Scripture makes it very clear that Christ's coming is always accompanied by signs. So it was with His coming in the flesh (Lk. 1:18-20; 41-45; 2:12). So it is with His return (Matt. 24:3, 30; Lk. 21:11, 25). These signs are important and must be rightly understood.
The signs fall into several different categories. There are signs in creation (Matt. 24:7, 29), in history (Matt. 24:6, 7), and in the church (Matt. 24:10-16). Some are only the "beginning of sorrows" (Matt. 24:5-8), others speak more clearly of the end (Matt. 24:14-16), and some actually accompany the visible coming of Christ (Matt. 24:29-31).
There are several things we wish to emphasize about these signs, and that in connection with the wonderful Biblical truth that Jesus is coming. Remember, Scripture speaks of His coming as something already happening. He is already on the way!
This means that all the signs of His coming are not like the signs along the motorway, which simply makes an announcement or point to something in the distance. These signs of Christ's coming are like the sound of a train's whistle and the humming of the rails. They are part of the train's coming and are caused by the coming of the train.
We might, therefore, describe these signs of the coming of Christ as the sound of His footsteps as He approaches. And just as the sound of a person's footsteps are heard the more loudly and clearly the closer he comes, so these "signs" of Christ's coming are seen and heard the more clearly as He comes.
This, we believe, is the meaning of the progression in the book of Revelation from 1/4 (Rev. 6:8) to 1/3 (Rev. 8:7, 9, 10, 12, 18) to the whole (16:3, 4, 17). In other words, the seals, trumpets and vials picture the same signs and judgments, but as they increase in intensity and are seen more clearly as history progresses and Christ approaches.
However, there is a sense in which these signs are more than just the sound of His footsteps. The truth is that they are caused by the coming of Christ, not just as the coming of the train causes the sound of its whistle and its wheels to be heard, but they are caused by the coming of Christ in that He rules all of history and creation, as well as the church.
He, as the sovereign King and Lord of all is the one who brings all things to pass and causes all things to happen in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). That is the comfort of believers, for then they know that nothing happens by chance or apart from His will. But it is also the reason for these signs.
We might, then, think of those signs as the evidences of His hand and work in the creation and in history. They are signs that He is not working at random, but bringing day by day all things to their appointed end and thus coming.
What a different perspective that puts on all that happens to us and around us! Instead of being afraid and despairing we hope and wait, for all things speak of His power and coming. Truly, in the midst of wars, disasters, and apostasy, while men's hearts are failing them for fear, and while the powers of heaven are shaken, we can look up and lift our heads, for our redemption draws nigh! (Lk. 21:25-28).
- Volume: 7
- Issue: 21
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
Address317 North Park St.
State or ProvinceWA