The “study of the last things” is both exciting and frightening. It should be easy for Christians to say that there is no fear in the second coming. Revelation tells us who is going to win the spiritual warfare in which we are fighting. God will overcome evil. The frightening part is in the unknown. Nobody knows the day or hour that Jesus will come again, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come…Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake” (Mark 13:32–33, 35-37, ESV).
Jesus states the warning four times to remain “awake,” and once he said “Be on guard.” The Bible describes how things will unfold in the eschaton, but there is still widespread interpretation of the timing and events of the judgment day and eternity. “Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:1–2). Paul then echoes what Jesus said, “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober” (5:6). Satan is lulling people away from anticipating the end.
Paul describes how it will be when Jesus does return, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (4:16–17). What happens then is described in great detail in 2 Peter 3:1-13. Once everything is burned up and dissolved, a new heaven and a new earth are prepared for the believers and the “second death” for the wicked (Revelation 21:1-8).