The Soon Return of Jesus

by David Marshall

What will it be like on Day Zero, the Day of the Lord? Scripture says that "the courage of many people will falter because of the fearful fate they see coming upon the earth, because the stability of the very heavens will be broken up" (Luke 21:26).

Will their courage falter because their planet is in the way of a massive meteorite? Will it be because some crazed dictator, some delinquent state, or some terrorist group has acquired a nuclear facility? Will it be because, in fulfillment of Revelation 16:12-16, the devil will have taken his gloves off, assumed a hands-on role in the events on the planet? Could it be that an occult menace accounts for the all-pervasive sense of fear?

Whatever it is, it will not interrupt everyday life to any major degree. Why? Because, as Jesus said, "It will be 'business as usual' right up to the hour when the Son of Man returns" (Luke 17:30). People will be "eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building" (verse 28).

People will set off for work as usual; congested roads, trains running late. The institutions of commerce--stock markets, money markets--will be doing brisk business; all attention on the Dow, the FTSE, the Nikkei, the Hang Seng. They will have booted up, brewed up, logged on, logged in, and checked the financial forecast. The skylines of the cities still will be broken by great cranes as people build on the assumption that time will last forever. People will be pursuing their plans, oblivious to the fact that in God's eternal plan--time ends today. This is Omega Day, Day X, the Last Day, the Day of the Lord, the day to make an end in order to make a beginning--the day He comes!

But at some time in the course of the day--11:00 a.m.? noon? 2:00 p.m.?-- it will quite suddenly cease to be business as usual for anyone, anywhere. What happens next will be a total surprise to all, except God's faithful few. The politicians will be preaching peace and security: all peace deals, wrapped up; it's all in the bag; you've never had it so good--so watch my lips! (See 1 Thess. 5:1-6.) Then there will be an astonishing scene in the sky. The most audible, the most gripping visible event since Creation week will be under way. A mighty shout! The blare of celestial trumpets. Skies in all directions full-brilliant with angels. And, above all, a great shining. And in the center Christ Himself (see 1 Thess. 4:16, 17; Luke 17:24).

No one can ignore the sight. No one can dismiss the sound--not even the dead. Says the apostle: The dead in Christ will rise. Those who have lived for Christ, God's own people, will be part of a great rescue operation: Exodus Earth. This same Jesus, who ascended, leaving bemused disciples with a seemingly impossible commission; this same Jesus, who lived, died, and rose again that, subject to our own choice, we might receive His proffered gift of salvation; this same Jesus will raise the dead to life and rescue the beleaguered faithful who are alive.

Great good news. The best! Families reunited! The beginning of an eternal adventure.

But on the day He comes it will be too late for last-minute decisions. The sealing work will have been done and the harvest reaped. The summer of God's grace will have passed. And there'll be no last-chance saloon. No last trolley out. The last train will have gone--forever. Even the richest and the mightiest will not find a last-minute exit door to some remote corner of outer space to sit this thing out. They will be trapped on earth, praying for anything, anything, to hide them from the face of the rejected Savior (see Rev. 6:12-17).

Who will the survivors be? Those who have defeated the Accuser through the "blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 6:17; 12:11).

As the saints move through the glittering, star-studded corridor of Orion, a living starship en route to the City of God, they will leave a scene of devastation behind them. "The heavens will vanish in a tearing blast, the very elements will disintegrate in heat and the earth and all its works will disappear" (2 Peter 3:10).

In the final chapter of the canon of Scripture the promise of Christ's return is repeated three times (Rev. 22:7, 12, 20); and the invitation of grace is repeated four times (verse 17).

The Advent movement was brought into existence to preach the imminent day of the Lord. But life for too many of us has become so comfortable that, despite the images beamed into our homes by the mass media, we are able to ignore the scale and intensity of the world's misery.

So how will it be with you on the day He comes? Will the world have squeezed you into its mold? Will it be business as usual? Will the coming be like a thief in the night? Or, as "children of the day" (1 Thess. 5:5, 6), will we have shunned the darkness, seen the signals, and lived the gospel?

On the day He comes we shall discover that the cynics have been right all along. It really is not what you know, but who you know.

Reprinted with permission of the Adventist Review.
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