As you know, we are deeply concentrated in the 21st chapter of Luke and looking not at the first coming of our Lord, but at His Second Coming. Certainly over the manger loomed the shadow of a cross but over the manger also loomed the shadow of a crown. The one who came in humility will come in glory.
We return in our study of the Word of God then to Luke chapter 21. And our text is Luke 21 verses 25 to 28. Let me read that text, establishing it in your mind, and then we'll go in to it in some detail.
"And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars and upon the earth dismay among nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves. Men, fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near."
As you will recall, if you have been following this particular series, the disciples had asked Jesus some questions about His parousia, His dominating presence as judge and ruler. They were asking about when He was going to end the current age and establish the glorious messianic age, when He was going to bring the kingdom, if you will, when He was going to bring judgment upon the ungodly and blessing to the saints, when He was going to fulfill all promises regarding the kingdom, when righteousness and peace would dominate the world, when salvation would come to Israel and Israel would be restored to a place of glory in the world and from the throne of David in Israel, in Jerusalem the Messiah would rule the world. When was that going to happen? And what signs would indicate its nearness? These are the questions that are on their mind.
Now remember, it is Wednesday of Passion Week. All day long Jesus was in the temple engaging the leaders and the people. It is the last time He was in that temple until He comes again. He left. He left with the people still uncommitted and the rulers committed to executing Him.
On Thursday He will celebrate Passover with His disciples. On Friday He dies. On Sunday He rises. Forty days later He ascends to heaven where He now intercedes for us, awaiting the perfect timing of God for His return. His disciples, of course, had no idea that the Messiah would come twice. They assumed that if He is here, and He is, and they believed in Him as the Messiah that the kingdom has to be very near. And if there must be a destruction of Jerusalem and Jesus said there would be, it will come soon and right after it will come the kingdom. They had no concept of Him leaving, being gone a long time even though He told them a story about a king who went on a long journey. They thought it would all happen in their life time and in His.
So, in order to straighten things out for them, when they posed the questions about the signs of His coming, He gives them a very long answer. It stretches in Luke 21 from verse 8 through verse 36. It is the longest answer Jesus ever gave to any questions on any single occasion. It also involves the thirteenth chapter of Mark and two complete chapters in Matthew...Matthew 24 and 25, a very long and careful and thoughtful and comprehensible answer.
The flow of chronology we have already looked at. Jesus says, from My first coming to My Second Coming, here are some general things to be expected. And He lays them out in verses 8 to 19. What are they? First of all, you should expect religious deception. And we talked about that in detail, the flourishing of a false kind of Christianity which is very well aware...very well known to us. We're very well aware of it in the world in which we live today. There are more false Christians than true ones, more false Christian teachers than true ones. False Christianity is dominating deception in the world. Jesus said it would be that way in this period.
The second thing He said to expect, not just deception but disaster. There will come wars and disturbances of all kinds, kingdom against kingdom, nation against nation, earthquakes, famines, plagues, terrors in the sky, etc., etc. We went through that in detail. That defines a disintegrating planet life in this fallen cursed earth. We're all very familiar with the history of natural disasters that continue to escalate and worsen as this planet winds down.
Third thing He said to expect is persecution, persecution of true believers. And He went into that from verses 12 to 19. So the verses 8 to 19 cover the stretch of time from the first coming to the near end when He returns. That whole period of history will be characterized by these three things, and we've shown you that that is in fact what we all know and experience in the history of the world between the two comings of Christ and it escalates.
Then He said, as you get near the end, expect a sign, a specific sign indicating you're near the end and that is in verses 20 to 24. We looked at that. Jerusalem surrounded by armies. We compared that with Old Testament prophecies, the book of Revelation. Antichrist creates a coalition from all nations in the world who amass themselves against Israel to wipe out the people of God and to wipe out believers in Jesus Christ anywhere they exist around the world. This great conflagration in its final form under the final Antichrist marks the nearness of the return of Christ and launches a period called the tribulation. Matthew and Luke both say in the middle of that period there's an abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet which triggers this assault, this attack, this conflagration, this war that stretches for the last three and a half years into the final Armageddon when Christ actually returns.
And so, we have seen what the period of time looked like in general. We have seen what that final period of time will look like called the tribulation and the Great Tribulation. And then we came to verse 25 last time and we saw in verses 25 and 26 that at the very end of the time called the Great Tribulation, more signs will proliferate, signs in sun and moon and stars, the roaring of the sea and the waves, verse 26, the powers of the heavens will be shaken. The universe as we know it is dramatically altered. We saw that in numerous Old Testament texts, we saw it throughout specific judgments defined for us in detail in the book of Revelation.
