Almost everyone concedes that eventually this earth will no longer exist. Even the die-hard evolutionists will normally agree that it cannot continue forever. But for the Christians, there is coming a day of the Lord when he will return to gather his saints to him and exact punishment on those who refused to obey him. This article is addressed to the latter group...Christians.
There are a number of scripture references concerng the day we are investigating, however, let us first assure each reader that neither this writer, nor any other man, knows when this day will be. It could be today or it may be several millennia. The Bible assures us of that fact:
"Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 25:13 KJV)
But Jesus informed his apostles the following information concerning his return, while assuring them that only the Father knows the time:
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matthew 24:35-39 KJV)
Before we leave the above quote, notice the very first phrase: "Heaven and earth shall pass away..." Keep that in mind. Jesus is not referring to the Heaven where his Father lives and where the righteous will some day also abide, but rather the physical earth and universe including space! We will see that as we go deeper into this subject.
And the apostle Peter also gives us some information as to the conditions at the time of his coming, however, none of these things which the savior or Peter tells us is precise enough and they things which they list as occurring at the time of his coming, are occurring on a regular basis now. So we cannot predict the time by them. Here are some things Peter tells us will be occurring. Notice particularly here the last full sentence of this quote:
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." (2 Peter 3:3-7 KJV)
Now that we have resolved that we cannot possibly know when to expect this fateful day, let us see what we can expect, in fact we can know, these things will happen, because we are told by the inspired writers. These items are not revealed as to which will be first, second, and so on. But this writer, after considering those things said and by trying to use some common sense, will try and list them as they probably will occur.
FIRST: As Jesus said above concerning heaven and earth shall pass away, and Peter's statement that the heavens and earth are reserved unto fire, plus another statement by Peter in the following quote...read this carefully:
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?" (2 Peter 3:10-12KJV)
This I believe will be the first occurrence of that day, and here is why. Because we know this, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:" (Hebrews 9:27 KJV) All men must die. Those living at the time of Jesus return must die in order to put off the corruptible body and be left in the spiritual body. Such an enormous explosion to dissolve the the entire universe including each molecule of any chemical elements. would so swiftly destroy the body that there would be no suffering on the part of death, and at which time only the spirit would remain which is indestructible.
This also resolves the problem of "every eye shall see him", which would be impossible with the current universe in place since those on the opposite side of the earth would not see Jesus as he descended. Besides, human eyes cannot see a spirit. John tells us in 1 John 3:2-3 this:
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."
SECOND: The scriptures also tell us that the Lord will appear from heaven with a shout, and we will also hear the voice of the archangel. (1 Thessalonians 4:16 KJV)
Following the above, each soul shall shall give an account to God. (2 Corinthians 5:10 KJV)
Every soul shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Phil. 2:9-11).
Those who have not obeyed God will be sentenced to eternity in torment, while "we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (1 Thessalonians 4:17)