Goodnews Christian Ministry
"He who obeys the commands will come to no harm, and the wise man knows there will be a time of judgment." ---Eccl. 8:5
"Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will fall from the sky and the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven..."
In the darkness of the last days, just before he returns, a crack will suddenly appear in the curtain of the sky and the sign of Jesus Christ will shine through it behind the clouds. (Mt.24:30).
All the peoples of the earth will beat their breasts in fear when they see it happen because it will prove that the entire earth is about to be consumed by the flames of God.
"Oh, that you would tear the heavens open and come down -- at your Presence the mountains would melt, as fire sets brushwood alight, as fire causes water to boil -- to make known your name to your enemies, and make the nations tremble at your Presence..." (Is.63:19).
Exactly what this sign is, the apostles have not revealed, but the scriptures give us a clue.
Jesus will reappear just as he left, but in reverse.
That means he will first be manifested hidden behind a cloud. "...he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight...he will come back in the same way as you have seen him go." (Acts 1:9-11).
The clouds of the end will be dark: "He bent the heavens and came down, a dark cloud under his feet." (Ps.18:9).
"Darkness he made a veil to surround him, his tent a watery darkness, dense cloud..." (Ps.18:12).
Within this cloud a sheen of bronze will radiate, and along its edges will be a halo of brilliant light. "I looked; a stormy wind blew from the north, a great cloud with light around it, a fire inside it from which flashes of lighting darted, and in the center a sheen like bronze at the heart of the fire." (Ez.1:4).
The sign of the everlasting covenant is a rainbow. (Gen.9:12-13).
Whenever a rainbow appears in the sky scripture tells us that we are to remember that this is the sign of the Covenant that God made between Himself and every living creature on the face of the earth. "Whenever you see a rainbow in the clouds, you will remember the everlasting covenant..." (Gen.9:16).
Since Jesus is the everlasting Covenant, his sign in the heavens at the end will almost certainly involve a rainbow which appears in the clouds. "...I saw what looked like fire, and a light all round like a rainbow in the clouds on rainy days; that is how the surrounding light appeared." (Ez.1:28).
The powerful angel that stood before John in his vision of the world's final days came wrapped in a cloud with a rainbow over his head. (Rev.10:1).
When Daniel saw the glorified Christ materialize before him at the Tigris river, he wrote that his body was like beryl and his face shone like lightning and that his arms were fiery torches. (Dn.10:5-6).
In this same vision, Daniel said that his arms and legs had the gleam of burnished bronze.
Ezekiel saw the glorified Christ appear to him in much the same manner: "I looked and saw something like a man. Downwards from what seemed to be his loins was fire, and upwards from his loins he seemed to shine like polished bronze." (Ez.8:2).
When the sign of Jesus becomes visible in the clouds of the end, this same bronze-like figure surrounded in fire will manifest itself before the sight of the whole world.
The glory of the Lord has always been associated with a cloud. (Ex.16:10, 2 Ch.6:1).
The cloud which hides God from men's view comes to the earth in two forms:"Whether for punishing earth's peoples or for a work of mercy, he despatches his clouds." (Job.37:13).
Everywhere we look in these visions we can see the dualism that is always manifest in scripture.
When He first appeared on earth Jesus was a dark cloud as far as the Jews were concerned, but out of that cloud came a gentle rain -- the living water of heaven which saved the pagans. Thus he was a cloud of mercy.
At the end, the cloud's appearance will be terrifying to the wicked, because for them it will be a cloud of punishment -- a cloud of judgment and wrath. (Is.30:27-28).
In the darkness of these terminal clouds will appear flashes of God's lightning and out of them, great hailstones will come hurtling down onto the earth. "Before him a flash enkindled hail and fiery embers". (Ps.18:12-14).
As we showed in the last chapter, when this cosmic fusillade strikes the planet, the Bible says that it will lay the foundations of the sea bare. (2 Sam.22:16).
Science has discovered that meteoric bombardments of the planet from space have occurred frequently in the past and many have produced catastrophic effects.
