What is your hope for the future?
I did not ask, What should be your hope? What is your hope? What is it that you have set your eye upon? What is it that your heart desires above everything else? And toward what are you preparing and directing your life today? Is it in terms of the good life, a good-paying joy, the ability to afford all that you ever wanted? Or is it in terms of personal goals: success, advancement in a certain field, honor, renown? Or, perhaps, it is in term of family: children, marriage, seeing your children and grandchildren doing well, happy, successful?
What is it that is your hope for the future?
The Bible says that when you take the Word of God as a knife and open up the heart of a child of God, you will find that in that heart there beats one great hope. That hope is the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ – the one, visible, final coming of Jesus Christ at the end of the world. That is the hope of the child of God.
David already had that hope in the Old Testament. In II Samuel 23:5 he says, “for this is all my salvation, and all my desire.” He is referring there to the day that Christ would come, a morning without clouds, the day in which the Bible says God shall be all and in all.
We also read in the book of Revelation, as the Bible comes to its close, that the prayer of the church is this: “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.”
The hope of the child of God is the coming of Jesus Christ. Christ comes once more. He comes not to establish any type of earthly kingdom on this earth. He comes in judgment. He comes at the end of time. He comes to judge the wicked world. He comes to raise the bodies of all men. He comes to bring His church home and to build for it the final kingdom, the new heavens and the new earth.
Is that your hope?
Jesus spoke of that hope and He spoke of His coming. He spoke of it especially in Matthew 24 and in Mark 13, passages that have been called the Lord’s sermon on the end of the world, or the signs of His second coming. In Mark 13 He is speaking of the end of the world and of His coming again. His main object in the sermon is to establish His children in good hope. He tells us in that chapter of many hard and extremely difficult days of deception and persecution which lie ahead for the church. He says that His true believers will be hated of all men. They will be persecuted, and false prophets will constantly be trying to seduce them and draw them from the faith. The Lord says, It will appear as if my church and my gospel are all but defeated. My people shall appear to be scattered. On every side the false gospel and the evil world apparently will have the upper hand. But, He says, your courage must not fail. Even when you see the church scattered and the elect as if they are going to be swept off the earth and false doctrines being embraced, I am coming and My elect shall all be gathered to me in eternal glory. He says to us in that chapter, turn your eyes and set your hope and fix your heart upon My coming.
I would like to speak to you for a few moments on this glorious truth of the coming of the Son of man as Jesus speaks of it in Mark 13:24. “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.” The Lord tells us that He is going to return immediately after the great tribulation of His church. We read, “But in those days, after that tribulation….” And when we compare it to Matthew 24, we read this: immediately after the tribulation of those days, that is, following close on the heels of that tribulation.
There is in the mind and will of Jesus Christ the need for His church to undergo great testing and trial on the earth. He will come immediately after that tribulation, but not until that tribulation has taken place. We read in Revelation 6:11 that the glorified saints who have been martyred for the cause of Christ are under the altar crying out, “How long, O Lord, holy and true. Dost thou not avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” And the answer is this: “White robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”
The Bible teaches us that the measure of suffering appointed of God for His church must be fulfilled. The sufferings of Christ in us must be filled up. According to God’s inscrutable wisdom, individually in your own life as a child of God, but also for the church as a body, there is a certain amount of sufferings which is necessary. We read in I Peter 5:10, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
The Bible says that the wicked are also filling up a cup, a cup of iniquity. “To fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost” (I Thess. 2:16). And from that cup they shall drink to all eternity. That iniquity of the world is measured in its depths, not by the outward, vile deeds that men commit, but especially in terms of a rejection of the Christ of God. “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light” (John 3:19). The persecution of the church is motivated by the hatred of Jesus Christ. So when the suffering of the church is fulfilled, the cup of sin of the wicked reaches its brim.
We do not know when all of this will happen, that is, when that measure is attained. Scripture gives to us very clear ideas of the signs of the times, of the signs of the return of the Lord. There shall be the increase in wickedness. There shall not be a kingdom of Christ on this earth. No, there shall be an increase in wickedness. But we know this, that when it appears as if the true church of God is all but driven off the earth and man has turned his vengeance upon that church, and when the days, as Jesus says in this chapter of Mark, must be shortened for the elect’s sake or there would be no flesh saved alive, it is then, immediately, that Christ shall come.
