturday to a city in Japan called Takamatsu. I traveled there alone on a train, and I was teaching English to some of the Japanese folks there. Sweet people, tremendous time, most of them non-Christians, and we had interesting times discussing. This was the English text here, the Bible. And so we had some wonderful discussions while they learned English. How sly we are in the church, drawing them in with the scriptures. They wanted to know English, I wanted them to know Jesus. Hopefully, we could get both. At any rate, it was 1994 and I was walking through the streets there. It was the summer, again, as it'd been 10 years earlier, and again very, very dramatic cloud cover. And I was personally weary, struggling with some things, homesick, being away from my home and family in America, and just yearning, yearning for the Lord.
And I was singing that hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul.” And you remember that final verse, “And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll, the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend even so it is well with my soul.” And I didn't even know this, but I was singing it out loud, and the Japanese people I was walking by were looking at me. Interesting moment in church history there. They had no idea, probably most of them, what I was saying, but I didn't really care at that moment. The Lord was ministering to me as I looked at those clouds and as I was singing that song. I said, “Haste the day, Lord, come back. Even so come, Lord Jesus.” That was 1994.
Ten years later, I was flying back from a ministry in Czech Republic with a good friend of mine, and we were on a flight back, connecting flight back, from New York to RDU. And we were up in the midst of those clouds at that point, those dramatic - I don't know the names - cumulus, nimbus or something like that. Anyway, the kinds that just tower up to the sky. But we were in them. It was like we were flying in the land of the giants. And the sun was setting, and there was just electrical interplay, and I was just watching the show. It was awesome. And I thought about the circumstances of the second coming of Christ. And again, the yearning, the yearning for the coming of Christ with glory just captured my heart.
And I'd like to have a lot more moments like that, wouldn't you? I actually would like to live my life, every day, yearning for the second coming of Christ. I think it just changes the way you look at everything. And I think the Lord intends for us to set our hearts on things above, not on earthly things. That we would set our hearts on things to come, not things at present.
I don't think we're to avoid the things we're facing now, but I think we're supposed to go out into the future and get what we need, and then come back and say, it's... What we're going through now isn't even worth comparing with what's coming. And then with great strength and joy and confidence, we face the trials of our lives. So, won't you take that trip with me this morning, won't you go out through the words of Matthew 24, out in the future, and look at the glory that's coming to this earth. And let's contemplate together the second coming of Christ. And, friends, if we're gonna give two weeks to the abomination of desolation, we can definitely give two weeks to the second coming. Amen? So, let's do that.
And then what a perfect way to cap it off with the celebration of the Lord's supper. We'll talk about that later in this message, but just a beautiful way for us to contemplate God's great power, and when he comes. Four times in this chapter, the Greek word “parousia,” or “coming,” appears. At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen?” The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, “When will this happen? And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Again, in Verse 27, I already alluded to it. “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Ten verses after that, Verse 37, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” And then Verse 39, “And they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away, that is how it'll be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Four times in this chapter the word “parousia,” or “coming,” appears.
The doctrine itself plainly taught in verse 30, which was up on the screens and on the cover of your bulletin. “At that time,” it says, “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. This doctrine is taught many places in the New Testament. It's not just here in Matthew 24, this is a major doctrine. Jesus Christ is coming back, he is going to return, He's gonna come back in glory. And he will set up a kingdom that will never end, an eternal kingdom.
Perhaps one of the plainest places that it's taught is in Acts chapter 1. After Jesus's resurrection, he spent some time with his disciples. He instructed them and taught them many things, showed them all that was written about himself in what we call the Old Testament. And when those days were over, the time came for him to depart, and he brought them out to the Mount of Olives. He had said to them, “‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you'll be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ And after he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.” And they were standing there looking up into the sky as he was going. And I think they were there a long time, for the Lord sent an angel to say, “Okay, no more of this. He's not coming back right now.”
Frankly, I wanna talk in a later message about the tension between immediate return and things to do, and we'll get to that, but at that point, it was obvious Jesus isn't coming back now. So, they needed to go back into the city. And so God sent two men dressed in white with the message again concerning the second coming of Christ. “‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven will come back in the same way you've seen him go into heaven.’” Isn't that spectacular? I think he's gonna actually touch down in the same place where he left. More later, there is always more to learn, friends. But he is coming back, and there it is, he is coming back in the same way that those apostles saw him go into heaven.
