Matthew 24:29-31 (NIV) “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.’ “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. And 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.”
Jesus is now firmly looking forward to the final act in the drama of creation: His ultimate return in power and glory. This return will signal the end of the created order, and the final consummation of the kingdom of God.
The days before Jesus’ return will be dark, with the people of God being persecuted and killed by enemies of the cause of Christ. And, as things progress toward the end, things will seem even more chaotic as wars increase, and as major powers are overthrown (symbolized in Isaiah’s vision as heavenly bodies).
But just when it seems like the chaos is going to win, the sign of Jesus appearing will be seen in the heavens, visible to the whole world. This is no secret or “hidden” coming. It will be loud, with a trumpet sound similar to the deafening and terrifying roar heard by the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:18-19), and with a brilliant glory that will outshine the sun, and will strike terror into all who are living in disobedience.
When Jesus comes, He will gather all of His followers from all over the earth, no matter how far away, no matter in what deep dungeons they might be. The dead will be raised, and those who are alive will be transformed in the twinkling of an eye, and taken up to meet the Lord in the air (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).
Some find this scenario terrifying. But the picture is intended to give reassurance to Jesus’ followers, especially those who are going through, or will have to go through, times of persecution and suffering. Jesus will have the last word. When He comes, all scores will be settled, all evil will be destroyed, and all those who know Him will be with Him forever.
Father, this really is reassuring. Even if the scores aren’t settled in our own day, we can rest assured on the word of Jesus that they will be. Even if Jesus doesn’t return to take me to Himself before I die, I know that He will raise me up on the last day to be with Him forever. This is a living hope that I can live each day in expectancy and trust. Thank You for Your true word. Amen.