At least four times in Revelation, Jesus says "I am coming soon." In the Bible, "soon" usually doesn't mean two thousand plus years later. Is there a scripture in the Bible that actually directly ties the second coming or return of Jesus with the end of the world? Is Revelation describing some figurative way in which the Lord has already returned? -- Geoff Pettis (Atlanta)

I would take a look at passages like Hebrews 9:27 and 2 Thessalonians 1:8. These are just two of the passages that tie the return of Christ with judgment. I understand Revelation to provide a picture of the judgment of God's enemies, the vindication of his saints, the punishment of the wicked and the eternal reward of the righteous. Yet Revelation also has an historical context, and the "coming" of Jesus in this book can also be understood as God's coming in judgment against the Roman Empire, through a series of plagues, wars, and invasions, as well as through "foes within."

In Daniel 8:26, the "distant future" is a span of less than four centuries (around 530 BC to 165 BC). You are right; why should "soon" in Revelation 1:1-3 mean six or more times as long? To sum up, I believe Revelation sheds light on the ultimate fate of the wicked and reward of the saints. Yet it has a specific historical fulfillment. All disciples should live in a state of preparedness for the coming of the Lord, which may take place at any time. Yet in one sense, for the persecuting Roman Empire, "judgment day" came many centuries ago.

For more on this, see my audio series, Revelation and the End of the World.

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