This “present evil age” is doomed to pass into history. A new age will dawn. The beginning of that new age will be signaled by two major events, both of which were prophesied long ago in the Bible. The first of these is the return of Jesus Christ to this earth.
The literal return of Jesus Christ to this earth is the watershed event that will signal the commencement of the new age. In theological terms this event is called the “Parousia.” This term is from the Greek and it means “coming” or “advent.” In the New Testament the return of Jesus Christ and the dawning of the new age are synonymous. On the occasion of the giving of the famous Olivet prophecy, for example, the disciples asked Jesus, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming (Parousia) and of the close of the age?” (Matt. 24:3.) Notice that these events coincide.
The new age will be brought about by the return of Jesus Christ. It is only through His presence that the new order can become a reality. It will take His power, His wisdom, and His authority from God the Father to make the difference.
The hope of the Parousia was the adrenaline that energized the New Testament Church. Though Christ had confirmed prior to His ordeal by crucifixion that He would “come again” (John 14:3), it was necessary to reaffirm this hope in the minds of the disciples. Later, after the resurrection, an angel appeared to the apostles and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). As Jesus Christ was lifted up into the clouds so He will return in clouds.
So the Church waited for their Savior’s return. The people of Paul’s day “turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven (I Thess. 1:9-10). But Jesus Christ never came in their generation. They all died not having received the promise of the Parousia. Man’s age did not end in the first century. The dead in Christ went to “sleep” to await a future resurrection. Many generations would pass before that blessed event would occur. Tens of thousands of Christians would live and die in the centuries between Jesus’ first coming and his 2nd advent (Heb. 11:39-40).
Jesus Christ will come again! Of that you can be certain. But when He comes is in the Father’s hands (Matt. 24:36). Paul described the return of Christ in vivid language in I Thess. 4:16: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.”
When Christ returns He will be met by stiff opposition from the kingdoms of this world. But God will laugh at all such opposition and Christ will strike them down with “the rod of his mouth.” David appears to have spoken prophetically of this human resistance to the Parousia in Psalm 2: “Why do the nations conspire, and the people plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and his anointed, saying, ‘let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us’” (Ps. 2:1-3).
Man will not want to be ruled by the Kingdom of God. He will attempt to throw off the “shackles” of divine rule at the very outset. But “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrifying them in his fury, saying, ‘I have set my king (Jesus Christ) on Zion, my holy hill’” (vs. 4-6).
Jesus’ feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which is just to the east of the Temple mount in Jerusalem (Zech. 14:4). Around Him will be gathered a mighty host of angels along with tens of thousands of saints (resurrected Christians). He will then set His and to smash the opposition with supernatural power. “You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Ps. 2:9).
Zechariah describes Jesus’ triumphant, complete subjection of His enemies: “Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will smite all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh shall rot while they are still on their feet, their eyes shall rot in their sockets, and their tongues shall rot in their mouths” (Zech. 14:3, 12).
Woe to those who oppose the King of kings when he returns to take up the reins of government! Woe to those who do not welcome the Son of God!!
As we have seen, Christ will not return in a “solo flight.” With Him will come a mighty army of angels. Matthew tells us: “For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father” (Matt. 16:27). In addition to the angels Jesus will be accompanied by “the saints” –those human beings who have been begotten into the family of God (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5). This leads us to a discussion of the second major event that will signal the beginning of the new age, the resurrection of the saints.
This is the first resurrection and it occurs in conjunction with the return of Jesus Christ. It is the second major signal that the new age is about to get underway.
Christ Himself connected the resurrection to eternal life with the dawning of the new age in one of His answers to the Sadducees: “And Jesus said to them, ‘The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:34-36).
Christians being made immortal, the resurrection, and the beginning of the new age are spoken of interchangeably. These two great events, the return of Christ (Parousia) and the first general resurrection of the saints of God, comprise the transition which will usher in the new age and the rule of Christ on this earth!!!!