“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” – Matthew 24:42
“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” – Matthew 24:44
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” – John 14:1-3
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” – Titus 2:13
Did you hear the one about the Second Coming?
The pope’s secretary dashes breathlessly in to see his boss. “Your Holiness, I have good news and bad news,” he says.
“What’s the good news,” the pope asks.
“Jesus has returned to Earth and is on the phone,” says the secretary.
“That’s great news,” says the pope. “What’s the bad news?”
The secretary says, “He’s calling from Jerusalem.”
We may not know WHEN Jesus will return, but the Bible tells us WHERE He will return, WHY He will return and WHAT He will do when He returns.
It won’t be the Vatican to which he goes. It won’t be Washington. It won’t be Mecca. And it won’t be the United Nations.
With regard to where He will return there is no doubt – the exact same place from which He ascended into heaven after spending 40 days with disciples in His resurrected state. That would be the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. (Zechariah 14:4 and Acts 1:11-12) We also know that His return will be prompted by the urgency to save His brethren, the children of Israel, in a time of great peril known as “the day of Jacob’s trouble.” (Jeremiah 30:7-11)
And while the world frequently mentions the Second Coming, precious few pastors and priests ever deliver a sermon or a Bible study on it. So here it is. I hope it’s all good news to you.
What does the Bible tell us about conditions on the Earth at the time of Jesus’ return?
Perhaps the longest explanation Jesus Himself gave comes in Matthew 24 – once again with Jesus talking to His disciples on the Mount of Olives. The discussion was prompted by these questions from His followers: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
By the way, don’t be put off by that “end of the world” stuff. Jesus’ return to Earth does NOT – I repeat, does NOT – in any way signal the end of the world. A more precise and less confusing way to think about it is like this: It’s the end of business as usual in the world. It’s the end of injustice, war, violence, crime and poverty. It’s the beginning of a new world order. It’s the beginning of new leadership – divine leadership, His leadership, His long-awaited Kingdom that will last 1,000 years. (Revelation 20:1-6)
Here are the signs of the times Jesus told His disciples to look for (Matthew 24) before His Second Coming:
- False prophets will come and deceive many.
- There will be “wars and rumors of wars” – with nations rising against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms.
- There will be famines and pestilences and earthquakes in diverse places.
- There will be worldwide persecution against believers for His name’s sake, with many betraying one another.
- Sin will abound and “the love of many shall wax cold.”
- The Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations.
- There will be great tribulation, “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”
- The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give her light, and the stars will appear to fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
- Jesus will appear in heaven, coming like lightning, appearing to all the nations of the Earth with power and great glory – and all will mourn, not rejoice in His coming.
- He will not be alone, because He will gather is elect from the four winds, also sending His angels.
What else must occur before Jesus returns?
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 tells us there must come a great “falling away” coupled with the appearance of the “son of perdition” who opposes Jesus and exalts himself above God. With Satan will come a “strong delusion” so that many would believe a lie. Revelation chapters 6-18 also set the stage for the events leading to the Second Coming.
What about the Rapture? Is it the same as the Second Coming? Or does it precede Jesus’ return?
Let’s look at the two verses most often associated with the Rapture:
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
- 1 Corinthians 15:50-54: “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”
About this we can be sure. There will come a time at which living believers on Earth will be changed into immortal beings in the blink of an eye and caught up to meet Jesus in the clouds at the sound of the shofar. They will forever be with the Lord from that time on, we are told.
Some believe this event comes before the Great Tribulation, others believe it comes in the middle, while still others believe it comes with Jesus’ return so His saints can come marching in and remain with Him forever.
When Jesus does touch down on the Mount of Olives, the Earth moves and the mountain splits, we’re told in Zechariah 14:4.
If the Bible is right, everyone in the world will see it. Think about that. When, in the course of world history, could such a prediction have been made and be taken seriously?
It couldn’t have been imagined before the age of satellite television. Yet, look at what we are told in Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”
One of the most touching and poignant verses about the Second Coming is found in Zechariah 12:10: “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”
This prophecy speaks to Israel, to the house of David, to the people of Jerusalem, stricken with the spirit of grace, looking upon the Messiah they never knew until this moment – when He suddenly appears, to save them from their enemies.
You know what they will say? Remember what Jesus told His adversaries just before He was captured, scourged and crucified? Matthew 23:39: “For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” That’s what they will say – all those who knew Him and all those who did not. “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
We’ll all be saying it – maybe in Hebrew: “Baruch haba beshem Adonai.”
Jesus will have a lot of cleaning up to do. The wicked who are left alive will call for the rocks and hills to fall on them because they cannot look upon His face. (Revelation 6:15-17) The wicked will be destroyed with everlasting destruction because they did not know God or obey His Word. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10) Satan and his minions will be bound for the next 1,000 years (Revelation 20:2) – after which they will be killed. (Isaiah 14)
The whole world will be judged. Matthew 25:34 says: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Sometimes we believers forget this was what Jesus was prepared to do from the foundation of the world.
Ultimately, it’s all about the next 1,000 years, His Kingdom, the judgment of the living and the dead, what we’re told will be like a paradise on Earth, a restoration of the Garden of Eden, in Isaiah (51:13) and Ezekiel (36:35).
Does it sound good?
It’s not the end of the world. It’s the beginning of a new one – a perfect one.
So, maybe you should start thinking more about Jesus’ return. And hopefully now you have more to think about.
Jesus wants us thinking about it – and praying about it. He tells us in Luke 21:36: “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
He tells us in Matthew 24:42: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”
Again He tells us in Matthew 25:13: “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
And He tells us in Luke 12:37: “Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching:”
Do you think He means it? I think He means it.
Like what you read here? Joseph Farah’s “The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament” chronicles the Gospel in every book of the Hebrew Scriptures, illustrating how the Bible is a fully integrated book with the same message of redemption, resurrection and restoration.
Joseph Farah will lead a Mediterranean cruise to Israel next September, which you are invited to join for a unique spiritual experience in 2019. Consider preparing yourself for a look at what it will be like when Jesus returns to the Earth to prepare His Kingdom by reading Farah’s earlier book, “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age.”