A GLORIOUS WELCOME
"'It will seem like all hell has broken loose -- sun, moon, stars, earth, sea in an uproar and everyone all over the world in a panic, the wind knocked out of them by the threat of doom, the powers-that-be quaking.
"And then -- then! -- they'll see the Son of Man welcomed in grand style -- a glorious welcome. When all this starts to happen, up on your feet. Stand tall with your heads high. Help is on the way!'" Luke 21:25-28 (The Message).
What a glorious, terrifying moment! It will be glorious for those who have taken Jesus' words seriously and terrifying for cynics, sceptics, agnostics, atheists and everyone who chose to believe and follow the counterfeit rather than the truth. So cataclysmic will Jesus' return be that even the natural world will reel with the enormity of it.
Earth's population, past and present, will be split right down the middle; those who love Him will welcome Him with overwhelming joy and relief; those who rejected Him will cringe in horror when they discover to their loss that He was telling the truth all the time.
The Apostle Paul wrote to encourage the Thessalonian believers who were suffering at the hands of the Roman emperor (probably Nero) because they refused to acknowledge that Caesar was Lord.
"God is just. He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled...This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power on the day He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed." 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10a (NIV).
Jesus made enormous predictions. How do we know they are true? Many people have prophesied over the centuries. What are the credentials for believing what they say? In order to verify their trustworthiness, we have to examine their authority, their character and their accuracy.
On what authority did Jesus say these things? He claimed that His authority came from the Father. "'For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself. And He has given Him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man.'" John 5:26-27 (NIV).
When we examine the character of Jesus, we must find that He was a liar, a lunatic or flawless. He asked His opponents a question that they could not answer: 'Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me?' John 8:46 (NIV).
As for the accuracy of His predictions, if He foretold His death and resurrection in uncanny detail and then fulfilled every detail to the letter, is there any reason to doubt any of His other words, prophecies and promises?
In every way Jesus fulfilled the qualifications of an authentic prophet. He foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and it happened. He even told Peter that he would suffer a violent death and Peter died by crucifixion. Accurate fulfilment of His prophetic words gives us reason to take everything else He said seriously, including what He had to say about his return and the consequences of rejecting Him and disregarding His words.
For those who believe in Him, it will be a moment of celebration and vindication, delirious joy for our union with our Master and release from the obstacles and hindrances of our sinful nature, and vindication that our faith in Him and perseverance in spite of opposition was not in vain.
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