“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” – Luke 21:25-28
Jesus is providing a rich and complex word picture for what the end times will be like before His return. There are many interesting aspects here so let’s run this rapid and see what hidden wells might be present in this turbulent water.
Apparently nature will play a role in the event with the “signs in the sun, moon and stars”. I am not sure what these would look like. Perhaps unusual events like meteor showers, super novas, or solar flares. All of these will happen at some point we just don’t know when. Of course God does know, not because he is orchestrating these events like a puppet master, but because He is outside of the story and can see it from beginning to end. He created the logos that underpins all of these natural phenomena.
Next comes the nations, human collections of souls in cities and towns, going about their business often oblivious to the spiritual sea that surrounds them. They will be in “anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea”. When I think of anguish I think of someone who feels helpless to change their situation or someone who regrets a previous decision. They are also perplexed, which I associate with the state of encountering something that is outside our social and intellectual framework. Something that does not fit into our “normal” way of thinking. Jesus certainly was perplexing to many people as were some of the other perplexing heroes of the bible.
It sounds like nations will be put in a position of choosing just like people. They will be in the midst of this “roaring and tossing sea”. The sea has often been used as a metaphor for the spiritual realm that we cannot see, touch, or sense with our earthly senses. I think the roaring and tossing of the sea that Jesus is describing here is the spiritual squalls that he has been allowing His disciples to experience and predict with His help. These spiritual disturbances will cause great anguish and perplexity for the nations.
Then we arrive at individuals, “People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” So the response of most people will be fear and terror at what is happening and what is coming. Even though these events will usher in the return of the King. Perhaps they are fearful and apprehensive because they know that they have lost sight of the savoir?
Eventually they will see the savior clearly, “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”. The wording here is interesting. Jesus says these waiting people should stand up and lift their heads. This implies that they have been sitting with their heads hanging low. This conjures for me a defeated and dejected soul that has given up.
It is reassuring that in the end God wins. All we need to do is stand up, lift up our heads high to see His coming, and willingly take His hand so He can lead us across the river that no one can cross. That is the path to redemption. It need not be more complex or perplexing than that.
Prayer: God help us to prepare our hearts and souls for meeting you face to face whether it is today, tomorrow, or many years in the future.