So you have the general period. You have the period called the tribulation. In the middle of that you have an abomination of desolation when the Antichrist sets up the worship of himself in the temple and desecrates the rebuilt temple the Jews will be using. Then all-out war begins on the people of God, the Jews, and on believers all over the world. And that triggers the last period, the Great Tribulation. The judgments increase and the universe and the earth begins to disintegrate in chaos that is unimaginable and unequaled in history.
Now let's go back to these final signs that lead right to the return of Christ. In our first lesson in verses 25 to 28 we said I'm going to give you some words, five words, at least, to think about. “Sequence” is the first word and we've given you the sequence in a quick summary. The second word is “staging,” the staging of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The sequence we laid out. The staging is given in verses 25 and 26. Sun and moon and stars: What happens to them in that period of time? They go out. The sun goes out; therefore the moon goes out. The stars go out as well, blackness covers the universe. At the same time the seas begin to roar, the waves turn into a tumult and we see the powers of the heavens being shaken. This is all final staging and parallels the Old Testament prophets and the book of Revelation.
Now that brings us to the third word and where we pick up the text this morning. The third word is “shock,” shock. There's only one possible response to this unimaginable chaos. Verse 25: "And upon the earth dismay among nations in perplexity." Verse 26: "Men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world."
And again I remind you, this is how history ends. This is the real story of the end of the earth and the universe as we know it. This is the first step in the beginning of the eternal state. There will be a dramatic, severe alteration of the universe in which we currently live at the end of the time of tribulation. And then will come the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ in a suddenly renewed earth, followed by the creation of a new heaven and a new earth after the millennial reign of Christ.
So we are in the end of the time of the tribulation when the universe as we know it is being dramatically altered. And first is chaos before there is reconstruction. There's only one way to deal with all of the things that happen which we went through last time, dismay among nations. The word in the Greek is sunochē and it's only used one other time in the New Testament. It's a... It’s a rare word. It means “anguish.” It describes a kind of human emotion which is overwhelming and overpowering. It even could be translated “severe anxiety.” There is... There is a sense of terror and a sense of anxiousness that knows no bounds and no relief. It is compounded by perplexity. The word aporia, only here in the New Testament. It's as if the Holy Spirit uses words that define a time the likes of which has never existed and picks words that are very, very rare for such a rare time. Aporia, perplexity. It simply means “confusion” in its most severe form, confusion in its most severe form.
The confusion comes because people can't do anything about it. There is absolute chaos. There's no way to solve this. You've got a third of the oceans destroyed, a third of the fresh water destroyed. You've got mountains exploding. You've got heavenly bodies crashing and careening into the earth. You've got the skies going dark. You have horrible storms, 100-pound hailstones and other things described in the book of Revelation. And the confusion comes because they can't sort it out.
They can't even react to it because it's coming in such rapid-fire succession. There's reason to believe that the trumpet judgments come in months and then the final judgments described in Revelation, the bowl judgments come in weeks and days, rapid-fire succession. Shock is so great that we are told that men are fainting from fear. And “fainting” is a rather benign way to translate another rare word used nowhere else in the New Testament, apopsuchō. What that word means is to breathe out or to expire. That's another word for “to die.” People will be scared to death. People will be scared to death. People all over the world will die of terror because of what is happening and because what is happening they know will lead to further horrors. As they watch everything turn into chaos, they understand the implications. It's not just what's going on in the moment. It's what all this means in the immediate future. That is to say the terror comes from the immediate and the terror is compounded by the total absence of any hope of relief. You might be able to mitigate your anxiety if you thought there would be an end. But there will be nor can there be ... There will be no end nor can there be any end. The chaos is too great.
This is not, by the way, hyperbole. This is lethal emotional trauma causing rapid pulse, low blood pressure and cardiac collapse. Rapid pulse, low blood pressure, cardiac collapse; scared to death. This is not something that the disciples wouldn't have heard about before. This is shocking coming from Jesus and yet this is what Isaiah said. Listen to Isaiah 13:8, "All hands will fall limp. Every man's heart will melt. They will be terrified. Pains and anguish will take hold of them. They will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look at one another in astonishment, their faces aflame." Listen again to the Revelation chapter 6, as we read familiar words. "The kings of the earth, the great men,” verse 15, “the commanders, the rich, the strong, every slave, every free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come and who is able to stand?'" They want to die. Some will be scared to death. Others will be scared but cannot or do not die. They will wish to be buried alive just to escape what's next.
