The return of Jesus Christ to judge all people on the face of this earth is taught by both the Old and the New Testaments. A clear prediction of Jesus’ second coming can be found in Daniel 7:13: “and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.” Jesus quotes this verse applying it to himself while he is standing before the high priest during his trial: “I am (the Christ, the Son of the Blessed), and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
Jesus’ second coming will differ vastly
Jesus’ second coming will differ vastly from his first entrance to this world. The first time, Jesus was born in utterly humble circumstances and lived a life of total obedience to the will of his Father, “making himself nothing“- to the point of dying on the cross (Philippians 2:6-8). But the second time around Jesus will be seen on the clouds with power and great glory and the sound of trumpets (Matthew 24:30, 31) and he will be visible to every eye (Revelation 1:7). It is because Jesus was obedient to the point of death and consented to do the will of his Father, earning salvation for countless people, that the Father bestowed on him the name above every name and gave him the right to judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31). At that time every single person will bow before him and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10, 11), including all those who never put their trust in him for their salvation.
Both Jesus and John mention that all tribes of the earth will mourn or wail (Revelation 1:7 and Matthew 24:30) and most scholars take this to mean that this sorrow is because of the judgment and not sadness which leads to salvation. This makes Jesus’ coming a very serious matter.
Encourage each other with the second coming of Christ
On the other hand, whereas the teaching of the second coming can spark fear in the face of coming judgment, Paul wrote about this topic in order that believers would encourage each other with the second coming of Christ: 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. Paul teaches about the return of Christ, (virtually repeating the words of Christ himself from Matthew 24:30, 31) in the context of having hope concerning fellow believers who have passed away. The moment of Christ’s return will be absolutely glorious to those who have put their hope in him – finally He will be seen for who he really is by all people, justice will be done and all men and women who believe in him will be with him for all eternity and praise him, unhindered by sin, sickness or death. It is indeed a teaching fit to encourage and comfort each other with. This is the hope for Christians in the face of all the suffering to be endured on this earth.
Although no one knows the moment of Jesus’ return but the Father (Matthew 24:36), and although that moment will come suddenly (Matthew 24:44), Jesus did teach about the signs of the close of the age: false christs, wars, famines, earthquakes, lawlessness, and diminishing of love. At the same time, Jesus teaches that the Gospel will be proclaimed to all nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:5-13). Preceding Christ’s return, the sun and moon will be darkened and the stars will fall from heaven (Matthew 24:29) – the very great handiworks of God’s creation will crumble and shrink in the glorious light of Christ’s return!
Proclaiming the Gospel
The fact that no one knows about the hour should inspire every child of God to both vigilance and deeply investing in proclaiming the Gospel. We should be ready at any given hour to receive Christ and at the same time realize that speculating on the hour of his return is fruitless, thus liberating ourselves to completely abandon ourselves to living the life on this earth God has for us.