Jesus was clear in Matthew 24:36 that no one knows the hour or day (of his return) except God. This is a prerogative of God the Father. However, the Bible does not remain silent on the events leading to the second coming of Christ. So, what will happen when Jesus returns?
We will be living in the end of times when Jesus returns. The Bible describes several events and conditions that would mark the end of times. One of those is the seven seals that contain catastrophic natural events, martyred souls, and the great tribulation. Through the signs, God has provided us with a blueprint of what will happen when Jesus returns.
Things That Will Happen When Christ Returns
Let’s take a closer look at some of the things that will be happening when Christ returns according to the scriptures.
- The Gospel Will Be Preached To All Nations
When Jesus was with the disciples, they asked him, “What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world?” Jesus told the disciples that numerous false prophets would appear. But the world will not end until the Gospel of the kingdom has been preached in the whole world (Matthew 24:14).
- The Seven Seals Will Be Opened
The seals represent:
- False prophets/antichrist
- Disease epidemics
- A Great Tribulation/ martyrdom of the saints
- Cosmic disturbances
- Wrath of the lamb
Before the opening of the seventh seal, God will protect a group of 144,000 people and a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language (Revelation 7:3-4, 9). A comprehensive explanation of what will be happening when Christ returns is in His Olivet Prophecy (named because Jesus delivered this prophecy while He was with His disciples on the Mount of Olives) found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21.
Comparing the seals to the events Jesus Christ said would happen in His Olivet Prophecy provides a better understanding of what will be happening when Christ comes. For example, the first seal represents religious deception/false prophets, while the second represents war.
- Persecution of Christians and the Church
In recent years, Christian persecution has been on the rise. Pope Francis reiterated similar views when he stated that the conditions for Christians are worse now than they were in the days of the early Church. Research also shows that more than 70 million Christians have been martyred over the last two millennia, and approximately 900,000 Christians were killed from 2011 to 2020.
While several reasons can cause Christians to be persecuted, the main motivation is often because of their faith. If the Church is seen to be more influential than the ruling government, they will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12 states, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
Jesus was no stranger to persecution. He was beaten and whipped. He also knew more Christians would be persecuted, especially when he told his disciples, “You will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death. You will be hated by all nations because of me” (Matthew 24:7-9). Jesus foresaw that many Christians and the Church would be persecuted in the end days.
Overall, the persecution of Christians who follow God’s commandments and teachings of the Bible is another major sign that points to what will be happening when Christ returns.
- The Abomination of Desolation
Scripture warns believers that when they see the abomination desolation (a loathsome contamination/sacrilegious object standing in the holy place), they should flee immediately to the mountains. This will occur when foreigners conquer the city of Jerusalem, and the people of God will be stopped from sacrificing animals in a temple or altar (Mathew 24:15-20).
Daniel 12: 11-12 explains that there will be 1,290 days from when the Gods’ daily sacrifice is abolished, and the abomination that causes desolation is set up. At the end of the tribulation (1,290 days after the desecration of the temple), Jesus Christ will return to Earth and usher in a new world.
After 1,290 days (leading up to 1,335 days after the desecration of the temple), the Gentile nations (foreigners who stopped God’s daily sacrifices and advocated for idol worshiping) are judged for their treatment of Israel.
- The Great Tribulation
The Bible’s prophesy in Mathew 24:21 states that there will come a time of great tribulation, none that has ever been seen, where no nation will be untouched. Similar prophesies have also been mentioned in several scriptures, including Jeremiah 30:4-7, Luke 21:23, and Daniel 12.
According to Bible prophecy, the great tribulation will occur during the end of time (2 Timothy 3:1). It will be something that has never happened since creation, and it will only happen once (Mark 13:19). So the great tribulation is a time of great suffering and death. The great tribulation is also called the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) because it will affect modern descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel. This is because Jacob, also called Israel, had 12 sons who became the progenitors of the 12 tribes of Israel.
United States, Britain, and Western Europe are considered to be the nations where dispersed descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel largely reside today. Nonetheless, the great tribulation will not just affect the descendants of Israel and the Church but also the existence of human life on Earth.
- Astronomical signs
Immediately after the great tribulation, the Bible says in Matthew 24:29 that the sun will be darkened and the stars will fall from the sky. The scripture also explains that the moon will no longer be able to give its light at the end of days. These astronomical signs will be part of what happens before Christ returns.
- The Last Seven Plagues
The Seven Last Plagues are stated in Revelation 15:1 and begin after the seven seals are open. These last plagues also help to shed light on what will be happening before Christ returns.
The last seven plagues are:
- Loathsome/ smelling sores
- The sea turns to blood
- Freshwater turns to blood
- Men are scorched
- Darkness and pain
- Drying up of the Euphrates River and gathering for the Battle of Armageddon
- The Earth will be shaken
There will be various signs leading up to the end of times. These signs indicate what will be happening when Christ returns to rapture the church. Even though Jesus was categorical that no one can know the exact date of his return, scripture provides clues that can help us know when his time is nigh.