In the 9th chapter of the Revelation and verse 6, "In those days men will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die and death flees from them." In the 16th chapter of Revelation and verse 8, the fourth angel pours out the rapid-fire judgments called bowl judgments and the sun scorches men with fire. They're scorched with fierce heat and they blaspheme the name of God who has the power over these plagues ... that didn't repent so as to give Him glory. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast. His kingdom became darkened. “They gnawed their tongues because of pain and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores and didn't repent of their deeds." The chapter ends in verse 21 with a statement, "The plagues were extremely severe."
The 18th chapter gives us a description of the disintegration of life at that final hour, in those final weeks, in those final days. The 18th chapter of Revelation: We can pick it up in verse 8. Plagues will come, pestilence, mourning, famine, fire, the Lord God is bringing judgment. The symbol here is Babylon. Babylon is the unifying term to describe the final world coalition of religion and government, the final world system. And it's going to be wiped out. The kings of the earth who committed acts of immorality, live sensuously with this system, will weak and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning. Standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment saying, "Woe, woe, the great Babylon, the strong city, in one hour your judgment has come." Again indicating to us how rapid-fire the final judgments will be.
The merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, again symbolizing the whole economy of the earth in this one symbol of Babylon. Nobody buys their cargoes anymore, cargos of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls, fine linen, purple silk, scarlet, the clothing industry, the jewel industry, every kind of citron, wood and every article of ivory, every article made from costly wood and bronze and iron and marble, the construction industry as well, cinnamon, spice, incense, perfume, frankincense, wine, olive oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle, sheep, cargos of horses, chariots, slaves, transportation industry, food industry, everything goes. The fruit you long for has gone from you, all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away from you. Men will no longer find them. The merchants of these things who became rich from her will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, saying, "Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen, purple, scarlet, adorned with gold, precious stones and pearls, in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste," again indicating the suddenness of this destruction.
Every ship master, every passenger, every sailor as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance, and John is seeing this in a vision, symbolic of this dissolution. And they cry, seeing the smoke of this system burning up: “What city is like the great city?” They threw dust on their heads, were crying out, weeping and mourning saying, "Woe, woe, the great city in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, in one hour she's been laid waste. Rejoice over her, oh heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets because God has pronounced judgment for you against her."
Then finally, a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone, threw it into the sea saying, "Thus will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, will not be found any longer." Here's the end of all music. "The sound of harpists, musicians, flute players, trumpeters not be heard in you any longer, no craftsmen of any kind will be found in you any longer. The sound of a mill will not be heard in you any longer. The light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer. The voice of the bridegroom and the bride will not be heard any longer.” No more marriages, no more home life, no more crafts, no more art work, no more music, no more anything, anything.
It's all over. That is the catastrophic end of human history. That produces devastating shock. Some die of cardiac collapse, others live but want to die and pray to be buried alive rather than to continue to be exposed to the full wrath of God. Not all will die. The Lord Himself who comes, as we shall see, slays many with the sword of His own mouth. But the world knows what's happening. They know. You say, "How do they know?" Because the 144 thousand — twelve thousand from every tribe — have been proclaiming the truth around the world, because the two witnesses have been seen by the whole world preaching the truth of the gospel and of judgment and they have been slain and raised from the dead and seen by the whole world.
And then you have people from every tongue and tribe and nation been converted to Christ who are spreading the gospel and the gospel is preached, Jesus said, to the ends of the earth. Judgment is preached. The gospel is preached. And when it all begins to happen, they know it is God. Some believe; most blaspheme God and do not repent. And as I said, some die, some want to die but there will be many slain by the Lord Himself when He arrives.
So the sequence, the staging, and the shock leads us to the sign, the sign. What is the final sign? We have seen signs during this long period of history: deception, disaster, persecution. We have seen in the time of tribulation a specific sign: Jerusalem surrounded by armies, the abomination of desolation as written by Daniel the prophet, defined by our Lord, and recorded in Matthew's account and Mark's account. We have seen the final staging signs that we've described. But what is the sign of the Lord's coming and the establishment of the kingdom? What is the sign?
Remember, one of the questions, the one recorded in 21:7, is what is the sign? And here is the sign, verse 27, "And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." That is the sign, the final sign. The sign is the Son of Man.
