God's Word makes known the exact conditions which are to obtain here immediately preceding the Redeemer's Return. The Holy Spirit has given a number of graphic portrayals of the world as it will exist when our Lord comes back to it. One of these pictures is to be found in Isaiah 2 -- |For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan. And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up. And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall, and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols He shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty, when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty, when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth.| Do these verses picture a world ready to receive a returning Christ? No; they tell us that in |the Day of the Lord| -- that which immediately follows the present |Day of Salvation| -- men will be |proud and lofty;| it intimates that idolatry shall prevail universally; it tells us that instead of men coming forward to welcome the Lord Jesus, they shall flee from Him in terror.
Another passage which describes the conditions which are to prevail on earth at the time of our Lord's Return is found in 2 Thess.1:7-9 -- |And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His might angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power; when He shall come to be glorified in His Saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.| Observe that here we are expressly told that our Lord comes back again to take vengeance on |them that know not God and that obey not the Gospel.| It is utterly impossible to make this statement harmonize with the concept of Christ returning to a world which had previously been won to Him by the Gospel.
Again, in 2 Pet.3:3, 4 we read, |Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of.| Observe that the apostle is describing conditions that are to obtain in |the last days,| i.e., the last days of this present dispensation. Here again we learn then, that instead of this Age closing with the universal acceptation of the Gospel, instead of the last days witnessing a world reconciled to God, instead of the Christian era closing with earth-wide prayer for the Coming of the King, we are told that, |there shall come in the last days scoffers,| a class of people who have no concern for God's glory but who walk after their own lusts; and further, we are told that these |scoffers| shall mock at those who are looking for the appearing of our Saviour and that the |ignorance| of these scoffers is due to a wilful and deliberate rejection of God's revealed truth.
Putting together the above pictures we learn that in the days which precede Christ's Second Advent the earth will be filled with proud idolaters, with those that know not God and obey not the Gospel, and with those who mock and scoff at the prospect of a speedily returning Redeemer. Further; we learn that the actual return of Christ is introduced not by Gospel successes but by Divine judgments. Thus we say that the condition of the world when our Lord comes back to it proves that His Second Advent occurs not at the close of an era of Millennial blessedness, but at the end of a dispensation wherein God has dealt with infinite long-sufferance with a race of rebels, and that at His coming He takes |vengeance| on His enemies ere setting up His Messianic Kingdom.