And so also the Lord's Supper. 1 Corinthians 11:26 says, “Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” And then there'll be no longer any need to do that kind of proclaiming of the Lord's death. We'll celebrate the Lord's death, but the time for the proclamation of the Gospel will end. But we, by partaking in the Lord's Supper, we're gonna be proclaiming the Lord's death until he comes. Wouldn't it be spectacular if we didn't get to do this today, and he came in between now and when we're planning on doing the Lord's Supper? Wouldn't that be awesome? That would be absolutely fantastic. But in case he doesn't, get your hearts ready for the Lord's Supper, okay? “But we proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
Why Will He Come Back
And so the second coming of Christ, I believe, should dominate our daily outlook. We should be thinking about it, we should be living for it, we should be yearning for it, we should be praying for it, we should be excited about it, we should be talking about it, we should learn about it as much as we can. The second coming of Christ then should be one of the major organizing principles to the way we do everything in our lives. Now, why will he do it? Why will he come back in glory with the clouds, with the armies of heaven? Why? And there are just so many different answers to this question, but I wanna draw your mind to think about five before we look carefully at the verses.
I think there are five major reasons why the Lord will come back in glory. The first is victory, triumph, victory, to just display and proclaim to the world his victory over all of his enemies, and make it just obvious how awesome and powerful he is over every enemy. Second coming of Christ will come to do that, to establish and complete his victory over all his enemies. He will be vindicated completely from the impostor that's receiving worship from all the world, the antichrist, filled with Satan, he'll be completely vindicated over him.
And by extension, his second coming will end forever all false and insufficient forms of human government. Gone forever will be totalitarianism and dictatorships, even kingships. In their best, a picture of Christ. At their worst, far less than that. Communism, socialism, even representative democracy, friends, give it up, because we're not going to a representative democracy. Jesus will not stand for cyclical elections, there's not gonna be a rotating basis or any of this kind of thing. He will be King forever, and we'll be so delighted with that. He's come to be completely victorious over all that. He's come to crush forever all manifestations of the sinful corruption of this earth, pollution, spills of oil in the Gulf, and disgusting displays of sinful greed. And disease, and all of the groaning and the decay of this earth, he's come to triumph over that.
And the second coming will establish so sweetly for us what a vindication for Christians against pluralism. He's come to vindicate himself against all the gods, the false gods, all the religions of the world, the man-made cults that Satan kept propped up and kept popping up throughout history. He's come to crush them all. Buddhism and Hinduism will be gone forever. So also all cults that did not teach rightly about Jesus Christ, like the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and all of them. Islam will be gone forever.
At a conference I was at recently, Erwin Lutzer was there, pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, and he was speaking of a recent trip he made to Asia Minor, Turkey, where those seven churches are of the book of Revelation chapter 2 and 3. And he had an Islamic guide and they had, I'm sure, a fascinating conversation. But in the 11th Century AD, Islam swept through that area and just obliterated Christianity. Obliterated it. And Lutzer was saying that his Turkish guide said this proved the superiority of Islam to Christianity. And in my opinion, the church has consistently advanced because its members were willing to be slaughtered and not to slaughter. We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered, but it doesn't play well, generally in human history.
The second coming of Christ will end Islam forever. If they respect the sword, let them respect the sword coming out of the mouth of Jesus now while there's still time, so that they can find Him as savior, and the warmth and the welcome of grace now. But he will crush Islam, and he will crush every false religion by his second coming. Amen and amen. And how glorious will that be, what vindication. No more pluralism, friends. It will be gone. The second coming will end all human philosophies contrary to Scripture, such as secularism and atheism. Secularism teaches that God doesn't matter, and atheism teaches that God doesn't exist.
Can I tell you, at the second coming of Christ, God will matter? He'll matter that day. Whatever your plans were, it will be over, Jesus will matter that day. He will force himself onto the consciousness of the world, and secularism will be gone forever. There will be no secularism where we're heading. The eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ, Jesus is at the center of everything, every radiant beam of light will be Jesus's. Secularism gone forever. So also atheism. They will not be able to say that God and his Son Jesus Christ don't exist when he comes in glory. He will not be ignored, he will not be denied, he will come in glory.
