End Things to Come
Our Lord Jesus Christ has a day appointed for Him, by God the Father, to come again to earth. The events of both His first and second advent were noted by the prophets of the Old Testament (Is 59:15; 60:1; 62:11; 66:18; Jer 23:5; Ezek 43:2; Dan 7:9, 13, 22; Zeph 1:14; 3:15; Joel 2:1; Mic 1:3; Mal 4:1, 5). In His office of prophet, Jesus Christ prophesied of His second coming, as the Son of man (Mt 24–25; Mk 13; Lk 21).
This future event will be preceded by much of the same events of history. The “birth pangs” of the future will grow more intense, however, as the day draws nigh. If there have been diverse tribulations throughout the world and across history, then these future events carry the title, “great tribulation (Mt 24:21).” If there have been rogue, deviant, despots in history, then the future will present the most intriguing Antichrist, ever (2 Thess 2).
The world lies in the power of the evil one (1 Jn 5:19), which is why Jesus referred to him as the “ruler of this world (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11),” and who Paul called, “the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4),” Satan, the adversary. Lucifer, who poses as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14), is the deceiver of the whole world (Rev 12:9), the father of lies (Jn 8:44). On the great day of God, the Almighty, the prince of the power of the air will dispatch his legions of demons to gather the kings of the earth for war (Rev 16:14). It will be a day of great carnage, a feast for the birds of the air (Mt 24:28).
The power of death belonged to the devil, until Christ’s death (Heb 2:14), but even death has been limited in its power to enslave people in fear (Rev 2:10). God’s people have no fear of death because they have no fear of judgment (Ps 23:4; 76:8; Rev 2:10). Still, it has been appointed once for a man to die, and then comes the judgment (Heb 9:27).
The Day of the Lord is the Day of Judgment (2 Pet 2:9; 3:7; Jude 1:6; Rev 19:11–21). The Son of man is coming to judge the living and the dead (Mt 25:31; Acts 10:42; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5). All must appear before His glorious throne to give an account of their deeds done in the flesh (Rom 14:12; 2 Cor 5:10; 1 Pet 4:5; Rev 20:11).
There will be cosmic chaos on the Day of Christ’s glorious appearing (Mt 24:29). His return is the climax of history, the consummation of the ages. His coming, with all His holy angels (Mt 25:31), will produce a dual response in the hearts of men: terror and rejoicing. The souls of those who died in Christ will be with Him, too (1 Thess 4:14; Rev 17:14).
As the nations are gathered to war with the Lamb of God (Rev 17:14), the resurrection of the dead will occur (Jn 5:24–29; 1 Cor 15). Some will rise, bodily, from death to life. Their bodies, new and glorified, will join with their souls, already enjoying eternal life with Christ (Phil 1:23), in Christ. Together, body and soul, these will be caught up in the air (1 Thess 4:17), to join their King in executing judgment upon the world and the angels (1 Cor 6:2–3).
The judgment of the gathered elect, on that day, will be commendation (Jas 1:12; 1 Pet 5:4). Whatever they have done to the least of their brethren in the body of Christ, has been accounted for, as having been done to Christ (Mt 25:40). Their reward is great (1 Cor 9:25; 2 Tim 4:8), and great is their rejoicing (Mt 5:12). The glorified bodies of the resurrected saints will be imperishable (1 Cor 15:52–54), immortal (1 Tim 1:17; 6:17; 2 Tim 1:10), and like that glorified body of their Lord, who conquers His and their enemies (Jer 20:11; Rom 8:37; 2 Cor 2:14; 1 Jn 3:8; Rev 6:2).
The living, among the nations at war with God, under the power of the devil, and led by Antichrist, will also be joined by those resurrected from the dead unto judgment (Jn 5:28–29). The desire of men, at enmity with King Jesus on that day, is for rocks to fall on them, to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb (Rev 6:16; 14:10).
Jesus Christ was delivered up and judged unjustly by wicked men and put to death on a cross (Acts 3:13; 7:52). In juxtaposition, on the Day of God’s wrath, it will be the righteous Judge who will execute perfect justice (Acts 17:31; 2 Tim 4:8), in the condemnation of unredeemed sinners from every age and place (Rev 19:2). For them, this day is called, “awful” (Joel 2:11, 31) and “terrible” (Joel 2:1–3; Mal 4:5).
Those who died in sin were held in the intermediate state of hell, the place prepared by God for the fallen angels, including Lucifer (Mt 25:41; Lk 16:23–24). All the demons and souls of the damned will be summoned to the great white throne of God’s judgment (Rev 20:11). This is the bema seat of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:10), when all receive either commendation or condemnation.
Here the Lord Himself will display His perfect justice, in issuing just judgments (Gen 18:25; Jn 5:30). Saints will be publicly justified, receiving their respective crowns (Rev 2:10). They will be robed in the purity of Christ’s righteousness (Rev 7:14). These will judge the world and the angels (1 Cor 6:2-3), as a demonstration of the restoration of dominion to humanity under the second Adam, who is Christ the Lord of all (Acts 10:36).
The sentence of the second death will be issued by the righteous Judge (Rev 20:6, 11, 14–15), who will cast the wicked, evil, reprobates into the fiery hell of eternal punishment (Mt 25:46; Jude 1:7). Hell was a place of incarceration for souls, but with the resurrection, the bodies and souls of the damned, along with hell itself, will be cast forever into the lake of fire (Rev 19:20; 20:10, 14–15). The torment there is eternal (Mt 8:29; Rev 14:10–11). Awaiting the damned is outer darkness and flames with no light (Mt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30), but only weeping and gnashing of teeth in conscious, bodily anguish (Mt 25:30). Eternal hell is justice for the responsible offenders of God’s infinite majesty. Sin does have consequences.
Fire will also consume the current heavens and the earth, which were desecrated by fallen men. The groaning of the first creation will end (Rom 8:22), in the purifying destruction by fire (2 Pet 3:7, 10–12). As promised, there will be a new heavens and a new earth (Is 65–66; Rev 21–22), where righteousness dwells (2 Pet 3:13). With the apostles Paul and John, as eyewitnesses, the glory of the kingdom of heaven, prepared for eternal communion between God and His people (Jer 31:3), Christ and His church, the Israel of God will be beyond anything we could ever think or imagine (Rev 21–22).
The hope of glory (Col 1:27; 1 Pet 1:20–21), the inheritance of the saints, is perfect union with Christ in the body — and with our Triune God in the Spirit. He will be all and in all (Eph 1:10; Col 3:11). For the elect, redeemed, regenerate saint, these are things to come at the end. This is the story of our salvation, and the glory to be revealed to us (Rom 8:18; Titus 2:13), now, in part, but then in whole. Hallelujah!
Spokane Valley, Washington
May 24, 2022