The Second Coming is a day of reward for Christians and retribution for the impenitent. The present age should be interpreted as an offer of amnesty and a stay of execution. God offers mercy to those who show remorse, but He also promises retribution upon human defiance: ‘In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Thess. 1:8).
In Romans 9:22, Paul declares that God is ‘willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known’ but He also ‘endures with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction’. This is why retribution is held back: ‘He bears with them long’ (Luke 18:7). It’s because ‘He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.’ (2 Pet. 3:9)
In Revelation 6, the martyrs of the faith cry out to the ascended Messiah: ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ A white robe is bestowed on each as a reminder of the Divine blood-bought amnesty secured through the Father’s loving sacrifice of Jesus, His Son. Christ promises that His glorious return will occur when His last earthly witnesses are martyred. He will grant eternal life to those who have claimed His mercy, judge all sin, end the age of the Gentile supremacy and honour his promise to Abraham by restoring a remnant of Jews to join in faith towards Him as the true Messiah.
In the same teachings, the biblical message is that life will become increasingly intolerable, especially for Christians. The end of the Gentile era will be characterized by:
1) Unprecedented levels of human malice
2) International anarchy: ‘Nation will rise against nation’.
3) Intensifying upheaval of the natural world and universe.
4) Hostility, ostracism and criminalisation of those who label the idolatry and sensuality of this era as sin, and challenge it with the promise of divine retribution, proclaiming faith in Jesus as its only cure.
However, as Jesus says, ‘Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?’ given that ‘because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold’ (Matt. 24:12)
Luke relates Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow. The objective of this comparison is explained: ‘to this end that men ought always to pray and not to faint’ (Luke 18:1) The parable shows that even a corrupt magistrate can be influenced by the dogged persistence of those who have no-one to advance their cause. God, who is just, is more easily moved by the cause of His own justice and salvation. Guardian angels are constantly pleading our cause and He intervenes partially now, but will ultimately fulfil all of our righteous petitions by His return on Judgement Day.
We must persist knowing that ‘he that comes to God must believe that He is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him’ (Heb. 10:35) i.e. only persistence in the form of practical, thoughtful, compassionate, resolute commitment to our goal pleases God as worthy of Him.
Note that, in the instance of the child possessed by a dumb and deaf spirit (Matt. 17:14 – 21; Mark 9:17 – 29), Christ’s consternation was that his disciples gave up too quickly, not realising faith bestows the representative authority of God on the believer to act as Christ would in all situations. Reliance isn’t about backing down and running away as challenges mount up, it means standing your ground against all odds and applying the mind of Christ in the knowledge that power has already been granted.
This is the faith that moves mountains.