And the second coming of Christ will establish plainly his victory over death, because the dead in Christ will rise and meet the Lord in the air. And we also will be transformed, and we will never die again. Death will have no mastery over us, and Jesus will crush death forever. And it proves his own triumph over death, because there he is, he's not just a dead man in a tomb. No, he's the one up on the horse coming before the armies of heaven. Victory.
Secondly, justice, he comes to established justice. He comes to right the greatest injustices there have ever been. The greatest injustice there has ever been is not what you may think. The greatest injustice there has ever been is that God is not honored and glorified first and foremost above everything else, that he is not adored or worshipped or glorified as God, neither is he thanked, that's the greatest injustice. And another injustice is exactly like it, and it's the same injustice that Jesus Christ is not honored for what he did at the cross. He's not honored and loved and embraced and worshiped with tears by every human being on the face of the earth, that's an injustice.
And there are many other injustices lesser than those, just the way we treat each other, the way oppressors treat the oppressed. And Jesus will come to end all injustice. With eyes like blazing fire, he will judge the nations. They will be gathered before him, all of them, and he will winnow them out with his eyes. He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. For justice, he comes.
Thirdly, for rescue. He comes to rescue us, to rescue his bride, the church. There has never been such a rescue of a damsel in distress as will happen at the second coming. Jesus Christ will come to get his bride. He is the husband, he comes with his army, and he comes to rescue the elect. And they are in trouble. We're in trouble. We're in trouble. And we must be rescued. We are going to a place where there will be no danger. But we're in danger now, and he will come finally in the end, the second coming is his final rescue of his elect. And he will send out his angels, and they will gather his elect from the four winds. From one end of the heavens to the other, he's going to rescue them. The greatest rescue ever. He's going to rescue us from the antichrist, from Satan. He's going to rescue us from the great tribulation. He is going to rescue us and bring us safely into his heavenly kingdom.
And fourthly, for restoration. I already mentioned that this world groans. It labors under decay and corruption. This is not the world we're gonna live in forever. This morning, we were listening as we drove in to the account in Genesis, we have these beautiful little discs of the Bible on CD, and we were listening as we drove in. And to that account in Genesis 13, where God promised to Abram, “I will give to you and to your descendants this land forever.” Figure that one out, friends. Especially in the book of Hebrews, he comes and tells us with authority that he died without receiving that promise. Is God a bait-and-switch God? Is he a promise-keeper or a promise-breaker? “Oh, don't worry about the Promised Land, Abram. I've got something better for you.”
Now, God's gonna keep that promise. How? By resurrecting the earth. And if you don't understand a resurrected earth, neither do I. And how it relates to the elements melting in the heat, neither do I. But I know that God will keep that promise. And so he is coming to, as it says in many verses, restore all things, and to make them perfect, and make them beautiful. There will be a continuity and a difference between the earth, present, and the new heaven and the new earth just as there will be - Well, let's talk about Abraham. “I will give to you,” Abraham had some changes. He died, and he's going to be resurrected. And in a resurrected body, he's going to enjoy that promise forever. And Jesus comes to restore all things at his second coming.
And finally, fifth, he comes to be worshipped. He comes to stimulate from us worship. It says in 2 Thessalonians, he's coming to destroy the antichrist, the lawless one, with the breath of his mouth and with the splendor or the glory of his coming. It's going to be quite a show. I say that with all reverence. It's going to be brilliant and glorious and bright and shining. And he's going to destroy the antichrist and Satan with that glory. And it says in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 and 10, it speaks of the “majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people,” Listen, “and to be marveled at among those who have believed.” For me, another word for “marveled at” is “worshipped.” Amen? We're gonna just worship him for what he's done and who he is, and we're just going to be - Our hearts are gonna change within us, and we will be transformed forever. That's the moment of glorification. How sweet will that be? I could go on and on, but I think I'm supposed to be an expository preacher, and this is an exposition. Let's go ahead and look at some verses. That's just biblical theology, is all it is, but now let's look at some actual verses and learn what Jesus says about the details of the Second Coming.