Listen to Matthew 24:30, the parallel account. The words of our Lord: "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky." The sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. Then all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They'll already be emotional basket cases, to put it mildly. They will now launch into a final mourning as they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. The sign of the Son of Man: That is a subjective genitive, the sign which is the Son of Man.
It is not another sign that points to the Son of Man. It is the sign which is the Son of Man. Now remember, the whole world will be pitch-dark. As Joel puts it, the sun will go dark and the moon will not give its light. The stars will fall. Heaven rolls up like a scroll. It's pitch blackness. And out of that blackness, the whole world sees the Son of Man coming. This is the moment to which all redemptive history moves. This is its glorious culmination, when the once humiliated Christ returns as the eternally exalted Christ. He came once to die. He comes now to kill. He came once to build His church. He comes again to establish His glorious kingdom.
Many of the early church fathers, when writing about the sign of the Son of Man, thought it was something different than the Son of Man. Some of them decided it was a blazing cross. Chrysostom, Origen and others of the early fathers thought there would be a blazing cross in the heaven. Other suggestions have been made. Some suggest some configuration or manifestation of Shekinah glory. But the Scripture is crystal clear. The sign is the Son of Man. It is not a cross pointing to the Son of Man, and it is not a Shekinah representation such as God who is spirit and therefore invisible is represented. It is Jesus Christ in clouds, on a cloud, bathed in glory but nonetheless it is Christ. Acts 1 says, "This same Jesus who was taken up from you shall so come in like manner as you've seen Him go." How did they see Him go? Physically, literally, bodily, in the familiar form which they knew Him He goes. That's the way He returns. This is Christ Himself in full power and full glory.
This too is not new to the disciples. Immediately they would have been reminded of very familiar words written in the vision of Daniel in chapter 7 where Daniel has the vision of the coming of the Son of Man. Daniel 7:13, "I kept looking in the night visions and behold, with the clouds of heaven, one like a Son of Man was coming and to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed." “The Son of Man,” that great term, used by Daniel to indicate that the Messiah, God coming from the throne of God would also be man, glorified man. The sign is Christ.
And what is it in Revelation 6:13 that I read you a moment ago? What is it that the people say who don't die of a heart attack? They say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” to the rocks, “Hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb." Believe me: They're going to know who it is. They're going to know what's going on. They're not going to have trouble ascribing the chaos to someone. There aren't going to be any scientific explanations. They're not going to say, "Whoa, look what hydro-carbons in the atmosphere have done to us. Whoa, we didn't pay attention to global warming and now look at what we've got. This is what you get for polluting the environment." Nobody is going to say that. That message will not fly. It doesn't fly now, frankly. It's not going to fly then either. We will not destroy this earth. It will be preserved until the Creator destroys it. But before He finally destroys it, along with the universe, He will devastate it and recreate it for His kingdom and paradise will be regained.
Now notice back in our text, Luke 21, it says that Son of Man is coming in a cloud. That's consistent with what Daniel said. Daniel said, "With the clouds of heaven." John, in Revelation 1 ... again the consistency of Scripture on this is indicative of divine authorship. Listen to John writing of his vision in 1:7. "Behold, He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him, even so Amen." He is coming with the clouds, everybody sees Him. Those who pierce Him are those who those who are guilty of rejecting Him. Everybody sees Him as He comes with the clouds. So Daniel says “with the clouds.” John says “with the clouds.” Mark says “in clouds.” Luke says “in a cloud.” Matthew says “on the clouds of heaven.” What does that tell us? That He is on, in and surrounded by clouds. That's not hard to put together.
In fact, in Psalm 104, I think it is, it says, “He makes the clouds His chariot.” And in Isaiah 19 and verse 1 it says, "The Lord rides on a swift cloud." He was taken up from them in a cloud. That's how He'll come back.
I want to take you to a passage. I didn't know if I'd have time but it's so important. Zechariah 14: This is a fascinating Old Testament insight into this same moment when Christ returns. This 14th chapter of Zechariah is clearly looking at that time. It is a time for the Lord's coming, a time when all nations are gathered against Jerusalem, verse 2, which is consistent with what we see in the Olivet Discourse of our Lord. It is a time, verse 3, when the Lord goes forth and fights against the nations as when He fights on a day of battle. It is that day that He returns and His feet stand on the Mount of Olives in front of Jerusalem on the east and the Mount of Olives split in the middle from east to west, creating a very large valley so that half of the mountain moves to the north and the other half towards the south. It is this time of the Lord's return.
