Regarding Christ’s return, some of my posts have been answers to the question of “When?” Others are answers to the question of “How?”
Today, I want to focus on the question of “Where?” That is to say, “Where should we be looking?”
For as the lightning cometh
out of the east…
so shall also the coming of the
Son of Man be. (Matt 24:27)
Jesus gave us an indication when He was describing His return during His last major sermon: For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. —Matt 24:27
Today “the east” might be thought of as half of the globe. But in the time of Jesus, it typically referred to the huge empire that had dominated the entire area east of the Holy Land for 433 of the previous 600 years: The Persian Empire.
The boundary between the Roman West and the Persian East was not far from the Holy Land. Indeed, about 4 decades before Jesus’ birth, Persian forces under Pacorus I had temporarily succeeded in taking over both northern Israel and Jerusalem. So Jesus’ reference to “the east” was in all likelihood a reference to the Persian Empire.
Moreover, Jesus had referred us to the prophecies of Daniel–a mere 12 verses earlier in this same sermon. Daniel’s visions of the latter days occurred in the biblical land of Elam, which is today southwestern Persia. Might it not be reasonable to expect that they would also be fulfilled in that same land?
The quest of the spiritual explorers in our story, Zach and James, gradually takes them to this part of the world. And here, the news of an unexpected discovery hits them like a thunderbolt. In actual history, it hit the whole population of Persia like a thunderbolt, causing over 100,000 to throw off the shackles of past religious orthodoxy, even on pain of death. Indeed, over 20,000 accepted death rather than recanting their new-found Faith.
And ever since this lighting struck in the Muslim east, its brilliance has shown all around the world, particularly Jewish and Christian west. Yet, there are still many who close their eyes tightly, thinking that nothing good could come out of the east. And this, in spite of Jesus’ clear admonition to look to the ‘lightning’ in the east as a sign of the coming of the Son of Man.
For the whole story….