But in those days, following that distress, “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 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. Mark 13, verses 24-27.
“This is the end, my only friend, the end.” Jim Morrison sang that in one of his darker moods. That’s understandable, don’t you think? The end could be tough to contemplate, especially since Jesus’ words about it seem mysterious. It’s hard to write about these verses because it could be easy to misconstrue them. Does “gather his elect from the four winds” mean a rapture? Or does it simply mean ‘from all over the world?’
I’ll take door #2, Monty. The context of the verses around it (as well as similar verses in other Gospels) point to Jesus saying that He would take all believers with Him to eternity at the end of the world. It doesn’t seem to point to a mass Left Behind-style rapture that is popular with many Christians. It could also very well point to preaching the Gospel all over the world instead of how believers will be removed from the world. There is much to understand from the entire concept.
Still, you could have endless arguments over all the verses and when you boil them down, they all reduce to “get ready now.” Just like the other verses we’ve talked about in this section, the gist of the message is “be ready now.” Be ready now because only God the Father knows that time of Jesus’ return. It could happen at any moment.
Yet we’re not without clues to remind us to be ready. The distress; the dark sun; the dark moon; the falling stars; the disorder in the heavens: all of these things will happen as signs. They aren’t the actual coming of Jesus: they’re heralds, reminders that His return is promised, maybe even imminent. To be honest, signs like them have happened hundreds of times in the past and people must have thought it was the end of the world, yet it wasn’t. I hope they were clued into the idea of being ready.
And when Jesus returns it won’t be in secret, or in mystery, or only to a few people. As the Revelator said, EVERYONE will see Him in the sky, in the clouds, just as He Himself promises here. How do I know this? Because He said so in those exact words and I believe Him. “So if Jesus is explicit about coming in the clouds but figurative in the other words, how do you know the difference?” Again, context; look for the context. Get yourself a study bible that cross-references such verses. Look it up on line. Most of all, don’t stay hung up on it. The mechanics or semantics of the message aren’t the message itself. It is the message – I am Lord and I am coming back – that matters, not the way it plays out.
That way, when Jim Morrisson’s words play out and it really is the end (my friend), you’ll be ready.
Lord, prepare me daily for the end, for Your return, to be with You now and forever.
Read Mark 13, verses 1-31.