Flashback Episode — Preparing for His Return: Mark 13:24-31

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In the past 10-20 years, there have been a number of popular movies that have focused in on the end of the world. Some of these movies focus in on the plotline of a natural disaster happening, while others attribute our end coming from some cosmic event. However the list of movies where the end of the world may happen from some type of unavoidable means is short when compared with the list of movies where humans are presented as the problem – and bringing the disaster onto ourselves – except that in all these movies, if we don’t barely avoid the disaster and end on a good note, the end gives at the very least a glimmer of hope that we will survive the destruction.

However, up to this point, I have not seen a movie attributing the destruction of the world to Jesus’ return. There are movies that base themselves on rapture theology, but this is different from Jesus showing up on the scene as He describes His return in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Perhaps you have wondered with me about this, but this missing angle of earth’s end may be because culture doesn’t care about God or Jesus, or maybe it is because people in the broader culture have lost hope that He will actually return as promised. It might even be some of both.

Let’s look at how Jesus describes His return from the gospel of Mark, chapter 13, starting in verse 24, and we will be reading from the New International Version:

24 “But in those days, following that distress,
    ‘the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon will not give its light;
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
    and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

This is how Jesus describes His return. In Luke’s gospel, he describes Jesus saying in chapter 21, verse 26 that, “People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.(Luke 21:26)

Bible scholars for hundreds of years have wondered and speculated over this event. Jesus has adapted God’s words in Isaiah when He describes the sun darkening, the moon not shining, stars falling, and the heavenly bodies being shaken. Isaiah’s description is of the great day when God brings punishment onto the sinners of the world. It seems as though Jesus has taken this imagery and applied it to His second coming. Scholars have speculated over whether Jesus’ words describe separate events that will happen close to when He returns, or whether these four things will happen together at the exact time of His return.

Since I don’t know Greek and cannot pick up the nuances of the language to enter this debate, I am left with the English reading, which really sounds to me like this description is something that happens at the exact time of Jesus’ return – like the rolling out the carpet before the limo’s door opens to reveal who is inside.

However, with all that we know about the universe, I wonder if the descriptions regarding the sun, the moon, the stars, and the heavenly bodies are simply from our perspective. The universe is huge, and while God could sweep it aside with His little finger, I wonder if the description here is really describing what will happen as earth gets ready for Jesus’ return.

Revelation, chapter 1 verse 7 tells us that “every eye will see Him,” and this verse is referencing Jesus’ return. As I far as I know, the earth is round, and without mirrors in place, only half of the earth is visible at any point in time. Part of me wonders if the preparation for Jesus’ return involves God ‘unwrapping’ the earth from its core to make what was once a sphere into a flat surface, facing away from our sun and towards the direction He is coming from.

For those alive on earth, it would most definitely feel like an earthquake of truly epic proportions, and as the surface we are standing on is moving into place, the sun will cease to be visible, the moon, if it is still in the visible sky would be in an eclipse and be blocked from getting any sunlight, and every star and planet will be streaking across the sky. As the earth reshapes, our atmosphere will collide with satellites and other orbiting debris causing plenty of shooting stars.

This is my over-active imagination’s idea of what might happen regarding this description Jesus shares regarding the time of His return.

Could it happen? Maybe.

Will this be what happens? I have no idea.

All I know is that God has promised us that He will return, that He will keep us safe for eternity, and that He will never forget about us. God wants to take us home with Him, and regardless of how these descriptions occur, what matters most for me is what comes afterwards, which is Jesus returning in the clouds. Jesus sends out angels to gather His people from every corner of the world to bring us home to be with Him.

Now that my crazy imagination has shared its thoughts, here is the even bigger lesson I want to leave you with at the end of this podcast:

Don’t wait for disaster to happen to seek God first. We have no guarantee that we will be alive to see the time of His return. Instead, study the Bible for yourself to learn, grow, and understand who God is and what Jesus is like. And as we are all on life’s road together, never stop short of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Season 1 – Episode 41: In this episode, Cam shares a crazy idea about how planet earth may get ready for Jesus’ return.

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