Five Indications of the Return of Jesus

Norbert Lieth

The Holy Scriptures are full of references to Jesus’ return. Five of them are found in Jude. Read here what they mean for redemptive and world history, and for our own lives.

One Bible lexicon says, “The theme of the Messiah’s return occupies the broadest part of the New Testament.” The Epistle of Jude deals with it in great detail, and Christ’s return should also occupy a great deal of space in our hearts.

I once heard a Bible teacher say during a lecture that, in his opinion, every preacher of the Word should be obligated to speak about Jesus’ return 10-15 times a year, since this topic is so frequent in the Bible.

1. The Expression “Last Time.” “How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts” (Jude 18). The entire church age (the time since Jesus first came to earth or since Pentecost) is, in a general sense, the end time:

• “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor 10:11).

• “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Heb 1:1-2).

• “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (1 Pet 4:7).

• “Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days” (James 5:3).

• “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Pet 1:20).

But there is also an end time in the narrower sense, an imminent end time. This relates to the establishment of the nation of Israel. For the Jews, the “last days” mean the time of the appearance of the Messiah in glory: “…in the latter days ye shall consider it. At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest” (Jer 30:24—31:2; cf. Gen 49:1, 10; Num 24:14; Jer 33:7-8, 14-15; Dan 7 et al.). At the end of days, the Jewish people who have escaped the sword (Holocaust) will find mercy after a long period of global dispersal and persecution. They will rebuild their devastated home (cf. Ezek 36:33-36). They will ultimately be brought to rest in the messianic kingdom through these events (cf. Heb 4:8-9). In other words, Israel will be gathered in unbelief first, and then later led to faith (cf. Jer 33:7-8; Ezek 37; Hos 3:4-5; Zeph 2:1-3).

Israel’s physical restoration (literally a Jewish state in Jewish land) is a sign for the nations. They would do well to discern this and fear God instead of taking action against Israel: “And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isa 11:12). And, “Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock” (Jer 31:10).

The return of the Jews into their own land means:

• The preface to final, end-time events.

• The fulfillment of God’s prophetic Word.

• Preparing the way for the Tribulation, the 144,000 who are sealed (cf. Rev 7), the two witnesses (cf. Rev 11), the two anti-Christian beasts (cf. Rev 13), and the return of Jesus in glory (cf. Matt 24). 

• Repentance: they will see whom they have pierced and repent (cf. Zech 12:10; Isa 53; Dan 9). When Jesus returns, the last Jews will also be led by angels back into the land of the patriarchs (cf. Matt 24:31).

At the time of Jesus’ return, conditions must be similar to those of His previous ascension: Jews have a geographical home (the nation of Israel), and Jerusalem is in Jewish hands. Some Israelis are committed to building a temple.

At the “end of the end time,” there will be more mockers walking according to their godless desires. The things that are holy and true will be scoffed at and dragged through the mud worldwide.

2. The Archangel Michael. “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” (Jude 9).

Michael is the angel who exclusively takes Israel’s side: “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days…But 

I will show thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince…And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” (Dan 10:13-14, 21; 12:1; cf. Matt 24:21).

Seen in this light, it’s interesting that the archangel Michael is mentioned again in the Epistle of Jude, and later in Revelation 12. There is certainly a deeper reason. Finally, Jude describes the end times (a time when Israel exists as a nation once more). Michael will probably be active in the Rapture of the church: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thess 4:16). There is only one archangel named in the Bible: Michael. So, it is possible that he will raise his voice during the Rapture. From that moment on, he will again vouch for Israel, which must go through the Tribulation: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night (Rev 12:7-10). The church of Jesus, though, will be in heaven before the Tribulation period begins: “Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Rev 12:12).

The reference to Michael in the Epistle of Jude, could therefore indicate that the end times mentioned there coincide with the return of the Jews to the land of their fathers. The Jews in Israel form a people who will experience the return of its Messiah: “Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, is come…This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD” (Ps 102:13, 18). The Lord’s people are very dear to Him because He has called them back into His plan for the end time. Shouldn’t we also have this people in our hearts? After all, Jesus Himself is a Jew.

“Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel” (2 Tim 2:8).

3. Enoch. “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints” (Jude 14).

Enoch was the first person to be raptured—before the Flood—because he was walking with God (cf. Gen 5:24). He is a likeness of the true church of Jesus, who follow the Lord and will be caught up. Noah, on the other hand, represents Israel, which will be saved through the “Great Flood” of the Tribulation. The myriads depict, among other things, the raptured believers who will return to earth with the Lord for judgment. Read the following Bible verses as well:

• “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Col 3:4).

• “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (1 Thess 3:13).

• “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels” (2 Thess 1:7).

• “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place” (Ps 68:17).

• “And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee” (Zech 14:5).

• “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war…And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (Rev 19:11, 14).

