Finality of His Return

SYNOPSIS - The “coming” of Jesus will result in the judgment of the ungodly, the vindication of the righteous and their resurrection, the cessation of death, and the New Creation

Dawn Photo by Remi Yuan on Unsplash
In the New Testament, Jesus is to return to the earth at the “end” of the present age with great power and glory. Among other things, his “arrival” will result in the judgment of the ungodly, the resurrection and vindication of the righteous, the arrival of the New Creation, and the termination of death – An event of great finality. - [Dawn Photo by Remi Yuan on Unsplash].

For example, in the parable of the Wheat and the Tares, at the “coming of the Son of Man” humanity is gathered and divided into two groups - The just and the unjust. The “wheat” is gathered into the “barn,” while the “tares” are tied into bundles and burned. The wheat represents the “sons of the kingdom,” the tares, the “sons of the evil one.” The evil entity that sowed the tares is the Devil and the “harvest” is at the “end of the age” ushered in by the return of Jesus- (Matthew 13:24-30).

Likewise, the parable of the Sheep and Goats pictures all nations being gathered before Jesus for judgment:
  1. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory” - (Matthew 25:31-46).
The “sheep” inherit the “kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” but the “goats” are cast off into "everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” The first group receives everlasting life, the second, “everlasting punishment.”

This last parable was given by Jesus as part of his ‘Olivet Discourse,’ his teachings about the destruction of the Temple and the “end of the age.” In it, he taught that, when the “Son of Man comes,” he will be accompanied by his angels. Then, all the nations of the earth will mourn at the sight of him arriving in power. He will send his angels to “gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” - (Matthew 24:29-31).

In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul describes how, at the “arrival” of Jesus from heaven, dead Christians will be resurrected and all the saints will “meet him in the air” as he descends from heaven. His presence will be heralded by “the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God.” From that point forward, believers will be with the Lord “forevermore” - (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

God did not appoint believers to “wrath” but instead, to attain salvation through Jesus. In contrast, the “Day of the Lord will arrive with sudden destruction” upon the unprepared and “they shall not escape.” Thus, the “Day of the Lord” brings both salvation and destruction, the former to believers, the latter to unbelievers - (1 Thessalonians 5:1-7).

In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes how the righteous will be vindicated when Jesus is “revealed from heaven with his angels.” However, their persecutors and all “who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” will pay the ultimate penalty - “Everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.” On that day, Jesus will be “glorified in his saints and admired in all them that believe.” Once again, at the return of Jesus from heaven, the righteous are vindicated and the wicked condemned - (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

In his letters to the Thessalonians, Paul labeled this event the “arrival” or parousia of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as the “Day of the Lord” and the "Revelation of Jesus from heaven." In each case, this is the “coming” or “arrival” when Jesus gathers the saints to himself and judges their persecutors. However, two events must occur before that day can come - The unveiling of the “man of lawlessness” and a “falling away”:
  • (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3) – “But we request you, brethren — in behalf of the Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto him, That ye be not quickly tossed from your mind, nor be put in alarm — either by spirit or by discourse or by letter as by us, as that the day of the Lord hath set in: That no one may cheat you in any one respect. Because that day will not set in — except the revolt come first, and there be revealed the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction.”
The “man of lawlessness” will be destroyed by Jesus at the “brightness of his coming” or parousia - (2 Thessalonians 2:8-9).

According to the Apostle Paul, at the “arrival” of Jesus as the “end of the age,” the righteous dead will be raised, the kingdom of God will be consummated, and the “last enemy, death” will cease – Death will be no more. On that day, the saints will inherit the kingdom and receive “immortality” - (1 Corinthians 15:20-57).
The Apostle Peter linked the judgment of the wicked, the dissolution of the existing creation, and the arrival of the New Creation to the “arrival” or parousia of Jesus. These events will occur on the “Day of God” - (2 Peter 3:3-13).
The book of Revelation also connects the judgment of the wicked to the coming of Jesus. In its prologue, John declares:
  • Behold, he is coming with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all the tribes of the earth shall wail because of him” – (Compare - Daniel 7:13-14, Zechariah 12:10).
The victory of the “Lamb” will culminate in the New Heavens and New Earth. When the sixth seal was opened, the “Day of the Lord” arrived, the day of His “wrath” when the wicked attempted to hide from the “Lamb.” That day will be characterized by great celestial and terrestrial upheaval. The same Old Testament language is employed that was used by Jesus to picture the universal upheaval that will accompany his “arrival”:
  • (Daniel 7:13) “I continued looking in the visions of the night when, lo! WITH THE CLOUDS OF THE HEAVENS, ONE LIKE A SON OF MAN WAS COMING — and unto the Ancient of days he approached, and before him they brought him near.
  • (Zechariah 12:10) “But I will pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitant of Jerusalem the spirit of favour and of supplications, and THEY WILL LOOK UNTO ME WHOM THEY HAVE PIERCED — AND WILL WAIL OVER HIM, as one waileth over an only son, and will make bitter outcry over him, as one maketh bitter outcry over a firstborn.
  • (Matthew 24:29-31) – “But straightway after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give her brightness, and the stars will fall from heaven — and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; And then will be displayed — THE SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN IN HEAVEN, and then will smite their breasts — ALL THE TRIBES OF THE EARTH; and they will see THE SON OF MAN — COMING UPON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN with great power and glory.
  • (Revelation 6:12-17) – “And I saw when he opened the sixth seal, that a great earthquake took place; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the full moon became as blood, and the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig-tree sheddeth her winter figs when by a great wind it is shaken, and the heaven was withdrawn as a scroll rolling itself up, and every mountain and island out of their places were shaken…and they say unto the mountains and unto the rocks — Fall upon us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the anger of the Lamb; Because THE GREAT DAY of their anger is come, and who is able to stand?
Likewise, when the seventh trumpet sounds, all the kingdoms of the earth are transferred to the realm of the Lord - And “he will reign forever and ever.” This “day” includes the arrival of God’s “wrath,” the raising of the dead, the judgment of the wicked, the vindication of the righteous, and the destruction of “them that destroy the earth” - (Revelation 11:15-19).

Similarly, the emptying of the seventh “bowl of wrath” produced terrestrial and celestial upheaval, the destruction of the city of “Babylon,” the downfall of the “cities of the nations,” and the transformation of the earth - (“Every island fled away, and the mountains were not found” - Revelation 16:12-21, 19:17-21).

Thus, the New Testament tells a consistent story. The “coming” or parousia of Jesus means the final judgment, the resurrection of the dead, terrestrial and celestial upheaval, the consummation of God’s kingdom, the cessation of death, the final overthrow of all God’s enemies, and the New Creation in which righteousness prevails evermore.

That day will end on a grand note of finality.


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