The Second Coming Will Be Obvious to All
No Secret Second Coming
Look at Verse 26, the first thing I wanna say is that the second coming will be obvious to everyone, obvious to everyone. Verse 26, “So 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 will be no secret second coming. The Jehovah's Witnesses have taught that twice Jesus has come back. In 1874, he came back. It was predicted openly and lots of interest around the Watchtower Society and all that. Lots and lots of interest. Charles Taze Russell taught it. It didn't happen. So, he said, “But it did happen. It happened spiritually. And Jesus is reigning in a new way and in a new stance toward the earth since 1874.” Don't you believe that. That's not what this is talking about. He said the same thing in 1914, that's when the 144,000 went up. Heaven is full. We just get the new earth in the Jehovah's Witness theology. But that's 'cause in 1914, he said that's when it happened. Friends, this is just a lie by a cult leader.
The second coming of Christ will be obvious to everyone. Everyone will see it. Even at the very end, as they're running for their lives, it will be a time of great deception by the antichrist Satan, and perhaps that generation of believers will be tempted that, “Here's Christ, or there he is, or here out here.” No, you don't need to do that. Go to the hills, go to the mountains and hide yourselves, because the second coming of Christ will stop it all. Don't worry about that, don't be deluded, don't be led astray. It's not going to be a secret or a local kind of second coming. It will be obvious to everyone.
Lightning Visible from One End of the Heavens to the Other
Look at 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.” I don't know what you need to picture. We had some electrical storm last night out in Bahama. I don't know if you saw some of that. But maybe you've seen some very, very dramatic electrical storms. It's not a private show. It's something everyone in that region can see. And so this is a very obvious thing. It'll be an event of cosmic proportions. More on that next time.
No Need for Faith
But it's just gonna be obvious to everyone. That lightning flashes across the sky, visible to everyone on the surface of the earth. Now, what does that mean? I tell you, it means that there will be absolutely no need for faith at that point. In my opinion, the era of faith will end with the second coming of Christ. So also for us Christians, the era of hope will end. Who hopes for what he already has? We will have it then.
We won't need any faith either, and so no need for faith. You don't need to believe in the Second Coming of Christ on that day. It says in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.” This is something that will be seen, friends. It will be visible. Jesus said to Thomas, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” He built his church with those people. We are those who did not see and yet we believed. By faith, it's the era of faith.
No Opportunity for Salvation
So, there'll be no faith required to see the second coming of Christ. Do you know the significance of that though? No opportunity for salvation on that day. None. Please listen carefully now. If you have never trusted in Christ, now is the day of faith. Now is the day of salvation. This is the time to believe in Jesus, now.
This is the time of faith, when all you get is a guy like me speaking into a microphone, and you have to somehow listen and hear the word of God through the word of a man. You have to hear that, and you'll have to believe. And if you do, the Bible says, you will be forgiven of all your sins. If you can look to Jesus, the Son of God, whose blood was shed on the cross, if you can look to him and say, “I understand. He died in my place. He died for me. I'm a sinner. I have transgressed the laws of God. My conscience is defiled. I am filled with lust. I'm filled with selfishness. I'm leading an empty life. I need Jesus.” If you can hear in that the law of God standing in condemnation over you and say, “I cannot survive Judgment Day without a savior. Jesus is my savior. Jesus shed his blood for me. He died on the cross as my substitute.”
The Bible says if you can look to Christ, and if you can call on the name of the Lord, you will be saved. But now is the time, now. It says in Romans 3:28, “We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.”
So, when Christ returns, like the shutting of the door in Noah's Ark, it will be over. It will be over. No time for faith. I tell you, now is the time of God's favor and now is the day of salvation. So, please believe. Please, I plead with you. I plead with you to not leave this room in an unregenerate state. I plead with you that by faith you will project your mind ahead to Judgment Day, when there is heaven and there is hell, the lake of fire, and you'll be in one of those two places. And if Jesus isn't your savior, you're going to hell. Please don't go to hell. Trust in him now. Believe in him now.
