The Lord is Coming!
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” (Mark 13:24-31)
The historians tell us that the early saints used to greet one another with these words, “He is risen;” and upon parting they would say, “The Lord is coming.” Thus they constantly encouraged one another in the faith and constantly reminded one another of both the accomplishment of redemption by Christ and the certainty of resurrection glory with Christ.
Before he left this world, our Lord Jesus assured his disciples that, just as surely as he arose from the grave, he would come again to raise his saints from their graves and translate all his elect in resurrection glory to heaven. That is the subject of Mark 13:24-31. Without question, this is a prophecy of our Lord’s coming in judgment to destroy Jerusalem, the temple, and the nation of Israel, but it cannot and should not be limited to that. It is also a prophecy of our Savior’s second coming. As we read this passage it should always stir our hearts with expectation and desire for the Lord’s coming. May God give us grace ever to live on the tip-toe of faith in the blessed expectation of Christ’s glorious Second Advent. The Lord Jesus Christ is coming again.
The Glory of Christ’s Coming
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory” (vv. 24-26).
In the 9th chapter of the Book of Hebrews (vv. 24-28) we are told that the Son of God appeared once to put away our sins by the sacrifice of himself. Christ came here to die in our place, to put away our sins by his death; and he has effectually performed that which he came here to accomplish. As our great Advocate and High Priest he now appears in the presence of God for us, making intercession for his elect according to the will of God (1 John 2:1-2).Our great God and Savior shall, at the appointed time, appear again on this earth to consummate his great work of saving his people from their sins.
As our Savior describes his second advent here in Mark 13, it is obvious that when he comes again, it will not be a secret thing. At his glorious second advent, he will appear with power and great glory. That is the language of Holy Scripture.
“And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10)
“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7)
Our Lord speaks about the sun being turned into darkness, the moon refusing to give light, the falling of stars and the shaking of powers in the heavens. Such language conveys the idea of a great, universal convulsion, a climatic dismantling of creation by the finger of God.
The language used here is very much like the language with which Peter was inspired of God to describe the coming of Christ. — .”The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up”(2 Peter 3:10).
The Order of Events
In other words, that which shall immediately precede the glorious appearing of Christ will be the conflagration of the universe. The order of events at the second coming seems to be as follows. These things are not written in concrete. I would not argue in defense of them for even a second. However, this is what appears to me to be likely. I have formed this order by carefully comparing Scripture with Scripture. Whatever the order of events may indeed be, it will not take long to accomplish the whole thing. When the Son of God rises from his throne and says, “Behold, I make all things new,” it will all be done quickly.
Christ’s second advent will be radically different from his first. Our Savior came the first time in humiliation, an infant, born of a poor woman, laid in a manger at Bethlehem, unnoticed, unhonored, unknown. He is coming the second time in power and great glory, in royal dignity, with all the armies of heaven surrounding him, to be seen, recognized, known, acknowledged and feared by all people, nations, tribes and tongues.
Christ Jesus came the first time to suffer, to bear the sins of his people, to be made a curse, to be despised, rejected, unjustly condemned and slain. He is coming the second time as the reigning, almighty Monarch of the universe to put down every foe, put an end to all rebellion, to take possession of all the kingdoms of this world, to judge the world, to destroy his enemies, to make all things new and to be eternally admired by redeemed sinners.
We would all be wise to lay these things to heart and meditate upon them regularly. These facts are filled with comfort for every believer. Our great King, our all glorious Christ, will soon be here again! We shall, with him, inherit all things. We will soon exchange the cross for a crown. We shall enter into everlasting honor, joy, bliss and life.
For all who believe not, the facts revealed in Book of God about the second coming of Christ ought to be terrifying. Indeed, if any dare think upon them, I know they are terrifying to their souls. The Christ they despise reject, and mock will soon call them before his holy bar of judgment. That God-man, whose gospel they trample beneath their feet, will soon hold them accountable. In that day they shall receive of the Lord’s hand their exact, just due for all their sins. Hell will be their everlasting portion. What is hell?
