Jesus’ Second Coming

Now we move to the last of the seven trumpets. The first six all heralded death and destruction on the Antichrist and his followers, and this last one is going to be the most horrible of all for them. However, for the followers of Jesus, it's the most wonderful event of their lives! John recounts:

I saw still another mighty angel coming down from Heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from Heaven saying to me, "Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them." The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to Heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created Heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.—Revelation 10:1–7

What is the "mystery of God" that should be finished that He has declared to His servants and prophets? It is what we have all been waiting for: the return of Jesus in the sky to rescue all His children. Jesus Himself told us that:

For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.—Matthew 24:27,29–31

The Second Coming of Jesus Christ, often referred to as the Rapture,A will be the most anticipated and wonderful event for the Christians who have gone through the Tribulation. They have endured the depths of persecutions and the hell into which the world has descended under the Devil incarnate, the hideous tyranny of the Antichrist. Now their moment of release has come when they are to be taken out of this world and transported into the wonders and joys of Heaven. This is the real thing, not the ephemeral myth of a rapture before the Tribulation begins, which many sincere and dedicated Christians had been so deceived by. (See Appendix 1.) It will have been a very hard and difficult three and a half years, but now their deliverance comes.

Jesus described just how sensational His Second Coming will be. The sky is going to light up as though there were lightning, but this is much more than a mere lightning bolt that flashes for an instant—this is as bright as lightning and illuminates the entire sky, from the east to the west. Jesus said that just before His appearance the sun is darkened and the moon doesn't shine, meaning the sky is completely dark. Then, as the powers of the atmospheric heavens start to shake as though in the throes of some colossal thunderstorm, the sign of Jesus Christ appears in the sky. Exactly what that sign is, we don't know, but just like the armies of old followed a standard, a flag held in the vanguard, and oftentimes this was the first thing that came into the view of their enemies as the army approached, so it seems this sign is the first thing that those on the earth see. The Antichrist and his wicked followers are going to be moaning and mourning, but all those who have accepted Jesus are going to be rejoicing. Jesus appears in the clouds, and with a great trumpet blast, the angels start gathering God's people from the four corners of the earth.

This description of Jesus' return in the sky, visible to all, was also told to His disciples by angels as they witnessed Jesus' ascension into Heaven after His resurrection:

Now when [Jesus] had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men [angels] stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."—Acts 1:9–11

The gathering of God's children to Heaven during the Rapture is also described in the book of Revelation:

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. … Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.—Revelation 1:7; 14:14–16

This is the great reaping and calling home of all genuine Christians from the time of the early church on. Saint Paul wrote about this great event in several of his letters:

I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep [died], lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For 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. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.—1 Thessalonians 4:13–18

Those he is referring to as having "fallen asleep" are those saved Christians who have died. Their bodies are dead in the grave, but their spirits are very much alive in Heaven with Jesus. When Jesus returns at this time, Paul says that all of these will come with Him. Why? Because a very important event is about to occur for them and for those of us who remain. When the Lord descends from Heaven and the shouting and trumpeting begins, the "dead in Christ" shall rise first. All those spirits whose bodies have been buried in the earth are going to receive physical bodies. However, it is not going to be the old body they knew, but a totally made-over body, regenerated and indestructible, a new heavenly body. We all then get caught up together in the clouds. Yes, we all sail up into the sky in our new bodies.

Saint Paul tells us more about this in his first letter to the Corinthians. "Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:51–52).

The Bible also tells us that the supernatural, miraculous, resurrected, transformed, fleshly bodies of the future are going to be like those of the angels of God! "Nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection" (Luke 20:36). But it's still going to be you. You're going to look similar, only much better! But it's going to be you, the same body, otherwise it wouldn't be a resurrection. (For more on these Resurrection bodies, see Chapter 3, "Superhuman Bodies!" in From the End to Eternity.)

And so we get delivered at the end of the Great Tribulation and then carried off to Heaven to the greatest of all parties ever held up till that time, the magnificent "Marriage Supper of the Lamb," which we will cover in the next chapter.

An amazing thing about the Rapture is that at some point you will be able to mark the date, or close to it, on your calendar when it will happen. The Bible is specific as to how long the Tribulation lasts, and we covered this already in chapters 2 and 6. So, from the time the Antichrist sets up the Abomination of Desolation, which kicks off the Great Tribulation, you can mark off 1260 days. The Lord told us this so we would know how long we would have to endure the Antichrist's tyrannical rule on Earth. It was to give us hope and help us hang on, knowing that rescue is coming.

On this point, some people may bring up the following Scriptures about not knowing the day or the hour of the Lord's coming. Let's examine those verses now. This is Jesus speaking to His disciples about His return:

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of Heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.—Matthew 24:36–44

Another passage on this subject is found in Paul's first epistle to the Thessalonians:

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.—1 Thessalonians 5:1–5

It is obvious from the first passage that Jesus' Second Coming is certainly going to come as a surprise to many. It is also true that at the time Jesus gave this discourse to His disciples, the only One who knew the timing of the Second Coming was God, Jesus' Father in Heaven. Jesus didn't know and the angels didn't know and we still don't know today. But why was He telling us about this and all the other signs of His return if He didn't want us to be aware that the event was at least drawing close? He did and does want those who will actually witness the events (and His immediate audience, His disciples, were not going to) to know the approximate timing and to be prepared.

In the second passage, Paul makes it very clear that we are not supposed to let that day overtake us unexpectedly. We are children of the light and aren't supposed to be in the dark on all this.

And finally, why would He keep telling us the exact length of time that the Tribulation would last if He didn't intend for us to know when He was coming? Back in the apostles’ day, they didn't need to know the exact timing of His return, because that event wasn't going to affect them. But for us who are alive in these Last Days, and especially if we wind up in the Tribulation, the Lord wants us to know because it will help us endure to the end, either the end of our lives or the end of the Tribulation.

So, at this point we take a hiatus from the war as the Lord comes back to take us home in that marvelous event that we call the Rapture. We are taken up into the air, our bodies are changed and immortalized, and we are off to Heaven for the mother of all parties, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

But for the Antichrist and his ilk, it is the worst event. Those whom he has sworn to kill have been snatched from his clutches by his ancient and unbeatable foe, Jesus Christ. And the worst for the Antichrist is yet to come.

Notes

A. The term Rapture is not found in English-language Bibles but made its way into the Christian lexicon as a transliteration of the Latin for that event. Its biblical equivalent is the Resurrection of the Just, where believers, both living and dead, are taken up to Heaven at the last (seventh) trump, and given their immortal bodies.

The term Rapture as applied to the catching up into the heavenlies of the saved at Jesus' Second Coming finds its origins in the Latin Vulgate translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17: "For 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. And thus we shall always be with the Lord."

The Latin word used to render "caught up" is rapiemur. Rapiemur is a derivative of the verb rapio (sometimes written raptio): to seize, snatch, carry away. Saint Jerome, the translator of the Vulgate Bible, apparently looked at the Lord's return and our gathering to Him in the sky as a mass abduction of believers from the Antichrist Empire.

The actual English word rapture, meaning overwhelming happiness, also found its way into English from Latin roots, specifically from the medieval Latin raptura, meaning seizure, and is in turn derived from the classical Latin raptus, which means a carrying off or an abduction.

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