Sixty-five million years ago a single meteorite measuring from 6 to 12 miles in diameter struck the Gulf of Mexico with a force equal to 10,000 times the combined power of all the hydrogen bombs the world has ever made or stockpiled.
In a single instant it gouged a crater almost 200 miles wide, incinerating much of the Caribbean basin.
In the aftermath of the strike so much matter vaporized into the atmosphere that the entire world was plunged into darkness for a period lasting 10 years or more. A great many scientists are convinced that it was this decade of perpetual night which caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.
A vast 'dead zone' was created which spread out for thousands of miles around the blast site. Nothing grew or lived within that zone for about 5000 years after the impact -- not even in the seas.
In its history, the earth has taken many hits from interplanetary debris; the last one of significance, the comet which struck Russia when this century began -- a fireball that may have occurred in association with Satan's return from the Abyss.
As knowledge of these past catastrophe's unfolds, the probability of future bombardments has become a statistical certainty.
That is why the appearance of the sign of Christ in the clouds of the end will cause such consternation among the people still left alive on earth.
Matthew indicates that the Lord's sign will appear in the sky "immediately after the distress" caused by the beast and his armies.
This means that the world will already have passed through an intense rain of unrestrained military fire -- nuclear as well as conventional -- a cannonade of such ferocity scripture says, that it will leave the skies shrouded in darkness across the entire earth. (Mt.24:29-30).
The thought of a rain of cosmic fire that is even worse and more widespread will terrify all who still survive. Especially those who know what it means -- that the doors to heaven have been locked, and that the Tribunal of God lies immediately beyond the fiery hailstones.
This is the reason Jesus predicted that everyone will cry in anguish and beat their breasts when this sign appears (Mt.24:30).
It will be a profound signal for all to see -- a signal that announces once and for all the inevitable and final consequence of unrepentant sin -- God's heaven-sent proclamation that the destruction of the earth predicted by the scriptures is now at hand.
It will signal divine Judgment and with it, a cataclysmic and fiery bombardment that will ravage the earth beyond repair, breaking it into thousands of scattered fragments. (Is.24:19).
"You will make them like a blazing furnace on the day that you appear." (Ps.21:9).
Since the world and its people are destined for such an end, what reason is there for ignoring the salvation Jesus has sent in advance of it? Escape from this inevitable disaster -- one so clearly documented in the Old Testament -- is the very meaning of Christ.
The world will discover Christ too late. It is the sign in the sky that will convince them of the truth of the Bible. It will prove the truth of the fiery bombardment about to descend on the world and the Judgment that stands just behind it.
That is why all the people of the world beat their breasts in fear when they see His sign appear in the heavens. (Mt.24:30).
Scripture indicates that when the clouds that hide this sign arrive, they will first appear in the northern sky.
"Howl, gate; cry, City; shudder whole country of Palestine! For a cloud of smoke comes out of the north..." (Is.14:31).
When Jesus bursts through the cloud, he will flash across the earth from east to west: "For the coming of the Son of Man will be like lightning striking in the east and flashing far into the west." (Mt.24:27).
In the last days, just before these terminal events, there will be little faith left anywhere on the globe. (Luke 18:8).
This suggests that few Christians will be left alive at the end to witness the planet's final terrifying days, and, until it is too late, those who do see what is happening will have little faith that God is directing the world's events.
But they will know the predictions, because when they see the sign of Jesus in the sky, the people who do exist during these times will fully understand that the image which appears in the clouds above them is God's Only Son returning in judgment.
That is why Jesus said that they will be engulfed in fear when the spectacle of His apparition suddenly materializes before them.
"Jesus said to his disciples: 'During that period after trials of every sort, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not shed its light, stars will fall out of the skies, and the heavenly hosts will be shaken."
"Then men will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. He will dispatch his messengers and assemble his chosen from the four winds, from the farthest bounds of earth and sky."
"Learn a lesson from the fig tree. Once the sap of its branches runs high and it begins to sprout leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, you will know that he is near, even at the door." (Mk.13:24-30).
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