Because the coming of Christ is the great event toward which everything is directed by God right now, because it is the goal of God’s eternal purposes in Christ, that coming of Christ will, therefore, be accompanied by the shaking of the creation. We read that Jesus said, “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.” The powers of the heaven refer to God’s hand upholding the stars right now and the heavens in a regular way. The power which staggers man’s mind, the power which keeps all things in existence, that power, that orderly power of God, shall be disrupted. And God, by His mighty hand, shall cast it all down. There shall be darkness. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, we read. There shall be the disruption of the universe. Stars shall fall and leave their courses. There shall be the great disruption of the creation by the hand of God because God will come in judgment. When Jesus comes, the world as it is now shall be destroyed.
The most frightening for a man without God is to see the world destroyed about him. Everything which he could use to turn from God is taken away. Everything that he bases his courage upon is taken away. And he must stand before God.
When Jesus comes, there shall be the great shaking of the created world. God shall shake it up and burn it in fire. And Christ shall create the new heavens and the new earth wherein righteousness shall dwell. Hear God’s Word.
In our Lord’s first coming, in the womb of the virgin Mary, when He took up His residence among us, He came meek and lowly. He came to perform the obedience to the divine law of God for us. That obedience took Him to the cross, where He suffered and died for our sins. He came the first time doing the will of the Father and, so to speak, there was not even a little twitch in the world. Apart from the heavenly angels over the fields of Bethlehem, and a handful of shepherds, no one took notice. The bustling crowds did not pause. Rome and Caesar considered it to be simply another day as usual. People ate, drank, washed, went to bed. The very Son of God, by whom all things were created and who holds all things in His hands, came into our flesh. There was only the mooing of cattle and the sighs and the groans of the virgin Mary in childbirth. And the world went on its way.
But when our Master comes again, heaven will be shaken, stars shall fall. The sun shall not give her light, earth shall be broken on her foundations and mountains cast into the sea. For He shall appear as the Lord of glory. And you shall know Him, the One who suffered and died and rose again and to whom you belong now by His grace. His eyes, though brilliant and bright, will smile upon you. You will rush out, amid all the terrors around you, into His arms. But, and hear the warning today, those who do not know Him as Savior and Lord and do not His will, they shall flee from Him whose eyes are as fire. And they shall cry, “Hide us from the wrath of the Lamb.”
When Jesus comes it will be glorious. It is the moment for which you are being prepared. It is the moment for which we have been saved. We shall go out to meet Him and cry, “All hail! Glory, laud, and honor to Thee, Redeemer, King.”
Jesus shall come personally and bodily. We read, “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” Jesus speaks there of Himself as the Son of man, referring to nothing less than His own person, as the Savior. Remember the Christian doctrine. As the Son of man, He is the second person of the Trinity in our flesh. He is Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of man, who was sent of the Father to die and rise again the third day, the very one who offered Himself for us on the cross. He is the risen and ascended Lord in His glorified human nature. He shall come. In His glorified human body the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven (I Thess. 4:16). He is not coming in the last day in His Spirit as He came on the day of Pentecost. He is not coming on the last day through His messengers as He comes right now through the ministers of the gospel who announce His glad tidings. But (Acts 1:11), this same Jesus who was taken up from us into heaven, shall so come as they had seen Him go. The One who walked on the earth, who touched lepers, who wrestled in prayer, who was made like unto us in all things except sin, the One who was crucified, is risen, and is glorified and now at God’s right hand – ruling over all! He is coming!
Are you ready?
It will be a public coming. Visible. Notice that up to this point in the 13th chapter of Mark, Jesus has always said, “You.” “You shall be hated.” “Take ye heed.” “Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.” But now He says, “And then shall they see the Son of man coming….” Why does He say that? He does not just say, “Ye shall see Him.” But “They shall see Him.” Because all shall see Him. The church, waiting for Him, yes. But all shall see Him. “Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30). “Behold, he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him” (Rev. 1:7).