But I want you to look at verses 6 and 7. "And it will come about in that day that there will be no light." The NAS says, "The luminaries will dwindle." Literally, “the bright ones will fade.” That means the stars go out, the moon, the sun — it's pitch black, black like sackcloth, the Scripture says, pitch black, no light. What an amazing thought.
Then verse 7 further describes it. "It will be a unique day." That is so understated. What do you mean unique? A day like no other day that no one will be able to describe because no one has ever experienced it nor has it ever been explained. So it is a unique day known to Jehovah. It is a day that no one could ever comprehend, no one could ever imagine, no one could ever experience, no one could ever explain. It is known only to Jehovah. He will alone understand this kind of day, this blackness that never ends.
Then further it says, it's neither day nor night. There will be neither day nor night. It is darkness that never goes away. We endure the darkness because the light is coming. This is darkness that never ends. That's why Jeremiah 37 verse 7 says, "Alas for that day for there is none like it."
And then this amazing statement: "But it will come about that at evening time there will be light.” Out of the darkness comes the light. Who is the light? It's the Son of Man coming in power and glory. And then light is restored. The heavenly bodies go back to their ordered orbits. The earth rests. It's a wonderful statement. There will be light and living waters, verse 8, will flow out of Jerusalem in the summer and in the winter. In one transition, you go from blackness and chaos to light and a new earth restored. The deserts blossom like a rose and the rivers run in Israel summer and winter. This is paradise regained in just passing from one statement to the next, and this is the kingdom. Verse 9: "The Lord will be King over all the earth." In that day, the Lord will be the only one and His name the only one; the glory of Christ in His return.
Then God turns the lights on again and life returns to a kind of paradise regained. Everything finds its way back into its orbit. The mountains become benign, lion lies down with the lamb, children can play with a snake. People live hundreds of years. If you die at a 100, you die a child. This is life in the Kingdom, paradise regained.
I need to give you one other glimpse of the coming of Christ. It is the most notable one in Scripture. Revelation 19... Revelation 19 verse 11; this describes the same event, the Son of Man coming with power and great glory. It describes the same event. "I saw heaven opened. Behold, a white horse and He..." And that, of course, was a symbol of power and authority and war, typical of Roman, triumphal, military procession. "I saw heaven opened, behold, a white horse. And He who sat upon it called Faithful and True." He's coming because He will keep His Word. He's faithful and true to His Word. "And in righteousness He judges and wages war." He must act against sin. His holy nature demands it.
Verse 12, "His eyes are a flame of fire,” penetrating omniscience." Nothing escapes Him. He judges righteously because He knows everything. No one escapes. "Upon His head are many diadems” because there are no other rulers, none at all. He is King of kings and Lord of lords, as we'll see in a moment. He wears all the crowns. He has gone from a crown of thorns to wearing all the crowns. “He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself.” This is the unique name that identifies Him. No one of us can understand the full reality of His person, the full majesty, the full authority, the full glory, the full power. It is a name that transcends our comprehension. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood. It's already bloody because this isn't His first battle. It bears the blood of enemies in the past, the blood of many in the time of tribulation. And it will bear the blood of those who feel His judgment when He arrives in this world at that time.
His name? Who is He? He is the Word of God. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us," 1st John 1:1. Christ is again identified as the Word. So here is Christ, but He's not alone. The return of Christ in verses 11 to 13: The regiments that come with Him in verse 14, the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen — white and clean — were following Him on white horses.
Who are these people? Who are these? Go back to verse 7. "Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to Him for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready and it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." So these are saints already in heaven. We believe this is the church already in heaven. These are saints from the tribulation who were martyred, already in heaven. These are Old Testament believers already in heaven. It is the saints in heaven already clothed in linen, already righteous saints, already there gathered in heaven, the church being raptured before the time of tribulation, the saints being gathered to Him during the tribulation, the resurrection even of the bodies of Old Testament Jews comes at the end of the tribulation, according to Daniel. These saints are already in heaven before Christ comes so that when He comes back He comes with His saints. He also, of course, comes with holy angels. Matthew 24 also says that. His angels are with Him to gather the elect from the four corners of the earth.
