Last week videos surfaced of areas in China where the sky turned blood red. Although it’s not fully understood why this took place, it was likely due to some sort of natural weather condition. Despite this, since it happened without warning it caused great concern to many people. In one video a person could be heard asking if the end of the world was upon them.
In our last biblical encouragement article we made the point that people who serve evil and refuse to repent until the end will face judgement. Paul noted in 2 Corinthians 11:15 (ESV), that, “Their end will correspond to their deeds.” Their end may come when they die. It may also come if they are still alive when the Lord returns.
In that article we quoted Revelation 1:7. In the NIV this says:
Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all peoples on earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
The triumphant return of Jesus is a central theme of the New Testament. According to Mark 13:32 no one other than God knows the exact timing of when this will take place. There is no doubt, however, that this will happen one day. As noted in the verse quoted above, every eye will see this unfold. Everyone alive at that time will see the return of Jesus as it happens.
Revelation 1:7 makes clear that most who witness the return of Jesus will experience deep mourning. Why would this be the case? Simply because throughout history only a small percentage of individuals have chosen to trust Jesus for salvation and have thus been reconciled to God the Father. Those who have, Christ followers, are told to patiently wait for that day. One example of this is seen in James 5:7-8 (NIV):
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
I suspect that most on earth will experience intense mourning when they see the return of Christ because they know deep within their heart that they were created by a God who loves them, and yet have chosen to follow their own path rather than to draw near to God through Christ. Knowing this deep within, that last moment will be the sudden realization of what they knew all along, that judgement awaits all people at their end. Whether we face it the moment we die, or whether we are alive to see the second coming of Christ, every person who ever lived will face that moment of realization. For most this will involve a degree of mourning that we cannot now understand.
The good news is that it’s not too late to change. As long as one is alive and until the moment of Christ’s return all have the opportunity the place their faith in Jesus for salvation, to have their sins forgiven through the death of Christ on their behalf, and to thus be reconciled to their loving Creator. All who choose to do so will be among the few who rejoice in the seconds after their death or at the moment when Christ returns in his glory.
There’s a very short book of the Bible called Jude. It appears just before the book of Revelation. Although Jude only contains one chapter, the content is incredibly important for Christ followers. It’s worth a somewhat lengthy quote here to make an important point. Jude verses 17-25 reads as follows in the NIV:
But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
There are numerous important points offered in this passage. These include the encouragement for Christ followers to be merciful to those who doubt. We were all among them at one time. There is nothing special or different about us other than the fact that we have acknowledged our sins and received Jesus. Let’s pray for others to do the same by showing them kindness, mercy, and love.
Finally, did you catch another very important point in this passage? As Christ followers we are told that we will enter the presence of God “without fault and with great joy.” Whereas most will enter God’s presence with mourning and intense regret, those who trust in Jesus will experience great joy in that moment.
Whether it’s just after our last breath on earth or when we witness the return of Christ, those of us who trust in Jesus will know joy unbounded in that moment. I suspect that our only sadness will be for the many who at that time will experience deep mourning. Let’s resolve now to pray for and to love others by sharing the hope we have in Christ as we have opportunity. May God’s grace that reached us also reach countless others between now and that final moment of realization. Amen.