Enoch lived shortly before the Great Flood, and was the first to foresee Jesus’ return. His son Methuselah died in the year of the Flood. Why hadn’t Enoch been commissioned to preach about the coming Flood? Enoch looked even further, to the most important of all goals: the return of Jesus for the establishment of His kingdom. The Lord’s return will end all judgments and disasters, and achieve God’s kingdom of peace. God’s goal isn’t the world’s downfall, but His Son’s kingdom.

4. Expectation. “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 21).

When Jesus returns for the resurrection of the dead and the Rapture of the living church, eternal life becomes real. Everyone who believes in Jesus already has it, but it isn’t yet visible. We should prove our love by constantly awaiting Jesus’ return. This kind of attitude always has practical implications for our earthly life. The young church in Thessalonica is also praised, because it was strongly focused on Jesus’ return: “For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess 1:9-10).

Likewise, James underscores the importance of waiting for Jesus’ return: “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door” (James 5:7-9).

And John writes, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Rev 3:10). Steadfast persistence means constantly, patiently waiting for Jesus’ return. The Christian Standard Bible translates this verse as follows: “Because you have kept my command to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth.”

Enoch describes Jesus’ return with His own as if it had already happened—in the present tense: “…Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-15). We should anticipate the Lord as vividly as if He were coming today!

Some time ago, I met a Christian brother who works in real estate. He once had a job in an upscale hotel in southern Germany. He noticed that the top three floors were restricted and guarded by security personnel. The hotel belongs to an Arab sheikh, and the upper floors are reserved for him. And not only that, but the sheikh’s living quarters are always kept meticulously clean. Every day the tables are set and then cleared, fresh fruit is put out, the lawn is manicured, etc., even though the sheikh only comes around once every few years. But in case he were to suddenly arrive with his friends, everything needs to be ready. And this is by no means an isolated case; sheikhs had bought numerous properties in the mountains, and the same procedures apply to them as well.

C. S. Lewis wrote the following about the hope of Christians for the world to come, which directly relates to Jesus’ return:

“Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.

“Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither…

“There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of ‘Heaven’ ridiculous by saying they do not want ‘to spend eternity playing harps.’ The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them. All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold, etc.) is, of course, a merely symbolical attempt to express the inexpressible. Musical instruments are mentioned because for many people (not all) music is the thing known in the present life which most strongly suggests ecstasy and infinity.

“Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact that those who are united with God in eternity share His splendour and power and joy. Gold is mentioned to suggest the timelessness of Heaven…” (from Mere Christianity).

Paul Gerhard Mink poses the question: “Does our heart tremble from joy when we think of that glorious day, or are the Bible verses that tell us of it simply information to us? If we truly believe in Jesus’ return, then we should gladly approach this day, and the belief in this glorious fact must fundamentally influence, change, and rule our lives. May the Lord open our eyes and warm our hearts for this wonderful Maranatha message, because “Maranatha” means, ‘Our Lord is coming!’ (1 Cor 16:22).”

Psalm 98 gives us an interesting sequence of events that leads to the return of Jesus:

• Verse 1 = The first coming of Jesus and His victory on Calvary: “O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvelous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.”

• Verse 2a = The spread of the Gospel: “The LORD hath made known his salvation…”

• Verse 2b = The formation of the church from the nations: “…his righteousness hath he openly showed in the sight of the heathen.”

• Verse 3 = The restoration of Israel: “He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”

• Verse 9 = The Lord’s return: “Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.”

5. Preservation. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 24-25). In parallel, the Apostle Paul writes: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). Revelation also speaks of “keeping”: “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Rev 3:10).

The church is kept from the hour of the Antichrist, who will tempt the whole world. The temptation pertains to the first half of Daniel’s 70th week of years (cf. Dan 9:27). Paul writes of this: “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess 2:9-12).

May we preserve the Lord Jesus, His Word, His return, and His people Israel in our hearts! Then He will preserve us through the power of His Word!

What follows is a short, fitting story: “In 1731, 20,000 Protestants were forced to leave the region of Salzburg. They found refuge in East Prussia. One family left their believing son behind, in the hope that things would change. He read from the old Bible, which he always had to hide. But when he realized that he was being betrayed, he bundled the big Bible into his backpack and fled to his parents. God preserved him throughout his dangerous journey. It was winter, and the snow was meters high. Finally, on Christmas Eve, he came to a place where he was given the last clues for where to find his parents. The wolves were howling in the distance; it was getting dark, and he still hadn’t arrived. He saw a light in the distance, and steered himself in that direction. Then he stumbled and fell into the snow. A huge wolf lunged at him from behind. He cried out; the backpack with the Bible fell over his head, and the young man lost consciousness.

“The light was coming from a Salzburg farm. Christmas Eve was over, but the farmer heard a shout and dashed outside with his shotgun. He saw a wolf pounce on a figure lying in the snow. He struck the animal and dragged the helpless young man into the house. Inside, the mother recognized her son! When they removed his backpack, they noticed that the wolf had sunk his powerful teeth into the hard cover of the Bible.”

The Word of God is our protection. If we live with it and by it; if it is our constant companion; if we put it in the backpack of our life, the enemy will always fail and we will arrive safely home.

Midnight Call - 01/2022

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