Celestial Signs of Christ’s Return

Luke 21:25-28 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

These are the Lord’s own words about his own return.

We’re familiar with the elements of Christmas, the Lord’s first coming.

We know about Bethlehem, a manger, Joseph and Mary, no room in the inn, and star, and angels, and shepherds, and even Herod.

There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that detail Jesus’ first coming.

So are also multiple details about His second coming.

The precision of the details of His first coming which were fulfilled, validates the Old Testament and establishes the credibility of the details prophesied with regard to His second coming.

Luke 21:25-28 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

This is very different from the first time He came.

Jesus is providing a summary of the elements that will “precede” the return of Himself, and these are his own words.

To better understand this scripture and the events, let’s break this down into manageable bites.

First word: Sequence or Order 

Vs. 25 And there will be…

That “and” is a connective of sequence of the information that came before.

Jesus began with the information of BETWEEN now and His Second Coming, there will be some general realities He wanted us to know about.

Luke 21:7-9 So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?” And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near. Therefore, do not go after them. But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”

1st there Deception. There will be many who will come as Christ and representing Christianity who will mislead people. Do not go after them. Don’t follow false Messiahs and false forms of Christianity, they will proliferate.

Between His two comings, there will be lots of false Christianity.

Second thing, there will be wars and rumors of wars.

Next, there will be disasters: Earthquakes, plagues, famines, terrors, weather catastrophes, great signs from heaven. An indication of the calamities and wars that will fill human history and will continue to escalate throughout the future until the very end.

Fourth, there will be an escalation of persecution. They will lay hands on you, persecute you, deliver you to the synagogues (Jewish courts) and prisons. They will bring you before kings and governors. (That speaks of Gentile persecution). You will be hated by all on account of my name.

The Sequence of events: deception, wars, disasters, and persecution.

Then there is in the verses of 20 – 24, a period of time, the tribulation (7 years).

The tribulation is specifically for the Jews. It may be felt around the world, but the tribulation is intended for the Jewish people.

In the middle of the tribulation, the GREAT tribulation will be launched. That’s when the Abomination of Desolations takes place.

Then for the final 3½ years (the GREAT tribulation) before the Lord comes, all hell breaks loose.

God Judges men and He allows Satan and demons freer reign, and He allows cataclysmic events of all kinds.

At the same time, the gospel will be preached, and people will believe.

That is the Sequence implied in the word AND of verse 25

In Matthew 24:29 and Mark 13:24, they record that Jesus actually said, “And AFTER the tribulation…”

Mark 13:24-26 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

Matthew 24:29-30 Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven,

So, as the tribulation comes to a close, these signs in the sun, moon, and stars will occur.

The signs come in rapid fire sequence at the end of the Tribulation but before Christ returns.

The signs will be something the world has never seen or imagines in its horror.

That is the Sequence, described by deception, wars, disaster, and persecution.

During this time (Sequence), two thirds of the Jews will be slaughtered.

Zechariah 13: 7-9 “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, Against the Man who is My Companion,” Says the LORD of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered; Then I will turn My hand against the little ones. And it shall come to pass in all the land,” Says the LORD, “That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, But one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; And each one will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’ ”

During the final 3½ years (GREAT Tribulation), God’s judgments begin to escalate until finally at the end, the signs indicated in Luke 21, vs 25 – 28 take place.

That’s the sequence.  

Second word: Staging 

This is the biggest event in the whole world because the entire world will SEE it. At the first coming, only a few people saw the event. The second time Jesus comes, everyone on the face of the earth will know it.

God will set the stage for Christ’s second coming.

When Jesus went, He ascended in a cloud; He will come down in a cloud.

Jesus went up from the Mount of Olives, He will come down to the Mount of Olives

2 Thess. 1:4-11 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

Jesus comes to hand-out judgment and retribution to those who don’t know God and don’t obey the gospel, to give them the penalty for their unbelief, eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord.

But He also comes from a positive purpose to be glorified in His saints on that day.

Jesus will be seen by non-believers who will be consumed by His judgment.

Jesus will be seen by believers who will be gathered into His Kingdom and glorified with Him.

BUT all this has to be staged:

And then: After the sign of the sun, the moon, the stars, seas and waves roaring.

Luke 21:25-26 And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Vast cosmic catastrophes with unimaginable consequences. This is an environmental hell being described here.

This may be hard to grasp, so let me try to help you understand.

A scientist was trying to warn the world of the possibility of being bombarded by celestial bodies.

What would happen if a rogue planet or moon or asteroid came too near earth? Not necessarily hitting the earth, but coming close so as to affect the delicate balance of the planet.

Revelation 8:8 Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood.

Belakovski (?) If something came very close to the earth, it could readily cause it to tilt a few degrees on its axis. The earth is so perfectly aligned on that axis that even the smallest tilt would produce this.

“At that moment, an earthquake would make the earth shudder. Air and water would continue to move through inertia. Hurricanes would sweep the earth. The seas would rush over [the] continents carrying gravel and sand and marine animals and casting them on the land. Heat would be developed. Rocks would melt. Volcanos would erupt. Lava would flow from fissures in the ruptured ground, covering vast land areas. Mountains would spring up from the plains and would travel and climb on the shoulders of other mountains, causing faults and rifts. Lakes would be tilted and emptied. Rivers would change their beds. Large land areas with all their inhabitants would slip under the sea. Forests would burn and the hurricane and wild seas would rest (wrench) them from the ground from which they grew and pile them branch and root in huge heaps. Seas would turn into deserts, their waters flowing wildly away.”

The point is that God can, with no effort, send this Earth into an environmental hell.

And He will.

What are the signs in the sun, moon, and stars? Jesus doesn’t explain them.

What about the roaring of the sea and the waves? Jesus doesn’t explain that.

What about the powers of the heavens being shaken? Jesus doesn’t explain that.

The fact He doesn’t explain that, and it’s so dramatic and horrific, and no disciple asked Him to explain, indicates He was saying things with which they were already familiar.

Isaiah 13:6-13 Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. Therefore all hands will be limp, Every man’s heart will melt, And they will be afraid. Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them; They will be in pain as a woman in childbirth; They will be amazed at one another; Their faces will be like flames. Behold, the day of the LORD comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine. “I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, A man more than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, And the earth will move out of her place, In the wrath of the LORD of hosts And in the day of His fierce anger.

Isaiah 24:1-6 Behold, the LORD makes the earth empty and makes it waste, Distorts its surface And scatters abroad its inhabitants. And it shall be: As with the people, so with the priest; As with the servant, so with his master; As with the maid, so with her mistress; As with the buyer, so with the seller; As with the lender, so with the borrower; As with the creditor, so with the debtor. The land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered, For the LORD has spoken this word. The earth mourns and fades away, The world languishes and fades away; The haughty people of the earth languish. The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, Because they have transgressed the laws, Changed the ordinance, Broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, And those who dwell in it are desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, And few men are left.

Isaiah 24:18-23 And it shall be That he who flees from the noise of the fear Shall fall into the pit, And he who comes up from the midst of the pit Shall be caught in the snare; For the windows from on high are open, And the foundations of the earth are shaken. The earth is violently broken, The earth is split open, The earth is shaken exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, And shall totter like a hut; Its transgression shall be heavy upon it, And it will fall, and not rise again. It shall come to pass in that day That the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones, And on the earth the kings of the earth. They will be gathered together, As prisoners are gathered in the pit, And will be shut up in the prison; After many days they will be punished. Then the moon will be disgraced And the sun ashamed; For the LORD of hosts will reign On Mount Zion and in Jerusalem And before His elders, gloriously.

Joel 2:1-2;10; 30-32 Blow the trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; For the day of the LORD is coming, For it is at hand: A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, The like of whom has never been; Nor will there ever be any such after them, Even for many successive generations. … The earth quakes before them, The heavens tremble; The sun and moon grow dark, And the stars diminish their brightness. “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.

Joel 3:1-2a; 15-17a For behold, in those days and at that time, When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; … And I will enter into judgment with them there The sun and moon will grow dark, And the stars will diminish their brightness. The LORD also will roar from Zion, And utter His voice from Jerusalem; The heavens and earth will shake; But the LORD will be a shelter for His people, And the strength of the children of Israel. So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, Dwelling in Zion My holy mountain.

Ezekiel 38:19-23 For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath I have spoken: ‘Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel, so that the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence. The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.’ I will call for a sword against Gog throughout all My mountains,” says the Lord GOD. “Every man’s sword will be against his brother. And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.”’

Haggai 2:6-9 For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.”

Zephaniah 1:14-18 The great day of the LORD is near; It is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; There the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and alarm Against the fortified cities And against the high towers. “I will bring distress upon men, And they shall walk like blind men, Because they have sinned against the LORD; Their blood shall be poured out like dust, And their flesh like refuse. Neither their silver nor their gold Shall be able to deliver them In the day of the LORD’s wrath; But the whole land shall be devoured By the fire of His jealousy, For He will make speedy riddance Of all those who dwell in the land.*

The disciples knew these scripture prophesies.

When Jesus said those things, the disciples knew of what He spoke, final judgment just before His return.

In the seven-year tribulation, judgments come out of seven seals, those seven seals stretch across the seven years.

When get toward the end and reach the sixth and seventh seal, the judgments intensify.

Revelation 6:12-16 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!

Revelation 8:6-13 Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter. Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night. And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”

The seventh seal, and out of the seventh seal come seven trumpets making up the seventh seal.

Out of the seventh trumpet come seven bowls of judgment.

Revelation 16:8-21 Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds. Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon. Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nation’s fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.*

So, in all this, the visions of John, the words of Jesus match perfectly with the Old Testament prophecy.

Into that horrific mess on earth, comes Jesus to judge the nations and gather the believers.