No Secret Rapture
Also, I believe that there will be no secret rapture. Now, hang on, folks. Don't push the eject - I don't think there's a trap door here or an eject thing. I'm going to devote a whole sermon to the rapture - against the better judgment of some close to me - but I'm going to devote a whole sermon to the rapture. But if I can just kind of begin to lay my cards on the table, I think the rapture and the Second Coming happen at the same time. I think the Bible so plainly teaches it. I don't understand why there's confusion about this. Could some of you please come and confuse me? No, never mind, don't come and confuse me.
I don't believe in a secret rapture. What do I mean by secret? I mean, the kind where Jesus comes and gets the church, but only the church, and then goes back in a big U-turn back up to heaven. We'll get to the whole U-turn thing in that sermon, not this one. But he goes back and gets us, and then the world goes on. I don't believe in that. I respect it as a view, and I'll talk about it in due time, but I think that really teaches two second comings. And because it teaches two second comings, I don't think that it's biblically accurate.
And I understand the reason is to get the church out of the tribulation, but I think God's intention generally is to protect the church in tribulation. That's what I believe. And so we can respect and love each other, just like we do with people who believe in infant baptism, we can embrace them. But I'm just telling you, and I'll make my case in due time. But I'm just telling you the implications of the worldwide visibility of the second coming of Christ is that the whole “Left Behind” thing, where Rayford Steele is on the plane and Hattie Durham is there and all that, and then they're all gone and the clothes are rumpled. We'll get to all that in due time.
Or a Casting Crowns song. “The United States of America looks like another Silent Night,” says Casting Crowns, “As we're sung to sleep by philosophies that save the trees and kill the children. And while we're lying in the dark, there's a shout heard across the eastern sky, for the bridegroom has returned and carried his bride away in the night.” So, like a thief in the night... I know that passage in the Bible. Actually, it's even in this section that we're preaching on, so I will do the thief in the night thing in due time. But I don't believe in that.
I do believe, with all my heart, in a rapture, and I am looking forward to it. It's going to be the ride of my life up to that point. What happens after that, I'm not really sure. But up to that point, that will be the highlight of my life, to be caught up in the clouds and meet the Lord in the air.
The Second Coming Will Purify the World of Evil
The Spiritual Interpretation: A Carcass is the Focus of Spiritual Infection
The second coming, the Scripture says, also will purify the world of evil. Look at Verse 28, “Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.” Aren't these eschatology verses fun? Aren't they? You read these and then say, “What does that mean?” And can I tell you, there are some things I'm more sure of than others in the Bible? I'm not 100% sure what this is, so I'll give you two possible interpretations and I actually believe them both. Okay?
First, let's take it spiritually. It could be that Jesus is using a spiritual metaphor, teaching us a spiritual principle by using an earthy kind of metaphor. The spiritual interpretation, a carcass then is a focus of infection, of deadness, of disease. The great increase of wickedness will characterize the end of the world. Jesus already described that increase plainly in verse 12. “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”
So also the Apostle Paul describes it in 2 Timothy 3, “But mark this,” he says, “there'll be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, treacherous, brutal, rash, not lovers of the good, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” By this time in history, as I believe, the reign of the antichrist will be in full swing. All unbelievers will have received the mark of the beast. They'll be openly worshipping the antichrist and forsaking every other religion. They have rejected the truth and follow evil, it says. And it will show openly in their lives.
The human race will be a carcass at that point, spiritually dead, living only with writhing worms and maggots, the spiritually filthy end of the human race. The vultures - which also the word can be translated “eagles,” by the way - But vultures, in general, though they are disgustingly ugly, they certainly do the world of good service. Aren't you thankful for - you've probably never been thankful for vultures before - but the vultures clean the place up. And so I believe that the Lord is going to send out his angels and they're gonna clean up this world. They're gonna collect the garbage, as it were.
Matthew 13, Jesus had an explanation of the wheat and the tares. He says, “As the weeds are pulled up and thrown into the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all those who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” That's the spiritual interpretation of this verse.
The Physical Interpretation: Dead Bodies Everywhere
The physical interpretation is about as physical as it gets. There's gonna be lots of dead bodies and there's gonna be lots of birds eating their flesh. That's as literal as it gets. Sometimes people accuse others in eschatology of spiritualizing things away. I'm doing both spiritual and physical here. I believe there will be literally carnage at the second coming of Christ, and there's going to be literal birds feeding on the carnage.
