The Definitive Sign

When the subject of the Second Coming is raised, quite naturally, the question of what “sign” or “signs” will precede it is asked, and invariably, wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, famines, and similar catastrophes are proposed as harbingers of that day. Yet Jesus himself gave us the definitive answer to this question, namely, the completion of the mission of the Church to proclaim his salvation and lordship to all nations.

After his final visit to the Temple, he predicted its destruction. Because Israel had rejected her Messiah, “All these things shall come upon this generation. Behold, your house is left to you desolate. Truly I declare to you, there shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down” - (Matthew 23:34-39, 24:1-2).

Globe Abstract - Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash
[Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash]

In reaction, the disciples asked two questions. First, when would the predicted destruction of the Temple occur? Second, what would be the “
sign” of the coming of the Son of Man and the consummation of the age?

He began his answers by issuing a dire warning - Beware of false messiahs and false prophets who will deceive many. His disciples would HEAR about wars, earthquakes, international conflicts, and famines. False prophets and other deceivers would point to such events as signs of the rapidly approaching End of the Age.

However, calamities of this sort were NOT indicators of the End. Disasters would occur but the “End is not yet.” False teachers would infiltrate his followers and point to these very things as “signs” of his imminent return, thereby raising false expectations and “deceiving many” - (Matthew 24:4-8, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).

Human and natural catastrophes occur regularly, therefore, his followers must "not be alarmed" when they inevitably do, time and again. They are NOT chronological markers by which his Assembly can calculate the timing of the End. At most, they constitute a “beginning of birth pains,” portends of the inevitable conclusion of the present age.

Moreover, nowhere did Jesus predict that the frequency or intensity of earthquakes, wars, and other natural and manmade disasters would increase as the End drew near.

To the first question, his answer was - Within “THIS GENERATION.” The generation that was contemporary with him would see the destruction of the Temple, and this happened when a Roman army destroyed it and Jerusalem in A.D. 70, exactly as he predicted - within one generation - (Matthew 3:7, 11:16, 12:34-45, 16:4, 17:17, 23:33-36, 24:34).


Regarding his “coming on the clouds and the conclusion of the age,” Jesus declared that no man knows that day or hour EXCEPT GOD ALONE, and therefore, his disciples must always be prepared for its unexpected and sudden arrival.

Knowledge of the “times and seasons” belongs to God alone, and any man who claims such knowledge either lies or arrogates to himself inside information that even the Son of Man does not possess - (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:33, Acts 1:7-9).

As to the requested “sign,” Jesus gave us one explicit goal that must be achieved before he returns – Namely, the “proclamation of this Gospel of the Kingdom in the whole habitable earth for a testimony to all nations.” Only “then will the end come.”

The message of his Kingdom is Good News for all men who hear and obey it, and his Assembly must bear witness to it in every corner of the Earth before the “Son of Man arrives… to gather his saints” and to judge the nations - (Matthew 24:14).

In the Greek clause, the demonstrative pronoun translated as “THIS Gospel” or ‘houtos’ is emphatic. It is, “THIS Gospel of the Kingdom” that must be proclaimed, presumably, the same one preached by Jesus and his Apostles.

That is the task he assigned to his followers. They must “Go and teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you; behold, I am with you even unto the end of the age.” It must be completed before he returns and consummates God’s kingdom, raises the dead, destroys the “last enemy, Death,” and gathers his elect - (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:6-8, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

Sunburst Plenio - Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash
[Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash]

So, how do we know when the task is done? According to Jesus, 
when the End does arrive! The fact that it has not arrived is rock-solid proof that our mission remains unfinished.

The human desire to know when Jesus will arrive is understandable. The desire for certainty about the future drives our attempts to discern the “times and seasons” and calculate dates. Nevertheless, all past attempts to do so have failed; date-setting always results in disappointment and failure.

In the interim between now and his return, his disciples are called to preach the Gospel until it has reached the “uttermost parts of the Earth.” Completing this mission matters far more than possessing accurate information about signs, “times and seasons,” and prophetic timetables.

This both raises and answers the question – Why has his return been “delayed,” supposedly, for 2,000+ years?  The answer is clear. Since the Church has yet to complete its mission, he is waiting FOR US to proclaim the Kingdom of God to every corner of the globe, and only then will he appear “on the clouds of heaven.”  In this way, we may “hasten” his return.

Jesus is not late, nor has God “delayed” his return for some reason known only to Him. The Risen Lord is waiting for his Assembly to complete the one paramount task assigned to it by him.

  • Final Harvest - (The outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost fulfilled what the feast symbolized and marked the start of the Final Harvest)
  • The Mission - (The mission of the Assembly of Jesus is to proclaim the Good News of his Kingdom to all Nations until he returns – Matthew 24:14)
  • The Message - (Jesus summoned his disciples to proclaim the Good News of his Kingdom to every inhabited corner of the Earth)



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