There shall be the resurrection of the dead, both good and evil. All nations shall be gathered before Him. Mankind in its entirety shall be assembled. All shall see Him!
When He came the first time in Bethlehem, who saw Him? A few shepherds. God, so to speak, slipped His Son into the world unseen. But in the second coming who will see Him? All! Do you understand that? Does the Word of God say that when He comes only believers will see Him in the rapture? No. There is no such teaching in the Bible. That is the imagination of man. God will not take His church out of the world in secret, but as a great and glorious and conquering host in the presence of the foe. Assembled on the great day, Jesus shall take His church victorious. And He it is that shall tread down our enemies. He comes personally. He comes publicly. And He comes in great power. For all shall see the Son of man, said Jesus, coming in the clouds with power and great glory. What majesty shall be His! He shall come upon the clouds. The clouds in Scripture are often a symbol of the presence and majesty of God. You remember that God led Israel by a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night which He put between Israel and Egypt to protect Israel. It was the cloud which was a figure of His own glory as He descended upon the tabernacle.
Christ’s coming will be majestic. Against the darkness of the sky – for the sun shall not shine – and amid the rubble of the universe, the Son of man in all of His beauty and power shall appear. That is why every eye shall see Him. They shall see Him in power, the very opposite of weakness. They shall see Him in glory, the outshining of all of His perfections.
No wonder Paul could say in Titus 2:13 that we look “for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” No wonder he could say in II Thessalonians 1 that when Christ comes He shall be admired of all the saints. What is our hope? Our hope is not that we are going to be snatched away in some rapture when things get too hot. But our hope is this: I shall see Him for myself. Whether I am yet alive or need to be raised from the dead, I shall see Him face to face. The mighty and the terrible One, the risen Lord, the avenger of the elect, the Shepherd of His sheep.
So Jesus could say in Mark 14:62 to Caiaphas, that He was indeed the Son of God and “ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Think of it! All the toil and all the struggles that we have gone through will be recompensed and rewarded. The cross of afflictions and trials that we bear will be lifted by the Savior’s own hands. He will wipe away all tears from our eyes. He shall brush the dirt of the battle from our clothes. And He will say, “Come with Me, My beloved.”
Why does He come? He comes to gather the elect. Then shall He send His angels, we read. And they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the uttermost parts of the earth, even to the uttermost part of heaven. The elect, they are those whom God has chosen to their salvation. Yet they are scattered over all the earth. No matter where they are on the earth, God shall find them. He shall send His angels to take them to Himself. The focal point of salvation of the elect is when Christ comes and we shall be with Him. That shall be the day of final division. For the angels shall gather the elect. But they shall condemn all unbelievers to eternal hell. Every sinner marked out in his unbelief shall be destroyed. Every proud and indifferent sinner, every smug sinner, every “it doesn’t make any difference – I’ve got tomorrow” sinner shall be destroyed. But every sinner, chosen of His grace, redeemed in His blood, brought to faith and repentance, loved of God shall be gathered to Himself. He is coming.
Today many people have opinions about Jesus Christ. Some say He is a good man. Some say, a noble leader. Others say, a myth. In that day when He comes, there will be just one opinion: He is the mighty Son of God, Lord of all. Today many ridicule His claims. They say, Prince of Peace, Savior? Look at the world with its wars and crime and unrest. He is a failure. But who ever said that He came to bring peace, earthly peace, on the earth? No, this is why He came: “And he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). He did not come to make this world a utopia. He came to be glorified in the elect and chosen, repentant believers. He will come to save His sheep. He shall establish the new heavens and the new earth in righteousness, where righteousness shall dwell. And in that day that He comes for us, He will make us perfectly spotless, raised with new bodies, without one blemish. And in those bodies, reunited with our souls, we shall serve Him day and night in His temple.
Is that your hope? Are you living in such a way that you are ready now? Then hear His word. Christ says, “I come. I come to be glorified in you. I will never forget you. I have chosen to dwell with you to all eternity. And soon, now, very soon, I come.” Do you hear Him? I can’t wait!
Let us pray.
Come, Lord Jesus. Yea, come quickly. Amen.