The Gathering of God’s Elect
In verse twenty-seven, our Master tells us plainly that the first order of business and the primary purpose of his great second advent shall be the gathering of his elect. Throughout the Word of God we are distinctly and constantly taught that our God does all things for the elect’s sake. — “And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.”
Just as God’s servants, as the angels of God, are sent out by the preaching of the gospel to gather his elect into his kingdom from the four corners of the earth, so at the end of time those heavenly spirits created to minister to the chosen shall be sent forth to fetch them out of the earth and gather them, all of them, even their dust and ashes, unto Christ in glory! As the angels carried Lazarus into Abraham’s bosom, so they shall carry all God’s elect into heaven’s bosom to be with Christ!
As stated above, the gathering out of God’s elect will immediately precede the Lord’s judgment of the earth. Our safety shall be taken care of, when the Lord consumes the earth with the fiery brightness of his coming. Nothing shall be done to destroy the earth until all God’s elect are beyond the reach of harm. Not one drop of rain fell until Noah was safe in the ark. Fire and brimstone could not fall upon Sodom until Lot was safely secluded in Zoar. And God’s wrath will not consume his enemies in the earth until he has taken his saints out of the earth.
Blessed be our God, there is a great gathering day coming! We who believe ought to look forward to that great day with unmingled joy, without the slightest dread or fear (2 Thessalonians 2:1). What a gathering “our gathering together unto him” shall be! It will be a gracious gathering, a righteous gathering, a loving gathering and a permanent gathering of all the family of God!
The Parable of the Fig Tree
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done” (vv. 28-30).
Our Lord sternly reproved the Pharisees because they could not “discern the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3). They could not see that the scepter was passing away from Judah. They did not see that Daniel’s seventy weeks were fulfilled. Let us beware of such blindness. It is a blindness caused by spiritual lethargy and an overmuch fondness for this world.
This parable of the fig tree is not a deep, mysterious, secretive thing. In this parable our Master tells us plainly that when we see the things spoken of in this context, (when we see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet), his glorious second advent is at hand.
The abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel is the revelation (to God’s saints, not to the world) of antichrist (Arminian, freewill, works religion). It is that which Paul speaks of in 2 Thessalonians 2, the loosing of Satan to deceive the nations of the world (Revelation 20:1-8).
The lesson of the parable of the fig tree is just this: — While we must never even guess at, or try to figure out the time of Christ’s coming, increasing darkness, ungodliness, apostasy and idolatry ought to cause every believer to live on the tip-toe of faith, looking expectantly for Christ’s appearing.
The rising infidelity, increasing acceptance of popery, Islam, Judaism and mysticism, the worldwide will-worship of this apostate age, the lawlessness, the anarchy, the contempt of authority, the acceptance of sexual promiscuity, (fornication, adultery, homosexuality), and the general calling of evil good and good evil ought to be glaring beacons in our eyes and trumpets in our ears telling us, — “This is the end! Judgment has begun. The end is near. The Lord is coming.”
The more we see these things coming to pass the more reason we have to look up in hope. Our redemption draws nigh! We must therefore watch, be sober, keep our garments white and unspotted from the world (Revelation 16:15). Armageddon is here. The judgment of the great whore is at hand. The Lord is coming!
The Certainty of God’s Word
In verse 31 our Lord seems to have anticipated our tendency toward skepticism and unbelief, and therefore warns us emphatically against it. — “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.”
We must never allow ourselves to give any credibility to any questioning of God’s Word. Let us never dare imagine that any word of prophecy is improbable, or unlikely simply because it seems contrary to nature, or experience, or our judgment. Let us never be found among those arrogant fools who imagine that they are smarter than God. We must never find ourselves agreeing with those scoffers who, walking after their own lusts, say, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Peter 3:3-4). Christ is coming again. — Rejoice!
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
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