12 “At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. 2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
The Lesson of the Fig Tree
28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
The Necessity for Watchfulness
32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
“They will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26).
Most of us prefer to have control over our lives. We tend to do the things that will promote happiness, security, and peace; and we try to overcome our problems, our insecurities, and our pain. When we think about improving our lives, however, we tend to think almost exclusively in terms of this world. We give little or no consideration to the Second Coming of Jesus or to what life will be like in heaven.
Of course, it’s good to think about how we can improve ourselves and our world. Scriptures calls us to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). God invites us to be work with him, to us our gifts of intellect, imagination, and creativity to make this world a better and better place. But at the same time, many saints – who also dedicated themselves to improving people’s everyday lives – yearned to finally be with Jesus forever in heaven. They echoed Paul’s longing “to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:23).
Can you imagine a place where all of our problems – crime, murder, abortion, war, poverty, division, resentment, suffering, sickness, sin, and death – are forever vanquished? Can you even conceive of a place where people love each other all day and are with Jesus, actually WITH Jesus, every day? A place where every relationship is perfect? It’s this vision that captivated the saints and filled them with longing. It’s also this vision that moved them out into the world – the hope that they could share the good news of heaven with as many people as possible.
As we near the end of another Church year, let’s take some time to imagine how beautiful heaven really is. We are on a pilgrimage to heaven, and the more we keep this thought in our minds, the more we will find ourselves encouraging other people – through our love and service – to join us on the way.
Jesus, give me a glimpse of the glory of heaven. Lord, I want to be with you forever. Amen.
O God, the King eternal, who dividest the day from the darkness, and turnest the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far off from us all wrong desires; incline your hearts to keep thy law; and guide our feet into the way of peace, that having done thy will with cheerfulness while it was day, we may, when the night cometh, rejoice to give thee thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.