Luke 21:25–28 (MEV): “There will be signs in the sun and the moon and the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men fainting from fear and expectation of what is coming on the inhabited earth. For the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption is drawing near.”
These are the words of Jesus to His disciples during a private briefing He gave them in the week before His death. Clearly, we can understand that the events portrayed here will happen around the time closely preceding Jesus’ return to judge the world.
Reading through this, there was something that stood out. Jesus speaks of the signs that seem to be unprecedented at any time heretofore. He then makes an interesting statement, that there will be humans “fainting from fear and expectation of what is coming.”
What is Coming
Perhaps He is speaking to that period of signs and distress He spoke of in the immediately preceding context. But then He could be speaking of the immediately preceding context, as bad as it was, things coming would be more perilous and frightening.
I am thinking the latter is probably a better explanation. Those people faint from fear connect right here:
Revelation 9:6 (MEV): In those days men will seek death but will not find it. They will desire to die, but death will elude them.
As the revelation unfolds beginning in Revelation 6, seals are opened. As each seal is opened, it reveals an event among other things.
As the first is opened, it reveals a horseman given the ability to conquer. This is most likely what will bring a one world leader into power. Yet it will not be without bloodshed. The second reveals peace being taken the earth. Again, this will probably prove fatal to some humans. The next brings massive inflation. How much death would occur during each of these?
The fourth horseman brings death to one-quarter of the Earth’s population. The next seal reveals comfort and encouragement given to the servants of God murdered during this time. They seem to have already been informed that God would avenge them. They ask God, “How long?”
The sixth seal reveals massive earthquakes and signs in the sky. The stars of heaven fall to the Earth. This could be figurative, or it could be the fallen angels coming to Earth as the marshaling of forces to confront Jesus when He comes to Earth to judge at the end of these events.
So far we see that this stuff is so disconcerting, people will go underground and hide in caves. They will hide from what they know is the great day of His (Jesus’) wrath.
A pause ensues, the servants of God on Earth are marked. We also see the saints that were murdered for their testimony during this time of perplexity worshipping Jesus. We see the prayers from those still alive being heard in the heavens and answers to them are prepared.
As the seventh seal is opened, there is a short period of silence. After the silence, angels are revealed, seven of them have trumpets.
The first angel sounds his trumpet, a third of all vegetation burns up. The second sounds and a great rock falls into the sea destroying a third of the living creatures in it and a third of the ships on it. The third blares, a star falls from heaven and makes a third of the freshwater rivers bitter; killing those who drink the water. The fourth angel sounds and a third of the day and a third of the night have no light.
There is yet another pause.
Revelation 8:13 (MEV): Then I watched, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the other trumpet blasts of the three angels, who are yet to sound!”
Now considering all that has been revealed so far from Revelation 6 through 8 and how it is easily and succinctly summed up in Luke 21:25. Think of the reaction you might have to an angel flying over your head saying loudly, “Woe, woe, woe.” Would there be overwhelming fear so bad you would want to die?
God says they will desire to die, but death will elude them.
Luke 21:26 (MEV): men fainting from fear and expectation of what is coming on the inhabited earth. For the powers of heaven will be shaken.
The Powers of Heaven Will Be Shaken
Revelation 9:1–6 (MEV): The fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. The star was given the key to the bottomless pit. He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke ascended from the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace. The sun and the air were darkened by the smoke from the pit. And out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. Power was given them as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were given authority, not to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man. In those days men will seek death but will not find it. They will desire to die, but death will elude them.
I cannot even begin to imagine the things that would follow. An angel opens a pit, from which locusts thick as clouds come. These won’t bother anything other than those men who do not have the seal of God. These will have a painful sting and cannot kill either.
That Time Approaches Quickly
Given the greater context of our primary text in Luke 21, this setting is in the period before these things happen. By the parable of the fig tree that comes immediately after, we can surmise we are most likely in that time period.
What is coming is a drastic and systematic reduction of the population of the Earth. It’s going to happen. God didn’t write this to scare anyone, but to warn those who have ears to hear… So they may prepare.
That preparation is to become a servant of God… Not a servant of the needy, the culture or yourself.