Monday, May 12, 2008


by Nathan Brown

When I am most honest with myself, the idea of the Second Coming simply freaks me out. While Paul describes looking forward to “that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, will be revealed” (Titus 2:13, NLT)—the “blessed hope” of the King James Version—there is at least a part of me that often struggles to join in his joyous expectation.

The concept of Jesus Himself—God of the universe—tearing a hole in the sky and stepping into our world, stamping out everything evil and bringing history as we know it to a crashing end demands some attention—and some courage. Even in the Bible stories, glory, angels, trumpets and earthquakes are not the most comforting things with which to be confronted. It seems the thought of coming face to face with God—whatever that means exactly—should scare us.

And, of course, it just seems all so foreign to the day-by-day, physical reality in which we live—the only reality we have ever really known. Throw in the strange and frightening things that many of our readings of Bible prophecy suggest will form the prelude to this shattering event and I can understand why many people might fail to appreciate the blessedness of our “hope.”

But what are the alternatives? As one of Douglas Coupland’s characters in his novel of last year, The Gum Thief, puts it:

“How could you possibly be alive and on earth and have a set of eyes and ears and a brain and not figure out that some kind of end is near?”

Left to ourselves, it seems apparent our world will eventually and inevitably succumb to any number or combination of doomsday scenarios, of which the world never seems to be in short supply. And even truly facing the inevitability of our own death and the death of those we love should be enough to bring us at least occasional shudders of panic. Factor in all the injustice, brutality and tragedy in the world as we see and experience it, and it’s a bleak picture.

In these times of dark honesty, the only thing more frightening than the Second Coming is the “risk”—that raises its spectre in moments of doubt—that it might not happen, there is no real hope and, as a result, we and our world are ultimately meaningless.

And so we turn back to the promise of the Second Coming, as frightening as it might seem at times—not because it’s the better of two fearful options but because it is the only source of true hope.

The recurring theme of the Bible is that one day, God will return to our planet. He will remake our broken world, He will set wrongs right and He will live with His people. This is offered repeatedly as God’s final answer to our temptations to despair in the face of our global and personal tragedies and crises.

And the most significant element in any discussion of the second coming of Jesus must always be Jesus. When He left the earth, the central promise given by the angels to the newly-alone disciples was that He who would return would be “this same Jesus” (Acts 1:11, KJV). Becoming confident in the hope of the Second Coming means allowing our fears to be swamped by the assurance of who Jesus is, His eternal love, His unquestionable goodness and what He has done for us.

Jesus isn’t the one who will be changed—it’s us, whatever that means. “Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, and we can’t even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns. But we do know that when he comes we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is” (1 John 3:2).

However daunting the prospect of Jesus’ return is in so many ways, we will recognise the same Jesus we have come to know in the gospel stories and through the life experiences we have already shared with Him. There will be something so essentially right in that moment—an overwhelmingly holy awe that may well feel a lot like terror, as well as an indescribable joy.

We can’t imagine, we can’t help but be unnerved but—knowing the God we do—we can hope and we can trust.

1 comment:

  1. "And so we turn back to the promise of the Second Coming, as frightening as it might seem at times—not because it’s the better of two fearful options but because it is the only source of true hope."

    I have not found this to be true at all. There are many ways to be free from fear. One is simply the recognition that fear is pretty much useless for anything other than running from immediate danger.

    Fear doesn't help us solve problems. It simply keeps us stuck in an endless loop of obsession. For me, this comes from trying to solve or explain unsolvable dilemmas. And there are plenty of these to confront within the experience of being human.

    The part of the idea of the second coming that seems rather unreasonable and therefore unbelievable for me, is that the best final solution the god of the universe could come up with for stamping out evil is the use of violence and total destruction.

    This whole myth seems better applied to an inner process that many people are quite familiar with. The encounter with inner transformation. It has many of the same effects. We are generally afraid of it, but once it happens we tend to be grateful and there is a sense of renewal.