Last week, we covered the first purpose of Christ’s return, the salvation of Israel. This week, we turn to the second reason: the destruction of Jesus’ enemies. Once more, we look at Revelation 1:7-8:
“BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’”
Besides the Jews (see previous post), there’s another group that will see Christ: “all the tribes of the earth.” This refers to the Gentile nations who remain stubborn in their unbelief and rebellion, even to the end of the age. Having endured all that unfolds during the Tribulation, all of the divine judgments that are clearly from God that even the rebellious people on earth acknowledge that it’s from God, they remain set in their sin—rebellious to the end. They too will mourn when Jesus comes, but not like the Jewish people. They won’t mourn in repentance, but rather in extreme grief and despair.
In fact, the Greek word for “mourn” is from a word that means to cut. It refers to the pagan practice of cutting oneself in extreme grief or despair: a practice that God forbids among His people.
Why will they mourn? They will mourn because of their fatally flawed assessment of Jesus Christ. They will mourn because of their personal hatred of Jesus Christ, which won’t change, not even at the end. They will mourn because of their military defeat at Armageddon (Rev. 19). They will mourn because of the tragic consequences of their sin. They will mourn because of their immediate judgment and consignment to hell on that very day, and their coming individual judgment at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20). They will mourn because of the anticipation of their everlasting doom in the lake of fire.
So, they mourn in remorse because Jesus is coming to judge them. Matthew 16:27 says, “The Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.” Jesus simply says that everybody is going to get justice. Second Thessalonians 1:7–10 says, “The Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day.” All who have rejected Jesus Christ as Lord will respond to the judgments of the Tribulation with grief and despair. Unfortuntely, they will not respond to them in repentance. In response to the sixth trumpet and the judgment that unfolds, Revelation 9:20 says, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.” They are completely rebellious and sinful.
As the bowls of wrath begin to pour out, Revelation 16:9 says, “Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory.” These people come to a point in the middle of the Tribulation when they realize God does exist, and He’s pouring out judgment on the world. And how does the bulk of mankind respond? Continued rebellion, refusing to repent, and blaspheming God! John writes, “They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds…huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because it’s plague was extremely severe” (Rev. 16:11, 21). Without regeneration, without a changed heart, rebellion will always continue no matter the judgments inflicted. That’s why hell continues eternally.
How is it that a person could be punished in hell forever for sins committed during 70, 80, or 90 years? How is that just? People in hell don’t stop sinning. They continue in their rebellion and blasphemy against God their creator—they refuse to bow the knee to Him. So, every day in hell, they earn more of God’s judgment and His wrath.
This judgment reminds believers not to have a weak image of who Jesus Christ is; David MacLeod writes, “Many have the false notion that Jesus Christ is completely different from the God of the Old Testament. They think that, when Jesus appeared, God changed His mind and decided to be a gentleman and forgot all His thoughts of judgment. It’s a terrible folly to be misled by such ideas. Yes, there is good news; one need not bear the punishment for his own sins. Another, the Lord Jesus Christ has paid the price on our behalf. But there is bad news for those who reject Christ and it is described here in Revelation.” Brothers and sisters, you must heed this warning:
He is coming to destroy His enemies and “all of the tribes of the earth,” all the people on this planet, “will mourn.” They will mourn not in repentance, but they will mourn in grief, despair, and continued rebellion.
Next week, we will cover the third and final purpose of Christ’s return: the vindication of His name.