According to the Pew Research Center, 41 percent of Americans believe Jesus Christ will return in the next 40 years, but 46 percent don’t believe He will. The numbers in other, less religious nations would be much different.
How can we know if He will return—and when? What does the Bible say?
Is our world like the days of Noah?
In speaking about the end times and His return to this earth, Jesus Christ said, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:37).
Genesis 6 describes the world of Noah’s time. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (verses 5-6).
Later in this same chapter we read: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (verses 11-12).
The hallmarks of that society were corruption, violence and evil. While one can argue that there has been corruption, violence and evil since Adam and Eve were forced out of the Garden of Eden, one cannot ignore the extraordinary increase in each of these in the past decade.
In 2014 the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report titled “Global Status Report on Violence Prevention 2014.” The report substantiates the fact that, even with a decline in homicides, violence is on the rise and is destroying millions of lives each year. Since Cain took it upon himself to kill his brother, mankind has followed this same path in huge numbers, and increasingly in recent years.
According to the report, “there were an estimated 475,000 deaths in 2012 as a result of homicide. Sixty percent of these were males aged 15-44 years, making homicide the third leading cause of death for males in this age group.”
Homicide is a violent act perpetrated by one human being against another human being, but these statistics do not take into account the hundreds of thousands killed each year by war. The report goes on to state that in 60 percent of the countries of the world there is no usable data collected on violence. So, these numbers are based on only 40 percent of the countries, meaning that the problem is likely much greater than what is being reported.
What about those who are not killed but who suffer permanent damage from an act of violence? The report states, “Women, children and elderly people bear the brunt of nonfatal physical, sexual and psychological abuse:
- “A quarter of all adults report having been physically abused as children.
- “One in five women reports having been sexually abused as a child.
- “One in three women has been a victim of physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in her lifetime.”
In addition, none of these numbers takes into account the millions of unborn children being killed by the scourge of abortion.
Violence is truly a hallmark of our age—as it was in the time of Noah.
After the Flood, God gave the rainbow as a sign that He would never again destroy the world with water. But the Bible predicted a time when God will intervene for a similar reason (evil, corruption and violence), but in a different manner. This time He will send His Son to save the world from self-destruction. (Read more about this in our LifeHopeandTruth.com article “As in the Days of Noah: Warnings for Today.”)
A second coming needed to save the world
The New Testament has many references to Jesus Christ’s second coming. Hebrews 9:28 states it clearly: “So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (emphasis added throughout).
In the New Testament we find a reference to the return of Jesus Christ, on average, once in every 25 verses. And 23 out of the 27 books refer to the second coming. It is the focal point of Scripture and the basis of the gospel itself—the good news of the Kingdom of God He will establish upon His return.
Scripture is clear that the return of Jesus Christ will be visible and seen by the entire world. “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him” (Revelation 1:7).
Angels told the apostles that His return would be visible and not secretive: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). This was a visible departure, and the angels promised a visible return. The commonly taught idea of a secret rapture is simply not true.
Christ promised to return, and He predicted how it would happen. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). He gave more detail in the Olivet Prophecy: “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).
We know that before Christ returns the world will be filled with evil, violence, and corruption. But what will the world look like after His return?
The only thing secret about the second coming of Jesus Christ is the timing. Notice these clear statements:
- “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42).
- “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32).
- “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7).
What will it be like?
The return of Jesus Christ to this earth will forever change the world. No event like it has ever occurred in human history. We know that before Christ returns the end-time world will be filled with evil, violence and corruption, but what will the world be like after His return?
The return of Jesus Christ will bring about the following changes:
Consider the corruption that takes place in every country today. The politics of this world, even in the more developed countries, such as the United States, are built on a wrong foundation. They are built on human reasoning symbolized by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is a fact throughout the world that corrupt governments have led to great misery and untold deaths. Consider the many countries embroiled in war—fighting to see who will rule and how that government will function.
Human religions have brought deception and mental slavery to the world. Consider India, a country of 1.2 billion people. It is mostly Hindu, a very complicated religion that worships more than 330 million gods. Many Hindus are vegetarians, and they permit cows along with other animals to roam the streets of their cities. They would not dare harm or remove these animals since they are considered holy and may represent a relative who has been reincarnated. The slavery that this thinking creates does serious damage to an entire society.
But is Christianity, as practiced and believed in the world today, any better? Mainstream Christianity creates an illusion of Christ that is simply not true. While we can accuse the eastern religions of being deceived and ridicule their worship of multiple gods, what god is truly being worshipped by the Christianity of today? People will be shocked to discover that the Jesus Christ who will return to this earth is not the Jesus spoken about in most churches of the world today.
War is destroying many societies today. Syria is the most recent example. The cities are pockmarked with craters from bombs and debris from the civil war that has raged for years with no end in sight. When Jesus returns, these areas will be rebuilt into viable and livable cities, something that is not happening today.
Diseases such as Ebola and Zika threaten our world today, but these will be eradicated soon after Christ’s return. For the first time in human history, man will actually know what causes disease and will be provided the answer for its eradication. Better sanitation and adherence to the biblical guidelines for handling disease will be put into place immediately after Christ returns.
The Bible foretells a time when deserts will blossom and the plains will again be fertile. Some of this will be the direct result of miracles, but there will also be a new approach toward agriculture that will provide bumper crops—“the plowman shall overtake the reaper.”
In virtually every large city in the world a certain portion of the population lives in filth and without a real home. Lack of basic sanitation has put the earth on the verge of major disease outbreaks that could easily kill millions of people. The cities will be rebuilt, and proper housing and sanitation will be provided for every human being.
Today those who observe the Feast of Tabernacles are accused of being Jewish. But, after the return of Jesus Christ, any nation not obeying God’s command to come up to Jerusalem to worship and learn about His wonderful plan during the Feast of Tabernacles will be punished (verse 17). Soon everyone will come to experience the joy and exciting truths of God’s festivals.
Night and day
What a contrast between the prereturn world and the postreturn world—like night and day! All of these changes will take place within a few years of Christ’s return. When the entire world is worshipping the same God and following the leadership of Jesus Christ, the Savior and Son of God, who walked this earth as God in the flesh, the problems that currently divide the nations and peoples of the world will be eliminated.
We are living in a time similar to what Noah witnessed just before God destroyed the world with the Flood. This time around, as evil, corruption and violence propagate in all nations, God will not destroy mankind. Instead He will convert mankind, from pagan, idolatrous religions, controlled by Satan, to a harmonious, loving way of life taught by Jesus Christ and His saints.
May God speed that day!