Scripture Text – Matthew 24:3-14
The Twofold Coming of Christ
“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” – Revelation 16:15.
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. – Revelation 1:7.
Both of these passages refer to the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet in the one His coming is described as secret and sudden like that of a thief in the dead of night, unobserved except by those for whom He comes. He disappears again before the rest of the people are aware of His visit. The Lord says, “Behold, I come as a thief.” In the other event He is described as coming publicly. “He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.” Both of these passages refer to the second coming of Christ, but to two distinct phases of that second coming.
All Christians believe in the coming again of Jesus. To reject His coming again is to reject His Word, and the record which God has given concerning His Son. That record concerns His second coming as well as His first.
All Christians, however, are not agreed as to the details of His coming again. There are some who believe that the world will get better and better until, through the influence of the Gospel, education, better understanding among the nations, inventions, science, legislation and reformation, the world will cease its warfare and strife and finally usher in a golden age of peace. After this golden age of peace the Lord will come back to judge the world. People who believe this are called “Postmillenarians” because they “postpone” the coming of the Lord until after the Millennium.
There are also those who deny that there will be a Millennium. They teach that the world will continue to become worse and worse until the end of time. Then the Lord will come to judge the earth and usher in eternity. These people are “Amillenarians,” meaning “No Millennium.”
Finally, there are those who interpret the Bible literally. These maintain that the Lord will come at any time. They believe the Bible teaches that the world will become more and more wicked as the end of this age approaches, that the Church will wax cold and apostate, that wars will increase, hatred and iniquity shall abound and then, when everything is black and dark for the world, “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17.
This we call the “Rapture” of the Church, which is the secret sudden coming of Christ for His own. Immediately after the Church is raptured, the Antichrist will be revealed, the time of the world’s greatest sorrow and anguish will begin and for seven years the Tribulation will last, when the world will experience the greatest period of sorrow, warfare, bloodshed and destruction in its history. So intense will be that holocaust that unless those days are shortened no flesh shall be saved. During this period of tribulation on earth the Church will be with the Lord in the air. Then, at the close of this brief but intense period of tribulation, the Lord will come again publicly on the clouds of heaven with His glorified Church which was caught away before the Tribulation. He shall descend with her until His feet stand on the Mount of Olives from which He ascended—after His first coming—and at the touch of His omnipotent feet the mountain will split wide open, causing a valley to be formed from east to west from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea, through which the waters of the ocean will rush, forming the greatest inland seaport in the world, with Jerusalem on its banks as the greatest city in the world. The Lord will then destroy His enemies and the enemies of Israel. He will set up His kingdom on the throne of David and reign over the earth for one thousand blessed years. Those who believe this are called “Premillenarians” because they believe the Word of God concerning the coming again of Christ to set up His kingdom before the Millennium. After the Millennium will come the end of the world, when God shall sit on the Great White Throne and the wicked dead will be judged and cast into the Lake of Fire. The redeemed shall dwell with Him forever in a new and rejuvenated heaven and earth, where there will be no sorrow, death nor pain but everlasting peace and perfect contentment and blessing with our reunited loved ones and Jesus Christ forever and ever.
To Be Continued