It’s described in Revelation 19, Jesus comes back dressed in a robe dipped in blood, his name is the word of God, and the armies of heaven are gonna follow him riding on white horses, and out of his mouth will come a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He's going to destroy the antichrist with the breath of his mouth and destroy it by the splendor of his coming. Revelation 19:7 and following, it says, “And I saw an angel standing in the sun who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in mid-air, ‘Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people free and slave, small and great.’” It says in verse 21 in Revelation 19, “The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.” That's what I call the literal interpretation of this verse. Wherever there is a carcass, there the birds, the vultures are going to gather. In any case, the second coming of Christ will clean up the world, purified at last from the filth of human sin.
The Second Coming Will Affect the Cosmos
Now, next time we will look at some other aspects from Matthew 24. I'm going to tell you that the Second Coming will affect the cosmos. Verse 29, “Immediately after the distress of those days, the sun will be dark, and the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” We'll talk about that in due time.
The Second Coming Will Be Powerful and Glorious
And also the second coming will be, I will say, powerful and glorious. 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.” So, we're going to talk about that.
The Second Coming Will Result in Judgment on Sinners
And then the second coming will result in judgment on sinners. Again, verse 30, it says, “All the nations of the earth will mourn.” I'll describe why they're going to mourn and how the judgment will be.
The Second Coming Will Result in the Gathering of the Elect
And then finally 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.” In my opinion, that's your rapture verse here in Matthew 24. And so that's where we will be gathered by the angels to meet the Lord in the clouds.
Look Ahead to Christ’s Victory
Now, as we prepare for the Lord's supper, I wanna briefly give you some applications. First of all, I wanna just go over those five things and just give you some applications. First of all, victory. Yearn for the day when Jesus will be triumphant over all human governments. Yearn for it. If you see the American government doing something you don't like or there's something that's despicable or something you find isn't biblical, look ahead to the second coming. That's God's remedy in the end. I am not saying we should not be active in civic things. We should be. We should be salt and light. I'm just saying the final end will be the second coming of Christ. Yearn for that victory.
Look ahead to the victory of Christ over false gods and false prophets and all false religious forms, and Buddhism and Hinduism and Islam. Look ahead to that. Victory is coming. Yearn for the day when secularism and atheism will be gone. Celebrate that day. Though you may grieve in your heart, and you should, at those that are swept away by it, just know that its days are numbered.
Yearn for Justice
And yearn for justice. Yearn for God to be esteemed as he ought to be. That's just such a healthy thing to do. Just say, “God, it is unjust, not how I'm being treated, it's unjust that you are not worshipped and glorified.” Just change your thinking on that and just say, “Come, Lord Jesus, so that you can be honored and glorified as you ought to be. And, Lord, I see all this injustice around me. Jesus, come and solve our problem of injustice.”
Wait for Rescue
And rescue. “Come Lord Jesus” is a cry for rescue. This world is too hard for us. If left to ourselves, we will be swept away. Just say, “Jesus, rescue me from this world.” I talked last time about run for your lives, but just the ultimate rescue is going to be the second coming of Christ.
Yearn for the New Heavens and the New Earth
And yearn for his restoration, the new heavens and the new earth. Meditate with me on that promise given to Abram in Genesis 13, “I will give to you and to your seed, your descendants, this land forever.” Oh, how sweet is that. Yearn for the day when the new heavens and new earth will be the home of righteousness and glory.
And finally, if I can just say worship the Lord, look ahead with anticipation and with faith and hope to the second coming of Christ, as we participate in the Lord's Supper now. As the time comes for us to focus on the elements, we are proclaiming the Lord's death that's back in time. Until he comes, that's ahead, future in time. As you sit there and partake in these elements, the cup and the bread, as you partake in these things, think about what Jesus did for you to rescue you from the coming wrath and celebrate, celebrate the triumph of Christ at the cross.
And if I can just urge you, if you have not come to faith in Christ, if you're not a believer in Christ, please don't partake in the Lord's Supper. In order to partake here, you have to be a believer in Christ who's testified to your faith in Christ by water baptism. And if you've done that, then you are welcome to come. Please pray with me, if you would.