Christ, The Hope of the World
Hope is in short supply in today’s trouble-filled world. Never has there been so much talk of peace, or so much fear of terrorism and crime, as there is today. Drug addiction continues its devastating course. Massive debts threaten our economy. Moral values plunge, while family life and personal values falter.
But above the gloom of a problem-ridden world stands the immutable promise of Christ: “I will come again.” It is the promise of Christ, the hope of the world.
Jesus Christ is coming! It is a topic upon which the Bible speaks explicitly. It is the promise which links the future to the present in a solid reality of hope.
This is no fancy, no wild imagination, no dream of the night. Christ is coming as the rightful King of the whole earth. The God of heaven has foretold it. Christ is coming to inaugurate a series of steps that will transform our world into a heavenly paradise, filled with happy, glorified immortal inhabitants.
Here is great, good news for our time!
Above the gloom of a problem-ridden world stands the immutable promise of Christ: “I will come again.” It is the promise of Christ, the hope of the world.
Christ’s Second Advent Foretold
The Old Testament foretold the birth of Jesus, but the subject of His second coming and His kingship is expressed many more times in the ancient prophecies than His first coming. Jesus Himself repeated the promise, both during His earthly ministry and in His post-ascension message, The Book of Revelation.
Altogether, the promise is stated more than 300 times in the New Testament alone. If we believe the Bible, we cannot deny this fact. Christ is coming.
In John 14, Jesus told His disciples, “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself.” He compared Himself to a nobleman, going into a far country, to receive for Himself a kingdom, and to return (Luke 19:12).
At the Ascension the angels gave this assurance: “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). What do these words mean? A literal, visible Second Coming! He is coming again, just as He went away.
The apostle Paul spoke repeatedly of Christ’s return to earth. In 2 Timothy 4:8 he states his personal confidence in the promise: “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” In Hebrews 9:28 we read: “…Christ…to those who eagerly wait for Him … will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
James echoes the same Christian hope: “Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:7–8).
The Bible closes with the same sublime hope and promise: “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. …. “Surely I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:12, 20).
Events Associated with the Second Coming of Christ
• The Arrival of Elijah the Herald
Christ will not return to earth unannounced. He will send His messenger to prepare the way, to herald His approach, to warn the nations of judgments He is bringing upon all who reject Him. Malachi identifies this messenger: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Mal. 4:5).
• The Resurrection
All hope of life beyond death depends upon a physical resurrection of the dead.
Christ alone holds the keys to death and the grave, and by His authority those who sleep in death will awake. Writes the apostle Paul: “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15-17).
This is no fancy, no wild imagination, no dream. Christ is coming as the rightful King of the whole earth.
• The Judgment of Christ’s Servants
One of the first tasks of Christ at His return will be the judging and rewarding of His servants. We read that He will separate them “one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats” (Matt. 25:31-33). The apostle Paul confirms this: “Christ Jesus…will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:1).
All found faithful and approved will be rewarded with immortality, the “crown of life” (James 1:12); for “the Lord Jesus Christ…will transform our lowly body of our humble state into conformity with the body of his glory” (Phil. 3:20-21). To them will be given the supreme honor of reigning with Jesus, associate kings and priests (Rev. 5:9-10; 3:21).
• A Real, Worldwide Kingdom Established
The co-rulers chosen, Christ’s next step will be the establishing of the Kingdom as an organized, political entity with authority worldwide. For “The Lord will be king over all the earth” (Zech. 14:9).
Jesus taught us to pray. ”Thy kingdom come.” And it will come. God is going to break into the pattern of world events with shattering suddenness and irrevocable authority.
This will be the time when the angel’s promise, spoken at the time Jesus was born, will be fulfilled. “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and his kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:31-33). He will have dominion from “sea to sea” (Ps. 72:8). Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born…” (John 18:37).
•* Worldwide Judgments
Even though Christ comes to bring peace, justice, prosperity and blessing worldwide; even though He is the “hope of the world” and the “desire of all nations,” all will not be ready to accept His authority. The result will be an event which the Bible refers to as the Battle of Armageddon (Rev. 16:15; 19:19).
But this battle will be different from all that have been before. The outcome of this conflict will be predetermined. No innocent will suffer, and for the first time in history, none but the evil will be destroyed. The nations will resist, but Christ, represented figuratively as “the Lion of the tribe of Juda,” will ride forth “conquering and to conquer” (Rev. 5:5; 6:2). Right will triumph (see Rev. 19:11; Isa. 32:17-18; 60:12, 14, 17-18).
It is not God’s plan that men and nations should perpetually fight each other, exhausting themselves and the world’s resources in the pursuit of war. When Christ, the hope of the world, takes control, He will make “wars to cease to the end of the earth” (Ps. 46:9).
Then shall the words of Micah (4:3) be fulfilled: “And he will judge between many peoples and render decisions for mighty, distant nations. Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they train for war.”
“Your Kingdom Come”
Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” And it will come to pass. God is going to break into the pattern of world events with shattering suddenness and irrevocable authority. Christ’s kingdom will come, literally, physically, without fail.
A “Kingdom” is not a state of mind. It is not the Church Universal, or a healthful condition of the world. A kingdom denotes a political entity ruled over by a king. It has territory, laws, subjects, and rulers. All these are part of our Lord’s plan for a Kingdom.
Many today cling to the vain hope that the world is growing better and that in time it will become the kingdom of God and Christianity will be universal. To such, it would seem that current real world events would be shattering. The problems are too great, the downtrend too strong. Human resources are and always will be inadequate to transform the world and bring “peace on earth” and goodwill to all men.
The prophet of God, Isaiah, knew this 2500 years ago. He wrote, “Though the wicked is shown favor, he does not learn righteousness….For when the earth experiences Thy judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:10, 9).
The only true, trustworthy hope of the world is Christ as Judge, Conqueror and King.
Get Ready for the New Age!
The Bible warns continually that we must prepare for Christ’s coming, linking human behavior with the prospect of acceptance or rejection. The apostle Peter states it concisely: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit….Since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless’ (1 Pet. 4:7; 2 Pet. 3:14).
The better world coming must begin right here and now with us if we hope to have part in it. Always in Scripture there is the personal, individual, ethical demand. As individuals we must demonstrate our interest in it by an active, daily consecrated life. We must live every day as men women who are expecting their Lord, not all absorbed in the interests of the moment but watchful and alert, “lest he come suddenly and find [us] asleep.
“And what I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’” (Luke 12:36; 17:26-30; Mark 13:35-37).
Only then can we share in Christ the hope of the world.
Note: All quotations are from theNKJV