Some Thoughts on the Second Advent of Jesus Christ, Part 1

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As we enter into the month of December on the Gregorian calendar, we are also entering into the traditional season when Christians commemorate the First Advent of Jesus Christ, and so it’s a good time for us to also talk about His Second Advent. 

At this point, I’d like to thank in advance anyone who would like to waste their time writing a long essay in the comment section of this blog about all the reasons Jesus couldn’t possibly have been born at this time of year and all the reasons why it’s bad, sinful, wicked, evil, idolatrous, etc. to partake in Christmas. I’d also like to assure those individuals that their efforts at making everyone aware of all that are noted. However, I also regret to inform them that I will not be wasting any of my time responding to those kinds of comments anymore. Life is too short, and I’ve already wasted more than enough of my own life in such fruitless discussions.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to advise everyone else reading this not to waste any of their time engaging in such discussions either. Some people are only happy when they’re miserable and some people are most happy when they can make someone else miserable or at least take away the joy that Christmas, Easter, or whatever, gives to someone else. The Bible is very clear about all these issues, and we should all familiarize ourselves with what the Bible says about this and not listen to people whose fleshly, soulish advice is flatly contradicted by Scripture. Sadly, it’s also necessary for pastors and elders to guard against wolves who like to come in and tear the sheep, causing unnecessary and unhelpful divisions within families and congregations (and even whole denominations) over these issues.

Moving on…

In the 24th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, we read;

“And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will mislead many people. And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.”

In this first of a series of blogs I’ll be writing on the topic of the Second Advent of Jesus Christ, I’d like to talk about earthquakes. In subsequent blogs, I’ll talk about some of the other signs Jesus gives us in this prophecy.

Earthquakes will unquestionably be one of the signs we see on the earth just before His Second Advent. The problem is, earthquakes have occurred regularly all over the world since the dawn of recorded human history. How will we know when the earthquakes we see happening are the earthquakes Jesus was referring to in this prophecy?

Candidly, I’m not sure we will.

Earthquakes are like many other things in that they can seem like a big deal to some people and not such a big deal to others. Volcanic eruptions, which sometimes accompany earthquakes, are much more difficult to be uninterested in, but the kind of eruption which has global effects are less common.

I grew up in a part of the United States where earthquakes were fairly common, whereas volcanic eruptions were less common but not unheard of. Having gone through dozens of earthquakes and a handful of volcanic eruptions (it would be overly dramatic but perhaps not entirely inaccurate to say I’d “survived” these events) it is somewhat difficult for me to get very upset when I hear about them. A few years ago there were a few earthquakes in the Galilee region which measured between 3.4 and 3.8 on the Richter scale and I was amazed at how much ink was spilled in the Israeli press over these events. People were really alarmed.

In this context, it’s worth mentioning that the geological and historical records of this part of the world indicate that there’s a large earthquake in the Levant region that Israel is a part of every hundred years or so. The last one was in 1927 and it resulted in the destruction or heavy damage to hundreds of buildings in Jerusalem, Jericho, Ramle, Tiberias, and Nablus. The country was sparsely populated at the time, so the death toll was less than 300 people. But Israeli officials estimate that if a similar seismic event were to happen in Israel today, several thousand buildings would be destroyed and the death toll would be immense.

So maybe it’s understandable that at the time, there were more than a few discussions about whether or not these might be the earthquakes that Jesus was referring to.

I was pretty sure they weren’t.

Where I grew up, if an earthquake happened somewhere else in the state but it was less than 6.0 on the Richter scale I probably wouldn’t even hear about it. If an earthquake was less than 5.5 and it happened at my house in the middle of the night I might not even wake up and if I did, unless the house started coming apart, I’d just lay there in bed until it ended and then go back to sleep. But a friend of mine who had once (ONCE!) been awakened by an early morning earthquake that shook their hotel in Hawaii (they later found out it measured 4.8 on the Richter Scale) spoke of the event with terror in their eyes as if they thought at the time that the world was about to literally come to an abrupt end.

Speaking in a more general sense, in the last few years, there have been a lot of news reports about earthquakes and volcanic eruptions all over the world. This is, on top of all the other bad news one can’t seem to get away from these days, causing a lot of fear and concern, including among Believers.

Perhaps this uptick in the severity, frequency, and damaging effects of earthquakes is what Jesus was talking about in the 24th chapter of Matthew.

Once again, I’m not sure we can be sure.

But what strikes me about Jesus’ prophecy is that He refers to all kinds of disasters, both natural and man-made, happening all at once and making conditions so bad on the earth that humanity goes through a collective experience of terror and anxiety like nothing that it has ever experienced before.

So to sum up, earthquakes are a sign that Jesus gave us to be looking for just before His Second Advent, but he didn’t give this sign as a stand-alone. He spoke of that time just before His Second Advent as a time when many signs would happen all at once, and in order to be obedient to Jesus’ command to “watch” so that we might be ready for His Second Advent, we need to be watching for all these signs and not just fixate on one sign or another in isolation.

With that in mind, for next week’s blog I’ll be examining some of the other signs Jesus spoke about in this prophecy to see if what we’re seeing in the world today adds up to a fulfillment of these prophecies.