So when He comes, He comes with His saints. We, having been caught up to be with Him in the rapture of the church — a signless event that has no judgment connected to it, no passage on the rapture has any element of judgment — we are with the Lord at the marriage supper of the Lamb, receiving our rewards, clothed in fine linen. We now come back with Him to reign on earth along with the saints who are still alive and gathered into His kingdom.
Then it tells us in verse 15 of His rule. "From His mouth comes a sharp sword so that with it He may smite the nations and He will rule them with a rod of iron." Instantaneous, accurate judgment. "And He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God the Almighty." That is a very vivid image. He stomps on humanity, sinful humanity, like you would crush grapes under your feet. "And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written 'King of kings, and Lord of lords.'" This, too, familiar to Isaiah. Isaiah 11:4, "He shall smite the earth with the rod of His wrath...the rod of His mouth ... the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked." This is His coming in judgment and then to establish His kingdom.
Go back now to Luke and a couple of comments is all that remain. Luke 21 tells us that He comes with power and great glory. It's a staggering thing to think of that and to contemplate that. Your mind can ... can expand that. It's so simple in the Scripture, the word “power.” And yet how powerful is He that He can send the entire creation into disarray and chaos? How powerful is He that He can then reorganize it in a split second and create a paradise? How powerful is He to destroy Satan, destroy demons, destroy Antichrist, destroy all enemy armies, change the topography of the earth, the sea, alter the sky, defeat sink, establish His kingdom? This is massive power as He, in the words of Isaiah 63, also treads out the winepress of His wrath. There is a power display that is absolutely shocking, stunning beyond comprehension.
And so, the Lord will return in power and great glory, that is, no humiliation, no veiled glory — His full blazing glory.
A final word in our little list: “saints,” a word to the saints in verse 28. These are the folks that will be alive at the time and will have believed in Christ. "But when these things begin to take place, straighten up, lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near," eggizō, about to start.
Jesus said, "No one knows the day nor the hour." But people will know the time. They'll know the epoch. They'll know because there are specific signs, like the surrounding of Jerusalem. There are more signs in the sun and the moon and the earth, etc. They'll know it's near. They won't know precisely when until the sign of the Son of Man appears. But as you see these things, everything going back to verse 20, everything back to that notable moment that launches the desolation of Jerusalem, from then on, look up, your redemption draws near. Or to use the language of Matthew 24, "The Lord is even at the door." It is the time of His return. This will happen.
We celebrate His first coming. It is history. This is history prewritten. God wrote His first coming history before He ever arrived. God said He would come; He would come as a baby. He would be a Son born. He would be born in Bethlehem. That's what the Old Testament said. He would be taken into Egypt. Details of His coming were laid out in the Old Testament. And that's exactly how it happened. And this is exactly how His Second Coming will happen. This is the future history of the world. It's not fiction. It is not fantasy. It is the truth.
Which then forces the question: What about you? Where are you in this scene? Are you a part of those who have come to Christ in repentance and faith and will be taken to glory to be with Him in the marriage supper of the Lamb, enjoying the bliss of heaven, to return with Him to reign? Or are you among those who perhaps will live into the horrors and maybe end up a blasphemer and feel only judgment? I don't know how soon this is coming. You may die before it happens. In that sense, you will find the same result. If you are Christ's when you die, you go to the glories of heaven. If you are not Christ's, you go into the hell of His eternal judgment. So we plead with you to come to Christ, to embrace Him as Savior and Lord. That's the gospel. Christ died for sinners, bearing the curse that you might be forgiven and given heaven.
Father, as we bring this service to its conclusion, it is really not the end that we desire but maybe the beginning, the beginning of new life. Do a glorious work of salvation in the hearts of those who are here. Don't let anybody be deceived by their own minds, as to their true spiritual condition. This could all begin very soon. You could take your church any moment and then the horrors will start. Or life could be snatched away from us in any moment and we would be permanently either in Your presence or out of it, with no hope. Father, I just pray that You would be gracious to sinners and that You would cause saints to rejoice. You are so good to us. All of this removes all fear about where history is going, where the world's going. We don't fear what's going to happen to this planet. We don't fear future. Our future is secure and You have already written the story and we know it well. May we be faithful to the truth, to live the truth, to love the truth, proclaim the truth written and incarnate, namely our Lord Jesus Christ.
Father, now work Your mighty work in every heart. We rejoice as saints because our future is determined and secure but we grieve as saints for those who are headed for judgment. Use us, Lord, as instruments of Your peace and Your gospel to reach them, we pray, while we have time, and glorify Your Son, and do it soon, in His name, amen.