HE'LL BE BACK!
He’ll Be Back
June 2, 2019
I’m sure most of you are familiar with the famous words of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie ‘The Terminator’: “I’ll be back!” Arnold played a scary cyborg assassin who would stop at nothing to fulfill his mission.
The mission of our Lord Jesus Christ is still ongoing, as he also promised that he’ll be back. And nothing will stand in his way either. Although he ascended into heaven 40 days after he rose from the dead, completing his purpose for coming to earth the first time, which was to be the propitiation for our sins by dying on the cross, and to defeat death for us through his resurrection; he will return again at a predestined time.
He gave us many clues in His Word as to when that will be, although he also told us that no one knows the day or the hour except our Father in heaven (Matthew 25:13). He does want us to know that there will be two parts to his return. First will be the bodily ‘snatching away’, or ‘rapture’ as it is commonly called, of the true believers, along with the resurrection of the bodies of believers whose spirits have previously gone to be with the Lord, as you heard in our second Scripture reading (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18); after which God’s attention will focus intently on the nation of Israel, and a false Messiah will rise to power. Those who have rejected Jesus will worship this leader who brings them peace at first, but who will ultimately turn on them, and kill anyone who refuses to submit to him with complete allegiance, and worship him. God’s judgment will ensue on those who still refuse to turn to Jesus for their salvation, even after a series of catastrophes; and then this false Christ, or Antichrist, will be destroyed upon Jesus’ return, as you heard in our third Scripture reading (2 Thessalonians 2:1-14).
Almost every book of the New Testament has verses that speak of Christ’s second coming. There are also Old Testament references to it. Were I to mention all of them we would still be here this evening. Unfortunately, just as many did not, and still do not, recognize Jesus from the prophecies concerning his first coming, many will not recognize the signs of his impending second coming, dismiss them as allegory, or (God forbid) even fall for Satan’s imposter.
And yet, even among Christians who are indeed anticipating the second coming of Christ, and who study God’s Word extensively, there are disagreements as to the interpretation of those Scriptures that reference it. In hindsight it is easy for believers to see how Jesus fulfilled the Scriptures concerning his first coming, but it is far more difficult to accurately predict exactly how those concerning his second coming will play out.
This is probably a good thing. Why? Because otherwise people would incline to wait until the last minute to prepare their hearts for his arrival. But the Bible tells us to be ready at any moment. Jesus himself told his disciples in Matthew 24:44, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” On the other hand, we should not be caught completely off-guard as will most of the world. For the apostle Paul told the church in Thessalonica, “Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4) Did you catch that last line? “But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.” We should all be eagerly waiting and watching. As you just heard, the Bible even uses the example of a mother in labor. As the labor pains grow closer and closer together, she eagerly anticipates the birth of her child. Her attention is focused on little or nothing else, until finally the baby is born and the pain of childbirth is over. And then it is time to rejoice! So it will be when the time of Christ’s arrival draws near. Earthly troubles, like labor pains, will grow worse. When Jesus’ disciples asked him to tell them the sign of his coming and the end of the age, he said this, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:4-14)
If you continue to read in Matthew 24, Jesus speaks of the “‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ as spoken of through the prophet Daniel” (see Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11) who will stand in the temple in Jerusalem. This is the same as the ‘lawless one’ you heard about in our third Scripture reading (2 Thessalonians 2:1-14), and the ‘beast’ mentioned in Revelation 13. The ultimate false Messiah - the Antichrist.
Throughout the centuries, many who were eager for our Lord to return, as well as some who just wanted to use their predictions to gain a following, have tried to set dates for this all-important event. When the day they predicted had come and gone, many became discouraged and fell away from the faith. Whether well-intentioned or not, we must not be quick to set dates or believe dates that others have set. As I mentioned earlier, Jesus himself said no one knows the day or the hour except our Father in heaven. The apostle Peter wrote that “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some understand slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8)
Therefore, we should be eager for Christ’s return, always be ready and keeping watch; but also not waste the time that is left, rather use it to share the Gospel with those who have not yet put their faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation, knowing that our Lord does not want anyone to perish.
So let us be like those in Thessalonica who the apostle Paul mentions in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, who serve the living and true God, and wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. Amen.
"The Ascension" (Phil Wickham) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23u5t5__WPc
"I Will Rise" (Chris Tomlin) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsHsLCKlbHY