According to scripture, before ascending to heaven Jesus told his disciples he'd return in the future. This is stated at John 14:3, which says (quotes from the King James Version):
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
This is paralleled by the angel's words at Acts 1:11, which states:
"...this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."
Naturally, this makes believers ask if there is a way of knowing when his return will be. Although the Holy Bible doesn't actually give an exact date and time, it gives us plenty of signs to look for as that time approaches.
To begin with, the Bible makes it clear that when Christ returns he will have received the heavenly throne from the Father:
Daniel 7:13-14 -- I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages, should serve him...
1 Corinthians 15:25 -- For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
Much of the information regarding the timing can be gleaned by reading Matthew chapter 24:
vs. 3 ...the disciples came to him privately, saying 'Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?' (Two separate questions: 1- When will these things happen?, and 2 - What is the sign that it's the end times?). vs. 4 And Jesus answered and said unto them; " Take heed that no man deceive you. vs. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, 'I am Christ', and shall deceive many. vs. 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled, for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. vs. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places. vs. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. (As vs. 6 points out, these aren't the signs of the actual end, these are only the beginning sorrows that precede the end) vs.9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. vs. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. vs. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. vs. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. vs. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. vs. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come. (Brotherly love will fade, Christians will be persecuted for their faith, and false prophets and false Christs will rise. Endurance to the end will save the faithful. Meanwhile, the true Christian gospel will be taught worldwide, and then - after that - shall the end come). vs. 15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the Holy Place (whoso readeth, let him understand). (this refers to Daniel 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11) vs. 16 Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains; vs. 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house; vs. 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. vs. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! vs. 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day; vs. 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. vs. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. (This passage shows the intense circumstances in which the world will be living, and vs. 21 points out that it is at this time when the Great Tribulation begins) vs. 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. vs. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. vs. 25 Behold, I have told you before. vs. 26 Wherefore, if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: Behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. vs. 27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. vs. 28 For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together. (False Christs will continue to exist through this Great Tribulation; do not follow them, for the Real Christ is not come yet, and when he does come, it will be known simultaneously everywhere, just as flashes of lightning are seen everywhere simultaneously, not just in certain places. This is how we'll know a false Christ from the real Christ.) vs. 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. vs. 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (This parallels Daniel 7:13-14) vs. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Note, the disciples asked what the sign of his presence would be in verse 3, and the sign is told in verses 29-30, with the reality being that the signs of his presence occur immediately after the Great Tribulation.
These particular signs that signal the coming of Christ are spoken of repeatedly in scripture:
Joel 2:31 And the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood before the great and terrible day of the LORD come.
Acts 2:20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come.
And these particular signs seem to be connected with the sixth seal being opened by the angel at Revelation 6:12
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
Returning to the passage in Matthew chapter 24:
vs. 32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh. vs. 33 So likewise, ye when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
The idea of the wicked being taken/destroyed, when Christ returns is supported by several scriptures:
So, if we put these things together, we can be sure we are now living in the time of the "beginning of sorrows". Thus, we know that time is moving steadily towards the Great Tribulation and the Return of Christ, and we must stay awake spiritually so as to not be caught "sleeping". May we all take advantage of the time we have to fortify our spirituality and spread the truth of Christ so that more may be saved in the end.
Sometimes people write us with questions regarding this particular essay, so we wish to address the questions one by one for everyone's benefit. Remember, don't just take our word for it, please check these for yourselves:
1. Why is Christ's return necessary?
2. Where will Christ rule, and how?
3. Who will Christ resurrect, why and when?
4. Who will Christ not resurrect?
5. Who will participate with Christ in this rule, and how?
6. Who are the ruled?
7. What is expected of the rulers?
8. What is expected of the ruled?
9. What is the final result of all this effort?